In the heart of the Riviera Maya just 37 km from Playa del Carmen and just one hour south of Cancun, Akumal is one of the best places to visit in the Mexican Caribbean for its great variety of beautiful beaches and tourist services.
Akumal in Mayan language means "Land of turtles" is still one of the favorite places for these marine animals to spawn, however, what makes Akumal charm and fascination for tourists from around the world, is its spectacular bay with clear waters and underground rivers. Akumal is one of the most peaceful places in the Riviera Maya one protected shallow bay with a secluded beach and a nearby reef.
The nearest Airport to Akumal is the Cancun International Airport. It is approximately a one-hour drive from Cancun.
One way to get there is by pre-booking a private transfer from the airport.
There are also buses and shuttles with some hotels or dive shops offering free shuttles.
Unless you plan on just staying in Akumal, you will need a rental car to get around. There is parking available at the beach for M$50. Be careful with the people harassing tourists at the parking lot and pretending to be government officials, forcing their snokelling tour on you. The beach is free to use for everyone and a guide is not required if you're comfortable snorkeling on your own. Please follow the posted rules, however.
The closest sights are at least a 20-minute drive. However, if you're not comfortable driving in a foreign country, there are plenty of taxis to take you wherever you need to go.
There are also colectivos, a local 15-passenger van service that runs between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. They're cheap (M$20 (pesos) per person), and usually full, but run very frequently. You can catch the colectivos off the main highway. If you are standing on the side of the highway the driver will flash his lights at you if he has room in his van. This is the preferred local way of getting around.
Akumal has a beautiful bay with a wide white sand beach, wonderfully warm blue-green water and great snorkeling. Cute little town with several restaurants.
With the destruction of hurricane Wilma, the reefs near Akumal were damaged. However, a snorkeling trip is still very worth the time and expense. There are three options for snorkeling:
- Go on a tour provided by one of the two dive shops in town. It is US$40 per person.
- Go on an "unofficial" tour. If you stand on the beach with a clueless look on your face, a local may approach you and offer to take you snorkeling on his glass-bottomed boat. It is usually US$20 per person and includes snorkeling equipment. The guide will attempt to find the famous sea turtles for you and show you different corals and fish. Make sure you are comfortable swimming with flippers as the guide may swim quickly from site to site.
- Rent or buy your own equipment and swim out alone. Akumal Dive Center rents equipment for 200 pesos. The coral reefs are not too far from the shore and can be easily accessed by swimming, especially with the help of a life preserver. Much of the bay is not more than five feet deep. Be very careful to stay away from the "fire reef" marked with buoys and a distinctive red-colored coral. It stings and excessive contact can be fatal.
Since coral dies on human contact, you should avoid touching coral at all costs. It is also illegal to touch the wildlife, such as the sea turtles, so please do not try to ride them or bother them in any way. As of January 2006, there were five juvenile green sea turtles living in the bay.
- Scuba diving. There are three dive shops in town.
- Cenote/cave diving.
- Sunbathing. Enjoy the sunny beaches.
- Ecological Center. Visit the Ecological Center at the end of Akumal bay to learn more about the area's ecosystems, species and local environmental events.
- Scuba Diving, Always Diving. Diving lessons and professional diving guide in the best dive spots in Cancun Quintana Roo.
A few small shops in town. No real shopping to speak of.
- Lol Ha Restaurant. Right on the beach in Akumal Bay -- great view!
- Cueva del Pescador.
- Turtle Bay Cafe.
- Cocina Económica.
- Lucy's Tacos. Across the street from Super Chomak by the area where the market is held
There are also other restaurants in North Akumal (near Half Moon Bay):
- La Buena Vida. A restaurant and bar with swings instead of bar stools
In nearby Chemuyil:
- Leo's Pizza
Most restaurants serve beer. Lol Ha and La Buena Vida have a full bar.
- 1 Condo Half Moon Bay #2 & 4, Lote 41-B, Secc. G (Highway 307 90 minutes south of Cancun), ☎ . Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Condo Half Moon Bay is a four bedroom vacation rental located in North Akumal, 1/4 mile north of Akumal Bay. The condo accommodates from 2 to 10 guests comfortably and can be rented as separate two bedroom units. $160-480/nt.
- Unahkin#3, Aventuras Akumal (2.7 miles south from Akumal Bay), ☎ . Four condo building on a white sandy beach that is visited by the turtles in the nesting season, between May and September. US$90.
- Bug repellent.
- Tulum. About a 20 minute drive to see the Mayan ruins here.
- Playa del Carmen. Drive over for shopping/bar hopping. Playa del Carmen also has a ferry boat that goes to Cozumel. Great day trip for scuba divers!