Planning to visit Coba Ruins near Tulum? We have all the answers, tips, and advice for you to plan the perfect day trip!
Mexico is an unparalleled paradise for admiring Admiring Mayan ruins, as no other country in the Americas can boast so many. The Yucatan Peninsula alone has countless stunning ruins that would take months to explore!
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When visiting Tulum, there are three spectacular sites worth seeing:
Coba Ruins have been rapidly rising in popularity among tourists over the last few years due to their picturesque jungle setting, convenience of access, and exceptional state of preservation – including the renowned Nohoch Mul pyramid. Still, it’s nothing compared to Chichen Itza in terms of overcrowding; visiting Coba is a truly enjoyable experience!
To equip you with all the information necessary for your visit to these incredible ruins, we’ve assembled everything into this comprehensive post.
Our guides help you plan your dream adventure, providing information on costs, transport to the destination and tips on how to tackle nearby cenotes. We have all the info you need – from whether it’s possible to climb a pyramid or not!– so that your expedition is enjoyable and stress-free
Climbing the Pyramid at Coba Ruins
Cobá is thought to have been one of the most consequential archaeological sites on the Yucatan Peninsula. This settlement was designed differently than other traditional Mayan cities, with various settlements in close proximity.
The white roads that extend from each village come together at an iconic pyramid known as Nohoch Mul. Uncover this off-the-beaten-path adventure and discover more about its captivating history!
Coba Ruins History
Coba, which translates to “waters stirred by the wind” in Mayan, is situated amongst two sizable lagoons – a fitting name. This forgotten corner of Mayan history was first revealed by archeologists during the mid-1800’s; however its location between Tulum and Valladolid as well as thick jungle growth and lack of monetary resources impeded access for many years. To this day, much of Coba remains unexcavated making it an awe-inspiring destination in Yucatan.
Coba is a captivating settlement with shaded walkways that are its original sacbe (white roads), three settlements showcasing its remarkable architecture, two ball courts and the highest Mayan pyramid in Yucatan – Nohoch Mul. For close to 7 years now, we have been visiting this magical place and still remain utterly enthralled by it.
In 1973, Cobá became open to the public as an archaeologic site. Though around 6,000 structures are thought to be present here by archaeologists, only three settlements have been deemed suitable for viewing. What sets this area apart from others like Chichen Itza and Tulum is its diverse terrain; over 16 Mayan ceremonial “white roads” (sacbéob) connect all of these distinct sites with a central pyramid at their core.
Immerse yourself in the majestic Coba Ruins with a two-and-a-half hour journey on foot, a one and half hour bicycle rental tour or an easy one hour ride in the luxurious Mayan Limo. Explore Nohoch Mul (main pyramid), Conjunto Pinturas (spiritual area) and Macanxoc structures while you take delightfully affordable bike rides through stunningly beautiful landscapes to lagoon bearing its same name!
What can you see at Coba
Exploring the captivating ruins of Coba can be a truly remarkable experience. We are delighted to share all that we have discovered and outline some of its most stunning artifacts, monuments, and structures for you to marvel at! We hope you will enjoy learning more about these special areas as much as we do.
Nohomch Mul Pyramis – Coba Center
The best experience is saved for last, so make sure to end your journey at Coba with an activity like no other. Climb the 42 meters (137 feet) tall pyramid of Nohoch Mul and marvel in the breathtaking views that await you from 120 steps up! You can take in glimpses of Yucatan’s landscape as well as view hidden parts of Coba such as Macanxoc Lagoon to east and Cobá Lagoon to southwest.
Nestled near the entrance of Coba are a few fascinating structures, including the Iglesia (Church) and one of two ancient ball courts. Be sure to take in your surroundings while walking through this impressive site – most notably, marvel at the height of a small passageway close to the Church. Unfortunately climbing up is not allowed currently; however you can still relish breathtaking views from it over Macamxoc Lagoon!
The Pyramid of the Painted Lintel is an amazing sight, where visitors can appreciate beautiful paintings up close and from afar. This area’s main attraction is a set of intricately painted murals that truly capture its unique charm.
Ensuing the Conjunto de Pinturas is the Macanxoc Group that can be discovered along one of the Sacbes. This area exhibits 8 stelaes and an abundance of altars, affirming its spiritual relevance to those in its vicinity. The high concentration of Stelae further highlights this significance.
Throughout the Coba site, a great abundance of stelae – hefty stone slabs – are tucked beneath thatched shelters. Preserved on these artifacts are intricate drawings and glyphs which serve as evidence for major events in the city’s history; what archeologists use to understand Mayan culture within this region. Though time has eroded legibility of most of them, you can still sense their powerful histories radiating from these critical monuments.
Take a walk through the well-preserved roads of Cobá and experience what it was like to be in the ancient Mayan city! Known as ‘sacbes’, these pathways range from 10 feet to 30 feet wide, and are believed to have been constructed for commercial purposes. In fact, about fifty sacbes can still be found within its grounds – with one stretching 62 kilometers long! The effort required by the Maya to build such long paths surpasses that of other stone building or temples. Immerse yourself into this wondrous civilization while walking on an age-old path connecting settlements together centuries ago!
During the cooler night temperatures, people traversed the sacbes carrying parcels illuminated by moonlight reflecting off white limestone pathways. Archeologists are perplexed as to how the Maya managed their transportation without wheeled vehicles due to evidence that shows they were aware of its existence yet chose not use them for goods movement on these roads. Historians have documented this unique method of transport, leaving many questions unanswered.
How to get to Coba Ruins
Coba Ruins, although often overshadowed by Chichen Itza, are located conveniently near both Tulum and Valladolid and should not be overlooked when planning a Mexican getaway. We personally traveled from Tulum to the ruins and discovered that there is an array of ways to reach this treasure trove of history. Consequently, it has earned its rightful position on Mexico’s list of must-see destinations for travelers around the world!
Rent a Car
Traveling around Mexico in a rental car is the most convenient and comfortable way to take in all that this stunning country has to offer. From Tulum, Cancun, or Mexico City you can easily rent a vehicle and set off on your adventure. For those looking to explore Coba from Tulum, simply follow road 109 for an easy trip.
Taxi or Private Transfer
For those with a larger travel budget, taxis are definitely worth considering for your journey to Coba. Taxi fares one-way cost 400 MXN; however, with the right amount of haggling you can get an even better deal! It’s ideal if you’re traveling in a group of four or more and there is no shortage of taxi drivers around Tulum but they tend to congregate near ADO bus terminal.
For a budget-friendly and simple journey from Tulum to Coba, we suggest taking the Mayab bus. This second-class bus leaves ADO terminal at 7:20 AM sharp—the ticket costs Mx 50 and takes about an hour on the road. To beat both heat and crowding in Coba Ruins, it’s best to arrive as soon as possible; therefore, this early morning service is ideal for those wishing to do so! However, if you’re not a fan of waking up too early then don’t worry–you can take first class buses scheduled later in the day with tickets costing Mx 98 instead.
When journeying around South America, we often had to rely on colectivos. But if you seek a bus ride from Tulum to Coba, there is an existing route for your convenience. If neither of these suit your needs and you’d rather take a colectivo, know that drivers wait patiently at the intersection of Tulum Avenue and Calle Osiris.
Though the cost of a colectivo to Tulum is only Mx 70, there is no timetable and you must remain until it fills up. If you are wanting to return more quickly, your best option may be hopping on a bus instead.
For those who find planning their own journey too taxing and strenuous, join the Tulum Tour combining all three incredible sites in one day. This exhilarating experience has received positive feedback from past travelers; hence why it’s dubbed as the “Tulum, Coba, Cenote Day Trip Tour”. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to explore beautiful ruins of Tulum with its mesmerizing cenotes – book now!
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How much does it Cost to Visit Coba Ruins?
Entrance fee: For foreigners, the entrance fee to explore the Coba Ruins in 2021 is Mx 80. To ensure you receive an optimal experience when visiting Mexican attractions, we recommend avoiding Sundays if possible as entry is free for Mexican citizens on this day and many locations become overcrowded.
When is the Best Time to Visit Coba Ruins?
If you’re planning a Mexican vacation, the best advice is to get an early start. The Coba Ruins are highly popular and often visited due to their close proximity to Tulum, where many resort visitors flock for day trips and sightseeing tours. To make sure you don’t miss out on any of the amazing attractions there, take that 7:20 bus from Tulum in order to arrive when it opens at 8AM!
Coba Quick Facts
- Coba in Mayan translates to ‘waters stirred by wind’ or ‘ruffled waters,’ a fitting description of the majestic city situated on two lagoons: the Coba Lagoon seen from its entrance and Macamxoc Lagoon visible as you enter. The longest sacbe (white road) stretches for 100 kilometers (62 mi), leading visitors all the way to Yaxuna near Chichen Itza.
- Coba’s settlement prospered with the presence of a large agricultural population as early as the 1st century, culminating in its peak between 600 AD and 900 AD when it housed an impressive 50,000 inhabitants. The area thrived due to its advantageous geographical location – controlling farmland and trading routes spanning Honduras to nearby Mayan settlements such as Tulum, Xcaret, Xel Ha and Muyil – but more importantly was fueled by access to two lagoons providing essential water supply.
- The structures of Coba demonstrate the influence from Teotihuacan architecture, highlighting that those in the region had contact with Central Mexico. Ascending 120 steps will bring you to the summit of Nohoch Mul pyramid which stands at a majestic 137 feet tall, making it the tallest temple pyramid on Yucatan Peninsula. Chichen Itza’s Kulkulkan Pyramid hosts 91 steps up to its apex as well.
- Spanning an immense 30 square miles, the Coba settlement is home to a multitude of sacbes (white roads). Out of these 50 avenues, 16 are open for exploration. Each pathway meanders out toward one of the four cardinal directions – east, west, north and south – with all leading back to the main pyramid. Inaround 900-1000AD however; this thriving Mayan city entered into a tumultuous power struggle against Chichen Itza that ultimately ended in their adversary’s favour enthroning them as new rulers over Yucatan Peninsula.
- It is believed that when the Spanish invaded the Yucatan Peninsula in 1550, Coba was ultimately abandoned. Because of dangerous jungle and a battle between Maya rulers and European settlers (the Caste War), archeologists were unable to examine or visit this site until 1920. Nowadays, visitors can enjoy Choo Ha and Tamchaha cenotes around 10 minutes away from the main entrance of these ruins – spots situated near modern-day Mayan settlements where people live year-round.
Can you Climb the Pyramids at Coba?
Yes! Taking on the Nohoch Mul pyramid is a thrilling experience; the magnificent 42-meter structure stands as an impressive monument to those who conquer it. The stairs may be steep, uneven and narrow, but with regular exercise under your belt, they should pose no problem! If you have kids or elderly people in tow – or if anyone needs extra support – there’s a thick rope available along the middle of the pyramid for balance and safety so that nobody has to miss out on this incredible feat.
Ascending to the apex of Nohoch Mul pyramid simply must be done to have a full appreciation for the captivating scene that lies beneath – lush jungle! It is an experience not-to-be-missed.
How can you Explore Coba Ruins
The Coba Ruins are vast and expansive, meaning that in contrast to many other archeological sites located in Mexico, it offers multiple ways of getting around. You could certainly tour the area on foot if you wish; however, renting a bike or cart has become increasingly popular as people explore this enchanting site. We strongly suggest taking advantage of these options for an enjoyable experience at Coba!
Exploring the archeological site was both easy and enjoyable for us. We didn’t have to rush through our tour, as it only took three hours in total to see everything! Furthermore, don’t be concerned about cyclists and cart drivers–the pathways inside are spacious enough that you’ll never feel oppressed by them.
Knowing that renting a bike was the perfect way to get around Coba Ruins and explore its cenotes, we decided to walk, but many others agreed that cycling would be the quickest, most efficient route given the flatness of the terrain and adequate space for everyone.
If you’re looking for a unique way to explore the area, consider utilizing a bicitaxi (or “cart”). Two people sit in front and are driven around by an experienced driver. Unfortunately, these carts can’t traverse every location; however, they will bring you from your starting point to the main pyramid and out again. The rental fee per cart is only 150 Mexican pesos!
How to visit Coba’s cenotes
Coba is a small village situated in an advantageous spot, endowed with remarkable natural wonders – three cenotes located near each other. Cenotes are singular areas of water found only in the Yucatan peninsula, and over 6 thousand can be discovered across it.
After trekking through the sweltering heat of an archeological site, there’s nothing quite like taking a dip in one of these unique cenotes. Their cold and crystal clear waters provide a much-needed respite from the hustle and bustle. If you’re interested in learning more about the history behind these magical wells, be sure to check out my comprehensive guide for further details on Yucatan Peninsula cenotes!
How to get from the Coba ruins to Coba Cenotes
If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience in Mexico, I highly recommend that you rent a car to explore the area. The only other option is cycling or taking a taxi if there’s no public transportation available – which applies when it comes to visiting Tamcach-Ha, Choo-Ha and Multum-Ha cenote. You can easily find rental shops near the entrance of Coba Ruins without needing reservations beforehand. Moreover, not only is this road safe with no traffic at all but also flat; thus making it just 7 km away from your destination!
Plunge into the depths of Tankach-Ha Cenote, a 20m deep natural pool! Take it to the next level by jumping from either of the two platforms – 5m or 8m high. Dare yourself and test your courage with this incredible experience!
Located nearer to the entrance, Choo-Ha presents a unique form and reaches up to 10m at its deepest point. The low ceiling does not permit diving off from this spot, however it is incredibly stunning because of the stalagmite and stalactite sitting in the middle of the pool’s water.
Cenote Multum – ha
Further up the main road, you’ll find Multun – ha. Follow the signs and don’t be discouraged if it seems like you’re never going to get there! Once on a white gravel road that winds through jungle terrain, you will eventually reach its entrance. Amongst Coba’s cenotes, this one is the deepest at 32m/90ft with no platform for jumps since its ceiling is fairly low too. Its entrance looks almost like a well which can be quite intimidating when considering how far below ground level it actually takes you.
Coba Cenotes Opening Hours
Experience the alluring beauty of Coba’s three cenotes from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily!
Coba’ cenotes entry fees
Entrance Fee: 100 MXN (roughly 5USD) per person, you can explore each cenote and revel in its beauty!
To know more about Coba’s cenotes, check out Coba Cenotes Guide