Less visited than neighboring Tulum 31 miles (50 km) away, Coba archeological site almost feels undiscovered. Although this is one of the largest cities from the Mayan age, the majority of it is still lies largely unexcavated, and like other Mayan history, questions and mystery still surround this area.
Coba was thought to be an important trade center between Chichen Itza and the Caribbean (near modern-day Guatemala) in ancient times.
From deep inside the dense jungle, towering pyramids and archaeological structures poke out through the trees and undergrowth.
An extensive network of ancient roads, named “sacbeob” are another big mystery of this area. The longest runs for about 45 miles, and connects Coba to Yaxuna, another Mayan settlement. This extensive network of roads all have Coba as their hub.
Even the architecture of Coba is a mystery: It is unlike that of Chichen Itza, and more like that of a different settlement, which lies several hundred miles away.
If you’re looking for an archaeological site which holds big mysteries, and is more remote and less excavated and commercialized than the more popular and frequently visited major sites, Coba is worth a visit. It will only take you around 3-4 hours to see everything here, which is just as well because the heat is sweltering. See Practical Information, below.
The site is a maze of ancient roads and walkways. Some lead through the main areas of the site—others shoot off to the side and into the jungle. It’s not difficult to lose your bearings in here, so keep an eye on where you’re going at all times!
Grupo Coba is a big pyramid, and you’ll see this as you enter the site. Climbing to the top will give you excellent local views.
Nohoc Mul is the Great Pyramid of Coba. It measures over 130 feet (40 m) in height, making it the tallest Mayan pyramid in Mexico’s southeastern peninsula. Climb to the top to get a panoramic view of the site, with its structures sticking out from the jungle below. If you’re going to climb this pyramid, be sure you’re wearing good shoes fit for the purpose.
Other features to discover are ancient ball courts, colorful friezes and the 9 chamber Castillo.
Getting There & Around
By Air – Cancun is the closest airport to Coba. For detailed information about flights and flying, see the Mexperience guide to Air Travel in Mexico.
By Car – From Cancun, take Highway 180 South, turn right at Tulum where the road to Coba begins; The drive from Cancun is 104 miles (168 km). Also see additional information about Driving in Mexico and Mexico’s Toll Roads on Mexperience.
By Bus – Several buses make the journey from Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen to Coba daily. For detailed information about bus transportation read the Mexperience guide to Bus Travel in Mexico.
Opening Days & Times: Open 7 Days a week, 8 am to 5 pm. Admission prices apply.
Photography & Video: A permit is required if you want to use a tripod to take photographs at the archaeological site. A small fee is made for the use of hand-held video equipment. Read the section on Mexperience Mexico Essentials about Video & Photography at archaeological sites in Mexico.
Ideal Clothing & Footwear: Comfortable walking shoes with a non-slip sole. You’ll need to walk about 3-4 miles around the site to see the all of the main attractions. Take good climbing shoes if you want to climb the pyramids, especially the Great Pyramid. The weather here is extremely hot and humid, so dress accordingly. Take plenty of water with you. You will also need insect repellent to fend off the mosquitoes. Bring a hat, sun screen and sunglasses.
Travel Insurance: We recommend that you are adequately covered with travel medical insurance and/or travel assistance insurance when you are visiting Mexico. Read the Mexperience guide to Travel Insurance in Mexico for full details and links to specialist insurance suppliers.
Nearby Places & Attractions
Colonial Cities: Merida, Campeche, Villahermosa, Oaxaca
Nearest Beaches and Resorts: Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen
Other Archaeological Sites: Chichen Itza, Tulum, Uxmal
Coba is in the Yucatan jungle and is extremely hot and humid. Dress in light clothes and good walking / climbing shoes. Keep in mind that the local mosquito community is quite active here, so bring along a good insect repellent with you when visiting the area. If you can, visit the site in the morning before noon, or after 3 pm — times during the day when the sun is less fierce. Take with you and drink plenty of water.
Weather & Climates in Mexico
Learn more about the weather and climates through the seasons and regions by connecting to the Mexperience guide about Weather and Climates in Mexico
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