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There is so much conflicting information on the web about how to visit the Coba Ruins.
While researching my trip from Tulum to Coba, I found myself asking: Can you still climb the Coba Ruins? Is there a collectivo to the Coba Ruins? How can you visit the Coba Ruins from Tulum (without a rental car or crazy expensive tour)?
Luckily, I have all the answers for ya right here. This indepth Tulum to Coba Travel Guide includes all the info you need to know about:
- History of the Coba Ruins
- 4 ways to get from Tulum to Coba (without a car rental)
- Can you still climb the Coba ruins?
- How to explore the Coba ruins by foot, by bike, and by cart
- Coba ruins cost
- Coba ruins hours + travel tips
- Tulum to Coba day trip packing list
- Best restaurants near the Coba ruins
- How to swim in cenotes at the Coba ruins
- How to get from Coba to Tulum
- Best places to stay in Tulum
- And much more!
Daniel and I took a day trip to Coba from Tulum and visited the nearby cenotes and had an awesome time.
Follow this step-by-step guide to get from Tulum to Coba without a tour, explore the ruins, eat an unforgettable lunch, take a dip in the underground cenotes, and get back to your hotel in Tulum all in one piece!
View of the jungle from the top of the Nohoch Mul pyramid
History of the Coba Ruins + 6 Coba Facts
The coba ruins history is pretty crazy. Knowing a few basic Coba ruins facts before you go will help you make the most of your trip and truly appreciate what you’re seeing!
1. The ruins were built by the Mayans
2. They may have been settled as early as 50 BC, they were used mostly between 200 and 900 AD (meaning they’re almost 2,000 years old!)
3. Coba was home to about 50,000 Mayans at the city’s peak
4. The ruins cover about 30 square miles
5. Coba was maintained until the Spanish arrived in Mexico in the 1400s
6. Major excavations didn’t begin until the 1970s and the Coba ruins became a tourist destination in the 1980s
If you want to learn more about the Coba ruins before your visit, the Coba Wikipedia page is a great place to get started along with the Coba entry in the Encyclopedia Brittanica and the official Coba Ruins website from the Mexico Government.
Never met a ruin I didn’t like, and Coba is no exception!
4 Ways to Get from Tulum to Coba (without a car)
The Coba Ruins are about 50 km / 45 minute drive from Tulum, which makes them an easy day trip from the beachside town.
Even better, Mexico has fabulous tourist infrastructure so there’s no need to rent a car to get from Tulum to Coba and the Coba cenotes.
Instead, explore your options and use the info below to visit the Coba Ruins from Tulum by collectivo, bus, taxi, or guided tour on your trip.
1. Colectivo from Tulum to Coba
The first thing that comes to mind when traveling in Mexico is grabbing a colectivo on the street, right?
A lot of forums discussing how to visit the Coba Ruins mention a collectivo, and after some research I found that there is a Tulum to Coba colectivo, but it’s probably not your best option.
You can find the collectivo to the Coba ruins is located on the corner of Tulum Ave (the main highway) and Calle Osiris Nte.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure about either the price or times that it runs. It was definitely there early in the morning around 7 am when we were headed to the bus station, and is easy to spot because it’s a large van with “Tulum – Coba” written on it.
The collectivo to the Coba Ruins is only a five-minute walk from the bus station, so my advice is to just check it out on your way to the bus. If it’s there, jump on, if not, continue to the bus station.
Julie shares more helpful info about her experience with the collectivo in the comments, scroll down to read more!
2. Mayab and ADO bus from Tulum to Coba
Right now, the best option to get to the Coba Ruins from Tulum is by bus. I highly recommend getting the first bus out at 7:20 am to avoid the crowds.
The bus leaves from the Terminal Autobuses Tulum ADO station – click here to find it on Google Maps.
The brand is Mayab, which is the ‘second class’ ADO branc and just means it’s a little cheaper and slower. The cost for the one-way ticket to the Coba Ruins (you’ll be on the Valladolid Route) is 50 mxn / 2.63 usd per person and the drive takes about an hour.
If you don’t want to get on the 7:20 am bus to Coba, there are more out about every hour. The only problem is the second class Mayab buses aren’t listed online.
Because of that, your best bet is to go to the ADO bus station (click here to find the Tulum ADO station on Google Maps) and check out the timetables they have on the wall to find the best one for your schedule. You can also ask your hostel to call and ask for you.
If you want to spend a little more, you can also take the first class ADO bus from Tulum to Coba.
These are almost three times the price but the schedule is online. Just remember to search from Tulum to Valladolid rather than to Coba because Valladolid is the end destination of the route and will turn up more options.
3. Taxi from Tulum to the Coba Ruins
Don’t feel like dealing with buses and timetables?
Then you can also take a taxi from Coba to Tulum. Obviously, this is the most expensive option, but also the easiest.
I know the taxis from Coba to Tulum have a set price of 450 mxn / 23.66 usd for the trip, so I assume the way out from Tulum to Coba should be a similar price. Of course, always try to negotiate!
4. How to Visit the Coba Ruins by Guided Tour
Finally, if all of this is starting to sound like a headache, consider just booking a guided tour to the site.
The TripGuru offers full day tours from Cancun and Playa del Carmen (but you could probably request a Tulum pick up as well) that go to the ruins and one of the nearby cenotes for only $59 usd per person. Click here to see all the details!
120 steps lead to the top of Nohoch Mul, the tallest pyramid and main attraction in the Coba Ruins
Can You Still Climb the Coba Ruins?
Yes, you can still climb the Coba ruins!
The largest pyramid in the Coba compound is called Nohoch Mul, and it stand at an impressive at 137 feet tall.
120 steps lead to the top of Nohoch Mul and there’s a rope to help you keep your balance on the crumbling stone stais. Honestly, it wasn’t too bad to climb (I did it in flip flops) and a little extra effort is so worth the amazing view of the surrounding jungle from the top.
Did I mention you should bring comfortable shoes?
How to explore the Coba Ruins by foot, by bike, or by cart
The Coba ruins are made up of multiple major areas spread across multiple kilometers of hiking trails through the park.
Nohoch Mul is the highlight and my second favorite area of the Coba Ruins was the Grupo Macanxoc, but you can also explore the Coba Group, the Conjunto de Pinturas, and more.
The paths are easy to follow to every part of the ruins, and it’s not difficult to see it all without a map or guide (although you can hire one at the entrance to tell you more about the site).
Coba ruins by foot: We chose to explore by foot, and certainly got our exercise. Nohoch Mul is about 2 km from the entrance, and other parts of the park are even farther.
Coba ruins by bike: Bikes are one of the most popular ways to explore the Coba ruins because they’re pretty budget-friendly and will help you see more, faster. You can rent bikes in Coba after you enter the park. They cost 50 mxn / 2.63 usd per person.
Coba ruins by cart tour: There are also bike carts for rent at the Coba ruins. This is kind of nice because you don’t have to think about where to go next or make sure you see it all – instead, simply sit back and relax on the cart and your guide will take you to all the major sites.
Cart tours through Coba cost 150 mxn / 7.89 usd for a 1 hour and 20-minute tour.
Lots of people choose to explore the Coba ruins by bike, we decided to do it on foot this time around
How Much Does it Cost to Visit the Coba Ruins?
Coba ruins admission is is 70 mxn / 3.68 usd per person.
However, the ruins also charge a “video” fee. If you want to bring in a Go Pro or shoot video, you’ll have to pay an extra 45 mxn / 2.37 usd for the priveledge. Luckily, photos are still free (for now).
It’s pretty weird, but I don’t really mind because the money is going to support the upkeep of the site.
Coba Ruins Hours + The Best Time to Visit
The Coba ruins are open every day from 8 am to 5 pm.
The last entrance is every day at 4:30 but I strongly recommend going early and arriving right at 8 am.
The ruins get pretty crowded, especially on the top of the pyramid. There’s not much space and of course, everyone wants to climb it. If you want some time to snap a pic or enjoy the view in peace, you need to be at the ruins around opening time.
The most magical part of the ruins is wandering the secluded tree-lined walkways and exploring the different sites, imagining what life was like when it was a bustling Mayan city. Being packed in with 100 people while you do it is gonna ruin the experience a bit.
On our trip, we spent 8:30 to 11 am exploring the ruins, and when we left the lines to enter were long and it was a madhouse.
The jungle pathway to Grupo Macanxoc
What To Pack For A Day Trip to the Coba Ruins from Tulum
When we visited the Coba Ruins we left our hostel in Tulum around 6:30 am and didn’t return until about 5 pm. It was definitely a long day, so I recommend packing a small day pack with:
- Water bottles (especially if you go in the summer months)
- Snacks (always)
- I wore flip flops but there’s a lot of walking, climbing, and bike riding so you may want to consider hiking boots as well.
- Swimsuit for a dip in the nearby cenotes
- Camera or GoPro
- Cash for buses and the entrance fee
- Biodegradable sunscreen for the cenotes (buy it here or pick it up at Walmart in Playa del Carmen)
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If you want to feel like a real life explorer, the Coba ruins are a must for your Tulum itinerary.
Best Restaurants at the Coba Ruins
We were hungry when we left the Coba Ruins so we stopped for an early lunch. Little did I know I was about to eat one of the best meals I had in Mexico!
Definitely don’t miss the El Faisan restaurant in the parking lot of the Coba Ruins.
When you’re there order the poc-chuc, a traditional Mayan pork dish. It was honestly one of the most delicious pieces of pork I’ve ever had.
I just pointed to a picture on the menu cause it looked good, and it totally blew me away. It was really flavorful and came with a bean dip, chips, guac, tortillas, and rice. Try it, you’ll love it.
The cenotes near Coba are the perfect place to cool off after exploring the ruins
How to Swim in Cenotes Near the Coba Ruins
After the ruins, it’s time to cool down at the nearby cenotes. Cenotes are underground caves and swimming holes that are all around the Riviera Maya, and Tulum and the Coba ruins are no exception!
You can rent a bike from the shop near the Coba Ruins entrance and ride it to three cenotes:
I have a lot of info to share on how to get from Coba to the cenotes, how much thye cost, and extra tips you need to know, so I wrote a separate post.
Learn how to combine the Coba Ruins with a swim in three nearby cenotes to complete your day trip from Tulum!
How to get from Coba to Tulum
The two easiest ways to get from Coba to Tulum are by taxi or by bus. Taxis are faster but more expensive than the ADO bus, and will run you about 450 mxn / 24 usd for the 45-minute trip.
The ADO bus from Coba to Tulum takes about an hour but is also much cheaper.
To get back to Tulum after exploring the Coba ruins, go to the storefront selling ADO bus tickets (they have a huge sign) near the entrance to the Coba parking lot. They’ll tell you the schedule and sell you tickets for the bus you want.
When I went, we had the option to take the first-class ADO bus back to Tulum from Coba at 3:10 pm for 86 mxn / 4.50 usd per person. Or, if you want more time at the ruins or the cenotes, you can wait until 5 pm or 7 pm for the second class Mayab bus.
Tubo Tulum Hostel
Bonus: Where to Stay in Tulum
I stayed in the Tubo Tulum hostel and loved it!
The little tube homes tucked into the jungle scenery are so unique, and they also have even cheaper accomodation in tents with mattresses and electricity.
Plus, they had their own bike rentals which was super convenient and our stay came with free breakfast and the chance to meet the owner’s tiny, brand new puppy, what more can I say?
It was perfect.
The layout of Tulum is kind of weird though and the town and restaurants are not on the water.
So, when you go to Tulum you need to decide if you’d rather stay right on the beach (more expensive and resorty) or near the town. Most places have bikes to make traveling between the two easier.
The Beach Tulum is one of the top-rated hotels on the waterfront because it’s adults-only and offers picture-perfect rooms from private dip pools on each terrace! La Valise Tulum is another top-rated hotel on the beachfront while Biwa Tulum is a guest-favorite in town.
For the budget-minded, Tubo Tulum offers great value for the money at only $13 per night for a double-tent, and the X’keken Hostel is another great budget-friendly choice, especially for solo travelers, with dorm beds for only $7 per night as well.
Ready to go? Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to nearby Cancun and then explore accommodation like unique stays on Airbnb or the top-rated hotels on Booking.com to plan the perfect night, weekend, or long-term stay in Tulum.
This article is part of the Riveting Riviera Maya series. Read the rest below:
Then, explore the complete Mexico Series for more to insider tips on what to see, do, eat, drink, and discover in Playa del Carmen and beyond!
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I’ve been traveling full-time for three years, these are the resources that make it happen:
➤ I exclusively use Airbnb for savings and security on long-term stays in furnished apartments.
➤ I use Booking.com for short-term stays in hostels and hotels on weekend trips.
➤ Upwork allowed me to take the leap to travel full-time because they make it so easy to find freelance clients in any field.
➤ The Superstar Blogging Travel Writing Course launched my travel writing career and helped me become a contributor at sites like Cincinnati Refined and International Living, and even get published in the Boston Globe.