Cobá Ruins, Mexico

Coba Mexico

We knew we wanted to take the kids to a Mayan Ruin during our trip to Mexico, so after visiting Punta Laguna nearby, we stopped at Cobá in the afternoon.  Coba covers a large area and has the largest Mayan Pyramid (at an impressive 137′ tall) – plus, you can climb the pyramid – all factors that drew us to visit the site.

Coba is about 2 to 2.5 hours south of Cancun, and there are plenty of signs to guide you there.  We also used Google Maps and had no problems finding it.  There is a large parking lot (free), which accommodates plenty of tour buses as well.

We paid for entry at the ticket counter (very cheap), and entered the park.  One thing about these sites is that you are not provided a map, so we ended up hiring a guide, “Atila”.  (There usually are signs at the different structures, but hard to navigate or understand the history around the ruins).

The tour wasn’t cheap (I believe around $30 USD), but we would have been lost if it weren’t for having a source of information.  It helped to have a guide to explain the basics of the pyramids, and Atila was prepared with lots of information, including laminated pictures to help us understand Coba better.

Coba Mexico

We walked around the “Coba” section of ruins with our guide, exploring the different structures there.  The Coba Group consists of the structures closest to the entrance of the ruins, where you can see some ball courts and La Iglesia.

Coba Ruins Mexico

Cobá covers a very large area, and may have had the largest population out of all the ancient Mayan cities, with an estimated 100,000 residents.

Coba Mexico

This photo is the base of La Iglesia, by Stelae 11 (stelae are stone slabs which have drawings and glyphs that tell us about events and history of the ruins).

Coba Mexico

The Coba ruins date back to 600-900 A.D.  I loved imagining the bustling city that once inhabited this area.

Coba

We visited the infamous ball courts, where players had to pass a hard, rubbery ball through a small circle.

Coba Ruins Mexico

The “VIP” tunnel, as Atila called it – for the leaders to enter important events (such as games and other performances).

Coba Ruins Mexico

The observatory is a neat place, as we hadn’t seen other rounded structures at ruins, and is a very interesting part of Mayan architecture.

Coba Observatory

Once we were done with our guide and the first Coba section of the ruins, we had to make a decision as far as getting to the next section, Nohoch Mul.  You can walk, rent a bike, or rent a bike taxi.  The walk is a couple miles round trip, and while I could have managed it if I were on my own, we had two very tired kids who had spent the entire morning swimming, and the afternoon was winding down, so we opted for the bike taxi.  The taxis were about $9 USD each (if I remember correctly).  A big part is that I think it was a great experience for the kids. And in hindsight, we were all tired, so I appreciated not having to walk another couple miles!

The ride was fun, with our guides biking as fast as they could through the jungle, passing one another and dodging around people who were walking along the trail.  (I would have considered walking if it was just my husband and I, and we were not on a time budget.  The path did seem to have adequate shade and would have made for a relaxing walk under other circumstances!)

Coba Mexico Bike Taxi

Our taxis stopped about halfway to the main pyramid so that we could check out some of the buildings along the way.  In late November, days are short and the taxi ride made it possible for us to see more of the ruins before it got dark.

Coba Ruins Mexico

The Ixmoja Pyramid is impressive, with 120 stairs leading to the top.  We walked up slowly, with our 8 and 10 year old, and had no problems making it to the top.  Keep in mind that not only is this one of the largest pyramids, it is a great experience to be able to actually climb it, because for instance, you cannot climb the large “El Castillo” pyramid at Chichen-Itza.  (Interesting story – we got married in 2003, and back then, you could climb the temple at Chichen-Itza).

Coba Mexico

At 137′ high, the views out across the jungle are incredible.  The area at the top is small, and was crowded, even though it was late afternoon and seemed like a lot of tourists had left.

Coba Ruins Mexico

You’ll want to take your time heading up and down the pyramid.  There is a rope going down the center, and while it wasn’t as much about the physical intensity of going up and down the stairs, you need to be careful with all the tourists going up and down, watching your footing, and so on.

Coba Mexico

The rocks are very smooth going down, from years of people sliding down on their behinds.  Add in a little powder from the ruins and it makes for a very slippery surface.  I made sure the kids took their time.

Coba Ruins Mexico

After checking out the main Pyramid, we hopped back on the taxi and headed back to where we started.

Coba Taxi Mexico

We checked out some souvenirs and stopped by the bathrooms before heading back to our rental place in Tulum.  There are a variety of places to eat and shop in Coba, and I had seen signs for coconuts for $1.50 USD, so we stopped for those as well.  On the way in to Coba, we stopped for lunch at Restaurante Chile Picante, which was very nice.

Coba

We had a great time visiting Coba, and the late afternoon timing was great, as the crowds were thinning out.  There is so much to see here, and the setting of walking or biking through the jungle and exploring the different structures are very nice.  We could have easily spent much more time exploring Coba, but the kids got to see lots of neat things and it was getting dark out.

Tips:

~ I think the best times to visit would be right when they open (before the large tourist buses arrive), or late afternoon (when we went).
~ Wear comfortable shoes for walking.
~ Bring money for bike rentals, bike taxis, souvenirs, food
~ We brought hats, but most of the ruins were in the shade.

Our other Mexico posts:

Our Mayan Riviera wedding
Aldea Zama condo rentals, Tulum
Avant Car Rental, Cancun
Cenotes Casa Tortuga, Tulum
Coba Ruins, Coba
Fiesta Americana Villas, Cancun
Muyil Ruins, Tulum
Hacienda Tres Rios, Playa del Carmen
Punta Laguna Nature Reserve, near Coba
Xcaret, Playa del Carmen
Yal Ku Lagoon, Akumal
Zazil Kin Beach, Tulum

 

By | 2018-01-30T18:35:59+00:00 December 30th, 2017|Travel, Uncategorized|29 Comments

About the Author:

Busy blogger and mom of two girls! We love traveling and the great outdoors, and are always looking for our next adventure!

29 Comments

  1. Amber Ludwig December 31, 2017 at 1:24 am - Reply

    One that you could actually climb?!?! So awesome!! Im super jealous!! Will have to check it out the next time we go!! It sounds like an amazing experience!

  2. Maryann D. December 31, 2017 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    These photos are so interesting. I would have loved to see that Ixmoja Pyramid. Such a terrific trip for all of you.

  3. robin rue January 2, 2018 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    That is so incredible. I would LOVE to visit there with my family someday! What a cool place to see first hand.

  4. Alli Smith January 2, 2018 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    I’ve never visited these ruins on any of my trips to Mexico. I would probably visit in the morning before the big tour buses arrive. I’m glad you included that bit of info and the info about the bike taxis. That would be a long walk for children that are tired from swimming all morning. Looks like a great place to explore.

  5. Jeanette January 2, 2018 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    What a great opportunity for your kids to learn with hands-on and traveling. I try to travel a lot with my kiddos because I want them to learn a lot. I would love to explore these ruins and I hope to get there at some point.

  6. Tomi C January 2, 2018 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    We toured some ancient Mayan ruins during a recent vacation to Mexico and it was amazing. Vacations give our kids lifelong memories. Being able to get upfront and personal and hands on with places only seen in textbooks is life changing and something our kids will always remembers.

  7. candy January 2, 2018 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Visiting the ancient Mayan ruins is something we have been talking about for years and it is on our list to visit. This year we are doing Italy. Maybe we will put it on 2019 list of places to visit.

  8. Farrah Less G. January 2, 2018 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    I just love visiting to interesting places that has a lot history. This travel post really encourage me to explore this part of Mexico. i hope very soon I am so ready for our next vacation trip. I enjoy all your photos I can tell your kids was having a blast.

  9. Sarah Bailey January 2, 2018 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    Wow those ruins are absolutely beautiful – I have to admit I would love to go to Mexico one day as they seem to have some amazing history there and it is something that really fascinates me.

  10. Danielle Fox January 2, 2018 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    I have explored some Mayan ruins in Central America and Belize and it was so cool! I have never gone deep inland before but I lovd this idea and the tips

  11. valmg @ Mom Knows It All January 2, 2018 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    I’ve always wanted to check out some parts of Mexico. Exploring Mayan ruins sounds like it would be a fun and memorable experience for sure.

  12. Anosa January 2, 2018 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    I would so love to visit Mexico one day especially the Mayan ruins, it seems you guys an impressive visit plus that pyramid just wow

  13. Heather January 2, 2018 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    Wow! What a beautiful place full of history. I have not visited this part of Mexico. I love that you can explore the ruins. I do hope human traffic there can help it keep its historical integrity. What a wonderful experience for your kids.

  14. Pam January 3, 2018 at 12:48 am - Reply

    I love visiting ruins like these. It’s so fascinating to learn about the history and culture there.

  15. Rosemary Palmer January 3, 2018 at 3:03 am - Reply

    We’ve been to Mexico once and would love to go back and see the ruins. It was too hot the time we was there.

  16. Sandy N Vyjay January 3, 2018 at 8:07 am - Reply

    Mayan ruins and Mayan civilization have always fascinated me. The Coba ruins look intriguing, would love to head out there and spend some awe-inspiring time.

  17. Ricci January 3, 2018 at 8:56 am - Reply

    This is so cool!! I have always wanted to visit some ruins before, I think it would be awesome!!

  18. Christie January 3, 2018 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    We studied Mayans when I was in elementary school. I just love the art from them. Looks like an amazing trip and I hope to make it there one day.

  19. Amanda January 3, 2018 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    What an amazing experience for your family to share together. Isn’t it interesting how “ruins” can be so beautiful? I just love learning about Mexican culture. It’s so lovely.

  20. Chubskulit Rose January 3, 2018 at 5:00 pm - Reply

    Wow, I have only seen this on TV during one of the episode of little women show. This is incredibly beautiful!

  21. Karrie Frost January 9, 2018 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    So beautiful! I love visiting Mexico, although I have never been to Cabo. I think you have inspired me to add Cabo to my list of dream destinations. I love the ruins.

  22. Karrie Frost January 9, 2018 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    I love Mexico. Your pictures look fabulous. You and your family will cherish these memories forever. I can’t believe you climbed the pyramid! That looks like fun (and scary at the same time).

  23. Kim January 9, 2018 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    What a cool family trip and great way to be active with your kids! When my littles are a little older I’d love to do some outings like this. Did you take pics with a full size camera or phone camera? Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  24. Shann Eva January 9, 2018 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    Wow! This looks like an amazing experience. My boys, especially my oldest, would love to see these ruins and pyramids. It’s so gorgeous. I definitely would have taken the guide too. The bike taxi sounded like fun too.

  25. Liza @ City Mum Life January 10, 2018 at 1:21 am - Reply

    This trip looked amazing, i would love to visit the Mayan ruins one day with my family.

  26. Juli January 10, 2018 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    A pyramid you can climb – now that’s a vacation I can get behind! If I ever head to Mexico, I’ll be sure to check out your other Mexico vacation posts!

  27. Sheri - A Busy Bee's Life January 10, 2018 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    I travel a lot but did not know about these ruins in Mexico. We have seen ruins in different countries, but these shots are amazing. I am sure it was a great experience.

  28. Rosie January 24, 2018 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Coba sounds so fun! And I give you credit going up all those steps, my tummy is doing little flip flops just looking at the pictures. So memorable.

  29. Edward Ochoa April 17, 2018 at 4:41 am - Reply

    After visit to the ruins, we ate at one of the restaurants by the lake, they served excellent traditional food and it’s good to support these little off-the-beaten-track places.

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