Exploring the Mayan Ruins of Riviera Maya with a Car is Easy and Safe

A trip to the Riviera Maya is not complete without a visit to Mayan Ruins. There are plenty to choose from, but for first timers, a visit to one of the “Big Three” Chichen Itza, Tulum or Coba is a great way to start your exploration.

Although tours can take you to each of these ruins, some advantages do exist for those who will take to the open road and be a little more adventurous. Renting a car in the Riviera Maya allows for more freedoms and it is certainly easy and safe. Let’s explore how that can be used to your advantage when visiting any of the Big Three Maya Ruins.

Chichen Itza by Car

A tour visiting the Pyramid of Kukulcan at Chichen Itza

It's often filled with tours

A walk through Chichen Itza is a must. And actually getting there is easy. The massive Mayan site and new 7th Wonder of the World, is directly off highway 180, the main highway from Cancun to Merida.  But since the site is SO popular, it can often be extremely crowded visitors.

Car Rental Advantage:

With a car you can schedule your visit outside the massive rush of bus tourists who travel from Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Imagine being there before the tour buses arrive or staying after they leave. It’s possible and you can spend the night in near by Valladolid, another colonial city in the Yucatan worth visiting (I loved my walk of San Bernardino Convent).

Tulum by Car

The Mayan Ruins of Tulum are on the coast in the Riviera Maya of Mexico

Ruins or Beach?

The coastal ruins is one of the most visited sites in Mexico not because of its magnificent buildings or historical importance, but rather based on its breath taking views with the crystal clear Caribbean Sea. Getting there is simple, it is just straight south the main highway 307 from anywhere in the Riviera Maya.You can’t miss it, as it appears just before present day Tulum.

Car Rental Advantage:

Definitely pack a change of clothes for both a swim in the Caribbean Sea and also for afterwards to visit to the trendy and hip town of Tulum. Whether it is for shopping or taking in a meal (lunch or dinner) or even some cocktails (not for the driver), the Mayan site of Tulum is a mere few kilometers from present day Tulum. It is worth an afternoon or evening or really even a few days as the beach is one of the best in the Riviera Maya. There are plenty of hotels.

Coba by Car

the Coba Pyramid you can climb - Nohoch Mul, inside the mayan ruins at Coba, Riviera Maya or Q. Roo.

It's the Coba Climb

Perhaps my favorite of three ruins, Coba, is the furthest too. Yet it is also very simple to find. Just before you arrive into the main town of Tulum, there is a turn off that takes you deeper into the countryside (the jungle) towards Coba.  The highway or road is the Coba extension and from there it is a straight shot to the town of Coba.

The ruins will be the least crowded of the three and visitors can still climb to the top of the largest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan peninsula to take in the splendid views. But the charm of Coba, doesn’t end there, more exists close by.

Car Rental Advantage:

By taking your car, you can also visit many of the cenotes close to Coba. One of my favorites, Cenote Multun-ha  just ten minutes from the site actually took my breath away.

Road trips in the Riviera Maya are safe and easy, and besides the basic advantages of traveling by car such the flexibility of schedule, the chance to “over” pack, and the adventurous aspect, it can really help you explore the Mayan Ruins of the Riviera Maya beyond the basic tour.

Stay adventurous, Craig

this post is provided working with Alamo Car Rental, but the opinions and advice are purely my own.

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  • BeyondBlighty

    I visited all three and thought they were fantastic. Coba was probably my favourite. I loved hiring a bike and cycling all the little footpaths. That really tall pyramid was a lot of fun too!

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com/ craig zabransky

      Absolutely agree on Coba, and yes, definitely rent a bicycle there too. (read about it through the link on Charm or Coba). Stay adventurous, Craig

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