No vacation in Mexico would be complete without a visit to one of the famous Mayan ruins. Different than the popular Chichen Itza or Tulum, the Coba ruins have a more authentic look, with trees and bushes growing from the pyramid stones. The remote location, the fewer tourists, the access to the peak of the pyramid, make Cobá one of the most beautiful Mayan sites of Yucatan. If you want to know more about exploring Cobá ruins on your own, read the entire article:
GETTING TO COBÁ
You can get to Cobá with a rented-car. It’s pretty common and safe to rent a car and discover the peninsula at your own pace. The rental prices are low compared to other places in the world, and the traffic is good.
- CANCUN: ADO bus terminal in Cancun is at Calle Pino. The journey takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes.
- PLAYA DEL CARMEN: ADO bus terminal in Playa del Carmen is at the corner of Benito Juarez and Quinta Avenida. The journey takes no more than two hours.
- TULUM: ADO bus terminal in Tulum is at Tulum Centro. The journey takes no more than one hour.
The cheapest way to visit Cobá is to take a Colectivo from Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum.
- Cancun. Right near the main ADO bus station, in the parking lot next to Mega supermarket, you will find the Colectivo terminal. It will take no more than 2 hours to reach the ruins.
- Playa del Carmen: The Colectivo terminal is on Calle 2 Norte between Avenida 15 and 20 in Playa del Carmen. It takes about 1hour and30 minutes to reach the ruins.
- Tulum: You can find the Colectivo station on the corner of Tulum Avenue (the main highway) and Calle Osiris Nte. The journey takes around one hour.
HOW TO VISIT COBÁ MAYAN RUINS ON YOUR OWN
Cobá ruins are vast and what I liked the most, they are totally sunk into the jungle. The archaeological site is so different than the famous Chichen Itza or Tulum, less touristy, less excavated and you can climb some of the pyramids. Exploring Cobá ruins on your own in Yucatan, Mexico is possible? Yes and you can eighter walk, bike or hire a bike taxi.
Coba Archaeological Site is open between 8 am–5 pm. Entrance fee: 70 pesos.
You can walk the 2 kilometres to the main structure and another 2 kilometres back. It’s easy to walk around.
HIRE A TRICYCLES
You can hire a tricycle taxi if you have mobility restrictions. The guide will peddle the tricycle and take you to different sites and explain some history of the Mayan ruins. Prices may vary between 140 – 200 pesos, depending on the route.
HIRE A BIKE
The most popular way to visit Cobá is by renting a bike. Near the entrance, you will notice a bike stand from where you can rent one. It’s easy to bike around, you can defeat the heat, see more faster and also have time to swim in the cenotes. Riding a bike around to view the ruins makes a fun and pleasant experience. Bike rental around 40 pesos.
HIRE A GUIDE AND WALK OR BIKE
There is no printed information at any of the sites, so a guide approved by the Archaeological Park, is money well spent. TIP: If you want to do some savings, ask another person/couple/family to join your tour guide and split the bill. Hiring a local guide will cost you around 800 pesos.
THE HISTORY OF COBÁ MAYAN RUINS
The Mayan ruins of Cobá were inhabited between 600 and 800 AD and then abandoned in 1400 when the Spanish conquered this part of Mexico. Home to almost 50,000 Mayans, the largest population of all the Mayan cities, Cobá ruins were an important trading centre for the Mayan world. Excavations of the site began in 1970, but barely a few of the structures have been uncovered. Only in 1980, Cobá became a tourist destination.
THE BALL GAME COURTS
Nearly every Mayan site had a ball game court, and the story is usually the same: Two teams of seven players performed a popular Mayan ball game. Players used to rebound a small rubber ball through stone rings using only their hips, knees and elbows. The game was played for official reasons or just for fun, but it was always a way to interact with the gods. Most of the times, the winning captain was sacrificed to the gods.
VISITING THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL AREA
Near the entrance, you’ll find some artisan stands with Mexican handcrafts, a convenience store and bike takis. The park is pretty big, and the first few buildings right after the entrance are not impressive. Depending on how much time you want to explore the archaeological site, you can search each site, walk every path, discover the tunnels and which pyramid is accessible.
NOHOCH MUL AREA
The most important point of interest in Cobá is Nohoch Mul area. You can still climb the 42 meters tall pyramid in the heart of Nohoch Mul. For how long? Nobody knows but maybe someday in the future it will be forbidden. The 125 stones up to the peak are smooth to climb. From the top of the summit, you can savour a gorgeous view of the mysterious jungle, so peaceful and so green. Just be careful when climbing the pyramid and especially when descending. There is a rope in the middle that you can grab on your way up or down.
RELATED: EXPLORING CHICHEN ITZA ON YOUR OWN, MEXICO
CENOTES NEAR COBÁ RUINS
Now it’s time to cool down at one of the three cenotes near Cobá ruins: Tamcach-ha, Choo-ha or Multum-ha. Just rent a bike and ride it to them. The first two are next to each other. Tamcach-ha is the most amazing one, enclosed, with two platforms to jump off. Choo-ha is also enclosed, but no jumping is allowed. The last one is different and the deepest of the three.
If you come early to visit Cobá ruins, you still have enough time to visit all three cenotes. Otherwise, consider visiting one maxim two.
I hope this guide of exploring Cobá Ruins on your own was helpful! Do you want to try something different than swimming in the cenotes? Are you interested in floating through a mangroves forest, in a Mayan canal, on a self-guided day trip?
TIPS FOR VISITING COBÁ RUINS
- Visit the area early morning or late in the afternoon if possible to miss the crowds.
- Bring plenty of water since it’s going to be hot during the day.
- Wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
- Use mosquito repellent to keep you away from the insects.
- Forget the flip flops and wear comfortable walking shoes, especially if you climb the main pyramid.
- Bring a swimming suit if you want to swim in one of the cenotes near the Cobá ruins.
- Bring a rain poncho or an umbrella since showers can happen.
- There is only a restroom near the entrance.
- There is a small stand from where you can buy drinks at the foot of the main pyramid.
If you want to discover other beautiful places in Yucatan, read more here:
CELESTUN – SELF-GUIDED DAY TRIP FROM MERDIA, MEXICO