Nohoch Mul Pyramid at Coba Archaeological Site

This Ancient Mexican Treasure is a Must-See

Nohoch Mul (large hill), Maya ruins at Coba
••• Steve Bly / Getty Images

At 137-feet tall, Nohoch Mul, which means "great mound," is the tallest Mayan pyramid on the Yucatan Peninsula and the second tallest Mayan pyramid in the world. It is located at the archaeological site of Cobá in Mexico's state Quintana Roo.

Although it was discovered in the 1800s, the archaeological site wasn't opened to the public until 1973 because the surrounding thick jungle made it too difficult to get to.

It's still off the beaten path but is well worth the trip, especially if you're in Tulum, which is just a short 40-minute drive away.

History of the Nohoch Mul Site 

Along with the pyramids at Chichén Itzá and the oceanfront Mayan ruin at Tulum, Nohoch Mul is one of the most significant and popular Mayan sites on the Yucatan Peninsula. This particular pyramid is the highlight of the archaeological site of Cobá, which means "water stirred (or ruffled) by the wind." 

Nohoch Mul is the main structure at Cobá and from where the Cobá-Yaxuná causeway leaves. This network of stone causeways features upright sculpted and engraved stones called stelae that record the history of Mesoamerican civilization from A.D. 600 to 900. From A.D. 800 to 1100, the population grew to about 55,000.

Touring the Site of Nohoch Mul

The entire site spans about 30 square miles, but the ruins cover four miles and take several hours to explore by foot.

You can also rent bicycles (about $2) or hire a chauffeured tricycle (about $4). Although it's not a top tourist site, it's recommended to get there in the morning to beat the crowds and have the whole place to yourself.

It is 120 steps to the top of the pyramid. Once there, notice the two diving gods over the temple's doorway.

From the top of Nohoch Mul, you'll get breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding jungle.

Getting There

Nohoch Mul is located between the towns of Tulum and Valladolid. It's an easy day trip from Tulum and Playa del Carmen. From Tulum, drive the Coba Road for about 30 minutes. You can also take public transportation or sign up for a group visit. You may also want to tack a trip to Cobá onto a visit to Chichén Itzá, San Miguelito, or other ancient sites in the Yucatan Peninsula.