Talc-white beaches, reefs teeming with life, ruined temples in misty rainforests – the Riviera Maya offers a family or romantic beach holiday with a dash of Indian Jones adventure.
Travel bucket list idea:
Mayan ruins of Coba
Quintana Roo, Mexico|
This conglomeration of Mayan towns, linked by extensive paved walkways and centred on pyramid-lined plazas, was one of the most important Mayan trading centres in its heyday between AD 200 and AD 1400.
Set in lush forest near two pretty lakes, it receives far fewer visitors than Chichen Itza or Tulum and consequently feels more authentic and atmospheric. There are wonderful views from the temple tops, the largest of which is almost 130ft tall.
Look for toucans and spider monkeys in the forest canopy, wild coatimundis, agouti and rare peccaries on the forest paths.
Climb the steep, vertiginous steps to the summit of the 126ft-high Nohoc Mul pyramid, the tallest on the Mayan Riviera and the only one tourists can still climb.
Getting there & doing it
There are many organised tours to Coba, but it’s fairly straightforward to visit independently (with a hire car). Allow 40 minutes to drive from Tulum (about 40km). The visitor centre provides maps and sells guidebooks about the site, and local Mayan guides are available at the gates. There are snack bars in adjacent Coba village, but for a proper meal head to Tulum.
The mosquitoes in the forest can be vicious – especially in the early morning and late afternoon. Bring a strong repellent. Also take binoculars for wildlife spotting.
When to do it
The site open all year round, seven days a week. Early morning and late afternoon are best for wildlife.
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