Cobá is a Pre-Columbia Mayan archeological site located in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, around 27 miles northwest of Tulum. The name translates from the Mayan to mean "water stirred (or ruffled) by the wind."
The height of the city’s power and influence was during the Classical and Post Classical period of Mayan history, during which time the site is estimated by historians to have contained around 6500 temples and housed around 50,000 inhabitants.
Along with Chichen Itza and Tulum, Cobá is one of the Yucatan Peninsula’s most picturesque and popular archeological ruins. The site is around 30 square miles in size and is swathed in jungle. There is a system of around 45 ceremonial roads – known as sacbé in Mayan – radiating out from the main temples. Cobá contains the second highest temple in the Mayan world (the highest is located in Guatemala.)
After buying tickets, make your way by foot along a pathway flanked by jungle to the first excavated ruins, which consist of a large pyramid, Grupo Cobá, that visitors are permitted to climb, and a ball court.
You can then walk, rent a bicycle or hire a rickshaw-style contraption with driver to travel the paths to the major temple, Nohoc Mul, which is around 130 feet tall and 120 steps to the top. Stop along the way to admire "La Iglesia," the church, a small but lovely ruin resembling a beehive. Once at Nohoc Mul, around five minutes further on, don’t miss climbing the steps for impressive views from the top of the surrounding jungle.
Getting To the Cobá Ruins:
Coba can be visited as a side trip from Tulum, with many visitors visiting both sites in one day: as both are fairly compact, unlike some of the peninsula's other ruins, this is definitely feasible. There are regular buses from Tulum, and the carpark is situated right near the entrance to the site.
The Cobá Archaeological Zone is open to the public daily from 8 am to 5 pm.
Admission is 35 pesos for adults, free for children under 12. Parking is 12 pesos.
There are local bilingual tour guides available on site to give you a tour of the ruins. Only hire officially licensed tour guides - they wear an identification issued by the Mexican Secretary of Tourism.
Cobá is an increasingly popular archeological site, so although it's larger than the Tulum ruins it can get crowded, particularly the climb up Nohoc Mul. Your best bet is to arrive as early as possible.
As with most outdoor tourist attractions on the Yucatan Peninsula, afternoons can get uncomfortably hot, so it's advisable to visit earlier in the day before the temperature climbs too high.
Because there can be bike riding and climbing involved, wear comfortable sturdy shoes like hiking boots or sneakers, and carry insect repellant, water and sunscreen.