43 km (26 miles) inland from Tulum, Coba is an important Mayan settlement, very popular for adventurers looking to climb the highest pyramid in the region or for visitors seeking knowledge and culture of one of the most enriching civilizations.
Coba is in the middle of the jungle, right between two lakes. Most of the site has not been explored, so when you go through it you have the feeling of being in the middle of an Indiana Jones-style adventure.
It has more sacbes (roads) than any other site discovered in the area. Without a doubt, it is the most important settlement in the northeast of the Yucatan peninsula, only comparable in size and importance to Chichén Itzá, its rival and enemy throughout much of its pre-Hispanic history.
The city flourished from the year 600 to 900 D C, in the classical period and had an area of more than 80 square kilometres (39 square miles) with about 50 thousand inhabitants.
Among the most important groups are Cobá, conformed of residential complexes, among which stands out the place known as "La Iglesia" (The Church), a building of almost 25 meters (82 feet) in height.
The sacbé 9, the widest of the site, leads to the group of Macanxoc with ceremonial and funerary buildings, where you can visit a collection of 8 sculpted stelae, with altars and shrines. The main pyramid Nohoch Mul ("Big Mountain") with 42 meters (137 feet) of height is the second highest in the Yucatan Peninsula and is one of the few that can still be climbed. Do not miss the Group of Paintings, with fragments of mural paintings that are preserved inside the small main temple.
To get around Coba in a more comfortable way and because the structures are so dispersed, the bicycle rental service is offered at a low cost. There are even bikes for children and bike-taxis.
In addition to a nine-story castle and two Ball Game courts, the place has the oldest and most extensive limestone roads (sacbé in Maya) than any other site discovered.
The archaeological zone has a parking lot and the services of local guides located at the entrance of the site.
Hours: Every day from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The small town of Cobá is colourful and has some hotels, simple palapas and restaurants that offer the typical dishes of the region.
The experience is not limited to the archaeological remains of the Maya and the natural attractions. You can combine the Coba tour with the opportunity to discover and interact with Mayan communities that live in the surrounding jungle lands.
15 km (9.3 miles) away there is another unexpected place to explore, Punta Laguna. A large lake, famous for the innumerable spider monkeys that live nearby.
There are different types of excursions to Cobá and its surroundings. Local guides will take you through the jungle and teach you about local customs, traditions, flora and fauna.
Other excursions will allow you to fly on a zip line over a large cenote or rappel and then immerse yourself in its fresh, crystal clear waters.
Tour operators include Alltournative. In addition, the small nearby town has restaurants and some simple hotels, among which are the Archaeological Villas Cobá and Coqui Coqui Coqui.
To the north of this important Mayan archaeological site, you can easily reach the magical town of Valladolid, the wonder of the Chichen Itza world and the modern and charming city of Merida. By planning in advance, you can convert your day trip to Cobá into three unforgettable experiences.