So much content captured from Mexico, so little time. The ruins of Coba are a quick, fun, easy daytrip from Tulum town, and truly spectacular to behold (if you’re into the whole ancient ruin thing). Hop in your rental car, turn west and you should arrive in under an hour. If not, you may have a worse sense of direction than me – there’s one convenient main road almost the entire journey, with clear signage pointing you along the way.
– This is a no-brainer for most fully-functioning adults but when setting out from Tulum, make sure you have a full tank of gas. If nothing but for the peace of mind…there are zero gas stations between Tulum and Coba. We found ourselves running mysteriously low and had a very anxious last few miles. There are stations in Tulum town and another right outside Coba.
– Don’t buy dreamcatchers or souvenirs in Tulum town. Wait for your Coba excursion day and stop at the many stands lining the highway along the way. Beautiful housewares and other trinkets from Mayan artisans abound, with lower prices than what you’ll find in town. They’re so legit, you might actually spot one of the ladies weaving dreamcatchers as you shop.
– Same goes for food: stop for lunch at one of the roadside spots set up along the way and enjoy a true local experience (not that they’re not catered to tourists – but you will probably be the only ones there). Our lunch spot of choice consisted of an outdoor grill, a couple of rickety tables, and some cute pooches to keep us company. When I ordered a beer, the guy taking our order ran to the convenience store across the street to buy it. The food tasted as fresh as if they owners had raised the chicken, lettuce, and beans in their backyard – no info on if that’s actually true.
– Once you reach Coba, spring the extra few bucks to rent a bike or opt for one of the pedicabs they offer, otherwise you’ll spend a majority of the day hoofing it from site to site. You may think you’re being cheap/lazy until you actually start out on the path and realize how truly vast the ancient city is. It you come in the morning and have a few hours ahead of you, then a leisurely jungle hike probably makes for a nice day. However, our too-relaxed selves showed up with limited to spare before closing. Our driver (cycler?) was very informative so we learned a lot about each individual ruin we visited.
– Climb the pyramid. Coba is one of the only Mayan ruins that you can still climb. Just do it – you can clock your cardio to justify extra margs later, and the 360-degree view of the surrounding jungle is unmissable.