Mexico must be my summer home. I've always considered it to be the North American equivalent to the Philippines. The Spanish heritage, rich delicacies, breathtaking scenery, and friendly people made it easy to visit. Tagging along with the parentals, my bro, and my beautiful cousins (photo cred), we visited Coba Ruins and Tulum along the Yucatan Peninsula in Quintana Roo.
The Coba Ruins was once an ancient Mayan city and is known for having the largest network of stone causeways. It was a major hub of the Late Classic Period (AD 600-900) or the Mesoamerican civilization. We took a tour through the ruins with Manuel, our sophisticated tour guide. Under the 32-degree weather, trekking through these ruins involved walking, climbing, and biking. It was a sweaty experience but the turnip hair stood up.
There are several artifacts of note here such as the Coba Stelae, monuments that gave insight into the culture around Coba such as dress, ritual processes, politics, and the roles of the men and women. The Conjunto de Pinturas gives a glimpse of the various artwork from afar and the Coba Group is a series of structures that include the Iglesia (Church) and a ball court.
But the main attraction here is the Nohoch Mul Pyramid (pictured below), a 42-meter tall (137 feet) pyramid that is a steep climb but gives a priceless view of the Yucatan including both lagoons: Macanxoc Lagoon to the east and the Coba Lagoon to the southwest. There is an optional bike ride going here and the climb itself can be challenging but otherwise safe. Once on top, we hammered all those selfies.
Once we descended from the pyramid, we went back to have a traditional Mexican lunch loaded with all the carbs in the world because the sun wasn't letting up and we were in for even more hiking. On to Tulum we went. Getting there required a brief shuttle ride (or you can walk for about 10-15 minutes). There is a small town with various shops for souvenirs, coconut drinks, the works.
Tulum is where a pre-Columbian Mayan walled city once stood. This city was a major port for Coba and are situated atop a 12-meter (39 ft) tall cliff along the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. In short, it's like an ancient coast city littered with iguanas, majestic buildings like the Templo Dios del Viento (God of the Winds Temple) that stand high and proud to the north (unfortunately you can't visit it due to its fragile condition), and the Great Palace.
As remarkable as the ancient city was, the highlight for us is the beach directly below the God of the Winds Temple. The temple was situated here to guard the city's entrance bay. It is protected and well-maintained and sea turtles often make their nests here. Tourists are more than welcome to have a nice little dip and after hours of walking under the burning sun, a little fresh sea water feels heavenly.
At around sundown is when they close the ruins. Going back to our meeting area was another brief shuttle ride back. The entire tour combining the Coba Ruins and Tulum lasted for around 12 hours including the car ride to both places, the lunch, and the actual hiking within the ruins.
This is a great attraction for those into the Mayan civilization or Mexican history or just for casuals like me looking for new outdoorsy activities with a moderate amount of exercise but plenty of scenic attractions.