We hadn't really planned on stopping at Coba on our way to Tulum, but when we didn't need a second day at Palenque and got a little ahead of our basic schedule, we added it. I'm glad we did. Not so much because of the site itself, although I liked it, but because I loved staying in Coba the night before. We were at a very basic little hotel that was clean, quiet, and friendly. I finally had a little time to stop at an abarrote and bought some achiote seeds, paste, bitter oranges, and some other spices. Those bitter oranges turned some red onions here in Guadalajara into some very good cebollas curtidas. There's a lovely lake in the middle of town with a pleasant boardwalk too.
The site is large and you can rent bikes to get around. I walked around with one son and my husband biked around with the little which worked nicely. Get there early before the tour groups and go straight to the main pyramid so you don't have to climb it with a million people. I like to walk and wasn't sure if I was up to biking yet so that worked for me, but a lot of people rented bicycles (except the tour groups which were arriving as we were leaving.
Coba was first settled around 1 AD and wasn't abandoned till the Spanish conquest, although its peak was around 800-1100 AD. This is your best place to actually climb a great big pyramid if you're doing the Cancun loop, although Ek Balam's pyramid is worthy too. I'm still not sure if everyone who was on top with us made it back down.
This was our first site in Quintana Roo. Like I've mentioned, Yucatan charges and additional fee for some sites. Quintatna Roo doesn't do that, but all the signs said that everyone, including children, was supposed to pay the INAH fee to enter. We are quite familiar with INAH rules after visiting over 30 sites in Mexico so I didn't buy a ticket for our 7-year-old and no one cared. We didn't have to test their resolve at Tulum because we were there on a Sunday and foreign residents don't have to pay on Sundays.