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Visiting Coba in Yucatan, Mexico

Exploring the Mayan Ruins of Coba in Mexico

by Tsvete Popp

This post is part of the series Yucatán

Other posts in this series:

  1. Day Trip to Uxmal and the Pyramid of the Magician
  2. The Best Things to Do in Merida, Mexico
  3. Exploring the Mayan Ruins of Coba in Mexico (Current)

The Mayan ruins of Coba are some of the most spectacular and underrated ruins in the eastern part of Yucatán. The Mayan ruins of Coba are believed to be one of the most important in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Coba has significantly fewer tourists than Chichen Itza, and you can pretty much have the ruins to yourself. Here, you are allowed to touch and even climb the Great Pyramid – the jungle views from above are brilliant and the experience is unforgettable!

 

Visiting Coba is an amazing day trip experience within reach of Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Valladolid. We actually travelled to Coba from Tulum by car. The best way to explore the site of Coba is by yourself! You don’t have to book a private tour or guide. Just take your time and camera, climb the pyramid and wander through the pathways and tunnels of Coba!

 

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Visiting Coba in Yucatan, Mexico Visiting Coba in Yucatan, Mexico Visiting Coba in Yucatan, Mexico Visiting Coba in Yucatan, Mexico
 

History Of Coba

 

There is not much known about Coba’s history as other Mayan cities in the south. But still, Coba is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Yucatán. The first Mayan settlers came during the 1st century attracted by the lakes which are not typical for this area. Archaeological evidence suggests that Coba was inhabited as far back as 50 AD.

 

Back in the days, Coba was the most powerful settlement in the region. Coba was controlling farmland, trading routes, and important water sources. In the years between 200 and 600 AD, Coba dominated the surrounding area including the north of the state of Quintana Roo. Unfortunately, Coba lost prominence as Chichen Itza rose to power. After 600 AD Chichén Itza became the main settlement in this area and took the dominance of Coba. This was also the starting point for its downfall in the 8th century.

 

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Visiting Coba in Yucatan, MexicoVisiting Coba in Yucatan, Mexico
 

Researchers believe that during the 8th century there were about 50 000 Mayan people living in Coba. The city is famous for its “Sacbebob” constructed by the Maya. Sacbebobs are raised stone pathways that lead from one area to another. But nowadays it is still a mystery how the Maya transported goods along these roads.

 

Did you know that ...
Sacbe is a hub of a system of roads constructed by the Maya for commerce and general foot travel. Nowadays, some of these roads can still be found in parts of the Yucatan.

 

What You Actually See Inside Coba

 

Coba is not well known and excavated as other sites in Yucatan. There are many structures still covered in trees and plants. This will give you the feeling of being Indiana Jones at some point of your trip. While walking around you will feel like you are really discovering something -so many of the structures are still hidden by trees. Nowadays, there are three main sites open to the public: Conjunto Pinturas, Nohoch Mul structures (where you will find the main pyramid), and Macanxoc Group. All three sites are connected by sacbebob.

 

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The Great Pyramid

The highlight of visiting Coba is climbing the Great Pyramid. There aren’t many places where you can climb a Mayan pyramid anymore as authorities have restricted climbing in order to preserve the pyramids and reduce accidents.

 

The Great Pyramid of Coba is called Ixmoja. The pyramid is part of the Nohoch Mul group of buildings in Coba. The pyramid. Ixmoja is 42 m tall which makes it 12 m taller than El Castillo in Chichen Itza! You have to climb all the 120 stone steps which are much steeper than they look! From above you can enjoy the views and get some stunning photos!

 
Visiting Coba in Yucatan, MexicoVisiting Coba in Yucatan, MexicoVisiting Coba in Yucatan, Mexico
 

Ball game court

 

Maya played a ball game where the rubber ball (represented the sun) had to be put into a small stone circle perched very high on a wall, without using your hands or feet. The Mayan game is more than 3.500 years old, which makes it the very first organized game in the history of sports. This ball game ended in the sacrifice of one of the teams, but it is still not sure if the winning or the losing team was the sacrificed team. The Ball Court of Coba is smaller than the Ballcourt in Chichen Itza (Juego de Pelota).

 

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Visiting Coba in Yucatan, Mexico
 

Things to Know Before You Go

 

Getting to Coba by Car: Coba is located on the eastern side of the Yucatan peninsula, about 2 hours drive from Cancun (135 km), 50 km west of Tulum (45 min drive), 60 km south of Valladolid ( 50 min drive), 110 km west of Playa del Carmen (1 h 30 min  drive).

 

Opening Times: The ruins are open daily all year round from 8 am to 5 pm. I’d recommend arriving before opening so that you are among the first to enter as it is much quieter and cooler in the mornings. You may also avoid (if possible) visiting Coba on Sundays, as the admission is free for citizens and residents of Mexico – it will get much busier!

 

Did you know that ...
Coba is in different time zone than Tulum, Cancun and Playa del Carmen! You can sleep 1 more hour and still be one of the first to visit the archaeological site!

 

Entrance Fee: The price for visiting Coba is 75 MXN (about 3.5 €) and for parking, you have to pay 50 MXN (2.30 €).

 

Time for Visiting: You can stay as long as you like, but I guess that 1.5 to 2 hours of stay would probably be the average.

 

Ideal Clothing & Footwear: This region of Yucatan is very hot and humid all year-round, so dress for hot weather. If you are going to ascend the pyramids (I’m sure you will) it is good to wear comfortable and nonslippery shoes appropriate for climbing.

 

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Visiting Coba in Yucatan, Mexico
 

When is the Best Time of Year for Visiting Coba?: The best time of the day to visit Coba is in the early morning or in the late afternoon. We arrived at 7:15 (we didn’t know that Coba is in different time zone, but we still could buy a ticket and get inside!)  and during the first hour, there were almost no people there and the temperature was about 22°. It was absolutely lovely having almost the entire ruins site to ourselves! The only way to avoid the crowds and beat the vendors is to arrive at the ruins as early as possible and close to their opening time of 8 am. Many of the tour buses make their way from places like Tulum, Playa or Valladolid in the morning and arrive at Coba around 10 a.m. The busiest and the hottest time to visit Coba is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

 

Why you should choose Coba over Chichen Itza?: You should not! Just visit both archaeological sites 🙂 But there are some reasons why I prefer Coba over Chichen Itza. Coba has significantly fewer tourists than Chichen Itza, and you can pretty much have the ruins to yourself. In Coba, you are allowed to touch, climb, or go inside the pyramids – the views are brilliant and the experience is unforgettable!

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Visiting Coba in Yucatan, MexicoVisiting Coba in Yucatan, Mexico
 

Mexico Accommodation:

 
Ready to visit Mexico? Start looking at your Mexico accommodation now while it’s fresh in your mind.
 
Want stylish accommodation you can afford?. Find the cheapest prices for the best accommodations possible:

 


Booking.com


 

Mexico Flights:

 
If you are flying to Mexiko it is beneficial to use a flight comparison site to find the cheapest flights. I recommend and use Kiwi.com.
 
Click here to compare and book cheap flights to Mexico
 

Rental Car in Mexico

 
RentalCars.com searches all the big car rental companies in Mexico and finds the best price for you. This is probably the easiest way to rent a car in Mexico and around the World.
 

Mexico Tours

 
If you are the type of person who prefers joining a tour, there are all kinds of guided tours around Mexico including Coba.


 
Enjoy the day!
 
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