The Coba Ruins are situated within a fascinating archeological site, surrounded by unexcavated structures and the lush, green landscape jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula. The central focus of the site is the commanding Mayan pyramid of Nohoch Mul.
The meaning of the name Coba is translated as 'ruffled waters'. The ruins at the site are found deep in the heart of the uncultivated jungle and the surrounding lakes. Exploring the Mayan ruins at Coba is a fascinating experience. There are four main areas of architecture for you to discover.
The four main groups are spread out roughly 1km apart. You can walk quite comfortably between the relevant areas, or there are bikes available to rent if you would prefer to travel on two wheels.
Many areas of Coba are largely untouched and the surrounding jungle is in places quite overgrown.
In my opinion though, this really adds to the atmosphere and helps to create a sense of adventure and discovery at this popular Mexico holidays attraction. You can even get into character and feel like a true archaeological explorer as you make your way around the site.
If you are brave enough to climb the steps stand at the summit of the Nohoch Mul pyramid (which stands at over 40 metres above the ground), then you are greeted with a spectacular views over the Mexican landscape below.
Coba was once a vast and important city in the early origins of Mayan history. The site dates back to the Classic Period of 600 AD.
Excavation only began in the early 1970's though and many areas are yet to be uncovered. The Mayan Ruins are interlined by a series of ancient white roads known as 'sacbes'. Many of the sacbes lead deep into the jungle and the surrounding lakes at the site.
The mysterious sacbes were constructed in almost perfect straight lines from a variety of directions, leading towards the centre of the city. The roads are very wide and it would have taken a very long time and a considerable amount of effort to build them.
With limited evidence available, historians can only speculate as to the importance and significance of the impressively straight roads built by the early Maya Civilization. Maybe the roads were used for ceremonial purposes or perhaps even as simple trade routes.
You can also find the remains of two impressive Mesoamerican ball courts here. If you believe the theory of correlation between the ball game and human sacrifice, then the difference between winning and loosing in this extremely difficult game would literally be a case of life or death.
Many people visit the Mayan site of Tulum on their Riviera Maya vacation, many more visit the iconic site at Chichen Itza.
However if want to get away from the busy crowds at Tulum and Chichen Itza and you have a real interest and passion for historical sites, then you may really enjoy the experience of exploring the mysterious Coba ruins.
The most unique element of the site (as mentioned earlier) is the opportunity to climb and explore the Mayan pyramid of Nohoch Mul.
It used to be possible to climb the Main pyramid of El Castillo at Chichen Itza, but unfortunately this is no longer the case. The fact that you can still do this at Coba is very special.
If you do visit the Coba ruins be sure to take plenty of water with you, there are often limited or no food and water supplies at the site and it can get very hot and humid in this area. You may enjoy renting a bike or if you get tired (which can often be the case due to the scorching hot weather in this part of Mexico) you can always jump on a taxi-bike and be chauffeured around the main areas of the site. Your camera is also an essential item, it is possible to get some spectacular photographs to take home as a memento.
There are many guided tours on offer that pick up from all the main hotels and resorts in the Mayan Riviera. You could also choose to explore the site yourself of course and just take a taxi from your hotel or rent a car. Either way though you should allow yourself at least 3 - 4 hours to fully appreciate and look around the site.
Some people opt to visit Tulum and Coba in the same day. You may also enjoy exploring the nearby Gran Cenote, where you can enjoy swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving.
The Coba Ruins are an hours drive away from Tulum and between 1 - 2 hours away from Playa del Carmen. For the majority of the journey you travel straight along Highway 307 after passing Tulum and a couple of small villages (plus many speed bumps) you will see a variety of signs leading you to Coba. The daily opening hours are usually between 8am to 5pm.
If you are interested in booking a vacation excursion to the site, then you may enjoy the following package deal;
Climb the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan peninsula and discover facts about the ancient community that once lived here. For a small additional charge, you can rent a bicycle to travel around the site.