Coba - Ancient Mayan Mystery

by Andre Gunther


Coba (GPS: 2029.450 N 8743.986 W) was a major center of the Mayan empire. The city is as mystical as it is beautiful. It is located deep in the jungle near a series of lakes where Spider Monkeys can be found. Parts of the city are still being excavated. If you arrive early in the morning, you can beat the crowds, which are not nearly as bad as in Chichen Itza, and feel like an explorer who just discovered one of the greatest secrets of ancient times. Locals are very friendly and the admission fee is not worth mentioning. The commercialization of the area won't stop at Coba, so while you are staying in Cancun or any other place nearby, we urge you to take the trip to Coba. You will not regret it. If you come to visit early in the morning, you will be able to pay a visit to fabulous Punta Laguna and its population of Spider Monkeys.

Getting to Coba

There are two ways to get here. You join a bus tour, or you can rent a car. Driving in Mexico is fun. The roads to Coba are excellent (for Mexican standards). You can blast along this road as fast as a racecar driver (always an eye out for cops). There will be some smaller villages on your road though. Please slow down for them, as Children will be playing on the road and farm animals will cross unexpectedly. To make sure you really slow down, they put in some really nasty speed bumps that are designed to break your car into pieces if you don't slow down. I would recommend taking 307 south and following the exit to Coba (near Tulum). From Cancun you could also take Highway 180, pay a fee on it, and then turn south to Coba. It won't even get you there faster so don't do it. Once you took the exit, you are on the jungle road I mentioned earlier. There will be only one intersection. Take the south route and you will get directly to Coba.

Getting around

There are several ways of getting around in Coba. You can either rent a rickshaw, a bike or walk. Rickshaw drivers will double up as a tour guide. Alternatively you can rent a tour guide (English or Spanish) on foot or just venture off into the city all by yourself. The city is rather large and exploring it by foot takes some time and strength, but I never saw Indiana Jones going after a lost treasure on a rickshaw.

Take your time when visiting Coba, there is much to explore. Coba is one of the oldest Mayan settlements in Mexico. It is also one of the largest with 50,000 inhabitants. At its peak the city covered about 50 square kilometers. The park at Coba covers about 6 square kilometers.

Coba Trip Advice

The sanitary facilities in Coba are real Mexican style I guess. Avoid them if you can. When we were visiting, there was a guy selling some soft drinks inside but if you visit during off-season I wouldn't bet on him being there, so bring something to drink, you will need it. It is best to bring plenty of water, a hat and sun blocker.

For more information about Coba and nearby Punta Laguna read my article north_america/mexico/quintana_roo/coba_and_punta_laguna

About the Author

Andre Gunther ( is the owner of a website dedicated to travel writing.