We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Coba or Tulum Ruins...what is your preference and why?

Which Tulum hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Kansas City...
Level Contributor
1,031 posts
10 reviews
Save Topic
Coba or Tulum Ruins...what is your preference and why?

Hi there,

One of our kids coming with us next month hasn't been to Mexico before. We've been to the Tulum ruins, but not the ones at Coba. We're staying on the beach in the Sian Kaan, and trying to decide which set of ruins to take her to visit. I really don't feel like going to both, so if you had to choose one or the other - which would you choose for a first timer and why?

We'll have a 4WD vehicle, so transportation isn't an issue.

Thanks

San Jose, California
Destination Expert
for California
Level Contributor
15,253 posts
104 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Coba or Tulum Ruins...what is your preference and why?

I like Coba better than Tulum for a few reasons. The site is larger and I like the jungle location - lots of trees and other foliage - you really walk through the site (or ride bikes of cycle-rickshaw), so there is more of the exploration element - you really go into the site and can wander all around. Plus everything at Coba isn't excavated and restored, so there are mounds with ruins under them that no one really knows exactly what they are, and other ruins that are in the condition that they were in when they were unearthed - adds to the mystery and overall atmosphere of the place. At Coba, you can also get up close and personal with the ruins - you can climb the main temple still and there are other smaller structures that you can touch and climb up on.

At Tulum everything is basically on display - totally excavated, you can practically see the entire site from one vantage point, everything is roped off - you walk through the ruins, but there isn't really any sense of exploring them - Tulum is more like visiting an outdoor museum to me. I think that the main thing Tulum has going for it is the phenomenal location on the cliffs overlooking the sea - I don't think any other ruins have as dramatic of a location.

For Coba, no need for 4WD - good paved roads all the way.

Saskatoon, Canada
Destination Expert
for Riviera Maya
Level Contributor
12,606 posts
49 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Coba or Tulum Ruins...what is your preference and why?

Coba is definitely superior to Tulum....Tulum has a nice setting but the ruins themselves are pretty insignificant historically speaking. Coba has not been restored nearly as much as Chichen Itza, but it is a much larger site than Tulum and has Nohoch Muul, the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan -and you can climb it.

…wordpress.com/2009/11/coba_nohoch_mul1.jpg

Edited: 11 November 2013, 18:44
Nanaimo, Canada
Level Contributor
1,816 posts
460 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Coba or Tulum Ruins...what is your preference and why?

Sherm: Try to see both Tulum & Coba ruins. The settings are so different. Tulum's crumbling ruins with the turquoise water sparkling in the background is the perfect setting for photos. The small beach there, is really lovely.

Coba's jungle setting with the grand pyramids is breath-taking. We hired a guide after we entered the Coba ruins. He was very knowledgeable, spoke excellent English, & had a great sense of humor. He brought a lot more to the experience than simply reading a guide book.:)

Big D
Destination Expert
for Tulum, Dallas
Level Contributor
13,647 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Coba or Tulum Ruins...what is your preference and why?

Coba

In addition to what has been detailed, the natural setting in the jungle can help transport you...especially if you go to the less visited area of Coba where the stele are located.

Detroit, Michigan
Level Contributor
7,706 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Coba or Tulum Ruins...what is your preference and why?

Coba and a guide will make it more fun for the kids: explaining the origins of "football" while viewing the football court (hint - deadly! ) They will explain the life in a once thriving very large city, show you newpapers of the day. He/she wil point out the jaguars imprinted in wtone and their meaning. You can rent the bikes or the trikes.

One batheroom at the entrance so remember that. Beverages/water available.

London
Level Contributor
6 posts
52 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Coba or Tulum Ruins...what is your preference and why?

I've not been to coba but after visiting Ek-Balam, where you can climb up the city to take in an amazing view, I was wishing we had gone to coba as well. This was by far the best thing of the whole trip as you can touch it and experience it first hand rather than just looking at something. I would say that when we looked into coba it was more of an adventure and I think a young person would enjoy this place best. We went to tulum, it was cool....but yeah there's not much there and it's all unearthed. If you want to see a wilder Mexico go to Coba.

Edited: 11 November 2013, 20:06
Kansas City...
Level Contributor
1,031 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Coba or Tulum Ruins...what is your preference and why?

Thanks all...sounds like Coba might be more fun. The first time I went to the Tulum ruins was nice, but expect for the spectacular beach vistas, I don't know that I care to visit them again. Our kids are all adults, so I think they would enjoy Coba more too.

Bryans Road
Level Contributor
4,042 posts
40 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Coba or Tulum Ruins...what is your preference and why?

Coba is definitely more interactive and representative of a major Mayan complex. However, Tulum is quite unique in terms of Mayan seafaring and religion.

Oregon
Level Contributor
8,971 posts
223 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Coba or Tulum Ruins...what is your preference and why?

In Coba you can either walk, ride a bicycle, or tri-cyclo. We rode the tri-cyclo and had a blast. I loved climbing Nohoch Mul. Coba has no bathrooms once you are inside. Be sure to get an English speaking guide. I would also recommend going In the morning before it gets too hot. Take water.

Oh! We had a Yukatreks guide. He sprayed our legs with Citronella as well!

Union, Oregon
Level Contributor
4,100 posts
435 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Coba or Tulum Ruins...what is your preference and why?

Yes definitely go to Coba. More things to see there plus the drive is very nice through several small villages.