There is nothing like standing on structures that were built almost 2000 years ago. Cobá was the biggest trading hub of the Mayan world. The buildings rise up out of the jungle, making you feel like Indiana Jones discovering a cache of ancient treasures.
Raised roads called sacbeob ("white ways") connect Cobá with other Mayan cities in the Yucatan, including Chichen Itza. Stelae, stone slabs depicting Mayan scenes, can be found all around the temples. The kids especially loved walking through a small tunnel, which our guide said was a place to test your resilience while running over hot coals--kind of like running the gauntet but with the benefit of being hopped up on peyote. After a tour of the ōllamaliztli ball court and a smaller temple, we jumped on bikes to follow a sacbe through the jungle to the highest temple, Nohoch Mul.
Years ago, we visited Tikal in Guatemala. While Tikal is much more elaborate and has the highest Mayan pyramid in the world, Cobá has a similar eerie feel. The jungle hasn't been hacked away and everywhere you look you'll see hills with trees growing out of them--except those aren't hills. They're unexcavated buildings.
Nococh Mul is the only Mayan temple in Mexico you can still climb. And what a climb! At 138 feet tall, the temple steps are pretty eroded and slick in spots. But the view from the top made every second of vertigo worth it.