How to Visit Coba Ruins and nearby Cenotes from Tulum
The Mayan Ruins of Coba are only a short drive from both Tulum and Valladolid and belong among the most visited ruins on Yucatan. Read our guide on how to visit Coba Ruins independently as well as how to get to nearby cenotes, Choo-Ha, Tamcach-Ha, and Multun-Ha.
Mexico is a paradise when it comes to Mayan ruins.
No other country in the Americas has so many of them, and probably only Tikal Ruins in Guatemala is getting closer to Mexican Ruins when it comes to beauty and exceptional settings.
Yucatan Peninsula itself has so many awe-inspiring ruins that you would need months to see them all. When visiting the city of Tulum, there are at least three ruins worth mentioning in the area: Tulum Ruins, Chichen Itza, and Coba Ruins.
Just the last named Coba Ruins have been increasingly popular and recognized by visitors in the past few years because of its exceptional settings in the jungle, easy accessibility and overall because of well-preserved structures, including the famous Nohoch Mul pyramid.
Yet, the site is by no means that crowded as Chichen Itza, and the overall visit is really enjoyable.
In this post, we've put together all the information you should know before visiting Coba Ruins, including advice on how to get there, how much things cost, we share the information whether it is possible to climb the pyramid, and what is the best way how to visit nearby cenotes.
Coba is an ancient Mayan city, and during the classic period (600 AD to 900 AD) the site was an important center connecting the largest network of stone causeways of the ancient Mayan world.
Coba also dominated the area, and there is evidence that the city was in touch with other large Mayan cities, not only in Mexico. In its peak, Coba had more than 50 000 inhabitants, but numbers changed significantly as this place was consistently inhabited for a very long period, between 100 BC to the 16th century when Spaniards arrived.
Today Coba is a small village living out of tourism, and it is almost impossible to imagine how the site looked like centuries ago.
HOW TO GET TO COBA RUINS
Coba Ruins have a great location close to both Tulum and Valladolid, and although the place is for sure still overshadowed by Chichen Itza, Coba Ruins are no longer skipped by travelers and have a well-deserved position on travel itineraries. We have visited Coba from Tulum, and when doing our research, we found out that there is no shortage of options on how to get there.
Rental Car | Exploring Mexico in a rental car is the easiest and most comfortable way how to see the country. You can rent a car directly in Tulum or any other location such as Cancun or Mexico City. When driving to Coba from Tulum, follow road 109.
Taxi | If you are traveling on a higher budget, you can consider getting to Coba by taxi. The price is Mx 450 per one way (try to bargain for a better price), and it is worth to use this way of transport when traveling in a group of four. You can find a taxi anywhere in Tulum, but a higher concentration of taxi drivers is closer to ADO bus terminal.
Colectivo | When traveling around South America we usually had to rely on colectivos, but as there is a scheduled bus route between Tulum and Coba, we would have always opted for this way of transport. However, if you prefer colectivo or if you missed the bus to Coba, you will find drivers waiting on the intersection of Tulum Avenue and Calle Osiris. The cost is Mx 70, but the downside is that there is no fixed schedule and you must wait for the car to fill up. It is much harder to get back to Tulum by colectivo, so you might want to return by bus.
Bus | We found traveling from Tulum to Coba the easiest and most economical by bus. Second-class bus Mayab leaves ADO bus terminal every day at 7:20 AM, the ticket cost Mx 50, and the ride takes about an hour. As it is much better to arrive at Coba Ruins as soon as possible to beat the heat and crowds, we think this early morning bus is the most convenient, but if getting up early isn't particularly your strength, you can take the first-class bus at 10:11 AM, the price is higher, Mx 98. To get back from Coba, you can take either the first-class ADO bus for Mx 98 at 3 PM, or wait until 5 PM for the cheaper Mayab bus. We bought a return ticket in Tulum to secure a seat at 3 PM.
Tour | If you find traveling independently too confusing and time-consuming, you can take a tour from Tulum combining Tulum Ruins, Coba Ruins, and cenotes in one day.
HOW MUCH IS THE ENTRANCE FEE TO COBA RUINS
As of 2019, the entrance fee to Coba Ruins is Mx 75 for foreigners.
Avoid visiting Mexican sights on Sundays if you can, because Mexican citizens have free entry on that day and it gets crowded..
WHEN TO VISIT COBA RUINS
No matter what time of the year you plan on visiting Mexico, we have one advise: go early.
Coba Ruins are popular, especially because of its proximity to resort city Tulum, and many one-day visitors and tours head here daily. It is enough when you catch the 7:20 bus from Tulum as the site opens at 8 AM.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO CLIMB PYRAMIDS OF COBA RUINS
We visited Coba Ruins in April 2019, and at that time it was still possible to climb Nohoch Mul pyramid, the most impressive structure in the whole complex.
The pyramid is 42 meters tall.
Stairs are steep, uneven and narrow, but it should not be a problem to get to the top for an average person who is used to walking from time to time (it is always harder to get down anyway). Of course, kids and elderly people (or anyone who feels the need) can use a thick rope in the middle of the pyramid for balance and safety.
There is a stunning view from the Nohoch Mul pyramid over the jungle, and it is for sure worth it to climb to the top.
WAYS HOW TO EXPLORE COBA RUINS
Coba Ruins is a pretty large site, and unlike in other archeological complexes in Mexico, this place offers more options on how you can get around. Although we don't think the site is too big that you wouldn't be able to cover it on foot, renting a bike or a cart are at the moment more popular ways how to get around, and many people explore Coba Ruins this way.
Walk | We found walking around the complex just fine. It took us around three hours to see it all without rushing. The path inside the archeological site is wide enough, so you don't need to worry that cyclists and cart drivers will oppress you.
Bike | We knew we would rent a bike to get to cenotes, so explored the site rather on foot, but many people opted to get around Coba Ruins by bike. Roads in the complex are flat and wide enough to fit everyone, and it is probably the fastest and most comfortable way how to see it all quickly. Note that sometimes, you must park your bike a bit away from pyramids and walk a bit. Rental cost Mx 50 per person.
Cart | A cart alias bicitaxi is another way how to get around the place. Two people sit on the front, and a man drives you around. The cart cannot get everywhere, so it will take you only to the main pyramid and back. Rental cost Mx 150 per cart.
WHAT TO SEE IN COBA RUINS
Apart from the most famous Nohoch Mul Pyramid, you can stroll around Coba Group which is a series of structures near the entrance and includes ball court. Ball courts were integral parts of every Mayan city, where people played a game, and players who lost were often sacrificed (it was literally live or die game).
There are also structures with visible remnants of paints, numerous stelae depicting political and ceremonial activities, and much more.
CENOTES NEAR COBA RUINS
No visit to Coba Ruins is complete without taking a dip in at least one out of three nearby cenotes.
You can find cenotes all over Yucatan (they say it is more than six thousand of them solely on this peninsula), and we found awesome that it was often possible to combine swimming in cenotes with visiting the best ruins in Mexico. Who wouldn't like to cool down after half day strolling around large complexes when the heat and humidity are almost unbearable?
What did we like the best about the three cenotes, closest to Coba Ruins, Choo-Ha, Tamcach-Ha, and Multum-Ha? It was the fact that we were able to visit them easily even without having own transport, and even without regular public transport between Coba Ruins and cenotes.
The most common way how to reach cenotes is on a bike - cenotes are less than 7 kilometers away from Coba Ruins, and the road leading to them is almost flat, and traffic is not heavy, so it is really the best way how to get there.
You can rent a bike in one of many shops close to the ruins entrance. The official rate is Mx 70 per person, but as demand was low that day, we were able to rent bikes for Mx 50.
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It is not hard to find your way from Coba to cenotes, as you can see signs on the road, but just in case, make sure you have your favorite app with GPS functioning.
After about 25 minutes we reached the entrance to cenotes - here you must decide whether you want to visit only one cenote or all of them. Two cenotes, Choo-Ha and Tamcach-Ha, are next to each other, while Multum-Ha is a little bit further on the opposite side of the road.
We recommend you to buy the ticket here only for one or two cenotes then, and then buy the last ticket on your way out in case you still have time and energy to visit the last one. Recently ticket price for cenotes has gone up, and you need to pay Mx 100 per person per one cenote.
It is up to you how long to spend in each cenote, but count approximately anything between 30 and 45 minutes. Also getting from Coba to cenotes and back will take you at least an hour when visiting two cenotes (Choo-Ha and Tamcach-Ha), add another 45 minutes when you decide to explore Multum-Ha as well. You should be able to explore Coba Ruins, go to two cenotes close to each other and still catch a bus returning to Tulum at 3 PM.
Cenote Choo-Ha | The first cenote on the way is Choo-Ha. It has crystal clear water. This cenote is not that deep and what makes it special are many stalagmites hanging from the walls and ceiling.
Cenote Tamcach-Ha | This cenote was our personal favorite. Only three minutes bike ride from Choo-Ha, you can find an underground cenote with two jumping platforms, one at 5 meters and the other one at 10 meters. Again, the water is crystal clear and the feeling when swimming there, was almost surreal.
Cenote Multum-Ha | The deepest cenote of all three is also the best for snorkeling, but to get there, you need to return to the main road and carry on another three kilometers to reach this cenote. In translation, this means one thing: fewer crowds and more intimate experience.
WHERE TO STAY IN TULUM
Tulum is a favorite resort town on the shore of the ocean with many luxury all-inclusive hotels, but you can find here even small independent hotels and guest houses. Prices are a bit higher than in other parts of Mexico, and it pays off to reserve accommodation well in advance, especially in the high season.
Budget | Nativos Tulum Hotel Boutique - Perfectly-located hotel close to many bars and restaurants features an outdoor swimming pool, garden, shared lounge, stable wifi, and continental breakfast.
Mid-range | Azura Boutique Hotel - Beautifully appointed rooms with a kitchen and modern furniture, stunning rooftop, and helpful staff are the chief reasons why to stay in this moderately priced hotel.
Luxury | Dune Boutique Hotel - An exceptional boutique hotel offers the best, you can get for the price in Tulum. The hotel is situated right on the beach, the rooms are comfortable and spacious, there is a large selection of food at breakfast, and an outdoor swimming pool is lovely.
HOW TO GET TO TULUM
Mexico is a popular destination among holidaymakers, so it makes sense that the usual way how to get from one place to another is via rental car.
But even when you use public transport, do not despair as it is pretty easy to travel by bus in Mexico. As Tulum is one of the most classic destinations in Mexico, you don't need to worry about bus connections at all.
First-class ADO buses run regularly between Tulum and Chetumal, Bacalar, Valladolid, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and other, even further located destinations.
We recommend you to buy a bus ticket at least one day before your planned departure, especially during the high season between December to May.
WHAT TO PACK FOR THE DAY TRIP TO COBA RUINS AND CENOTES
It is hot and humid on Yucatan, and it rarely rains when you are visiting Mexico between December and April. For your day trip to Coba Ruins and nearby cenotes, do not overpack, but bring following essential things.
Sunscreen | Sun in Mexico is strong, and you should not leave your room without it by no means.
Mosquito Repellent | Coba Ruins lie in a jungle, and there is definitely more mosquitos than in Tulum. Pack a bug spray with Deet for better protection.
Water Bottle | Staying hydrated is important under the scorching sun. To protect planet Earth, take your own bottle water - we did not have to buy a plastic bottle in Mexico at all, as the water was always provided in hotels or hostels where we stayed.
Water-resistant Backpack | Always when near water, we pack our valuables and electronics to a water-resistant backpack.
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