When we decided to take a leave of absence from the Riviera Maya, we made sure to make a list of things that we wanted to do before we left. Most of our most important bucket list destinations had already been accomplished, but there was one glaring omission from the list. One of us had never been to Akumal. This is one of the most popular destinations on the Riviera Maya, as the small bay acts as a turtle sanctuary. Since we are not sure when we will be back again, we made this our top priority. We were not disappointed.
Even if we had done this before, it is one of the most unique experiences either of us have had. We will never pass up an opportunity to go swimming with these magnificent creatures. Upon arrival in Akumal, it becomes obvious why this is such a popular destination. The blue water here glitters in the sunshine and the white sand beach is protected by the same reef which the turtles come to seek refuge from. If you are a lover of the ocean, this should be a top destination.
We have several years of experience along the Riviera Maya, and this is certainly one of the most memorable experiences we have had. While the scenery above the water is memorable, swimming with the turtles at Akumal is the main reason why this should be in your top 5 for the Riviera Maya.
What makes Yal Kul & Akumal so amazing?
This is one of the most pristine beaches along the Riviera Maya, and as if that wasn’t enough, this is the place to swim with sea turtles. Swimming with turtles shouldn’t need a description, but it is my job to paint a picture for you to get excited about this excursion. This was really one magical afternoon spent under the water.
During our trip, we saw over 10 different turtles of various sizes in the shallow water, grazing on the sea grass. This is an excursion for all ages and swimming abilities. Our guide noticed that we were strong swimmers and invited us to swim out towards the reef as well. This is like adding chocolate sauce and sprinkles to any already amazing dessert.
After finishing our swim, we spent a little bit of time soaking in the sunshine along the beach, but we had accomplished our goal of swimming with the turtles. Sometimes it is good to save the best for last and we were both excited to knock this incredible event off our bucket list.
Where is Yal Kul & Akumal and how do you get there?
Akumal is a small community which has inhabitants on both sides of the highway, with the obvious attraction being the more touristy beach side. The Riviera Maya is conveniently connected by one straight highway that travels from Cancun to Tulum (and beyond) so this is an easy place to find.
From the highway, it’s easy to see the signs. If you have your own car or take a taxi, you have to drive past the overpass and do a legal U-turn shortly after. If you are traveling by bus or collectivo, you can either walk or take a local transport from the highway, although it is not too far a trip. There are many tour companies that will help you arrive here with even less difficulty.
If you are visiting Yal Kul, the nearby cenote (fresh water) bay where the water meets the ocean, just keep driving past all the tour operators at Akumal and keep driving. This is an incredible place to go snorkeling and a more local / off the beaten track way to swim with the fishes on the Riviera Maya.