Do you know this feeling when its Monday morning and you think about how your friends and colleagues go to work at the moment and you are lying on the beach? Awesome feeling, right? That was exactly my thought when I was lying on this peaceful shore in Akumal, awaiting our snorkeling experience.
I just laid on the shore for a while, thinking of how many cute turtles I am going to see…
We are so happy that we included Akumal into our Tulum itinerary.
WHERE IS AKUMAL
Akumal in Mayan language means ” Land of Turtles” so we knew that this is the place where we will definitely see a lot of them. Akumal is a very small and peaceful town in the heart of the Riviera Maya between Playa del Carmen and Tulum and a very famous place for snorkeling. Similar to Isla Mujeres near Cancun, the beach has white sand and beautiful turquoise waters. It has also an amazing bay with clear shallow waters which is perfect for swimming.
HOW TO SNORKEL IN AKUMAL
However, you can’t just go snorkel wherever you like. You would need a guide ($30-40) as there are many restricted areas in order to preserve the sea life. But don’t worry, you will see a lot of beautiful fish, we even saw a huge stingray and of course turtles.
Seeing these beautiful animals was one of the highlights of our trip. I enjoyed watching them swimming underwater…and when they popped out their little cute heads from the water, ah…it was really hard to hold my excitement back.
The tour was about 45 minutes and definitely worth it. You can bring your own gear, but if you don’t have it with you, don’t worry, the will lend it to you (snorkeling gear and a floating west).
Very important things to know:
- be as conscious of the environment as possible
- only use biodegradable sunscreen and apply it at least one hour before going into the water: this will prevent turtles and fish from being affected by chemicals from the lotion.
- touching corals and turtles are legally forbidden in Quintana Roo. Touching and chasing turtles stress them out and very like to bruise them.
- turtles eat seagrass and that is why you will be wearing a floating vest to prevent you from touching the ground. Like this, turtles will have plenty of food.
- don’t leave any trash behind.
READ MORE: BEST THINGS TO DO IN TULUM
EXPLORE AREA AROUND AKUMAL
After snorkeling, you can definitely stay at the beach if you like, but if you want to discover more places around, there are several options. The area around Akumal is interesting as well and there are so many nice beaches and beautiful places. In our guide, we found a really cute beach called Playa Xcacel-Xcacelito. It is located only 12 km north of Tulum and 4 km south of Akumal, between Chemuyil and Xel-Ha Park.
We drove from Akumal around 1o minutes to get there. The beach is off the road and there is no proper sign indicating where to take the turn. You need to watch out and look for a little sign on the northbound side of the highway. The best way to get to Xcacelito is by car. A little parking lot is available.
Only you will find it (I hope :D), the read to get to the beach is full of holes, so you need need to drive carefully. After a bumpy ride, you will arrive at the ramp where you would need to pay a little entrance fee (25 Pesos) to be able to enter the beach. The money goes directly to the association: Flora, Fauna & Culture. It is dedicated to the protection of sea turtles. I really love how the Mexican government is protecting this area and the animals living here. I wish other countries would do the same.
Xcacelito beach is a home for turtles and a nesting paradise so when you walk around the beach you see a lot of nesting places for turtles. Flora, Fauna & Culture is taking amazing care of the Xcacelito area by making sure that no one is stepping over or into the turtle nests. They make the nests and place signs for people in order to be careful and do not enter the zones around the nests.
We learned that every year, approximately from April to October there are two types of green sea turtles which are nesting along the Xcacelito beach:
- Chelonia mydas
- Loggerhead turtles Caretta caret.
The Xcacelito beach is a quiet place with not many people around which makes it a really special place. The only disturbing moment was when I was lying on the beach and I turned around and I saw two soldiers walking around with huge guns. I still don’t get why, to be honest. Maybe some people want to steal turtle eggs?
READ MORE: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MAYAN RUINS OF TULUM
FEEL LIKE VOLUNTEERING?
Did you know that you can actually volunteer for a day or more in Xcacelito?
The organization Flora, Fauna & Culture offers a program called “Get to know a turtle camp.” It’s a program where you can learn about protecting sea turtles and even witness baby turtles to be born. Sounds great, do you think so? So if you are a turtle lover like me, and love to learn more about protecting them, make sure to plan it before your trip to Mexico by sending an email to Juan Jose at [email protected]
You would need to pay $25 to participate in the program which is really fair price knowing that you will learn a lot about turtles and help them to crawl out of their nests and run into the sea. I haven’t seen baby turtles be born yet but it is definitely on my bucket list to see how they make their way to the Caribbean Sea.
There are palms and bushes on Xcacelito beach but you are not allowed to go there due to the turtles’ nests, so basically there is no shade available. If you don’t have an umbrella it can get really hot. I spent most of the time snorkeling as I couldn’t bear the heat for more than 15 minutes. But don’t worry, there is a rescue plan 😀 What is really cool about this beach is that if you are tired of the heat there is the awesome Cenote Xcacelito nearby where you can cool down. It’s just 5 minutes of walking through a little jungle. The water is refreshing and the snorkeling is awesome. I have never seen anything like that. Swimming in cool water, surrounded by beautiful trees. Under the water, you will see leaves, roots of the trees and many fish. Just wow. The crystal clear water is an absolutely perfect escape from the Caribbean heat.
If you are traveling to Mexico and wonder about the safety, then make sure to read our comprehensive guide on: IS MEXICO SAFE? and how to be safe when traveling around Mexico.
Wandering what Cenote is?
Before going to Mexico I had never heard of the term “Cenote” and Mexico has a lot of them. Cenotes are natural underground reservoirs of water that occur in the limestone of Yucatan. So Cenotes are basically natural groundwater pools. Most cave cenotes have fresh and clear water and you can see very easily to the bottom. Very often they are home to vitamin and mineral-rich algae that nourish and protect your skin. We visited 3 Cenotes during our trip: Cenote Xcacelito, Cenote Ik Kil and Gran Cenote.
Enjoy exploring Akumal and don’t forget to leave a comment below or tag your photo at @mybeachaddiction 🙂