Last Updated on April 10, 2021 by Sammie
Coba, Mexico (with a side of cenote).
Picture it; you’re biking on a dirt path dodging iguanas and sunbeams and you come across an ancient Mayan stone carving depicting the hierarchy of god to human. Behind it lay a pyramid thousands of years old well preserved enough to make you feel like you’ve stepped into a different century. TA DA! I present to you, COBA Mexico.
It’s a unique place, just outside of Tulum and on the way to Chichén itza. What sets itself a part from its more famous brother (Chichz) is the fact that you can climb and explore around the pyramids and get a true sense of how the Mayans used stone on top of stone to become closer to their gods. HOWEVER, covid is and was a thing at the time we went and unfortunately we weren’t able to try our hand at mayan rock climbing. Regardless, we made the best of it and rented a bike for just 50 pesos each and enjoyed our little jungle adventure.
How to do Coba, Mexico:
In case it wasn’t clear, I’m no historian. But hey I’m trying my best and want to be as informed as possible. That’s why you should not do what I did and you should get a guide. Still get the bike! But I truly believe you will get more out of the experience with someone giving context to these incredible structures. Or a friend who knows more than you. That’s always helpful.
If you have the chance to visit these Mayan ruins, I highly recommend it. It’s less popular and has a completely different flavor to Chichén Itza. While Chichén Itza is open and extravagant, Coba is rugged and interesting. There are three main structures that you can explore by foot, bici taxi (which is a bike with a little cart in the back that you sit on and get taken around in), or as we did; renting bikes. Traveling along the sacbes or “white roads” you will encounter 3 main structures; Coba Group, Conjunto de Pinturas, Mecanxoc Group.
My personal favorite was the Coba Group. Honestly we were so excited to get going on the bikes we missed this large group of structures until the very end! If you aren’t paying attention (like us) its right at the entrance, across from the bike rentals. There you can see one of the two ball courts in Coba as well as the Iglesia (the Church). This was my favorite grouping simply because it combines impressivly tall structures with a fun tunnel to force yourself to run through! Kidding aside, it was beautiful and quiet and it felt like we were the only ones on the grounds.
What’s so great about Coba, Mexico?
And for most, the main reason to visit the Coba Mexican ruins is to see the biggest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula, Ixmoja, a part of the Nohoch Mul groupings. Everyone likes seeing the “-ests”, am I wrong? It stands stoically at 42 meters (137 feet) with 120 steps. 29 more steps than Chichén Itza for those who are keeping track.
The day didn’t end with a big pyramid. Somehow after 2 hours in the heat, biking around the jungle, we had some energy left to suss out a cenote nearby, and I am oh so happy we did.
Another Mexican cenote? Yes. CENOTE TANKACH-HA
What’s great about this cenote is the proximity to the Coba Ruins. Just a short 10 minute drive from the ruins are a group of cenotes including Tankach-ha. I don’t think you can go wrong with any cenote, it merely depends on what floats your boat that day. And that particular day we were drawn in by the platform built inside to refresh our diving skills (or lack there of).
This was my first indoor Mexican cenote experience. And unlike my first open air cenote which you can read about HERE at Garden of Eden, Tankach-ha is a cave. It closely resembles a vasija or a pot. The best way to think about Tankach-ha is like a flower pot, a small opening at the top and a big belly of a cave at the bottom. You arrive to a hole in the ground that resembles something like a well and from there you take a spiral staircase down to the cold dark (and enchanting) water.
What time should you go to the cenote?
Luck was on our side for this trip but I’m gonna tell you my “lucky” logical tips. GO LATE. When we arrived at 4:30 there were a handful of people sprinkling the bottom of the cave. But within a half an hour we were the only ones there.
Let me repeat. WE WERE THE ONLY ONES IN THIS GIANT CAVE. I was a fan. There’s something about being alone and staring up at dripping rock formations in silence that gets you. My friend described it best; when you’re floating on your back in the water it’s like you’re flying over sand dunes. There you have it. Get yourself a piece of this magical optical illusion and head to TanKach-ha.