The Mayan ruins of Cobá, set in the jungle, have a different vibe than the coastal ruins of Tulum. While the actual structures, divided into building groups, are not that impressive, it’s an excuse for a fun morning bike ride on wide flat dirt roads through the jungle.
Nohoch Mul Group
At Cobá you also have the possibility of climbing one of the tall structures, the Great Pyramid of the Nohoch Mul group. With a height of 42 meters it’s the second tallest structure in the complex and affords views overlooking the expansive jungle. The steep narrow stairs make some guests extremely nervous, especially on the way down. If you are used to climbing, however, it is not difficult at all. Note that it is not permitted to climb the tallest structure, La Iglesia of the Cobá group.
At the other end of the site is the Macanxoc group with mostly stelae. There were no tour groups visiting this part of the park when we were there and from the size of the bike parking area I don’t think many people bother to visit this area. Save it for last on a morning visit.
Other Sites of Interest
Bikes are rented at the front entrance and are allowed on the main road only. At each building group there is a bike parking area with bike restricted areas clearly marked. I would suggest visiting the Cobá Group, located just beyond the entrance and across from the bike rental, first as this group has no dedicated bike parking and you will have to leave your bike at the rental parking area anyway. Then rent a bike and head to the Nohoch Mul group to climb the Great Pyramid stopping at the smaller groups along the way. If you still have time and are enjoying the ride continue on to lesser visited Macanxoc group.
Lonely Planet says the ruins get quite busy and it is best not to rent bikes if it’s crowded. It is hard to imagine that the roads could be so packed that you couldn’t comfortably ride a bike. Arriving at 8:20 (the site opens at 8) tour groups were starting to check in but not so many that the place felt crowded. Even when we left at just after 10 it still wasn’t too busy to ride a bike and most of the roadways away from the entrance hardly had a soul on them.
Driving to Cobá and on to Chichen Itza
Cobá is an easy 45 minute drive from Tulum and on the way to Valladolid and Chichen Itza. Valladolid makes a pleasant stop for lunch. Just beware that there is an hour time difference. Valladolid and Chichen Itza are an hour earlier than Cobá and Tulum.
Lunch at Conato 1910 in Valladolid
Conato 1910 located a few blocks off the main plaza has a pleasant central courtyard with plants and brightly painted murals. The Mexican menu was a list of local specialties, most of which I had no idea what they were, but it was fun to look them up and try a couple.
Both the carne humada (smoked meat) and the panuchos (shredded turkey tostados) were simple, well executed and a bargain for about 100 pesos ($4.25USD) each. A great place for local color before heading on to the large Mayaland resort in Chichen Itza.
December 10, 2019
For links to all the posts in this series see the Yucatan Peninsula page.