Akumal Travel Guide

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Akumal, located about 70 minutes from the Cancun airport, roughly means "place of the turtle" in Maya. Each year, sea turtles return here to nest – laying their eggs in the sand. The local community, which, along the beach, mostly consists of U.S. expatriates, works consistently to protect the yearly hatchlings.

Akumal's bays are surrounded by the renowned barrier reef, just a stone's throw from shore. This remarkable resource allows one to snorkel easily from the beach and see turtles as well as endless tropical fish, corals, and sponges. In addition to bay snorkeling, Akumal offers one of the most striking snorkeling experiences in the area. Each year, visitors come from all over the world to visit Yal-Ku Lagoon - a large, privately-owned, aquamarine lake that is full of tropical fish and underwater rock formations. With the help of one of the local dive shops along the beach, one can find excellent snorkeling all around Akumal.

Besides snorkeling, Akumal offers excellent diving and bird watching trips,  kayaking, and fishing. It also has a few of the most unique hand-crafts stores in the area, where one can shop for jewelry, sculptures, and other works of art from local artists.

Akumal is also an ideal base from which to visit some of the most charming cenotes in the area. Taken from the Mayan word dzonot, these are fresh-water pools formed by underground rivers in the limestone found everywhere in the states of Quintano Roo and Yucatan. There are hundreds of cenotes in the surrounding area. Some are open to the sky, while others are underground - with caves to explore. Some are just for sightseeing; but, most around Akumal are open for swimming, diving, and other sports activities provided by local tour guides.

It is instantly obvious that Akumal is a place to come to relax. Besides its stunning bays and underwater life, the most extraordinary feature of Akumal is its success in blending the tranquility of the Caribbean with modern comforts, within a community of villas and condominiums. Known by travelers for its exclusive, comfortable, and peaceful vacations, it is far from the hustle and bustle of Cancun or even Playa del Carmen. It is not the place to come for nightlife. The town closes at 10:30 in low season and around midnight in high season. It is the place to come to find a home-away-from-home. Besides the three hotels in town, all other lodging includes fully furnished apartments or houses with everything needed to carry on with your typical (albeit much more relaxed) lifestyle (in a paradisaical setting, of course).

Though there are no real bars on Akumal Playa (the beach side and tourist area of Akumal), most of the restaurants have fully-stocked bars in them. These same restaurants, though not great in number, are great in quality. Most offer fusion seafood, Mexican and Yucatan dishes, with enticing desserts and wine. One or two even have dance shows and live music on certain days of the week during high season (from the end of November until the end of April).

The restaurants, in most cases, are for those days when you do not feel like making use of the fully equipped kitchen in your villa or condo. If you decide you would prefer to eat your own home cooked food, you should stop by one of the big grocery stores (like Soriana in the shopping center, Centro Maya, on the right hand side of the freeway), in Playa del Carmen, on the way from the airport. The small grocery stores in town are limited and expensive. One other recommendation: bring your snorkel gear.

Where to Go in Akumal

TOP PICKS BY OUR LOCAL EXPERTS

Hotel Akumal Caribe

expert pick

Carretera Cancun-Tulum Km 104 Frac. Akumal Caribe

Beach hotel with rooms & bungalows great for kids.

Yal-Ku Lagoon

expert pick

Tropical lagoon for snorkeling and picnics

La Lunita

expert pick

North Akumal

Contemporary Mexican & Caribbean flavors on beach

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