Last Updated on April 17, 2021 by Sammie
Snorkeling in Akumal
“Snorkeling? Really? That’s the best you could come up with in Akumal?”
Come on, hear me out. It has turtles.
There’s so much to do between Cancun and Tulum that sometimes it might be difficult to choose. Between cenotes, ancient ruins, scuba diving, and tequila drinking, it might feel like time is running out. And it is. Delay your flight home and go observe some turtles in their neighborhood.
What’s so great about snorkeling in Akumal?
In Akumal the turtles are the locals and they are perfectly content drifting around you, eating the bountiful seagrass below. Though, the chances of seeing multiple turtles is high, nothing is guaranteed of course. And I URGE you to run away from any nature experience that claims to be. However, in Akumal as of Spring 2021 the turtles are still a plenty.
In addition to being able to stalk these beautiful creatures from a respectable distance (no touchy the turtles) you will also get the added bonus of sting rays and beautiful schools of fish. The guides are rehearsed and quite capable of getting you uncomfortably close to a sting ray, take my word.
Due to the restrictions on the number of visitors per hour and per area of the coast, it is an eco adventure I feel good about. In my experience the guides do a good job explaining how to properly handle yourself in the water as to not disturb the wildlife. But if you are concerned about the precautions taken you can read my Akumal Snorkeling notes below.
Cost to snorkel with turtles in Akumal
What should be simple is not quite, but to try; entry to the beach snorkeling area is 200 pesos (cheaper if you’re a local!). In addition to the entry fee, we paid a guide to take you into the “paid sections” of the snorkeling area. To be honest, when it was a Spanish speaker asking for a price it was 200 pesos but when I went alone with my mother I couldn’t find a guide who would take us for less than 300.
You do not need to pay a guide. The unpaid areas still have turtles! I have heard that if you go later in the afternoon around 4:00 pm there is a greater chance they will venture into this area. Though we opted for a guide to help us find the wildlife not directly in front of our eyes, it isn’t necessary. The wildlife knows no bounds when it comes to the ocean, so it’s completely a personal choice.
*Beaches in Mexico are public areas. Therefore there is no law that states you need to pay an entrance fee to any beach. However, the vendors here can get quite aggressive if you decide to try your hand at explaining the law to them. Personally at the end of the day it was a beautiful experience for around $20. I can afford it and I’m still working on my confrontation backbone. But if you fancy a challenge with people potentially posing as police….I respect you. But if not, bring $20 and a 6-pack and have yourself a lovely calm day.
How to get to there:
First things first, you are looking for Akumal Bay. This is the part of Akumal on the ocean, where you can do the snorkeling and find your turtle friends.
You have a few options to get there:
My favorite: rent a car.
If you go ahead and get a car I suggest that you rent outside of the hotel. It will be way cheaper and I promise all of the cars are coming from the same place. It’s about 700-900 pesos per day not including the insurance (which you have to have) and the deposit of 2,000.
- There’s only 1 main highway, the 305. If you’re driving from Cancun, head towards Tulum and keep going until you start seeing signs for Akumal. It will be about 1 1/2 hours. Eventually, you will want to peal off to the left towards the beach, “Akumal Bay”.
- *Side note*, you will have to do a U-turn to get to the exit Akumal Bay.
- If you are coming from Tulum, you will also be using the 305, heading towards Cancun. It will take about 25 minutes. Take the exit on the right labeled Akumal Bay. It’s a small ramp right in front of a beautiful wall mural.
- Then you’re here! Time to park. Don’t be alarmed by everyone trying to steer you into their parking lots. If you don’t choose the very first one there will by many others closer and cheaper to the beach. Parking is about 50-100 pesos ($2.50-$5) for the day.
Take a bus [Colectivo].
I promise it’s not scary. The colectivos are the greatest thing next to fresh tortillas on every street corner. These buses will literally pick you up on the side of the road if you raise your arm in the air as they pass. And they are hard to miss. They are 15 seat white minibuses labeled Colectivo and they have cities written either on the windshield or just above it. But you can also go to the bus stop in Puerto Morelos, Play del Carmen, or Tulum. Ask anyone “Dónde esta la parada del Colectivo?”
- Look for a bus either labeled TULUM (if you’re coming from Cancun) or CANCUN (if you are coming from Tulum)
- You will want to tell the bus driver you want to get off in Akumal. But no worries you can always shout “AKI POR FAVOR”.
- Don’t forget to pay your driver. It’s around 30 pesos ($1.50).
I’d only suggest this if you are nearby in Tulum or Playa Del Carmen. It’s not crazy expensive but it can vary greatly depending on the mood of your taxi driver. From Playa it will be about 300-400 pesos.
- Know that some taxis will charge a lot more for driving to a different city.
Akumal Snorkeling Tips:
- Don’t wear sunscreen. It hurts the reef environment and. You might be able to get away with an all natural sunscreen but to be safe I’d pack a sun shirt and call it a day.
- Don’t pee in the ocean. No I’m serious. It hurts the turtle’s livers, and nobody wants to hurt a turtle, right? Right.
- Snorkel laying parallel to the water. What we do NOT want is snorkeling as if you’re standing up. The coral reefs are very delicate, if you kick it with your flipper because you are standing on top of it, it will die. And nobody wants to kill the coral reef, right? Right. #savetheocean
- When you find a turtle try your best to stay behind it. The turtles can get stressed if they don’t see a clear way to break the surface to take a breath of air. If you block their path, more than likely they’ll swim away to find a better spot with less annoying humans in the way.
- And lastly, don’t fight the current. It’s the ocean, you’re going to move. There’s no need to stress because you are drifting to the left or right. Enjoy the ride, be one with the ocean. The turtles are doing it.
Bring a waterproof case!
If you have a waterproof case I’d bring it along. My guide was a gem and offered to take my go pro and get some great footage that I couldn’t get due to being stuck on the surface with a life jacket. I know tipping is always a headache, but this would be a good time to tip your guide. If he managed to get a picture for your next instagram post, the least he deserves is some extra cash for some soda or beer.
When you’re finished with your leisurely swim more than likely you are going to want to rehydrate. Here’s a small list of places to find a cerveza or/and (no judgement) a margarita.
1. Longcheria Akumalito
A small restaurant next to the Oxxo on your way to the beach. It has simple good Mexican food with your choice of beverage. An easy no fuss choice.
2. La Buenavida Restaurant
A beachside restaurant with a bit most gusto. You can get fresh ceviche or burgers along side a cold beer or margarita. A good choice for lounging around and taking your time at the beach.
3. La Cueva del Pescador
I have not tried this restaurant but I’ve heard good things! Word is; if you rent one of their boats to go fishing they will cook anything you catch for free.
If you have any good footage from your trip to Akumal; list, link or comment below!