Tulum is becoming one of the most popular destinations in the Yucatan peninsula. And there is surely a lot of things to see in Tulum. I mean in the end, Tulum has even its own ruins that are right on the beach. Who wouldn’t like to see that? But if you are interested in another Mayan pyramid, perhaps one that you can climb up to, then a day trip from Tulum to Coba would be the right thing for you.
Coba is one of the ruins in the middle of the jungle. So when you get there it is almost like you step into Indiana Jones movie. Besides this day trip possibility is only an hour away from Tulum. Who would ask for more?
Day trip from Tulum to Coba
How to get to Coba from Tulum?
First of all, let’s get this question out of the table. How to get to Coba from Tulum? Well, there are a couple of options. And it is also something that very much depends on your budget. But let’s get to it!
One of the great things about this day trip is that you can get to Coba from Tulum by bus. Several buses are going on every day. The company that you want to go with is ADO. Generally, there are two busses that you can go with, the first one is leaving Tulum at 7.20 am, the other one is heading to Coba at 10.06 am. The returning bus is going back to Tulum at 3.10 am. The bus is also a very cheap option to go with. You can get a return ticket for 95 mxn, which is about 5 USD. If I may recommend something, I would certainly go for the first bus, so you would have more time at Coba. With the second bus, you would get to the ruins around midday and then have to hurry through them.
This is an even cheaper option than a bus. Collectivos from Tulum to Coba costs around 70 pesos there and back. You can catch them at Avenida Tulum. If you decide to go with collectivo, keep in mind that this is still some kind of taxi, which means that the prices can differ. Another thing is that going to Coba with collectivo might be a little bit uncomfortable and relatively slow. They want the car to be full before they go, so it might take a while. There is also no specific time on when are they going so catching one to Coba can be a little bit tricky.
Scooter or car rental
This might be the most comfortable way of getting to Coba. Depending on how comfortable are you with driving. But Yucatan is relatively easy to place to drive and there isn’t big traffic. The scooter rental cost 500 pesos per day, so then you can make the best of it and visit some other places around Coba as well. For example, there are a lot of cenotes around so you can cool down after hiking the pyramid.
Of course, you can hire a taxi! And it might be a good option especially if you are in a group, then it might be even cheap. One way costs around 500 pesos.
Is it worth it to go to Coba with a tour company?
Several companies would offer you to go on tour with them. Since it is relatively close to Tulum. I think that a tour can be great. But it shouldn’t be a massive commercial tour. When I visited Coba with my mom, we hired a private guide and he was great. It was just four of us (with the driver as well). We had everything very well explained and it was very nice and professional. At the same time, the guide took us to local restaurants, so he tried to minimize our price.
I’m aware that it is not always the case. But it is nice when it is done. So what I would recommend would be that if you want to go on tour, take the private one. It is much more expensive but it is worth it. The price for one tour like this costs 125 USD for two people. Some guides would take less if the group is bigger. So bigger the group you are in, the less it will cost.
Is a day trip to Coba from Tulum worth it? What about other ruins?
Of course, Coba doesn’t necessarily belong to the most famous ruins that you can find in Mexico. There are plenty of others. But if you want to see ruins that are a little bit off the beaten path, Coba would be a great place for it. Coba ruins are located in the middle of the jungle, which gives them a very special atmosphere. Unlike other pyramids, you can also climb up the pyramid and see all of the jungle around. Besides getting to Coba and visiting these ruins in the first place is also relatively cheap compared to other ruins.
Coba Vs Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza belongs to one of the new wonders of the world and it is certainly worth visiting. The problem with it is that Chichen Itza is so well known that all of the sights are completely crowded. Chichen Itza is also very commercial. When you walk around, there are so many market stands and everyone will be asking you if you want to buy something. That is not the case with Coba. Coba is just a nice and calm place and all of the market stands are just outside of the ruins area so you don’t have to deal with people and just enjoy the ruins.
Coba is also much closer to Tulum. And while you can visit Chichen Itza from Tulum, it is a little bit less comfortable than a day trip to Coba from Tulum. But don’t get me wrong, Chichen Itza is still worth visiting, but Coba just has different magic in it.
Tulum ruins vs Coba
Why visit Coba, when you have one other ruin just on your doorstep? Good question! Tulum is something to see. The ruins in Tulum belong to the post-classical era of the Mayan civilization. While Coba ruins are from the classical era which makes them much older. Besides that, why not see both? Then you will see ruins with a view of the beach and the other one that is located in the jungle.
Exploring Coba ruins
Sure, Coba is known for the pyramid that you can climb up to. But there are more buildings from the era. Coba ruins are a relatively big place to visit so of course, it is not all just about the pyramid. Visiting Coba ruins is also a relatively cheap thing to do, The entry ticket costs 75 pesos and you can visit the ruins every day from 8 am to 4 pm. Visiting Coba ruins take around 2 or three hours if you want to see all of the places in the area.
Ruins of the ball court
This is probably the first of the ruins that you will see. The ball court here is much smaller than in Chichen Itza, but it is still big enough. The ball court is surrounded by forest. But you can see that there are ornaments all around the place. Our guide told us that they are showing both when the team lost and when they won. Some other artifacts are supposed to tell people more about some rules of the game. The full rules of this game are not known up till now. But it is sure that the mesoamerican game that was played was pretty difficult and was usually followed by bloody offerings to gods.
The observatory is one of the most memorable buildings in Coba ruins. It is a place where the astronomers watched stars and developed mathematics that also stands behind the Fibonacci number. The Fibonacci number is something very critical here because the building is build based on the number. It is the very same number that is supposed to be behind Mona Lisa’s painting.
The main pyramid is almost at the end of this trail. It is the highest building in these ruins. Mayans used this pyramid for offerings of god. But also to watch solstices during the year. So the building is made for special observatory reasons for astronomers as well.
Besides all of that, this is one of the very few pyramids in Mexico that you can climb it. And here comes a question – is that dangerous? The answer would be: Not really. There is a big rope in the middle of the pyramid that you can hold on to and climb it up there. The best this is still to take proper shoes for it because flip flops just won’t cut it. When you climb up, you should watch your step, because there is a lot of people doing it.
Once you climb up there, you will see the massive jungle all around the pyramid. It is a great view. People usually stay there for 15 minutes to see all the possible places around (it is not that big) and take pictures.
Once you are done, you can head back down. The way down is much harder than to get up and the best technique is possibly to sit down from one step to another.
Other buildings at Coba
Three buildings that I mentioned are the ones that are most visited. But on the way to the main pyramid, there is a side road that leads to another Mayan place, where most of the people don’t go, or not that often. At the end of that trail, you will see little huts with Mayan gods and noble. So you can see there a monument of Mayan queen and king as well.
It might not be something that big or that worth seeing, but if you are into the Mayan culture, you will like it. Also on your way there it is possible to see local monkeys that live just on top of the trees.
Another and last building that you can see there would be another slightly smaller pyramid that is close to the entrance. That one was not build based on the astronomy, but it still served for offerings to gods and old rituals.
How to get around Coba ruins?
Coba ruins are located in a relatively big area, which means that there are several ways of getting around. And of course, everything depends on your budget but also on your comfort.
Exploring Coba by walk – It is certainly possible just to walk around the ruins. Perhaps it is also the best way of enjoying the jungle around. On the other hand, the buildings can be relatively far from each other, which means that you will need a lot of time to do it and you can probably visit only the main walking trail leading to the pyramid. But it still can be a great thing to do if you like hiking and it is certainly possible to do it.
With bike – This is one of the most popular options. You can rent a bike right behind the first entry gate. The trails between the Mayan ruins are made the way that is it comfortable to bike between them just fine. The rental price per bike is 50 pesos. If you rent a bike, make sure you remember how your bike looks like, because there is a lot of people doing that, so you need to be careful to take the right bike from each stand around the ruins.
Bike taxi – There is another option for those who are not big fans of biking. You can rent a biking taxi, where a bike driver would ride with you around ruins. Each bike taxi is for two people and it cost 150 pesos per day.
Trip to cenotes after visiting Coba ruins
Since visiting Coba ruins takes only 2 or three hours max, it is easy to visit cenotes nearby. There are three cenotes close to these ruins. The cenotes that you can visit after Coba are called Choo-ha, Tamcach-Ha, and Multum-Ha.
Choo-ha and Tankach-ha are about 25 minutes from Coba ruins by bike. If you are coming with a tour, the guide will probably take you here. Otherwise, you can also get here by collectivo.
To visit Choo-ha and Tankach-ha, you will need to pay 120 entry ticket for both of them. Choo-ha cenote is not that deep. But it is still a nice place to go to. Tankach-ha cenote is much deeper. To get there you will need to go to a cave. On your way there are two jumping places. First at 10 meters above and the second one at 5 meters above the cenote. You are free to jump from them. Many people are standing line to try it.
The last cenote, Multum-ha is further away from these two. About three kilometers. It is also the deepest cenote from all of them and it is a great place for snorkeling.
How to get back to Tulum from Coba?
If you decided to visit just the Coba ruins, it is pretty easy. You can just wait for the bus back to Tulum or catch collectivo or taxi back.
However, if you decided to visit cenotes after the Coba ruins, the easiest way is to catch collectivo on your way back. If you do that, count with at least an hour to get back to Tulum.
Practical info about a day trip to Coba from Tulum
Entry fee and opening times
I have mentioned earlier but just to make sure. The entry fee to Coba is 75 pesos. There are no discounts for adults. This entry fee will get you only the pass to the main area. If you need a bike to get around the ruins, you will need to pay extra. The bike rental is right behind the first gate.
If you want a guide, there are usually people standing in front of the gate, that would offer you their services. Make sure you ask for someone who has a guide license and can speak a language that you understand.
The ruins are opened every day from 8 am to 5 am.
What to pack for a day trip to Coba
Bottle of water – Mexico can be very warm and for that matter, you will need at least some sort of drink. If you finish your bottle, make sure you put it in the trash in designated areas.
Bug repellent – Coba is still in the jungle where a lot of mosquitoes will find you. So make sure you take bug repellent as well.
Swimsuit – Especially if you are planning to visit the cenotes around. There you will need a swimsuit. Each cenote has its changing room so it is easy to switch clothes once you are done swimming.
Towel – For cenotes – of course!
Sunscreen – Even though you can explore most of the Mayan ruins in the comfortable shade, for the time you will be on the sun, you will need sunscreen. Mexican sun can be cruel.
Proper shoes – That is mainly if you want to climb the pyramid. Climbing on slippery stones all of the 45 meters up on the pyramid can be dangerous if you don’t have proper shoes.
When is a good time to visit Coba?
Whole Yucatan has a main season in the winter when it is nice and warm weather. The rainy season is in September and October, perhaps the start of November as well. All of the other months are fine to visit. It is important that it doesn’t rain especially if you want to climb the pyramid. Otherwise, it is going to be very slippery.
When it comes to visiting the Coba ruins at the right time of day, keep in mind that sooner you get there, the better. There will be a lot of people later in the day. And if you choose to visit the pyramid around midday, it can also get very hot.
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