Akumal, the paradise of the sea turtles
Halfway between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, there is a beautiful place, a small bay in which all the charm of the Riviera Maya is summarized: super beautiful beaches, unspoiled nature, crystal clear waters full of marine life, a relaxed atmosphere… This authentic Caribbean paradise is called Akumal.
Developed on an old coconut plantation that bordered a beautiful bay, Akumal is a boutique destination within the great tourist universe of the Rivera Maya. Its main charm is, without any doubt, its rich nature, both inside and outside the waters of the Caribbean. A natural wonder complemented by a few tourist services that, luckily, have managed to maintain the fragile environmental balance of the area.
- Akumal, the place of sea turtles
- Discover the underwater treasures of Akumal
- Akumal Ecological Center, for a sustainable future
- Caleta Yal-Kú, freshwater vs. saltwater
- Half Moon Bay, beach paradise
- Akumal town, colorful and authentic
- Uxuxubi community, wild nature
- The what, how, and where of Akumal
WHAT TO DO IN AKUMAL
This unique corner of the Mexican Caribbean, much more intimate and quiet than other points in the area, is one of the best beaches in Riviera Maya (enlace a Best beaches). So, of course, it’s the perfect place to spend the day discovering its incredible marine treasures and the different attractions surrounding Akumal. And don’t forget to finish the day enjoying the beautiful sunset. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Akumal, the place of sea turtles
In the ancient Maya language, Akumal means “the place of the turtles,” and its most famous inhabitants are precisely these friendly marine animals. Throughout the year, sea turtles feed in the green underwater meadows located just a few feet away from the beach, protected from the open ocean by coral reefs. Moreover, during the nights of the nesting season (from May to September), the females lay their eggs on the white sandy beach of Akumal.
Evidently, one of the main attractions of Akumal is swimming with the turtles, observing them in their natural habitat. The best way to do this is on a guided snorkel tour, which allows you to enter the enclosed area where it’s practically sure that you will be able to see them. So, check out all the options that Vacaciones Barcelo offers you to discover this beautiful place.
Discover the underwater treasures of Akumal
The coral reef, the flora & fauna, the rock formations of its seabed, the different bays and coves found in the area… All of these wonders have made this magical place one of the best diving destinations in the Riviera Maya. Once again, Vacaciones Barcelo is your best gateway to this beautiful underwater world.
And if the depths are not your thing, don’t worry; you can also enjoy the incredible marine life of Akumal by snorkeling or just taking a nice swim. The important thing is that you don’t miss this truly magical natural spectacle.
Akumal Ecological Center, for a sustainable future
Akumal is synonymous with unspoiled nature. And that’s precisely the reason why its protection is one of the priorities of the local community. And that is what the CEA, the Akumal Ecological Center, does. This non-profit organization develops different initiatives to protect the environment and the enormous biodiversity of the area.
CEA’s programs, workshops, and special events have become a fundamental part of environmental protection actions in Akumal. Together with other initiatives, such as the Xcacel-Xcacelito Sea Turtle Sanctuary, they represent a hopeful future for these beautiful endangered animals.
Caleta Yal-Kú, freshwater vs. saltwater
A bit more than a mile north of Akumal Bay is Yal-kú, a beautiful cove with super calm, shallow waters full of tropical fish. Similar to what happens in the coves of Xel-Ha and Xcaret, the fresh underground water flows into the saltwater-filled cove, causing a unique explosion of natural wonders. A true snorkeling paradise!
The access area to the cove is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm, and there’s also a small sculpture garden with works by artist Francisco Zúñiga that gives an exceptional charm to the entire environment of Yal-Kú.
Half Moon Bay, beach paradise
Between Yal-Kú and Akumal, you have this beautiful bay, another jewel in the area. Some private houses, hotels, and restaurants line this long stretch of white sand which, obviously, is a beach paradise. The place is ideal for enjoying the sun, the sand, and the sea –although it’s a much rockier beach than the neighboring ones.
Like Akumal Bay, Half Moon Bay or Media Luna, as the locals call it, is a perfect place to discover the abundant marine life of the Mexican Caribbean. Its seabed, full of corals, fish, and, many times, also sea turtles, offers quite a natural spectacle. Don’t forget to bring some kind of water shoes to avoid hurting yourself with the rocks and corals at the bottom.
Akumal town, colorful and authentic
Leaving the sea behind, just after crossing the federal highway, you will find the town of Akumal, a special place that is well worth a visit. So, don’t forget to schedule a walk around when setting up your tailor-made tour to Akumal with Vacaciones Barcelo.
Lovely handicrafts, delicious local food, and even something as peculiar as Maya language classes are just some of the things you can find in town. In general terms, the place offers you a much more authentic look at local life outside the tourist circuit.
Also, more than 100 artists gather in town once a year to participate in the Akumal Art Festival. It’s a multidisciplinary event in which several murals are painted in different parts of the city. Workshops and presentations are also held during the festival. An exciting experience that ends up being an inspiring interaction between the artists and the local community.
Uxuxubi community, wild nature
Do you really want to explore the jungle of the Riviera Maya? Then be sure to let the folks at Vacaciones Barcelo know that you want to visit this community-led eco-project. Located about 7 miles from Akumal town (along a dirt road), Uxuxubi invites you to be in complete contact with nature. From animal sightings to zip-lining, all kinds of activities and experiences make this place an exciting destination. And, by the way, Uxuxubi is also a sanctuary for the Mexican crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii), so don’t forget to spot these amazing animals.
The star experience is to meet the crocodiles in the extensive lagoon at Uxuxubi. But it’s also interesting to visit the organic fruit and vegetable orchards grown by the community. And to end your visit on a high note, dive into the cenote that you can also find in this extraordinary place.
Akumal Monkey Sanctuary
Not far away from the town of Akumal, this marvelous place is home to more than 200 rescued specimens from 55 different species. The emblematic spider monkey, various species of birds, and even zebras and ostriches that used to “work” at a circus now call this place home.
Visit this heartwarming sanctuary and learn everything about the local and exotic flora and fauna living within its protected area. Moreover, the place invites you to delve into the importance of protecting the environment and the vital role that each one of us plays. Enjoy with Vacaciones Barcelo a visit to Akumal Monkey Sanctuary and discover the place with an experienced bilingual guide. You can also have the chance to swim in the crystal clear water of the Ma’ax cenote (underground river) and, last but not least, enjoy an exciting ATV ride through the Mayan jungle. An unforgettable experience!
The what, how, and where of Akumal
Akumal is a well-developed tourist destination with restaurants, shops, and other services. So, in general terms, you won’t have any trouble visiting the place and enjoying an excellent day at the beach.
- It is super easy to get to Akumal. Take Highway 307, which connects Cancun with Chetumal along the entire coast, until the Akumal exit. To give you an idea, it’s about 25 miles south of Playa del Carmen or about 20 north of Tulum.
- You can get to Akumal by car, of course. But the best and easiest way is to set up an excursion with Vacaciones Barcelo. You’ll visit Akumal, swim with the turtles, and enjoy this beautiful place without any worries. The best value for your money!
- Beach, sea, nature… Visiting Akumal basically means having a good day at the beach, so prepare appropriately. Don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun (sunglasses, sunscreen, umbrella, etc.). Also, be sure to stay well hydrated. Just, please remember that marine life deserves all of our respect. So, enjoy the underwater views but don’t disturb the turtles or any other inhabitant of these beautiful crystal clear waters.
A tip: If you arrive early, you’ll surely enjoy this underwater paradise more and better, as well as the attractions that surround it. Also, the beach will be much quieter.