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Posted by on Dec 7, 2012 in Explore, Mexico, North America, Travel Info

Lost and Found at Coba

Coba Mexico - Coba Ruins - At the top

On my last day in Tulum I was determined to succeed in exploring as many ruins as possible. I booked my bus tickets the night before, readied my day pack, and was set to hike to the top of the Coba ruins. The day made this simple plan a difficult one to accomplish because in step of the way I had to play Lost and Found first.

Lost: My Motivation. I woke up at 7am ready to catch my 8am bus. I cat stretch in bed, roll and swing my legs to the floor, crouch out from my bottom bunk bed, and peek out the window: Rain. I stare in disbelief – how could this happen? It’s Mexico and the temperature in the Yucutan had yet to drop below the scorching height of 35 degrees. Rain? Damn. I curl back up in bed, accepting my loss of a day and the Coba ruins.

Found: The Sun. There is nothing like rain to sour my mood and motivation so I didn’t wake up until 10 am for the second time. And looky who I found peeking through the windows in bright yellow rays – The Sun. I rush to get dressed and make it to the station to catch the 10:30 bus. Good thing I pre-packed my backpack last night!

Lost: Money. After missing my first bus in the morning, having to re-purchase a ticket last minute meant wasting money – At least the cost is only $3. And my return ticket remains valid, so I didn’t lose too much.

Found: Friends. Sitting in the bus station, a German couple sat next to me, and although my grasp on German is infantile at best, I did hear the one word I was ease dropping for: Coba. I introduced myself and we became quick friends.

Lost: Directions. The bus dropped us off in the middle of Coba city. I didn’t do much research so I didn’t know there was a city. I just thought I’d end up at the ruins. Me and the German couple gazed around expectantly for a sign with a giant arrow saying “The Ruins are this way Tourists!” – and as our gazes drifted off into the far distance we spotted the sign we were looking for and started our concrete stomping.

Found: Coba Ruins. Arrived, safe and markedly sweaty. We purchased our tickets and did the mandatory bathroom stop prior to entering. Nobody likes to be half way into a ruin to discover they have to return to find a suitable leaking hole. And then we were in.

Coba Mexico - Coba Ruins- To walk or Not to walk

Lost: Coba Ruins. Turns out the ruins are incredible large. Like, hire a bike or rickshaw driver large. This is one of those times I cringed at my spontaneity and lack of thorough research. Research would of helped me avoid this situation by knowing if I actually NEEDED a form of transportation other than my legs or if the tourists were simply being lazy or were time crunched (I was neither). I approached the rickshaw driver and asked how far in kilometres the walk to the “The Big Ruin to Climb” and he said 10km. I set off.

Coba Mexico - Coba Ruins- Other Ruin

Found: Every other Ruin. In search for “The Big Ruin to Climb”, I encountered every single one of the ruins in the complex except the one I was looking for. This is only possible for me. I follow the same path, winding around, avoiding all turns, asking each person for directions on route, and STILL can’t find the big ruins to climb. Everything else was pretty to wander through – especially with the lack of other tourists. Serenity in the middle of the forest surrounded by ruins? Yeah That’s my cup of tea.

Coba Mexico - Coba Ruins- Game

Lost: The Main path. Then I decided if the main path didn’t lead there I’d take some of the paths jutting off of it. One of them must lead there. The lack of signs didn’t help my random selection of paths. I mostly went Left – Right – Left. I was now alone & lost. Great.

Coba Mexico - Coba Ruins- The Big Ruin to Climb

Found: “The Big Ruin to Climb”. Ah-ha I found you Ruin. You can’t play hide-and-seek with me Mr. I’ll always win. And Win I did. I stood at the bottom of the stone steps, head cranked back, peering up at to the top of the Ruin. I have a mantra to encourage myself to do things – “You can’t beat me I’m the gingerbread man”. And up I went; pacing my steps and steadying my breath, I would make it to the top in one fluid hike.

Coba Mexico - Coba Ruins- Stairs everywhere

Lost: My doubts. Coba is stunning. Sitting at the top of the ruins, staring out into the verdant forest surrounding me for as far as I could see, spotting the other ruins peeking through the treetops, and enjoying every moment I had up here. (And the breeze pushing past helped).

Coba Mexico - Coba Ruins- Verdant Forest

I found you Coba and you’re a looker. We’ll call it even. 


  1. We’re in Playa del Carmen at the moment and can’t wait to visit Coba. It looks gorgeous. In hindsight would you recommend renting a bike?

    • Nah, I would just say bring lots of water and be prepared to walk a little. It isn’t so far that you’re exhausted. It was more I didn’t KNOW how far I had to go so my imagination made it seem forever. But it wasn’t that bad – ask for directions and you won’t find yourself in the predicament I was in! Have fun in Mexico!!

    • Oh really? Great! Mexico is wonderful. There are SO many ruins and cenotes in the Yucutan but my favourite city was by far Oaxaca – so plan to go there. The food alone is worth that trip.

  2. I was just in Quintana Roo in March.. I didn’t make it to Coba but I did visit Tulum. Looks like I missed out.. you can actually climb up Coba and it doesn’t look nearly as busy as Tulum was!
    Escaping Abroad’s Recently Posted..Touring Mayan Ruins: XunantunichMy Profile

  3. I burst out laughing when I read “The Ruins are this way Tourists!” I have done that so many times. I just show up in a place and think whatever I want will be at the bus stop – it never is!
    Ayngelina’s Recently Posted..In Search of the great Canadian redMy Profile

    • Exactly!! I never think there’s a city of the same name – simply where I want to be. You figure the drivers would point it out to us – we’re clearly heading to the tourist site! Haha