If you ever get a chance to visit the small town of Akumal, Mexico, make sure that you don’t miss the Akumal Beach, with its beautiful bay, clear waters and the opportunity to snorkel with Green Sea Turtles. Akumal Beach is located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum on Riviera Maya, 100 kilometers south of Cancun. It is no accident that this beach is named Akumal, which in the language of Mayans, means “Land of Turtles”. The sea in this area is home and breeding ground to Green Sea Turtles. If you decide to go snorkeling, along with sea turtles you can admire stingrays and an impressive variety of tropical reef fish. Thanks to the barrier reef, the marine life is absolutely incredible.
How To Get There
There are a few options available:
– “Colectivos” – local air-conditioned taxi vans
– Local buses
– Car rental
– Organized tours from your resort
My husband and I decided to take the “Colectivo”. They run every few minutes along Highway 307, and are an inexpensive and safe way to travel. We went outside our Barcelo Maya Colonial resort, crossed the road and after a couple of minutes of waiting, we spotted an approaching taxi van. After waiving at the driver, the “Colectivo” stopped, we told the driver where we would like to go, paid not even $2 per person and we were on our way to snorkel alongside the turtles. We took the “Colectivo” on numerous occasions when in Riviera Maya and never experienced any issues (we only traveled during the day). I recommend this type of transportation due to convenience, safety and price. Note though that the locals jokingly say that they travel at two speeds….fast, and stop!!
Traditional local buses are even cheaper than “Colectivo” but are not as frequent. They both stop at the same areas.
Car rental is another available option, the only thing that you have to remember….you might have an issue with finding free parking. There are different opinions about renting a car in Mexico, so if you decide to go that route, make sure you do your homework first researching safety, rental requirements, insurance and gas payment methods (some gas stations accept cash only).
Of course, all of the reputable resorts offer a variety of excursions, so you always have that option to consider. The buses are comfortable and air conditioned, but these excursions are pricey comparing to the self organized ones. It really all depends on what you are planning to see and do. We usually go on one or two organized tours and the rest we explore on our own. This method has been working for us not only in Mexico, but several other countries.
Snorkeling Alongside The Sea Turtles
I wanted to come up with some unique birthday present for my husband, and snorkeling with the turtles won the competition!!!
After booking a private snorkeling guide and getting the equipment (all snorkeling gear was included in the price), the time came to submerge in the beautiful, blue sea. The tour took approximately an hour, and left my husband with unforgettable memories of this spectacular day. The video of the Green Sea Turtles swimming underneath and alongside, the enormous rays, amazingly colorful fish and breathtaking coral reef was absolutely stunning.
Snorkeling is permitted only in certain areas. Touching and harassing the sea turtles or standing on the coral is forbidden.
While my husband was enjoying the beauty of the underwater world, I was fascinated by the fossils I found on the shore.
Tips For Visiting Akumal Beach
- Before you decide to visit the beach, confirm that the activities in the Bay are accessible. In February 2017, the government decided to close the Bay to protect the turtles during their breeding season. Since then, the Bay has reopened, however, I recommend that you research the situation before going, so you don’t get disappointed.
- You have a few different snorkeling options: organized tour with a knowledgeable guide, snorkeling with a private guide or snorkeling on your own.
- Confirm that your snorkeling tour providers provide guides that are accredited by the Secretariat of Federal Tourism as “Tour guides for the interpretation of nature, specialized in swimming with turtles, under NOM-TUR-009-2002” and comply with liability and medical insurance requirements in case of an accident.
- If opting for a tour company, confirm that the company is licensed.
- Wearing a life jacket is now mandatory. You can rent a life jacket from a dive shop for only a few dollars a day.
- Snorkeling equipment rental is also available.
- Before you decide to use flippers, check if they are allowed.
- Remember only use the biodegradable sunscreen to ensure reef and other sea-life protection.
- Bringing an underwater video camera is an excellent idea.
- For snorkelers, I also recommend the UV swim shirt to wear while exploring the amazing underwater world.
- If you require corrective lenses, make sure that you bring with you a prescription snorkel mask, this is going to make all the difference in clarity and color.
- Respect the sea life and remember, DO NOT disturb the turtles, which are an endangered species.
We spent an excellent day at the beach, and I hope that you can do the same. I wish you an amazing and safe experience discovering the beauty of both the sea and the land in this area of Mexico.