Climb to the top of the pyramid
The climb is steep and high. It looks a lot easier than it is, and to be honest it doesn't look easy. It is difficult in the humidity. With all of that said. I recommend climbing to the top. If you need to take breaks, take breaks. But do it. It is one of the only pyramids at a set of ruins in the Yucatan that you can actually climb. And the view from the top is ABSOLUTELY worth it. Take your camera. Take your water. And if you need to rest on the way up and rest on the top.
Walk don't ride
Many people rent bikes inside the ruins because it is a big park. However, I recommend walking. While riding a bike is faster, you experience more when you walk. Coba is in the heart of the jungle. And when you are biking, you move too fast to really take it all in. The jungle is one of the best parts of Coba. The sounds and the feelings of the jungle make the experience complete. You pay more attention to the fauna when you are walking as well. As I was walking I kept marveling at the scenery and I felt bad for all the people whizzing by on their bikes. It may take you longer to get places, but it is worth it because it is such a great experience.
First group. Mayan Ball Court .
After paying the entrance fee 50.00 pesos (3.80 $) you´ll find the first group of constructions at the right, small pyramids, included a very well preserved (or restored) Mayan Ballcourt (two stone corridors with a hoop) and other buildings. I´ve heard stories of Mayan sacrifices of the looser team in other Mayan cities, but is not really proven.
Las Pinturas Group.
After visiting the Big Pyramid we took the center trail, to visit the beautiful Las Pinturas Group. I specially liked this complex. Most of the structures of Coba were covered with stuco and painted with colors, the main temple is a good example of this decoration. Blue and red colors can be seen atop the pyramid in the small shrine.
La Iglesia Pyramid.
After a short walk from the big pyramid whe found this interesting round pyramid, less spectacular but very interesting and well conserved, the height of the building is 20 metres and is forbidden to climb the structure. The best of all is that are few visitors.
Nochol Mul Pyramid.
After a long walk the main road is divided in three trails, take the left trail and after walking about kilometre you´ll find the most amazing building of all the site. The wonderfull Big Pyramid of Coba. The climbing was easy, there´s a rope in the middle of the pyramid that helps, the bad thing was the strong sun, but once you´ve got the top platform the views really worth the effort. Great views of the jungle, the lakes and the smaller pyramids.
Cobá is a big site, if you want to visit the five groups of restored buildings you must walk a lot. If you don´t want to walk under the strong sun you can hire bicycles or use the local taxis (bicycles driven by a guy). We prefered to walk, it´s a pleasure to enjoy the beauty of the jungle, specially to hear the sounds of the birds and other animals as insects. The trails are well preserved and indicated.
I really recommended the walk.
Playing Ball in Coba!
Like Chichen Itza, the people of Coba enjoyed a violent, game of ball as well. Now their ball court was much smaller than Chichen Itza's , but I'm sure the end result was just as bloody, and in the end isn't that all that really matters? Fan's of the game are treated to a skillful display of throwing a 8 pound ball through a sideways hoop and then at the very end they get to see the victor beheaded. Blood lust that only a true NASCAR fan could appreciate!
Views from the Top
Although climbing Coba's main pyramid is a reward in itself, the view from the top is icing on the cake! The views from the top are both breathtaking and mesmerizing, there is always a cool breeze to take a edge off the heat. My advice is to buy a couple cold drinks from the vendors that gather by the pyramid and take them to the top to enjoy the view with! It will give a whole new meaning to feeling like your on top of the world....at least the Mayan world.
COBA RUINS are in my opininon better than Chichen-itza.
They are just 30 min west of TULUM. The road is new and in really good condition. You will pass 2 villages on your way. You will also be passed by many really fast cars, so watch your back mirror, and don't get surprised. It is safe road, but you are in unfamiliar place driveing rental car, so be responsible.
Look at our transportation tips on Puerto Morelos and Chichen-itza pages.
There is a large parking lot (15 pesos per car) at front of the entrance to the ruins. Parking lot is surounded by stores and few restaurant (look @ the restaurant tip). The restrooms by the ticket office are very clean. Tip the lady 30 pesos when she hands you the toilet paper.
After seeing the small ruins within walking distance from the entrance (see pictures), rent a bicycle (35 pesos) or rickshaw for two (95 pesos round trip)....unless off course you like to walk few miles. We took the rickshaw as it was getting late and we wanted to climb the BIG DADDY (look @ our next tip)
CLIMBING THE BIG DADDY!!!!
The site contains several large temple pyramids, the tallest, known as Nohoch Mul or "The Castle", being 42 meters in height (or 138 ft). It is the height of the 13 story building!!!!!
WE CLIMBED THE BIG DADDY!!!!
Santo went all the way to the top. I went about half way, above the trees level ( see pictures).
I was really glad it was already after 3 pm and I was also very happy to rickshaw my ass back to the car.
I really recomend the Coba ruins. It is much nicer site than Chichen-itza. You can also have much nicer meal (see my restaurant tips).
When visiting Coba plan on doing a little climbing! Not only does Coba boast the highest pyramid in the area you are also allowed to climb it! Climbing Coba will give you a greater appreciation for the workmanship of the Mayans as well as give an authentic feel of climbing the same steps that Mayan kings once climbed. The view from the top is a panoramic feast for your eyes, its something you won't soon forget!
To Walk it or Bike it? That is the question!
Coba is one of the largest Mayan sites and is spread out over a great distance. Walking Coba can be an all day event as the distance between the structures can stretch into a 20 minute walk. That said its a wonderful walk through the park as you are literally in the middle of the jungle. Many people though choose to rent a bike, which cost about $8 U.S. for the day and can be rented at the entrance of the site. Biking through the park is a lot of fun and definitely a unique experience. If your planning on spending a whole day at the park I would recommend renting a bike which will enable you to see the whole site without having to break a sweat. Now if you truly are of the lazy sort you can also arrange to be carted around by a porter. This is expensive but it looked like it was fun!
Visiting the Structures
The different structure within Coba are basic yet breathtaking. They don't have the magnificence of Chichen Itza or Palenque but they are deceptively big. Because they are hidden in the jungle you don't actually see the structure until you literally walk into them. Its part of the charm of visiting Coba, the structures pop out at you without warning and thats where the breathtaking awe comes into play. The people of Coba certainly didn't have the artistic flair that their Mayan counterparts in Chichen Itza had but they must of had a lot of manpower, or mayan power, because the main pyramid is far larger than Chichen Itza's El Castillo. Plan on more than just an afternoon to appreciate Coba!
After checking the ruins out, before you head back to town… make a quick stop by the lake. You’ll see a small dock from where you can see some crocodiles being fed…
There will also be a guy charging you a dollar to go into the dock. Unless you’re from Australia or some where in Africa, it’s always interesting to see some crocodiles in the wilderness (at least, it was for me!).