Biking in Coba Ruins

04.04.20 08:10 PM By Putri

Coba ruins are claimed to be one of the ‘unbeaten path’ gems to discover and has one of the last ruins in Mexico you can climb to the top. It is located about 50Km from Tulum into the inland of Yucatan. 

Despite our tight schedule, we managed to visit the ruins on our way to Chiquila before catching the ferry to Holbox island. This archaeological site is huge and it’s not even 100% uncovered. The area is mostly covered in roots and vines. This thick jungle setting definitely made me feel like I was in a Jumanji flick. 

Back in the days, this site was an advanced civilization with a bulk size of residents living together in peace. You can find elements of proof of the ancient Mayan Coba civilization such as housings, temples, and even a ball court. All these highlight sites are connected by the sacred white pathway, the sacbes.  Sacbes or sacbe in singular, are pathways built by the Mayan civilization using limestone plaster over gravel or stone, which made it white and stands out from the ground level. It is considered sacred as it connects all the major sites from housing to religious complexes.

Due to its size, it takes hours to get around this site. There are three options you can take to explore this mega archaeological site and all of them are manual: by foot, by bike, or by the bici taxi (Mexican tuktuk). 

People claim that the best way to explore Coba ruins is by bike. Well, it is, if you are the kind of people who enjoy the harmless, masochistic, and muscle pain inducing activity that includes pedalling till you get oxygen deprivation through the ancient tropical jungle. (You bunch of cyclopaths!). 

But biking is not for me although, for some reason, Nico keeps trying to get me biking everytime he gets the chance, hoping that one day I will come to some sort of bikepiphany and finally join him on the road, pedalling to oblivion to find balance in life.

That time was no different, Nico convinced me to bike through the jungle while visiting the Coba ruins and I followed without question, like a sheep that I am. I blamed the ‘vacay vibe’ where everything seems interesting and worth trying…

Rent a bike

The biking rental system isn’t that complicated here and there is only one location. You can find it right after entering the site. You just tell them how many bikes you want and what kind (adult or kids), then you pick the one you like from the 1000 bikes they have on the lot and pedal away!

Bike around

Although this archaeological site is huge, it is somewhat well organized. Each interest point is clustered away from each other, each with their own bike parking lot.  Mainroad for biking are well indicated so no worries of getting lost here as long as you STAY on the path. Although this ruins isn’t as well known as Tulum or Chichen Itza, it can get busy and hot around midday. I was glad we arrived first thing in the morning, as there weren’t many people yet. The paths were pretty quiet and we could go at our own pace in cool weather. 

Nohoch Mul

Among all of the highlights in Coba ruins, the star of this ruins is the Nohoch Mul pyramid, which was once the heart of the city. Nohoch Mul is the second tallest Mayan structure in Yucatan Peninsula, reaching about 42 meters high. It is also one of the last pyramids you can climb up in the peninsula. 

Climbing up wasn’t so easy, the steps are unevenly big and there’s no sidebar to hold on. All there was a piece of rope in the middle of the ruins for you to hold on like your life depended on it. It’s the only safety measure that is available for you to climb up and down the pyramid.  The top of the pyramid is a perfect look out above the cloud, or at least that what I felt when the breeze I desperately needed after climbing those mega steps caressed my face, so soothing.

I sat on the edge of the pyramid, pondering about the ancient Mayan that built this pyramid, and the whole ruins itself. What was on their mind, really. From the top of the pyramid, all I saw was a green carpet made of thick forest. I wonder what was the view from this spot back then that made it worth all that hard work building this Great Pyramid. 

Climbing up the pyramid didn't feel so safe and going down was even worse. The pyramid is tall and pretty steep. I literally went down on my butt, one step at the time. I could see people have been doing the same thing by looking at how polished the edge of steps closest to the ‘safety rope’ are. 


It was almost midday when I got down, and I could feel the heat and humidity starting to rise. The big travel buses have arrived, dropping hundreds of tourists, swamping the pyramid in instant. And for I don’t know what bizarre reason, it seemed that as soon as they saw the climbable pyramid, they instantly started to climb it furiously as if it’s some kind of an obstacle on American Ninja Warrior. Calmez-vous!

We took our bikes and continued perusing the ruins complexes, trying to get as far and as quickly as possible from the crowd. Once we got back on the sacbes that lead back into the thick forest, the combination of the heat, crazy pedalling, humidity, and zero wind made me sweat like a pig. There’s nothing more annoying while biking (apart having a hardcore wedgy on my butt from the saddle that was smaller than my crack), than having sweats fall into your eyes. The thing is, I put a good layer of sun cream that morning so it burns when those little balls of salty sweats mixed with zinc oxide rolled down and dropped right into the corner of my eyes. IT BURNS!


I couldn’t just wipe it off with one hand while biking nor shaking my head like a wet retriever trying to send the sweats to all directions. I don’t have enough balance control on a bike to multitask. A bear on a bike does a better job than I do. 


However tho, biking in Coba ruins is part of the adventure and I agreed with that. We did have fun pedaling along among the ruins, underneath the green canopy of ancient trees.


The essentials:                                              

Location: Cobá Zona Arqueológica


How to get there: 

                            

Opening hour: 8 Am to 5PM

                                        

Entrance fee: 75 mxn per person (as per early 2020)


Bike rent: 50 mxn per adult bike for the whole day

                                        

Insider tips: go there early 

                                        

PS: Biking is a great way to explore the location, but if you choose to take the bici taxi, that’s okay too because that way you could help the local economy a bit more at the same time.