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Coba Ruins: Explore the Mayan Ruins

Coba Ruins on the Riviera Maya in Mexico are believed to be one of the most important Mayan Ruin sites in the Yucatan Peninsula. Due to its distance from the main tourist areas of Tulum, Playa Del Carmen, and Cancun, it is one of the quieter Mayan Ruin sites in Mexico.


Why visit Coba

● The site is largely unexcavated: Walking around you feel like you are really discovering something as so many of the structures are still hidden by trees. This is very unique to Coba Ruins. ● There are three Cenotes within a 10 minute drive of Coba: Choo Ha, Tamchaha and Multun-Ha. Taking a dip in one or all of them is the perfect way to cool off after your exploration. ● Coba is actually a large collection of sites connected by over 16 sacbéob (Mayan ceremonial “white roads”). At the center of the settlements is the Pyramid Ixmoja. ● To explore the grounds you can hire a bike or a bici taxi (tricycle taxi) so you don’t have to walk. ● Coba has one of the only Mayan Pyramids that you can still climb!

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How to get there

As Coba is classed as off the beaten path, it can be a little trickier to access than the other Mayan Ruins in Mexico.

Rent a Car:

I would strongly advise anyone to rent a car if you can. The roads are very easy to navigate and it is a straight road from Cancun or Playa Del Carmen to Tulum and then just two turns from there to get to Coba. Renting a car gives you the flexibility that public transport doesn’t and it also means you can take a cenote tour once you have visited the ruins.

Rental Car charges are relatively cheap in Mexico and start from around $30 per day.

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Public Transport:

From Cancun or Playa Del Carmen:

Option 1: Take an ADO bus before 7:30am from Cancun and change at Tulum or at 9:01am from Playa Del Carmen. To get back, the bus leaves at 1pm.

Option 2: Take a colectivo from Cancun to Tulum then when you arrive in Tulum take either another colectivo from Tulum to Coba or take the ADO bus at 10:10. The first colectivo leaves after 9am or as soon as they have at least 3 people wanting to go to Coba.

Getting back can be tricky if you arrived by colectivo as there is no way of knowing when they will be there. I would advise getting the 1pm ADO bus or taking a taxi back.

Option 3: Take either a colectivo or the ADO bus to Tulum and then take a taxi to Coba for around 200 pesos.

From Tulum:

The ADO bus leaves at 10:10 from its terminal and returns at 1pm. You can also take a Colectivo which will pick you up a few blocks away on the same road. These start at 9am as soon as there is a minimum of 3 people. To return, I would recommend the 1pm or 3pm ADO coach.

Book a Tour

If these options seem like too much work while on your vacation, you can book a tour to Coba through most hotels and tour agencies. I would highly recommend including a visit to Tulum Ruins if you choose this option. Many of the tours will take you to both and although Tulum is very different to Coba, it’s one of the most stunning Mayan Ruins sites I have seen. The backdrop of the Caribbean ocean is a must see!

A tour will cost you around $100 from Cancun or Playa Del Carmen.

How to get around

You have three options when visiting the site:

1.) Rent a bike for 50 pesos 2.) Rent a bici taxi 3.) Walk

On bike it will take around 1.5 hours to cover the site and about 2.5 if you are on foot. The journey is mostly under the shade of the jungle and if you go early in the morning it is a very nice commute.

What to see and do

Inside the Coba Ruins there are three main sites open to the public all connected by sacbéob (Mayan ceremonial “white roads”). It’s a nice ride/ walk in between sites.

The three main areas are: ● Conjunto Pinturas ● Nohoch Mul structures (where the main pyramid is located) ● Macanxoc Group

Just as you enter the site to your right, there is also the Coba Group where one of the 2 ball courts and a church are located.

The highlight for me was getting to climb up a Mayan Pyramid. Standing at 138 feet tall, the 120 steps to climb may not look that difficult but do issue caution and hold on to the rope in the middle. The view from the top over the jungle is magical!

About the Author

Claire Summers// Claire’s Itchy Feet

Dancer, artist, and street food connoisseur, Claire began her travels during her time in the Royal Navy, and is now a full time adventurer. Check out her travel blog to learn more about her adventures and travel tips.