Stepping Back in Time at Coba

The Yucatan Peninsula was once a powerful Mayan center, home to some of Mexico’s largest and most impressive ancient cities. Whilst the renowned site of Chichen Itza attracts large crowds to marvel at the famous Kukulkan pyramid, the lesser known but equally impressive archaeological site of Coba, just one and a half hours’ drive from Playa del Carmen, provides a unique experience that shouldn’t be missed.

ancient tablet at Coba

When visiting any ancient ruin, it’s best to arrive early to beat the crowds and the heat. The good thing about Coba is that it is set in dense jungle which provides shade when walking between the different structures. One thing I noticed about Coba was it’s size – it is a very spread out site, so we decided to hire bicycles to explore the grounds.

The fact that Coba is so spread out means that you will often be alone while exploring the different structures. Looking up at the pyramids, imagining the ancient ceremonies taking place in the heart of the jungle is a spine tingling experience. The fact that there aren’t hoards of other tourists around makes it even more special.

Coba pyramid

The highlight of a trip to Coba is of course, climbing the main pyramid (as long as your legs are up for the challenge). Going up is not as hard as it looks, and there is a rope running the length of the climb for added support.

The views at the top, however, are absolutely wonderful. Here you can imagine you’re a Mayan King gazing out across your Kingdom. The view of the dense green jungle stretching out to the horizon is just spectacular. It’s nice to be rewarded for the physical exertion of the climb!

view from Coba pyramid

Of course, what goes up must come down. The climb down is slightly more difficult, and a little hard on the knees, but still totally worth it. I always enjoy ancient sites where you can climb the structures, as it just adds more adventure to the day.

Coba pyramid

Another great thing about Coba is its proximity to some beautiful cenotes. As it was late in the afternoon by the time we arrived, we chose to visit the closest one, with the help of some directions from the locals. We made our way down a dirt road and through a local village, where a sign led us to the entrance of the cenotes.

We couldn’t believe our eyes as we made our way down the wooden steps which led into an underground cave filled with clear blue water.

Coba cenote

The water was refreshingly cool as we took to it with our snorkels to explore the strange underground land. The Mayans of Coba certainly had access to plenty of water for swimming and drinking!

It was a much needed swim after the exploring the ruins, and we let the cool clear water refresh our minds and bodies before heading back to Playa del Carmen.

There was just one more stop to make, however; the lagoon near the entrance of the ruins. We arrived just before sunset; the calm surface reflecting the pinkish sky as some friendly dogs came to greet us and say ‘hola’.

Lagoon Coba

Although we were intrigued by the signs for crocodiles, we were quite relieved we didn’t get a visit from them!

Coba crocodillo

It was a fantastic day, cycling through the jungle, exploring an ancient city, climbing a pyramid and swimming in a natural pool. I’d recommend it to anyone who would like to experience nature, history, culture and adventure all in the one location, just a short drive from the heart of Playa del Carmen.

Top 10 Things To Do on the Riviera Maya

Playa del Carmen is located on a pristine stretch of coastline on the eastern Yucatan peninsular, known as the Riviera Maya. The Riviera Maya offers world class accommodation, unique natural wonders, beautiful beaches and historic treasures which make it a popular vacation destination for people from all over the world. We’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Things To Do to assist you with you next visit.

1. Experience the Unique Vibe of Playa del Carmen

Riviera Maya Playa del Carmen

‘Playa’ as it is known by the regulars, is a cosmopolitan town on the Caribbean Sea, securing a special place in the hearts of all who visit. Sparkling waters, fantastic restaurants, lively night life and friendly people are just some of the possible reasons why this town is the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Riviera Maya.

2. Swim In a Cenote

Natural, geologically formed pools filled with cool clear fresh water are scattered all along the Riviera Maya. Known for their refreshing, healing qualities, swimming in a cenote is an absolute must for visitors. Our favorites are Cenote Azul, Cristallino and Dos Ojos (Two eyes).

3. Snorkel with Sea Turtles

Riviera Maya Akumal

The protected bay of Akumal is the feeding ground for a number of sea turtles. All year round, these majestic creatures feed on grasses growing from the sandy sea floor and don’t seem to mind inquisitive visitors watching them eat. Snorkel gear can be hired onsite.

4. Step Back in Time at Coba

Riviera Maya Coba

The ancient Mayan city of Coba makes a great day trip from Playa del Carmen. Take a guided tour and learn about ancient Mayan prophecies, hire bicycles to explore the vast grounds, then climb to the top of the main pyramid and imagine yourself as a powerful Mayan king surveying a great kingdom.

5. Chill out in Tulum

Riviear Maya tulum

The beaches of Tulum are famed for their underdeveloped shores and turquoise waters. Grab a good book, spread out a towel and soak up the laid back vibe.The Mayans who inhabited the city in ancient times certainly had good taste in real estate!

6. Dive the World’s Second Largest Barrier Reef

The waters off the Riviera Maya are home to one of the world’s most spectacular reef systems. Most dive companies are located in Playa del Carmen or the nearby island of Cozumel, and can arrange a tour to suit you.

7. Celebrate the Day of the Dead at Xcaret

Day of the Dead Playa Del Carmen

Xcaret is an ecological themed park offering excellent activities all year round, but its ‘Festival of Life and Death’ in early November is not to be missed if your visit coincides. Funerary exhibitions, ghoulish face painting, excellent theatrical performances and a variety of food stalls are just some of the highlights of the festival to mark the famed ‘Day of the Dead.’

8. Discover Untouched Natural Treasures at Sian Ka’an

South of Tulum, discover ‘Paradise on Earth’ at the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a protected area of untold natural and ecological beauty. Take a boat ride through the lagoon to discover manatees, dolphins and unique bird life, then feast on fresh lobster at a water front restaurant in the tiny town of Punta Allen.

9. Become a Beach Afficianado at Xpu-ha and Xcacel

playa del carmen beach club

Discover the lesser known beaches of Xcacel and Xpu- ha south of Playa del Carmen, then decide which is your favorite. Is it the natural, rugged beauty of Xcacel, or the laid back beach bars and aquamarine waters of Xpu-ha? You decide.

10. Slip into ‘Mexico time’ in  Puerto Morelos

Riviera Maya Puerto Morelos

A sleepy fishing village just north of Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos retains a relaxed atmosphere whilst offering great restaurants and one of the best English book stores on the Mayan Riviera. Pick out a great book then read it over fresh ceviche or seafood tacos and forget about having a ‘To Do’ list at all.

For more information on transport options and tours for the above activities, contact our concierge service.