Coba Mayan ruin is an ice Mayan ruin near Tulum in the Mexican Riviera Maya. While not as interesting as Chichen Itza, it is much less busy. It costs about 55 pesos to enter and a tour guide can be arranged for about 250 pesos extra. You can share this guide with others to lessen the cost.
The signature experience in Coba is climbing the 137 foot high Nohoch Mul Pyramid. Its 120 steps are steep and a bit of a challenge to climb. Many pyramids have become off-limits to climbing due to wear-and-tear and injuries – a San Diego woman died in on the Temple of Kukulkan in 2006 when she slipped and fell down the stairs. These stairs are open for now, and offer a view of the surroundings that is neat. The stairs are very steep and it might be a challenge for some to navigate. There is a rope anchored along the stairs that helps, and going down is tougher, such that many resort to a crab-like crawl by sitting on each step during the descent.
Coba is very spread out. The Nohoch Mul Pyramid is 3 km from the entrance. While the jungle is nice to look at and the ground is mostly flat, this makes for a long walk that only has an occasional structure to stop and look at. The biggest detriment to the walk to me is the time. If you have plenty of time, walking is fine if you are able.
Because of the distance, you can rent bicycles at the entrance to ride or you can hire a pedicab, which is a three-wheeled bike where two guests sit in the front on a padded bench and a nice Mexican will peddle you about. Depending on their language skill, they will act as a guide of sorts and will take you to all the sites along the way. You may feel a little lazy when you get whisked past walkers, but it is a fast option if time is a concern (like it was for us – we only had 1.5 hours to see it all). There are usually pedicabs waiting at the pyramid also if you decide to ride back after walking out. The cost of a pedicab wasn’t much different than the bicycle rentals since the pedicab seats two. Make sure to leave a nice tip to your pedicab guide if you go this route.
There are many tours being offered now from Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum that include Coba. Most tours also stop at the Tulum ruins, a cenote or one of the adventure parks like Xel-Ha. You can also find ones that do Coba, Chichen Itza and a cenote like Ik Kil, which would be a long but worthwhile day.
Including Coba as part of a multi-day road trip is a great way to see it and myriads of other worthwhile locales. Coba is 47 km from Tulum and 60 km from Valladolid. Chichen Itza is an additional 42 km further on past Valladolid. The area between Playa del Carmen is loaded with great cenotes, and there are more inland near Valladolid.
There are many good choices for spending a night or two in the interior of the Yucatan, including the nice colonial town Valladolid, which has its own cenote Zaci as well as the nearby Dzitnup cenotes. Lodging is available at cenote Ik Kil and over next to Chichen Itza or the town of Piste. More nice ruins and cenotes are over on the west side of the Yucatan where Merida and Campeche makes great bases from which to strike out daily.
You can read about my trip in detail here.
You can see a hi-res gallery of pictures from my trip here.
A ranked list of my favorite Mayan ruins is here.