Coba: Home of the Tallest Ancient Pyramid in Yucatan

In Cancún, Culture, Play, Play, Playa del Carmen & Tulum by Belen Molina

No Riviera Maya vacation is complete without a trip to the amazing Mayan ruins. Chichen Itza is considered a hallmark of the Mexico Mayan ruins and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Tulum is an ancient Mayan fortress that was built overlooking the sea, making it one of the most stunning archaeological sites in the region. But have you ever heard about or visited Coba? Coba, whose Mayan name means “waters stirred by the wind”, is located around two large lagoons, between Tulum and Valladolid. Archaeologists believe that Coba is one of the most important Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula, a hidden gem that is often overlooked. If your idea of a fun day includes climbing the tallest Ancient Pyramid in Yucatan (Nohoch Mul), riding a bicycle along shaded walkways, or exploring Mayan settlements that remain largely unexcavated, then you can’t miss Coba. When compared to Tulum and Chichen Itza, Coba offers a very different type of vibe, ideal for those seeking an adventurous experience. The site is surrounded by overgrown jungle and much of the ruins are covered in trees and vines. Unlike Tulum and Chichen Itza, climbing is allowed and there are far fewer people.

Here are some interesting facts about Coba:

  • It is estimated that Coba had about 50,000 inhabitants at its peak of civilization
  • Coba traded with communities as far away as Honduras
  • You must climb 120 steps to get to the top of Nohoch Mul, which is 137 feet high
  • The entire site encompasses over 30 square miles and includes: shaded walkways known as sacbe, three settlements, two ball courts, and the pyramid of Nohoch Mul.

There are several tour companies operating from Cancun or Playa del Carmen that organize day trips to Coba. You can also rent a car and drive by taking the highway that goes to Tulum. Once in Tulum, all you need to do is follow the signs. You can expect to spend upwards of 2 hours if you walk the site or upwards of 1 hour if you rent a bike. You can also hire a guide once at the site. Make sure to wear sunscreen, bring water and wear comfortable hiking shows. Climbing to the top of Nohoch Mul alone will make the trip worth it; the views from the top are breathtaking.

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