The Coba ruins, more properly named the Coba archaeological site, are one of the most interesting among the Prehispanic Mayan sites and one of the most popular near Tulum and the Playa del Carmen. In this post, I will tell you all you need to know to visit this spectacular Mayan City.
One of the most visited sites in the Yucatan Peninsula besides Chichen Itza and Tulum, the Coba site is pretty awesome as it’s located at only a 1-hour drive from Tulum and right by two pretty lagoons where the sleepy town of Coba stretches out.
Like all the other Mayan ruins, Coba is completely immersed in the Mayan jungle and the temples are all scattered around which makes it a lot of fun to walk or bike to find them out.
Walking into the jungle path is like entering the ancient Mayan world and going back in time. Although the ruins of Coba are quite a popular attraction to visit either from Playa del Carmen, Canun, or Tulum, it is not even close to the crowd and the vendors you would find in Chichen Itza.
Visiting Coba ruins is still very enjoyable whether you are alone or friends or family. It’s one of the most kids-friendly among the archeological sites, both because of the shades offered by the thick jungle protecting you from the hot sun, and also because you can rent a bike or a cart to take you around.
The popular main pyramid, Nohoch Mul, towering over a thick and overwhelming jungle is also another reason why you would want to visit.
As you drive along the lagoon, once you arrive in town, you find the entrance of the site right in front of you. You can leave the car in the parking lot (60 Mxn – 3 USD) and purchase the ticket at the counter inside (100 MXN – 5 USD).
How to visit the Cobà ruins?
As I mentioned before the Coba ruins are quite spread out in a vast territory and from the entrance to the main tower there is about 2 km. Therefore you have a choice of transportation to get there.
Walking around the Coba ruins
This ancient Mayan site is spread out throughout the vast territory and it is kind of a walk. It’s pleasant and mainly in the shade of the beautiful secular trees, but it can still be tiring if you are not used to walking, or the heat, especially with the humidity rate.
Also keep in mind that it closes at 4.30 pm, so if you get there in the afternoon make sure you calculate the time well. The last time in Coba I went I rented a bike because I only had 1 hour to explore everything. It was fun!
Exploring Coba ruins by bike
The good news is that if you don’t like walking you have other options, one of which is by renting a bike. The trails are wide and flat so renting a bike makes it very easy and much faster than walking. Rental cost MXN 50 per person.
Get around Coba ruins by bici-taxi
It’s called bici-taxi, an even more comfortable way to get around the place. It’s a sort of cart with two seats in the front while the driver (who has to pedal) sits behind. The cart will only take you only to the main pyramid and back. Rental cost Mx 140 per cart.
For families with small kids especially, this is your solution: kids won’t get tired and they will have so much fun.
Should I hire a guide to visit the Coba’ ruins?
At the entrance, you will also have the option of hiring a local guide, which I always recommend just to get the basic information on Mayan history, from what little is known.
Just bear in mind that many pieces of information are just suppositions from different historians who sometimes make broad interpretations. This is at least what I have learned in all these years. Still, I find it enlightening to know the different versions.
If you don’t wish to have a guide, before you start your pleasant walk in the jungle, you will find a map with indications on where to go.
You won’t get lost. There is one at every site.
What to see in the ruins of Coba
Nohoch Mul Pyramid
The main tower, 42mt tall (137ft), is without a doubt, the highlight of the Coba ruins and one of the few high pyramids left that you can still climb, although at your own risk. There is a rope all along the stairs which you can hold on to to make you feel more comfortable. (during this pandemic time it’s not possible to climb it though, but only temporary)
If you have vertigo, like me, just don’t look down. Look straight at the next step and you will conquer it one at a time; once you reach the top it will make it all worth it.
I find this site very special for being so spread out and within a thick, lush jungle. Although it is very touristic and you will find quite a crowd visiting, it doesn´t take away the charm of the original ancient city.
Since I am not an expert in Mayan history, yet, I am not going to offer you any historical details about the Coba’ ruins here and I’ll leave it to you to discover through the expert guides at the site or specific books that can introduce you to this fascinating world, like for example Popul Vuh, considered a sacred book on the Mayan history and traditions, an interesting introduction to the Mayan mystery.
However, I would like to mention here for you a few highlights to keep in mind when visiting the Coba’ ruins:
The Coba’ group
A few constructions are situated at the entrance including the ball court, an important element in the Mayan religion, for the so much represented and talked about ceremonies.
Its hieroglyphics reveal a great amount of information about the life in Coba’, their dresses, ceremonies, and their society in general. An interesting source of information for archaeologists and historians.
The limestone white paved roads were built to connect the different settlements and cities for commercial purposes.
Having said that I would suggest you should do what I always do when I visit: just walk in, look up and look around you, breathe deep and let it all come to you. It’s magical.
Coba ruins entrance fee
The entry fee is 100 MXN per person
A guide costs around 500 pesos (USD ), for up to 4 people
Coba ruins facilities
There you will find clean toilets and restaurants where you can purchase your drinks; it is always recommendable to bring water with you even though inside the site, by the main tower, you will find a small refreshment kiosk (but no bathrooms).
When to visit Coba’ ruins
The site Opening Hours are from 9 to 4.30 (the last entry is at 3 pm)
I highly recommend being there as soon as possible to beat crowds and heat, especially in the summer, it can be exhausting, especially in the summer.
What to pack when you visit the Coba’ ruins
- water, in such heat it’s very important to stay hydrated
- good walking shoes (better if hiking shoes)
- mosquito repellent(ecological)
- sunscreen (ecological)
- healthy snacks
How to get to the Coba ruins from Tulum (bus, car, tour)
You have many different options to get to Coba’.
Reach Coba from Tulum by bus
Take a second-class bus Mayab which leaves at 7:20 AM. from the ADO bus terminal. (The ticket costs MXN 50)
There are later busses as well but I suggest you should get to Coba early, both because this way you manage to visit both the Coba ruins and the Coba cenotes but also because it’s extremely hot later in the morning and the archeological site would be overcrowded with groups. The ride to Coba village takes about an hour.
Return bus to Tulum leaves Coba at 3 PM (first-class bus ADO), and Mayab leaves at 5 PM.
Very Important to know that you can check the ADO schedule online but the Mayab schedule is not published so you need to ask the ticket office at the bus station. Please always double-check the time I gave you because they might change.
Reach Coba’ by Colectivo from Tulum
The Colectivo is a minivan, the preferred means of transportation by locals who don’t have a car.
There are collectives (or combis), that take you from Tulum to Coba for 70MXN. However, be mindful that they leave only when they fill the van, so they don’t have a precise schedule.
If you want to try the experience you will find them waiting for passengers at the intersection of Tulum Avenue and Calle Osiris.
For the return, make sure you know the BUS scheduled in case you don’t find any colectivo available, especially if you are not planning to spend the night in Coba’.
Getting to Coba from Playa del Carmen
To get to Coba from Playa del Carmen you will have to travel from Playa del Carmen to Tulum which is a 1-hour bus and from there choose among the above-mentioned option. It is kind of a nightmare and I would either go by car or join a tour instead. This way you avoid wasting your time and will make the most of it, instead.
Getting to Coba from Cancun
If going to Coba from Playa del Carmen by bus is quite a trip, imagine from Cancun which is even farther away. Getting from Cancun to Tulum is easy but if you have to continue your trip to Coba, it’s a long way, Therefore, unless you are As I mentioned before a rental car would be ideal in this case.
And if you are worried about renting a car in Mexico, don’t. I have got you covered.
and then book your car and have fun!
Find the best car rental deals and explore around freely, at your own pace. My favorite way to enjoy a destination!
Book a tour
If you prefer to join an organized tour you can choose among many options. There are in fact many tours that combine different destinations, for half days one full day.
They almost always come with a guide which I find useful when you are visiting a historic place and in general to know about the local culture and society.
I would recommend a tour if you are not getting a car and you are coming from Playa del Carmen or Cancun. Here below some options:
Going to Coba by car
I always suggest renting a car and driving around because you have the freedom to visit on your own terms, without having the pressure of the tight schedules that groups normally have.
I love to drive around a place and find new corners to discover, for as long as I want.
If you are new to driving in Mexico, I have written a useful post with tips and interesting information that might be useful as there are a couple of things you need to know and need to be careful about.
How to visit Coba’ cenotes
The small village of Coba is blessed with a strategic location and rich with spectacular natural resources, among which 3 cenotes happen to be close to one another.
Cenotes are natural sinkholes and only in the Yucatan peninsula, there are around 6000 of them scattered around.
They offer a refreshing experience especially after a long and exhausting walk in the humidity and heat of an archeological site.
If you want to know more about the origins of a cenote please check my guide to the cenotes of the Yucatan peninsula for more detailed information.
How to get from the Coba ruins to Coba Cenotes
Unless you travel around Mexico by rental car, which I always recommend, the only way how to get to Tamcach-Ha, Choo-Ha, and Multum-Ha cenote is either by bike or by taxi as there is no public transportation.
You can find are a couple of rental shops by the entrance to Coba Ruins, no reservation is required.
The road is safe, flat and there is no traffic at all. It’s around 7 km to get there only.
The first Cenote is Tankach-Ha, 20m deep.
There is a platform with 5m and 8m jumps, from which you can test your courage.
Choo-Ha, the second one, closer to the entrance, has a different shape and a maximum depth of only 10m; you cannot jump from here as the ceiling is quite low, but it has a beautiful configuration with a stalagmite and stalactite sticking out in the middle of the water.
Cenote Multum – ha
The third one is Multun – ha, a bit further up the main road.
Just follow the signs, and don’t feel lost if it seems like you never get there.
It is a white gravel road in the jungle that leads you right to the entrance.
Among the Coba’ cenotes, this one is the deepest, at 32m/90 ft., though there is no high platform to jump off, since the ceiling is quite low here, too. The entrance looks like a well, and it feels a bit scary to think you are so deep down into the earth.
Coba Cenotes Opening Hours
The three cenotes of Coba open from 9 to 6, every day.
Coba’ cenotes entry fees
100 MXN (5USD approx) per person per each cenote
To know more about Coba’s cenotes, check out my full guide.
Where to stay in Cobà (with rates)
Top Luxury hotel in Cobà
Coqui Coqui > 400$
An exquisite high-end property for the sophisticated traveler who is looking for elegance and tranquility. Located at the very end of the main road of Cobà right on the lagoon.
Mid-range price hotel in Cobà
Aldea Coba > 140 $
If you love luxury and beauty but are not particularly interested in breaking the bank. This is the hotel for you. A relatively new property (2017) boasts spacious and nicely decorated rooms in a spectacular jungle garden. Hard to beat for that price. According to previous guests, service is also impeccable. Located on the main road on your way to Coba’.
Budget hotel option in Cobà
Hotel Itza Coba
This is where I stayed. It’s a cute property for budget travelers who love the stylish decor and a cleanroom. It was perfect. The staff is also super friendly and warm.
Where to eat in Coba
There is not much choice for eating in Coba but during my 3 days stay I had great food and my favorite places were:
El Cocodrillo, at a few steps from the ruin, serving great local food and delicious refreshing natural juices
Chile Picante – local food on a terrace from where you can enjoy a lovely sunset ( watch for the mosquitos)
El Encanto – cute small cafe, recently opened with great coffee and delicious homemade fresh dishes. The managers Jesus and Maria will take good care of you.
Coqui Coqui – an upscale and uptight restaurant but not necessarily overpriced. Gourmet Mexican cuisine.
FOR FURTHER READING
- 2-day Yucatan Itinerary: A Short Road Trip
- Tulum Travel Guide 2022 – what you must know before traveling
- The complete guide to Coba – Mexico
- The complete guide to the Coba ruins and surroundings
- How to visit the 3 Coba cenotes – an unmissable experience!
- The ultimate guide to Punta Laguna, Mexico – the spider monkeys sanctuary
- Costa Esmeralda and the surroundings – Yucatan – Mexico
- The unique Akumal Turtle Beach Travel Guide
- How to swim with whale sharks in Cancun
- Hacienda Temozon – A Starwood Luxury Collection
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