Akumal is a small town between Playa del Carmen and Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.
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 the Mayan language means "Land of turtles" and it is still one of the favorite places for these marine animals to spawn. However, what makes Akumal charming and fascinating 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. Fly into Cancun and rent a car for the drive to Akumal. It is approximately a one hour drive from Cancun.
You can also pre-book a private transfer from the airport to your destination. There are dozens of companies offering this service on internet to pre-book and even directly at the Airport. Also, you can choose between sharing the vehicle or have it private just for you and your party. Some of the options are:
- Mayan Sky Travel
- Discovery Mundo
- Amstar DMC
- Olympus Tours
- USA Transfers
- Paradise Transfers
There are also buses and shuttles with some hotels or dive shops offering free shuttles. Ask your hotel or attraction provider if available.
Unless you plan on just staying in Akumal, you will need a rental car to get around. The closest sights are at least a 20 min 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 (35 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. Don't miss Akumal Bay, Half Moon Bay and Yalku Lagoon, its 3 destination points! Incredible snorkeling at each - with services too - quaint and charming.
Sections of the reef and the main feeding ground of the sea turtles are completely closed to the public due to severe overcrowding by humans and the resulting spread of diseases in the turtle population. This is enforced by federal military.
With the destruction of hurricanes and popularity, the reefs near Akumal have been damaged, but are protected and gorgeous. Sea life abounds. A snorkeling trip is very worth the time and expense. Snorkeling is free, life vests are suggested but not mandatory, and beaches are public - remember that!
There are three options for snorkeling:
- Go on a tour provided by one of the two great dive shops in town. It is $40 USD 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 $20 USD 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. Not always legal business', hence the deals.
- Rent or buy your own equipment and swim out alone. 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.
There are sea turtles living in the bay that visitors will see while snorkling, enjoy this incredible experience!
- Scuba diving. There are three dive shops in town.
- Cenote/cave diving.
- Sunbathing. Enjoy the sunny beaches.
- Ecological Center. Visit the Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA) 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 near the beach including textiles, boutiquey things, and beach stuff.
Super Chomak mini-mart has basic groceries including fresh produce, and has a range of beach supplies and clothing.
- Lol Ha Restaurant. Right on the beach in Akumal Bay -- great view!
- Cueva del Pescador.
- Turtle Bay Cafe.
- Cocina Economico.
- 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
- Loncheria. edit
- Que Onda. Open 13.00-21.00. Continue down the street past Buena Vida, 2.5 km from Akumal Centre, you will find one of the oldest restaurants in Akumal. For 20 years, Maribelle and Luis have made food for the locals here. The best atmosphere in all Akumal. Ask taxi drivers for directions. Cheap. edit
Most restaurants serve beer. Lol Ha and La Buena Vida have a full bar.
- Que onda (Akumal). 13.00-21.00. Continue down the street passed Buena Vida, 2,5 km from Akumal Centre, you find one of the oldest restaurantes in Akumat. For 20 years Maribelle and Luis has made food for the locals here. The best atmostphere in all Akumal. Ask taxi drivers for directions. Cheap. edit
- Akumal Direct Reservations, Half Moon Bay, Akumal (Highway 307 90 minutes south of Cancun), ☎ 01-877-489-6600, . checkin: 15:00; checkout: 11:00. edit
- Condo Half Moon Bay #2 & 4, Lote 41-B, Secc. G (Highway 307, 90 minutes south of Cancun), ☎ 01-404-508-6060, . checkin: 13:00; checkout: 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. (20.4167,-87.3000) edit
- Las Casitas Akumal, Kilometer 104, Puerto Juarez-Tulum Hwy Akumal, Quintana Roo, ☎ 011-52-984-875-9071, . Our turquoise sea front location offers everything you expect and more. Akumal Bay is the jewel of the Riviera Maya, Mexico. The natural beauty, casual elegance and excellent service will ensure you enjoy a quiet and luxurious stay in a magical unforgettable landscape of Las Casitas Akumal. Best rates on official website start at US$212.00++. edit
- Club Akumal Caribe, Km. 104 Carretera Pto.Juarez-Tulum, Akumal, Mexico, ☎ 52 (984) 875 90 12, . Experience Akumal Bay's crystal clear turquoise waters and bright clear sand that never burns your feet in Club Akumal Caribe. Discover the charm of Club Akumal Caribe. They provide personalized service and the best service in the Riviera Maya. Come, discover and exceed your expectations with Club Akumal Caribe. They are always ready to welcome you on your next vacation. edit
- Unahkin#3, Aventuras Akumal (2.7 miles south from Akumal Bay), ☎ 52 (984) 108 03 20, . Four condo building placed just in front of one of the most beautiful beaches in Akumal's area. This white sandy beach is also one of the most visited by the turtles in the nesting season, between May and September. US$90. edit
- Que Onda (Akumal). checkin: 13.00; checkout: 13.00. Que Onda is a small guest house behind the best restaurant in Akumal. Has 6 -10 rooms. If you want breakfast, ask when checking in. Always takes drop-ins, apart from Tuesdays. Has a swimming pool. Nice staff. Friendly. Quiet. 600 pesos. edit
- Caribbean Fantasy, Inc. (Vacation Rentals on the beaches of Akumal!), Akumal, ☎ 970-663-2299, 800-523-6618, . $$75/night & up. edit
As an added additional concern, the locals have developed a very high concern for ecological issues. They prefer that your sunscreen be biodegradable, and that you not touch the bottom over the eelgrass beds where the turtles feed. They have also roped off an area of the reef for free snorkeling with a buoy line. Although small, the area is more than adequate to see many turtles and some interesting spotted and regular rays.
- Tulum. About a 20 min 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!
- Chichen Itza. About 2 hr from Akumal, featuring the ruins of a large Mayan city. Tours are available, and many include a stop in Volladolid, a small colonial town.