Coba Ruins And Cenotes: The Essential Travel Guide From Tulum
Dawn before Tulum existed, the ancient Mayan city of Coba had long thrived over the land of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Archaeologists believe it is one of the oldest Mayan cities that grew in power and influence in the classical era (300-900 A.D).
Throughout history, they played a significant role as a city of commerce (similar to Chichen Itza) and a home to the ceremonial center of the tallest holistic pyramid. But today, Coba is a place where travelers like us tour the ancient Mayan city to be astonished by its historical architecture, culture and existence.
*best hotels to stay in Tulum* to reach Coba – if you still have to book an hotel, don’t hesitate in contacting Virginia, our friends and Tulum adopted girl living here for the last 15 years. She made us stay in the best apartments, hotels and villas. Take advantage of her service down below.
Join us in this mystical journey to the past and walk along the ancient city of Coba!
WHAT EXCITING DAY ACTIVITIES TO DO IN COBA?
Hands-down, the most fun we had was exploring the Zona Arquelogica de Coba (the ancient Mayan sites) and visiting the underground cenote close by. It is a similar experience when you travel to Chichen Itza and Cenote Ik-Kil, but Coba has its own perks. Let me tell you what they are!
The fun part of The Zona Arqueologica de Coba is to tour and explore the ancient city of Coba. Not only you will be blown away by magnificent structures (that are standing strong till today), but you can also learn about its history, culture, sacrificial offerings and more.
When things get hot, and you are sweating like a sinner in church, what’s a better way to wash all that away than to swim in the cold cenote water? Don’t let the fun stop just yet! There are several cenotes close to the Mayan ruins, and we’ll talk about them further below.
Let’s begin this little adventure and find out!
ZONA ARQUEOLOGICA DE COBA: ANCIENT MAYAN SITES OF TEMPLES AND RUINS
Rested deep in the jungle, The Zona Arqueologica de Coba is open during the day from Monday to Sunday, from 8am to 5pm (last entry at 3:30pm), and costs 85 pesos per person as of July 2022. I also highly recommend going with a tour guide throughout the journey. But before you go, visit their website to see if the Mayan ruins are open for the day!
THE NOHOCH MUL PYRAMID: CLIMB THE TALLEST MAYAN RUIN IN MEXICO
Located 2 km/1.2 miles from the entrance, the Nohoch Mul Pyramid is one of the oldest and the tallest Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Standing tall at a massive 42m/138ft height, way taller than Chichen Itza at 30m/98ft, is the main reason travelers visit here during the day. As travel enthusiasts, we can’t help but want to experience the excitement of climbing the 120 stone steps and overlooking the Mayan jungle from above! You don’t want to miss this chance while you’re in Tulum.
Unfortunately, you currently cannot climb the Mayan ruins during COVID-19! (We will update you when it is available again. But, if you climb the pyramid, it is more challenging to go down than go up, so be careful!
Note: Go with a bike to save your energy throughout the 2km journey.
“Swimming in Coba's Cenote”
“Coba Mayan Ruins”
THE MESOAMERICAN BALL GAME COURT
On your path, you will notice two slanted stone structures facing each other with a ring attached at the top right of the wall. What you are seeing is a good old fashioned basketball court that the warriors of Maya used for religious, political and social reasons.
We find its history most interesting because it is more than just a game. In the post-classical era in the Yucatan Peninsula, the ball game’s main purpose is to represent a sacrificial offering to the gods. The Maya believed that if something bad happens to the land (drought, diseases, etc.), it means that the gods are angry. Now here is when things get twisted. To make the gods happy again, each team will play against each other, and the winners will get decapitated and go to heaven (as a sacrifice). It’s scary if you ask us!
Rules of Zona Arqueologica de Coba you should know: Extra cost for a professional video camera, discounts for Mexican citizens (seniors, students and teachers), no smoking, no food and no pets allowed.
GORGEOUS CENOTES Around Coba In THE YUCATAN PENINSULA
There are three beautiful mesmerizing cave structures, located close to the Coba archaeological site. They are located just 12 minutes by car or 20 minutes by bike, and these are Cenote Choo-Ha, Tankach-Ha, and Multun-Ha. You should take a short trip to one of the cenotes right from the Mayan site before heading back to Tulum.
Open Hours: 9am – 8pm | Entrance Fee: 100 pesos
Not far from the Coba Maya site, cenote Choo – Ha is a hidden cenote. Here, you will journey down the wooden steps to uncover an underground cenote! This is the best place to wash away the heat and sweat from the full day of a fun history adventure.
Open Hours: 9am – 8pm | Entrance Fee: 100 pesos
One of the unique experience in a cenote that I love so much is to make a huge splash on the water. Here, there is a platform for you to jump at a 5m to 8m height! It is super fun and safe because there are no rocks around the jumping platform.
Open Hours: 9am – 8pm | Entrance Fee: 100 pesos
Just across from the other cenotes, Multum-Ha has to be one of the best cenotes to enjoy the fresh cenote water and take pictures by the deck. Since the water is deep, you can rent a swimming vest for 40 pesos and float on the still water.
“A Cenote Close To Coba”
“Water Is Crystal Clear”
Take Advantage Of Free Concierge Service
As excellent to explore Tulum and its surroundings alone, you may need help figuring out where to start. To make the most of your money and time, contact Virginia and Kelly - two incredible Mexican girls living in Tulum for more than 15 years. They're familiar with the ins & outs of the Tulum town and hotel zone like the back of their hand!
Since we arrived in Tulum 2 years ago, many adventures wouldn’t have been possible without their help - they know literally everybody in Tulum and can perfectly organize every moment of your stay. Get the best tables, skip queues and get on the guest list of the coolest places in Tulum - this’s only the beginning!
They are ready to offer you guys FREE concierge service in Tulum for the time of your stay: take advantage of it, contact them on Whatsapp and live the best experience!
“Virginia Can't Wait To Make Your Stay Flawless”
“Kelly Will Transform You In A Tulum Insider”
GOING ALONE VS GOING ON GROUP TOURS
Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, but you should definitely think about this before going to Coba!
Going alone – Visiting Coba by yourselves can be a bit messy and stressful. But, with a little planning and research, you can still have a marvelous time without anyone holding you back!
Going on group tours – We highly recommend looking for a group or private tour service that can take you to explore Coba for the whole day! Yes, It is more expensive, but it’s more worth it and hassle-free. Their services can cover bus or car transportation, entrance tickets, guides and more.
HOW TO GET TO COBA: FROM TULUM OR PLAYA DEL CARMEN
If you are going with a tour company, you don’t have to worry about this if they cover transportation. Anyways, here are your methods of transportation to go to Coba, rated from the most favorable to the least.
The best value for your trip!. Although renting a car costs more than public transportation, you can have much more freedom as you travel. Also, there is parking in Coba for a fee. But before, make sure to check out our guide to car rentals and how to avoid scams in Tulum!
Another great option is to take the bus. But, be sure to visit their website to plan your journey. Try to book the bus tickets a few days in advance! If you’re coming from Playa del Carmen, you might want to travel to Tulum early in the morning.
Colectivo is a small shuttle bus that takes you to Coba. You can find the stop at a blue street sign just between Kal-Hua and Babel Cafe, or north of Super Aki. It costs around 70 pesos per person, but there is no fixed time schedule and you may wait up to an hour. If you are traveling from Playa del Carmen, you need to go to Tulum first.
Very convenient, but very expensive going in and out of Coba. It can cost you up to 400 USD! Unless you have DeNiro to burn, then why not.
At this point, you should have a better understanding of Coba, from what to do, how to experience Coba and the best way to travel. Now, I challenge you to make a solid game plan before visiting Coba!
Your game plan should look like this: leaving Tulum in the morning, before 9am. Endure the one-hour ride and take the bike to tour the archaeological site first for about 2 hours (especially Nohoch Mul). Make sure to check the INAH’s website about the archaeological sites before traveling.
Then, when it gets hot during the day, take a swim in the cenote close by, or enjoy a lunch break at a restaurant before heading back to Tulum.
We hope that our guide was clear and entertaining. We wish you a wonderful trip to Coba, and don’t forget to tell us your story below!
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