Mexico’s Riviera Maya has become an affordable and relatively safe vacation destination for many people. Located just an hour south of the Cancun International Airport the area offers palatial resorts and beautiful beaches. And while many people will stick to their resorts or venture out to Playa del Carman and the Mayan ruins at Tulume, if your looking to beat the crows and in for a little adventure you should add in a visit to Coba Mexico!
Located just 30 minutes from Tulume and 1 1/2 hours from Playa del Carmen, Coba offers a large Mayan temple complex, and incredibly tall and steep pyramid in Nochoch Mul (that you can actually climb!), and the area features several amazing cenotes to swim in and cool off in after.
Here are some tips and highlights from our trip to Coba Mexico!
The Coba Mexico Mayan Ruins
Getting to Coba
You can either rent a car or join a tour group. We rented a car which allowed us to go on our own schedule and visit a few of the areas underground cenotes, which I highly recommend. Renting a car in Mexico is fairly easy but you should be careful, rental cars are given special plates and are prime targets for theft and cops / military shakedowns. I’m not trying to spread any ill will, but we had a run in with the federalies just a few minutes from dropping the rental car off that left us -$300, so it’s worth mentioning. At the ruins there is a medium sized parking lot with a few tiny restaurants and gift shops along the side.
Parking Cost: $60 Pesos / around $5 USD (expect a horrible exchange rate that is not current)
The Coba Mayan Ruins
Entrance Fee: $75 Pesos or $6.75 USD (expect a horrible exchange rate that is not current)
Guide Cost: Around $400-500 Pesos or $25 USD (can negotiate)
Bike Rental: $50 Pesos or $5 USD
Bike Taxi: $125 Pesos (two person)
Recommended Tour Time: 2-3 Hours
What to Bring: Shoes (if you plan on climbing the pyramid), Backpack, Water, Snacks, Sunscreen, Pesos
The Coba ruins are spread out over a large area in two main wings and you have the option of touring them on foot or by bike. You can’t miss the bike rental once you enter the complex and I’ve updated the prices above. I’d recommend renting a bike. The ground is flat and smooth making it fun and easy even if you haven’t ridden in years. Just make sure to test your bike quickly before leaving.
Once one your bike/foot, you’ll have the option to go left or right as the ruins form sort of a “Y”. Running down two main roads. To the left is Nohoch Mul and Ixmoja, the 42 meter (137 feet) tall Mayan pyramid that you can climb. One of the largest (and probably the steepest) this will be a highlight of the ruin complex so it is up to you if you want to go to it first or second.
From here it’s your adventure! Plan about 2-3 hours to tours the Coba ruins and make sure to bring water, sunscreen, and some snacks.
Coba Restaurants and Gift Shops
The Coba parking lot has a few options for food and souvenir shopping… but not much. We ate a late breakfast at one of the smaller restaurants in the strip mall since the large place wasn’t open yet. It was good and din’t make us sick. A few of us grabbed some throw away straw hats from one of the shops and we were off to do swim in some cenotes.
Cenotes in Coba Mexico
While the Mayan ruins may be what bring most people to Coba, the area also offers some of the Riviera Maya’s best hidden cenotes. Offering the perfect way to cool off after visiting the ruins. There are two main underground cenotes locate jut 10 minutes from the Coba ruins, Choo-Ha and Tamcach-HA. These are far less known and traveled than the ones located near Tulume making them the perfect place to get away from the crowds. All three are located on the same road and there will be a small guard booth at the begging of the road where you buy your tickets.
Cenote Choo-HA is the first on the road you will come across and is a great place to start. There is a shower building located near the parking lot for you to wash off your sunscreen, which is important for keeping the water pristine. You enter the cenote through a large staircase which reminds you how deep underground you are going. Dimly lit, the cave is impressive and swimming through the crystal clear water is an amazing experience.
Tamcach-Ha was our favorite of the three cenotes. You enter down a long spiral stair case which features two platform you can jump off. One is at 10 meters (32 feet) high and the other is 5 meters (16 feet) high. Jumping off the high jump is an incredible experience. The 32 foot fall sends you plummeting deep into the crystal clear water where you can see beyond clear;y when you open your eyes. We spent a good 45 minutes jumping and swimming in the deep cenote.