Snorkelling with Turtles in Akumal
There's this small village in Mexico. It has a lovely small bay where many, many turtles live. The best part: you can snorkel with them!
I've heard about Akumal a couple of years ago, and I knew that I had to go there myself. It took a while to fulfil this wish – and I kind of wish I had come here earlier.
We started in Playa del Carmen with our rental car, heading South on the highway until we hit the sign Akumal Playa. After a couple of meters, we spotted a small hut in the middle of the street. A Mexican man signalled us to stop. He asked us if we wanted to go snorkelling with the turtles. I nodded but told him that we were gonna do it ourselves and that we had our own equipment. He told us that it's not allowed to go snorkelling without a guide anymore and that had changed about a year ago. I didn't know that.
My dive buddies, too, hadn't heard about that new regulation either. So we paid the 500 pesos (approx. 23€) per person to snorkel with a guide. Parking was another 50 pesos (approx 2.3€) – that we knew before.
Snorkelling with Turtles in Akumal
During a short introduction, our guide told us to always maintain at least a meter distance to the turtles. Of course, we wouldn't be allowed to touch them either. It's a protected area.
Then we hopped into the fresh water and already saw our first turtle. And then another one, and another one, and another one. And then two or three at once.
I've seen turtles diving before, but never so many in such a short period of time.
We stayed in the water for over an hour and observed the lovely animals at close range. The turtles need to get to the surface every now and then to breathe – great for taking pictures and seeing them from different angles.
In the end, we swam to a little reef where we saw some more fish and when we were about to get out of the water we even spotted two rays!
After the Snorkelling
We went looking for a calm place on the beach, but since it was New Year's Day, it was crowded. Very crowded! Still, the view of the bay was spectacular. There are even a few resorts – which I don't have anything against, except that they only left us two meters on the beach. You can enter the beach club there and be posh for a day – but that'll cost you about 100 USD. Needless to saw we opted for the small public beach to relax there. There's also a few restaurants on the beach – we ate at the biggest one and the food was quite nice.
How to get to Akumal
Akumal is located south of Playa del Carmen, north of Tulum. The easiest way to get there is a rental car, but there's also colectivos (buses) that go there frequently.
Some more info about Akumal
I've talked to friends that live in Playa del Carmen and they all said that it is not mandatory to hire a guide to go snorkelling in Akumal. Apparently, we fell for a tourist trap. Good thing, it wasn't too much money – and yes 500 pesos are still worth it 😉
We did see some more vendors on the beach that sold tours for 70 USD per Person – ouuuuch!
Tips for Akumal
Sunscreen: to snorkel with the turtles, you need to put sunscreen on. Biodegradable sunscreen. So that won't hurt the reef and the turtles. You can buy them in Akumal, but they will be expensive there. Check with your pharmacy or look on amazon. A great alternative is to wear a long-armed shirt.
ATMs: there are four ATMs close to the beach. Two provide USD and the other two Pesos. They charge quite a high fee of 115 pesos (others charge 25-35 pesos).
Best Timing: as early as the sun rises. That way you don't have to share the turtles with anyone.
Have you been in Akumal? Have you been snorkelling with turtles somewhere else?