How to Visit the Coba Cenotes: Exploring the Mayan Underworld

by | Last updated Jan 12, 2021 | Mexico | 0 comments |

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There are literally thousands of cenotes spread out across the Yucatan Peninsula, but some of my favorites are the underground cenotes nearby the Mayan ruins of Coba. The Coba cenotes give you an extra sense of thrilling adventure as you must trek down below ground to reach the water.

Cenotes in Mayan culture are believed to be entrances to the underworld. Every time I go, I can’t help but consider myself like the Tomb Raider whenever I hike down below the earth to splash in the crystal clear and cool freshwater hiding below. If anything, the Coba cenotes will leave you in awe and wonder.

Unlike the cenotes in Tulum, which are mostly open-air or semi-open cenotes, the Coba cenotes are entirely enclosed underground like a cave. I’ve heard before that the fully underground cenotes are the youngest in “cenote history” since the cave roof and walls have not yet collapsed in on themselves and that the oldest cenotes were the open-air, lagoon-type ones.

In any case, whether young or old, the Coba cenotes – with their stalactites and stalagmites, clear water, fish, and bats – are well worth visiting on a day trip to see the Coba Mayan ruins.

Here’s everything you need to know to enjoy the three cenotes near Coba! 

The Ultimate Guide to the Coba Cenotes

How to Get to the Coba Cenotes

map of coba cenotes from coba ruinsDirections from Coba Ruins to Cenote Choo-Ha, Tamkach-Ha, and Multum-Ha

The best way to get to Coba is to rent a car from Cancun Airport and drive to Tulum. From Tulum to Coba, it’s only a 45-55 minute drive via Highway QROO 109. Once you’re there, having your own car (or carpooling) is the easiest because then you can go at your own leisure and also drive from the Coba ruins to the cenotes.

If you are coming from Cancun, you’ll simply take the road to Tulum and then turn right to follow Coba. If you keep going past Coba another 30-45 minutes, you’ll end up in Valladolid.

Colectivo: Taking a white colectivo (mini van) from Tulum to Coba Ruins is another way to get there, but then you’ll have to organize with another van or taxi to reach the Coba cenotes. The colectivos leave from the main Avenida Tulum at the junction of Calle Osiris Norte and cost $50 MXN one-way. You can spot them easily enough because they have “Tulum – Coba” written on their windshield. The journey will take around one hour.

Bus: If you can’t find a colectivo, head to the ADO bus station in Tulum Centro (just 5 minutes walk from Calle Osiris Norte). There, you can buy bus tickets from Tulum-Coba via the Mayab bus line. The buses leave Tulum almost every hour of the day. If you take the bus, though, you will be dropped off at the ruins and not at the cenotes. Keep in mind the cenotes are another 5-10 minute drive from Coba ruins.

Taxi: Taking a taxi from Tulum to Coba cenotes is not ideal since it’ll cost you double or triple the price of a rental car. If you have no other option, you could always ask and see. It will cost at least $500 MXN or more for a one-way trip.

Once you arrived, I’d recommend combining a visit to the Coba Ruins and cenotes, since you’re so close to both. If you’ve already visited the ruins, though, and are back to see the cenotes, then carry on!

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Coba Ruins

How Much Do the Coba Cenotes Cost?

Coba Cenote Price: All the cenotes at Coba cost $100 MXN pesos each. While there used to be a “package” deal you could buy a couple years ago, they’ve stopped offering that and now just charge a $100 MXN fee per cenote. So if you visit all three, that’s $300 MXN or $15 USD. It’s still a good deal when you’re comparing to the cost of the cenotes in Tulum.

Cenote Choo-Ha

cenote choo ha via destimap.com

Cenote Choo Ha is one of the first cenotes near Coba you might visit, but it’s not the most popular. Choo Ha cenote is shallower than its neighbors. So while it’s great for families and parents with children, it’s not as daring to swim in as Tankach-Ha or Multum-Ha.

The hours for Cenote Choo-Ha are 9-6 PM, but rather than going mid-day, try to go earlier in the morning or in the late afternoon. (This is always a good way to visit the cenotes because there will be fewer crowds). At Choo-Ha, there are bathrooms and you’re required to rinse off before entering the water.

Pro Tip: Bring a quality scuba mask to snorkel in the shallow, clear water, but don’t forget to look up to see all the stalactites and stalagmites as well!

Cenote Tankach-Ha

cenote tankach-ha near coba mayan ruins

Cenote Tankach-Ha (or sometimes written Tamcach-Ha) is a deep underground cenote near Coba worth visiting. In the picture above, it is flooded slightly (taken November 2020), but normally the water is below the platform and you can easily wade out into the water.

This cenote is pretty neat because you have to climb down the wooden spiral staircase from the cave ceiling to reach the water below. Once inside, swimming in the Tankach-Ha cenote is like swimming in a big natural pool, except it’s a bit colder and there are bats flying around the stalactites!

If you have children, make sure they are wearing a life jacket since Tankach-Ha is known to be deep. After all, the name in Maya literally translates to “deep water”!

Cenote Multum-Ha

panoramic view of cenote multum ha near coba mayan ruins

Cenote Multum-Ha (or Multun-Ha with an ‘n’) is my favorite of the three cenotes near Coba because of its depth underground (about 60 ft below the earth), and because of it’s open, circular shape. To get there, you need to climb down about 80-100 steps to reach the wooden deck. There, you can jump in or take the ease-in stairs. Cenote Multum-Ha has such crystal clear, calm water that it’s simply mesmerizing to wade in. This cenote is also fairly deep, but not as much as cenote Tankach-Ha.

In any case, all the cenotes still have a safety rope extending through the water from either side of the cave walls to support you if you get tired wading. The light in cenote Multum-Ha is also not natural – it’s an artificial light just like the others and this is because these cenotes are entirely underground or closed cenotes, rather than semi-open cenotes like Dos Ojos or Gran Cenote in Tulum.

You can visit Cenote Multum-Ha between 8 AM and 6 PM. Likewise, I’d recommend going in the late afternoon after your visit to Coba Ruins or just before, in the morning (although it’s not as “refreshing” if you haven’t sweat from your jungle explorations just prior!).

Pro Tip: You’re allowed to bring your backpack down with you with your items like an underwater camera or towel. You can store it in a corner on the wooden deck while you swim.

Coba Cenote Tours

I would suggest touring the Coba cenotes on your own because it adds to the adventure and is MUCH cheaper (check my itinerary below). However, for the sake of simplicity, you can also book a cenote tour and go with a guide to visit both the Coba cenotes and Mayan ruins archaeological site as an organized day excursion.

Ruins + Beach + Cenotes Tour: This tour includes a visit to both the Tulum Ruins and Coba Ruins, as well as lunch and a stop by Paradise Beach and Cenotes Choo-Ha and Tankach-Ha. It doesn’t include Multum-Ha, however.

How to See the Coba Cenotes in 1 Day (Self-Guided Itinerary)

Morning

Wake up early to enjoy a nice breakfast in Tulum at DelCielo Tropical Bistro (Maria Maria’s or Ki’Bok Coffee are also good). Then hop in a colectivo or bus (or your car), and hit the road to Coba. Park at the Coba ruins and enjoy a tour around the Coba Mayan ruins site. Make sure to climb Nohoch Mul – the Yucatan’s tallest pyramid!

Pro Tip: It’s best (and faster) if you rent a bike inside Coba Ruins (the cost is around $60-75 MXN pesos) and explore the grounds that way, rather than walking everywhere.

It takes around 2-3 hours to fully visit Coba Ruins. For lunch, grab a typical Mexican meal at the nearby restaurants just down the road from the Coba ruins entrance (I believe the one we ate at was El Crocodrilo or just the one next to it).

If you have a bit more of a budget, you could consider splurging at the nearby Coqui Coqui Residence & Spa, a 4-star hideaway that invokes a sense of luxurious serenity. The restaurant, which aims to source only sustainable agriculture from its orchard while supporting the local Mayan community, is situated on the ground floor just beyond the shores of the Coba lagoon. The atmosphere is calm and tranquil and you’ll be in for quite a treat.

Afternoon 

After your lunch break, hop back into your mode of transport to head to the Coba cenotes. (If you arrived by bus or colectivo you will probably find a taxi to go to the cenotes). The closest cenotes will be Choo-Ha and Tankach-Ha (on the left side of the road) and Multum-Ha will be further down the road located on the right.

Pick which cenotes you’d like to visit – Choo Ha, Multum Ha, or Tankach Ha (or all three) – and enjoy your time splashing in the Coba cenotes!

What to Pack for Coba Ruins & Cenotes

You should wear comfortable clothing (i.e. breathable shirts and pants or shorts depending on the season) to visit the Coba Ruins. It can be SUPER buggy in the forest/jungle, so go prepared with eco-friendly mosquito balm. Other things you may want to pack to visit the cenotes and ruins at Coba are:

Do not use sunscreen (even if it’s eco-friendly) in the cenotes. You are required to rinse off all body products before entering the water to protect the ecosystem.

I hope you enjoyed this complete guide to the cenotes near Coba! If you have any questions about visiting Coba cenotes or exploring the Mayan village, feel free to drop a comment below.

Make sure to check out my other guides to plan your trip to Quintana Roo:

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Hi, I’m Bri! I’ve been slow traveling around the world in search of new adventures since 2013. I have lived in 8 countries on 4 continents including Nepal, Mexico, Colombia, and parts of Europe! I created this blog to inspire others to live a life of adventure, seek out meaningful experiences, and to travel slowly and mindfully. Join me on this journey and let’s tick off our bucket lists! Read my story here.