How to visit Coba Ruins in Mexico

How To Visit Coba Ruins and Coba Cenotes – Your Complete Guide [2022]

Located in the heart of the Mayan jungle, the ancient Coba ruins are a sight to behold. Wandering around this archeological area makes you feel like Indiana Jones, as you get a chance to see impressive stone pyramids, panels with petroglyphs, and remains of Mayan ceremonial sites.

Coba Archaeological Area makes a perfect getaway from some of the most popular places around Yucatan since it’s less than an hour away from Tulum and one hour away from the colonial town of Valladolid, one of the most charming pueblos magicos in Mexico.

When you need a bit of an adventure and a getaway from the beach, hop in a car (or on a bus), and hit the road!

Brief history of Coba ruins

Established in approximately 600 CE, Cobá consisted of several clusters of structures, and at one point was home to 50,000 residents.

Translated as “waters stirred by wind” from the Mayan language, Coba is famous for the largest network of sac-be’s (which means white road in the Mayan language). Archaeologists have discovered about 50 roads in the area, but only 16 of them are open to the public. They connect various areas of Coba to the main Pyramid Nohoch Mul as well as the nearby lake.

Coba is home to more than 30 stelae (or columns made from rock), some of which boast inscribed images and tell a story of what life was like in Coba back in the day.

How to visit Coba ruins

Why visit Coba ruins

Coba is one of the best day trips from Tulum and is the perfect alternative to some of the most popular Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula, like Chichén Itzá and Tulum. Coba is a more remote site, and has far fewer visitors, however, it’s getting more popular now as more tourists are discovering this place.

It is also a bigger archaeological area and has plenty of shade which means you will not have to bake in the sun the entire time you are here.

PRO TIP: Learn more about the best Mayan ruins in Mexico that you can visit during your road trip around the Yucatan Peninsula.

Where are Coba ruins located?

Coba ruins are located in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, in the Yucatan Peninsula. It sits beside two small lakes in the namesake village of Coba. It takes about 35 minutes to get to Coba from Tulum and one hour to get to Coba from Valladolid.

PRO TIP: Plan to continue your road adventure after visiting Coba? Check my complete guide to the best places to visit in Yucatan Peninsula.

Distance to Coba ruins

Tulum to Coba – 43km (27 miles) – 35-40 minutes
Valladolid to Coba – 60.0 km – 50 minutes
Playa Del Carmen to Coba – 109.0 km – 1 hour 30 minutes
Cancun to Coba – 133.6 km – 2 hour 6 minutes

Why you should visit Coba cenotes

How to visit Coba ruins

Depending on your time and budget, there are several ways to reach Coba ruins. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular options.

Rental car

The best way to visit Coba ruins is by rental car. You can rent a car in Tulum, or Cancun after you land, so you don’t have to rely on buses. Renting a car in Mexico will allow you to explore the region at your own pace and visit cenotes, the best Pueblos Magicos in Yucatan like Tulum or Valladolid, and also tour other Mayan ruins.

Find Your Rental Car

Read my complete guide to renting a car in Mexico to avoid the most common mistakes and save money!

I recommend DiscoverCars, my favorite car rental company that has a great inventory and affordable rates. I’ve rented a car from them several times and always had a great experience!

Guided tour of Coba ruins

Visiting Coba from Tulum with a guided tour can save you a lot of hassle. Guided tours of Coba are great if you don’t have a car and don’t want to deal with the public transportation.

A tour will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel, and most likely include a stop for lunch as well as a visit to Coba cenotes. Plus, you will also have an English-speaking guide give you a detailed tour of the area and answer any questions that you might have.

Colectivo

Colectivos are small shared minivans that are often used by locals and cost only a fraction of a regular bus ticket.

Colectivos from Tulum to Coba cost approximately 70 Pesos, but they typically don’t leave until they have filled all the seats. This is something to consider, especially, if you are trying to get to Coba ruins from Tulum early. Colectivos to Coba leave from Tulum Avenue and Calle Osiris.

PRO TIP: Since colectivos don’t have a set schedule, check the bus schedule ahead of your trip because you could spend some time waiting to catch a colectivo from Coba to Tulum.

👉 Planning on taking public transportation while traveling in Mexico? Check my top Mexico travel tips that will help you to save money and avoid mistakes when taking buses and colectivos around the country.

Bus

A second-class Mayab Bus leaves from the main bus terminal in Tulum and can takes you to Coba Ruins quickly and hassle-free. This is the cheapest way to get from Tulum to Coba aside from taking colectivos. Bring cash to pay for your tickets as credit cards are not accepted.

Their schedule is not published online, and you will need to ask about their schedule at the ticket office.

Taxi

Although you can get from Tulum to Coba by taxi, I don’t recommend it.

This is the most expensive option, and, if you don’t want to take public transportation, it makes more sense to just rent a car, because you will be able to visit Coba cenotes and other points of interest in the area, without having to pay for a taxi every time you need to get around. A taxi from Tulum to Coba can be anywhere from 300-500 Pesos one way and up.

Price of Coba ruins

The price of Coba ruins is 80 Pesos per person for foreign visitors. You also need to pay separately for parking which is 50 Pesos. Both of these payments have to be made in cash.

PRO TIP: If you arrive early, you can park for free on the side of the road just outside of the archaeological area provided there are still spots.

Coba ruins are open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The last entrance is at 3 p.m.

Coba is one of the best Mayan ruins

What are you going to see in the Coba ruins?

Coba’s archaeological area is pretty expansive and consists of several areas connected by sac-bes, or white routes. The first part is called Grupo Coba and is located shortly past the entrance to the archaeological area.

Here you will see the el Castillo Pyramid as well as several stelae, some of which have inscribed Mayan images. Right nearby, you can also find a court for the ancient Mayan ball game.

How to visit Coba ruins

The second part is Nohoch Mul, where you can find the namesake pyramid, which is also the tallest structure in this archaeological area.

FUN FACT: Nohoch Mul is one of the tallest pyramids in the Yucatan Peninsula, and was built during several periods. Unfortunately, it’s been closed for climbing, but you can admire it from the distance.

And the third part is called Grupo Macanxoc, the most remote part of this archaeological area.

Coba ruins

How to explore Coba ruins

Coba archaeological area covers more than 30 square miles or 80 square kilometers, and there’s a lot to explore here, so make sure to spare enough time for your visit to Coba ruins.

You can walk around Coba ruins on your own, or you can hire a guide at the entrance. Additionally, you can also come to Coba on a guided tour. Guided tours of the area typically include stops at nearby cenotes and some other archaeological areas.

Walking

If you have extra time, exploring Coba ruins on foot is an excellent idea. You will begin at the entrance of the archaeological area and arrive at the fork where you can continue either to Nochoch Mul or to a different area. You can visit these parts in any sequence, just keep in mind that you will need some extra water if you decide to walk.

Hiring a bici taxi

Does walking a few miles (or kilometers) sounds like a daunting task? You can hire a bici taxi on-site. A local driver will get you from the entrance to whatever place you want to visit. But make sure to bring enough cash, if you decide to go this route.

Renting a bicycle

The best option, in my opinion, is renting a bicycle! This will allow you to explore the site at your pace but also get around much faster than by walking. Renting a bike to explore Coba ruins will save you a ton of time, and help to beat the crowds. You can rent a bicycle for 50 Pesos in cash on the spot.

Hiring a guide on the spot

After you pay for the entrance to Coba, you can hire a local guide on the spot. This is an excellent way to learn the history of the area as well as get insight into the Mayan culture. Plus, you will also help to support the local economy, as most of these guides live in local towns and rely on tourism for source of income.

How to visit Coba ruins

Things to know before visiting Coba ruins

As with other Mayan ruins in Mexico, there are a few things you should know before planning your trip to Coba ruins. Here are some of my top tips for visiting this archaeological area.

Visit Coba ruins early

This is especially true if you are visiting Coba during the high season which is from December through March, but in general, it’s better to visit early morning before the archaeological area gets crowded. This is also true for many other Mayan ruins in Mexico.

Bring bug repellent

Bugs can be pretty bad when you walk around the jungle, so put on some repellent before leaving your hotel.

Wear comfortable shoes

Although the main pyramid of Coba Nohoch Mul, is closed for climbing as of 2022, you still should put on comfortable shoes because you will spend some time on your feet while exploring this area

Don’t forget about water

Coba stretches over several kilometers, which means you will need to do some walking or bicycling. Make sure to bring some water, because you will likely get thirsty

Hire a guide

If you are visiting Yucatan for the first time, it’s a good idea to hire a guide at the entrance. This is an excellent way to get a grasp of the Yucatec culture and history aside from learning about Coba.

Coba Cenotes

After visiting Coba ruins, head over to Coba cenotes. Cenotes are natural sinkholes filled with fresh water and can be found all over the Yucatan Peninsula. Coba Cenotes are located just slightly north of the ruins and take about 5 minutes to reach if you have a rental car.

PRO TIP: Coba is not the only place where you can find cenotes. The entire Yucatan Peninsula has thousands of gorgeous cenotes! Check my complete guide to the best cenotes near Tulum.

Coba cenotes price

You can pay 300 pesos and visit all three Coba cenotes or just 100 Pesos for each. All payments have to be made in cash at the entrance. All Coba ruins are open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

TIP ON VISITING COBA CENOTES: As with many popular cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, Coba cenotes are the busiest from around 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Visit Coba cenotes either early morning before going to Coba, or in the late afternoon after visiting Coba ruins and stopping in Coba for some lunch.

Best cenotes near Tulum

Cenote Tamcach-Ha

A closed underground cenote, Tamcach-Ha is the coolest of all Coba cenotes with two diving platforms (5 and 10 meters each) from where you can jump into the crystal-clear water.

To get inside cenote Tamcach-Ha, you have to make your way down a steep ladder, and once you are there, you will see impressive stalactites hanging from the ceiling. This is a deeper cenote that has a round shape and is popular for snorkeling and swimming and you can also spot many bats here.

How to visit Coba cenotes

Cenote Choo-Ha

Cenote Choo-Ha is a shallow cenote with impressive stalagmites that is great for taking photos and relaxing. You will not find deep water or cool diving platforms here, but it boasts nice clear water that is good for snorkeling.
PRO TIP: All Coba cenotes are located underground, which means there’s no natural light here. If you want to take photos, you will need to have the right settings in your camera.

How to visit Coba cenotes

Cenote Multun-Ha

Cenote Multun-Ha is the most popular of all cenotes near Coba because it offers a big area for swimming and incredible crystal clear water that allows you to see the bottom. This is a busy cenote, so my advice is to start your tour of Cenotes near Coba with a stop at Multun-Ha before it gets busy.

To get inside the cenote, you can either jump or get in from the ladder in the water.

Best time to visit Coba cenotes

Although Coba cenotes see fewer visitors than cenotes near Tulum it still can get a bit busy here. Come here either early morning when they open, or late in the afternoon after you visit Coba ruins when most people leave.

GOOD TO KNOW: Since Coba is a bit of distance from Tulum, consider spending the night here, especially if you are traveling by public transportation. Coba is a small town, but it has a couple of hotels in the area such as

Where to stay near Coba ruins

Coba is one of the most popular day trips from Tulum, but it’s also a perfect stop along your Yucatan itinerary if you are continuing your trip toward Valladolid. The town of Coba is nice and quiet and there are several hotels in Coba where you can spend one night before continuing your travel.

Here are some of my favorite hotels near Coba ruins:

Coqui Coqui Papholchac Coba Residence & Spa – a real oasis in the middle of the jungle, this hotel is 15 minutes away by walking from Coba ruins. Coqui Coqui offers continental breakfast on request, a restaurant, free private parking, a bar and a garden.

Kaan Coba – If you need to regenerate after spending your day exploring Coba ruins and jumping in cenotes, head to Kaan Coba, a gorgeous hotel with a swimming pool, a garden, terrace and gorgeous aesthetic. Guests leave rave reviews for this property, so it’s definitely worth a stay!

Hotel Sacbe Cobaa great budget-friendly option for travelers on the road, Hotel Sacbe Coba sits 1,000 feet from Cobá archaeological site and 350 feet away from Cobá Lagoon. It offers a restaurant with regional dishes, a garden and an on-site mini market.

Where to eat near Coba ruins

You will find several local restaurants at the entrance to Coba cenote. Here you can taste delicious food at great prices much lower than in popular places like Tulum or even Playa del Carmen.

The best restaurants in Coba:

Restaurante Chile Picante – some of the best Yucatec food I’ve ever tried and the prices are unbeatable!

Nicte Ha – Yummy homemade food and classic Mexican staples with a beautiful view of the lagoon

El Faisan – If you want to try authentic Mayan food, stop at El Faisan near the entrance to Coba

Other cool ruins to visit in Mexico

Many other Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula are worth putting on your list. I recommend you include at least a few of them on your bucket list. My article about the best Mayan ruins in Mexico will help you plan your trip

How to visit Coba Ruins

Tulum or Coba ruins?

Many visitors who visit the Yucatan Peninsula, often ask about what’s better, Tulum or Coba ruins. This is a fair question because these are some of the best Mayan ruins with a totally different history and landscape.

Tulum ruins are famous for their setting along the Caribbean Coast and were a major stop along the Mayan trade route. Coba ruins are more remote and much more spread out. Its location away from the coast also means there are fewer visitors, which is great if you are looking for something less touristy.

Coba ruins also have more shadow which makes them easier to visit especially in the middle of the day when the sun can be really strong. Still, don’t forget to bring some sunscreen, because it can get hot here, especially if you are visiting Coba ruins in late spring or summer.

PRO TIP: Want to explore more archaeological areas in the region? Check my complete guide to some of the best Mayan ruins in Mexico.

Is Coba worth seeing?

Yes, yes, and yes! Coba is a beautiful archaeological area located less than one hour away from Tulum, that is still less discovered as some of the other Mayan ruins in the region. When visiting Yucatan Peninsula, set aside half a day to explore Coba Ruins and enjoy the nearby cenotes.

How to get to Coba from Tulum

As mentioned above, you can visit Coba from Tulum either by bus or by rental car. The earliest bus from Tulum to Coba leaves at 7:20 a.m. from the main bus terminal in Tulum. The ticket costs 50 Pesos one way. If you want to check a complete bus schedule for the day, you can do it at ado.mx

There are also several return buses from Coba to Tulum, and depending on the day, their schedules can vary. Check their departure time before leaving for the day.

To check schedule of ADO buses, go directly to ADO website.

How to get to Coba from Playa Del Carmen

Since there’s no direct bus from Coba to Playa Del Carmen, you will need to first travel from Playa Del Carmen to Tulum, and from Tulum to Coba. It takes one hour to get from Playa Del Carmen to Tulum, and another hour to get from Tulum to Coba. This is a long trip by bus, so if you want to visit Coba from Playa Del Carmen, I recommend you rent a car in Cancun after landing.

Although you will pay more for a car rental, you will save a lot of time on the road.

How to get to Coba from Cancun

Just like with Playa Del Carmen, there’s no direct bus between Cancun and Coba. It’s easier to get to Tulum first and from there, go to Coba. If you are staying in Cancun and want to visit Coba, it’s better to rent a car, than rely on public transportation.

This tour of Coba ruins from Cancun is very popular! 😃

Get My 25 Tips On How To Stay Safe In Mexico (and avoid tourist scams)

    Final word on visiting Coba ruins

    Coba ruins are a beautiful, less-visited archaeological area less than one hour away from Tulum. It’s a perfect alternative to some of the most popular Mayan ruins in Yucatan that are visited by thousands of visitors every day. Combine your trip to Coba ruins with a stop at the nearby cenotes and spend the night in one of the hotels in the area to have the ultimate getaway 😊

    Want to explore some of the best places in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula?

    Check some of my articles on the topic:

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