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We have been to the Mayan Riviera several times now. We got married at an all-inclusive resort, and have been to different places each time we returned, most recently visiting the Akumal Bay Beach & Wellness resort (read my post here!).
We had an amazing time at Akumal Bay Beach & Wellness Resort, and are planning to return. We stayed there for 7 days and got to know the resort well. Here are some tips for visiting.
Bring eco-friendly reef safe sunscreen
Traveling to Mexico means that you will need some good sun protection. Sunscreen is a must, but it is important to choose one that is specifically reef-safe. Most resorts and swimming areas on the Mayan Riviera require reef-safe sunscreens, and there are plenty available either in stores or online. Bonus – reef-safe sunscreens are also safer for your health. There are so many sea turtles and other amazing sea life at Akumal Bay, it is important to protect the ecosystem here.
Check out my tips for reef-safe sunscreen.
Be prepared with lots of sun protection – and rash guards
You may wish to bring a rash guard in addition to sunscreen, especially if you have kids. If you are doing day trips, you may likely end up at a cenote, where they do not allow sunscreen at all (even reef-safe sunscreen). I always bring a rash guard because at the end of our trip, I tend to feel a little crispy and I like having my skin covered.
We wore our rash guards when we went paddleboarding, since we knew we would be out in the sun and did not want to get sunburned. I also generally find myself wearing one towards the end of our Mexico vacations since I start to feel a bit crispy.
Bring bug spray in the buggy season
Some months of the year are buggy, while others are fairly bug-free. You may want to consider bringing bug spray especially if you plan on walking around, especially if you do day trips. We visited the Mayan Ruins of Ek Balam in July, and got eaten alive, so it is good to be prepared.
Pool & beach toys
It is nice to have some beach toys to enjoy the pool or beach with. And don’t worry – you don’t need anything bulky or expensive! You can find some cheap toys at the dollar store. I would recommend things that travel easily. You could bring a small bucket by filling it with clothes when you pack, and use inflatable beach balls. We normally leave our beach gear behind, either by passing it to another family or throwing it away as a last resort.
How neat are these collapsible beach buckets?!
There is plenty of food and drinks at the resort. As an all inclusive, we never purchased additional food or drink. I was able to get my morning coffee, either at the buffet or the bar. My kids (ages 11 and 14) are vegetarian and my youngest is quite picky, but they had no problem finding something to eat at the buffet. They were also a fan of ordering smoothies and other drinks from the bars around the property.
Goggles & snorkel gear
You’ll want something to enjoy swimming or snorkeling, so it is a good idea to bring your own snorkel or goggles. Even just for the pool, my kids always bring a pair of goggles so they can play comfortably in the water.
There was a lot of great sea life at Akumal Bay, so definitely bring a snorkel with you! I have heard that Akumal rents snorkel gear, but I don’t know that it is the case during Covid, and I always recommend bringing your own if you can (regardless of the pandemic).
We always bring water shoes with us to Mexico. This is good for the beach, and also if you go off the resort and visit cenotes. This photo is from our trip to Cenote Cristalino nearby.
A good camera / action camera
We love capturing our vacation moments, and that means a good camera. An action camera means lot of great underwater shots, from the beach to cenotes.
My daughter went SCUBA diving in Akumal Bay and my husband captured some great shots with our action camera!
And since the bay is known for sea turtles, you don’t want to miss an opportunity to get a photo of a sea turtle on your vacation!
There is NO ATM at the resort. We always try to bring small bills to our resort so we can tip as desired. This could be anyone from a maid to a bartender. Although tipping is not required, we did lots of tipping along the way. I did hear that you can exchange money at the front desk to pesos.
Books / apps / music / card games
While there is usually plenty to do, including relaxing, it is nice to have a good book for the beach. Apps and card games are a great way to travel light but also have some things to keep you busy. We usually download a bunch of movies to enjoy as well.
Clips and a shade blanket
There are lots of great places to lounge around the pools and beach at the resort, but it is good to bring something you can hang over the pergolas on the beach if you want additional shade. Clips mean you can secure them and not have the fabric blow away. You can see in the picture below that people were using this method for extra shade.
Reusable, insulated tumbler / mug & straws
If you are planning on enjoying drinks at the resort, we noticed that it is popular to bring a labeled travel mug. This way you can get a large drink that stays either hot (like coffee) or cold (sipping your margarita on the beach!). If your tumbler isn’t personalized, make sure you at least put your name on it so it doesn’t get lost. You likely won’t see straws in Mexico unless it is biodegradable, and the resort does not have straws. If you need a straw, bring one.
I obviously blog regularly, and I brought my laptop on the trip. There is a nice safe in the room that fit my laptop and other electronics. The WiFi in the room seemed pretty good, as we were able to use our devices in the evenings without any problem. I also recommend downloading books/shows before arriving or when you have good Wifi in the room. Bring extra chargers and backup batteries as necessary. There were American outlets for plugs.
The room does have a good amount of amenities. Every room has a hair dryer, iron, ironing board, slippers, robes, umbrella, safe, jacuzzi, Wifi.
Some items to pack…
~ reef safe sunscreen & sun protection (hat, rashguard, etc)
~ bug spray (natural bug repellent is preferred at most areas in Mexico)
~ rash guards
~ snorkel & fins
~ water shoes
~ beach toys for kids, inflatable pool toys (you can find cheap ones at discount stores, and you can also find portable ones like collapsible sand buckets)
~ money for tips
~ nice clothes for dinner
~ shade cloth & clips
~ reusable mug
~ good camera, electronics chargers
~ underwater camera, waterproof camera housing, or waterproof phone case
~ first aid (bandaids, neosporin, stomach remedies, ibuprofen, etc)
~ light sweater for evenings in the cooler months
~ red light headlamp if you plan on walking on the beach at night (for the sea turtles)
What to skip…
~ jewelry – the resort felt very safe, but jewelry can get lost when you swim, and we travel off the resort, so I just never like bringing jewelry when I travel unless it is inexpensive. Even inexpensive jewelry that looks expensive can make you a target, whether someone is looking to steal from you or simply overcharge you at a store or market.
~ beach towels (the resort provides beach towels, so you generally don’t need one unless maybe you plan on taking one on day trips, in which case I recommend a microfiber towel, which is easy to pack and dries quickly)
~ hair dryer (they are in the room)
Some places you can visit from the resort if you have a car or arrange transportation:
We rented our car from Avant Car Rental, Cancun. Drive times are approximate, from Google Maps.
Casa Cenote, Akumal
Calzada de los Frailes, Valladolid (approx 1 hour 45 minutes)
Cenotes Casa Tortuga, Tulum (approx 15 mins)
Cenote Cristalino, Puerto Aventuras (approx 15 mins)
Cenote Jaguar, Tulum (approx 18 mins)
Cenote X’Canche, Ek Balam (approx 2 hrs 10 mins)
Cenote X’Keken, Valladolid (approx 1 hour 45 mins)
Cenote Zaci, Valladolid (approx 1 hour 45 mins)
Cenote Samula, Valladolid (approx 1 hour 55 mins)
Coba Ruins, Coba (approx 1 hour 5 mins)
Ek Balam Ruins, Ek Balam (approx 2 hours 10 mins)
Hacienda Cenote Oxmán, Valladolid (approx 1 hour 50 mins)
Muyil Ruins, Tulum (approx 45 mins)
Punta Laguna Nature Reserve (approx 1 hour 16 mins)
Valladolid, Mexico (approx 1 hour 51 mins)
Xcaret Park, Playa del Carmen and Tips for Visiting XCaret (approx 30 mins)
Xkopek Beekeeping Park, Valladolid (approx 1 hour 51 mins)
Yal Ku Lagoon, Akumal (approx 15 mins, note that swimming at the resort may be better!)
Zazil Kin Beach, Tulum (approx 37 mins, note that Tulum traffic can be awful)
Check out their website: http://akumalbayresorts.com/
There is a great Facebook Group for this resort: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1782628815283713
Check out our other Mexico blog posts HERE.
About the Author: Marysa
Busy blogger and mom of two girls! We love traveling and the great outdoors, and are always looking for our next adventure!