Coba ruins are arguably some of the most spectacular sites to visit in the Yucatán Peninsula. However, not everybody knows that at only a 20-minute drive from Coba Archaeological site you can find three spectacular cenotes.
Useless to say if you are not visiting them you are missing out! Read on to learn how to get there and other practical tips.
Coba is a tranquil town located only a 1-hour drive from the busier Tulum. It’s mainly popular for the spectacular Mayan ruins scattered around a lush tropical jungle.
People usually get there for a day to visit the ruins and maybe get some lunch in one of the local restaurants around the lagoon.
However, it is worth spending the night and enjoying the simplicity of this tranquil town and all it has to offer.
If you have time I would suggest splitting your visit into two days, the first day you can get the ruins when they open at 9 am before it gets too hot and on the following day, you go to see the beautiful cenotes before the groups start coming in and the magic disappears.
If you are staying in Tulum and you just want to take a quick tour, visiting the Coba Cenotes and ruins make a great full-day trip from Tulum. And you can either choose between a DIY trip or you can join a tour but we will talk about it later in this post.
The most important thing here is that you will include Coba cenotes in your Tulum Itinerary.
As you will see from the pictures, Coba cenotes are just spectacular and provide the perfect place to relax and swim in their crystal clear waters after a trip to the Mayan ruins. What’s more, you can visit all of them in a single day because they are all close to each other.
The other good reason to visit Coba cenotes is that they are the only cave cenotes in the area. The other cenotes near Tulum are almost all open cenotes, just like, Cenote Corazon or Kaan Luum lagoon, beautiful as well but in a different way.
But first let’s brush up on our knowledge of the Cenotes, especially if you are landing on this page for the first time.
What are the cenotes?
Cenotes are sinkholes caused by the collapse of limestone bedrocks. Water gathers in these natural wells from rain and/or from the sea forming an incredible network of underground rivers and caves, a paradise for divers and explorers.
While these natural wells aren’t exclusive to Mexico, the regional term cenote is only reserved for those found in the Yucatán Peninsula.
The term Cenote is a distortion of the Mayan word ts’ono’ot (dzonot) made by the Spaniards during the conquest times.
There are three main types of cenotes:
- Cave cenotes: Located deep underground and have to be accessed through the cave. All 3 cenotes in Coba fall under this category or Cenote Taak Bi Ha.
- Half-open: As their name indicates, these cenotes are open to the sky and partially roofed with limestone rocks sometimes forming stalactites and stalagmites too. Examples is Cenote Isla Alamos or Cenote Dos Ojos.
- Completely open: These cenotes look more like natural pools just like Cenote Corazon, Cenote Escondido, and Cristal or Kaan Luum Lagoon, or Casa Cenote, and almost all the Cenotes near Tulum
Cenotes in the Mayan civilizations
These natural pools held a special significance for the Mayans for many reasons. First, they were reservoirs of fresh water and that’s why their main settlements were always close to a cenote. But also the Cenotes were sacred places where they were practicing their ceremonies and rituals.
Now that you’re up to speed on what cenotes are, let’s cover Coba cenotes in particular. Here they are on the map.
Coba cenotes map
Coba cenotes are among the most beautiful ones in the Yucatán Peninsula, but they’re far from being the only ones. I personally love to go exploring cenotes (and write about them, as you can clearly see). If you love this article and the Coba cenotes, you might want to check out my other posts.
Coba cenotes, one by one
Cenote Tankach Ha
Tankach Ha is a 20m deep cenote and can be accessed through its cave entrance, with easy wooden stairs leading down. Above ground, there’s plenty of amazing nature all around so you’ll also have some fun hiking around.
Inside the cenote, the daredevils among you can try the 5 and 10-meter diving platforms (15 and 30 feet respectively).
Don’t worry, there’s no danger since the water is deep enough and there are no rocks to worry about.
It’s pretty intimidating at first, but once you get used to it, you’ll be doing it over and over again! (Disclaimer: I didn’t jump but many people do, including an 8 ys old kid that I have seen with my own eyes and made me feel ashamed of my fears 🙂
The water here is stunning and absolutely dark blue and yet clear, making swimming a very enjoyable experience. It’s also quite deep though.
If you are not a good swimmer, you should rent a lifejacket for your own safety and the others.
Cenote Choo Ha
This one is my favorite out of the three. It doesn’t offer diving platforms because the ceiling is very low and the water is not so deep, but it’s absolutely stunning inside. Tankach-Ha is lacking in stalactites and stalagmites, which Cenote Choo Ha is not. The water is also the most beautiful aqua color and you’ll have a blast swimming here.
One word of caution though, the stairs leading down to the cenote are quite steep and can be slippery at times; so try to be careful when traversing them.
Cenote Multun-Ha is a bit further from the previous two cenotes, and you’ll have to drive for another couple of miles to get there as you can see from the Coba Cenotes Map included above.
This is the deepest cenote out of the three, coming in at around 32 meters (90 feet). You’ll have to climb down a lot of stairs to get to the cenote itself, but it’s well worth the effort. It’s really a magical place, and the experience is very soothing, especially after a day of exploring the ruins.
When you get down in the underworld you will see a huge cave opening up from a large platform where you can sit and enjoy the surreal landscape or just swim and float.
There are convenient wooden stairs to get to the cenotes.
Coba cenotes opening hours
All three cenotes have the same opening hours from 9 AM to 6 PM, every day.
Coba cenotes entry fees
The entry fee to each cenote is 100 Pesos (around 5 USD). That means visiting all three will cost you 300 Pesos (or around 15 USD). The ticket applies for the whole day, so don’t throw it away just in case you might want to visit again on the same day.
You will pay the entrance fee all at once at the main gate before arriving at the first to cenotes. They will give you 3 tickets, one for each cenote, which you will show to the guardian at each cenote.
- Pack a swimsuit and a towel.
- There are quite a few mosquitoes around, so make sure to have mosquito repellant which must be eco-friendly and you can only wear it after you have swam.
- A good sunscreen, but only wear it after swimming in the cenotes.
- A snorkeling mask comes in handy, if you want to explore the underwater world without diving.
- Dress light and filp flops will do as you don’t really have to walk in the Jungle
Coba Cenotes practical tips and rules
- There are showering facilities available at these cenotes. Make sure to take a shower beforehand to get rid of any makeup, hair products, deodorant, sunscreen, mosquito repellants, etc. you might be wearing (even if they’re eco-friendly). The ecosystem here is quite delicate so this is required for everyone.
- Don’t put on any products on your skin (repellant, sunscreen, etc.) prior to going into the water.
- Don’t throw away the ticket. You’ll be required to present it to the custodian in order to gain entry.
- DO NOT LITTER – Don’t leave anything here that doesn’t belong.
- Don’t hang on to stalagmites/stalactites or tree roots.
- Try your best to protect the environment and avoid doing anything that’d damage the ecosystem here.
All three cenotes have showers, bathrooms, and locker facilities. Taking a shower beforehand is compulsory for everyone who visits the cenotes in order to protect the ecosystem.
You can also rent a life jacket for 50 Pesos (around 2.5 USD).
It’s worth mentioning that you won’t find any shops or snacks here. Make sure to bring your own water bottles and snacks.
How to get to Coba cenotes
Here comes the most important part of this article. The Cenotes in Coba are indeed unmissable, but how do you get there? Read on to find out.
The best way to explore Coba cenotes (and pretty much everything else in the Yucatan peninsula) is by renting a car, so I’ll cover that first. Having a car will allow you to take your time with the things worth seeing on your way to the cenotes.
So, having rented a car, all you need to do is drive from the Coba Ruins around the lagoon opposite direction from where you have arrived until you see a road sign for the Coba cenotes.
Don’t worry about missing it, the sign is pretty big and quite easy to notice.
Going down that road will take you through a small village, a jungle, and finally the entrance to the cenotes after a few miles.
The road is really nice and sees no traffic, so even if you aren’t very used to driving in Mexico, reading just a few basic tips on my guide beforehand will suffice.
Besides, the thousands of butterflies that show up here during summers are a sight worth seeing.
On this road, you will see another sign. This one is for two of the most popular cenotes—Tankach-Ha and Choo-Ha. You have to get your ticket for the three cenotes from here before moving on towards Cenote Multum Ha.
Getting to Tankach-Ha is fairly easy with all the direction indications placed on the way, and once you’re there, you can park your car in the designated space and make your way to the cenote on foot.
Browse through international and local car rentals and find the best deal.
Make sure to bring the stuff that you will need, like your bathing suit and camera and the ticket you got earlier!
The only requirements before you can enter the cenote are taking a shower and showing your ticket (do keep the ticket handy afterward, because you will need it for the other cenotes too).
You can also leave your shoes/flip-flops at the top before descending into the cenote (just watch out for the slippery steps).
Getting to Coba Cenotes by bus from Tulum Bus Station
Coba is only a 40-45 minute drive from Tulum, which means you can delve into the depths of these mystic cenotes even if you’re staying in Tulum. To do that, first, you need to make your way to Coba.
That’s pretty easy, just take the 7:20 am Mayab bus from ADO Terminal which costs around 50 MXN.
No worries if you’re not an early bird, plenty of other buses leave after the first one as well. It’s just that taking the earliest bus is ideal if you want to make the most of your Coba visit by exploring both the ruins and cenotes there.
Getting there early also means you get to avoid any overcrowding and enjoy a better experience.
Just make sure to check the schedule of buses on the day you’re planning to visit Coba because it’s prone to change. You can find it online for the first-class buses, but for the second-class Mayab, you may need to ask the ticket office as it’s not mentioned online.
Once you’re in Coba, there are no buses going to the cenotes. But if you get to the entrance of the Coba Ruins parking lot, you can ask for a taxi or Bike Rental.
Taxi 400 mxn/hr
Bike 80 mxn/hr
I would spend at least one night in Coba and visit the cenotes either super early in the morning or before the closing time in the evening to have them all to yourself! Trust me, the experience in these cenotes is twice more sublime with a tranquil atmosphere free of crowds and noise.
Super romantic if you go with somebody you like. 🙂
Coqui Coqui is the very best when it comes to luxury hotels in Coba. It’s an upscale hotel right by the Coba Lagoon at the end of the main road. The setting is really nice, with a lot of jungle surrounding the property.
If you’re looking for a place with rooms featuring patios and balconies, great furnishings and design, lots of amenities, and overall a serene experience, this is definitely where you should stay on your trip to Coba cenotes.
Continental breakfast is part of the stay, and the hotel also has a nice restaurant with a small terrace and a plunge pool for the guest to use.
Check prices on Hotel.com
Best mid-range hotel in Coba
Going all out on a luxury hotel is not an option for everyone, but who doesn’t like some luxury? Aldea Coba is the sweet spot if you want a little bit of both luxury and affordability in your stay in Coba.
Located on the main road back from Coba, this property features spacious, newly-built rooms, a pretty jungle garden, and excellent hospitality. Since Aldea Coba is known for its paradisical charm and lovely service, the stay is definitely top-notch despite being mid-range.
Check prices on Booking.com
Hotel Itza is a very affordable yet charming place to stay in Coba, and it’s the one I can tell you for sure that takes the cake for the best budget hotel here.
This laid-back property has nicely-furnished lodgings with delicious breakfast included, very helpful staff, and a lovely little pool too. The overall vibe of Hotel Itza Coba is very cozy and homelike, so you are bound to like the stay (like I did)!
Check prices on Booking.com
The restaurants of Coba may be only a few, but you will definitely find some great places to try out. Here are some suggestions from me.
If you’re in the mood for local cuisine and fresh fruit drinks, El Cocodrillo is one of my top picks for it. The restaurant is right by the Coba Ruins, so you won’t have trouble finding it. I highly recommend it, so do give it a try.
Chile Picante is another great option to get your appetite for local cuisine satisfied. It’s a terrace restaurant, so the stunning sunsets and views you get to enjoy along with the food here is a plus too!
Maria and Jesus are known for their delicious homemade dishes (and homelike little cafe) at El Encanto. The place is a recent addition to the restaurants of Coba, so not many people know about it. But it’s really nice, and the coffee is worth a try!
Lastly, the onsite restaurant of Coqui Coqui is one of the top places to eat while you’re in Coba. Similar to the luxury hotel it’s located in, a restaurant is an elegant place offering a delightful culinary experience definitely worth every penny.