We have been to Mexico several times, and after our first visit, we knew we wanted to swim with sea turtles. We have traveled throughout the Mayan Riviera and the Yucatan area, and Akumal is a great place to check out when you want to swim with the turtles.
However, getting to the beach in Akumal to swim with the sea turtles can be a little bit confusing. Here are some tips.
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Don’t Get Scammed
When you get to Akumal, you may encounter people saying you have to pay to enter the town or that you have to pay to take a tour. You do not have to to do either of those things. You may have to pay to access the beach instead.
You can park in Akumal (and will likely have to pay to park), and walk to the beach via the Akumal Dive Shop turnstiles. We stayed at Akumal Bay Beach & Wellness Resort, and if anyone asked, we just explained we were walking to our resort.
According to a post at Travel Addicts, visitors going through the turnstiles are charged $6 to access the beach, or you can rent snorkel gear to access the beach for free.
You can visit the Akumal Dive Shop at https://akumaldiveshop.com/
I recommend walking down the beach past the boats, although there were tours between the boats and the reef. I think the best place is where there is some sea grass, where the turtles graze. The sea grass area is not particularly large, so even though you can walk down the beach a distance, it will get rockier and is too far from the sea grass.
Consider Staying in Akumal
One of the reasons we wanted to stay on Akumal Bay is because the sea life there is great. You can swim right out and see a variety of different marine life, in addition to the sea turtles.
We stayed at Akumal Bay Beach & Wellness Resort two years in a row, and you can swim right off the beach. We really enjoyed our stay there, and it is a great way to see coral, lots of fish, sea turtles, and more.
Use Reef-Safe Sunscreen
We always choose reef-safe sunscreen that is safer for marine life. Many resorts and other places in Mexico will check your sunscreen and make sure that it is marked safe for reefs. These sunscreens have less chemicals in them and are also better for you and your family. You can also reduce your need for sunscreen by using a long-sleeve rash guard while you swim.
Consider Bringing Your Own Snorkel
You really only need a snorkel mask, and not fins, which is easy enough to bring. If you are in Mexico, it makes sense to have your own snorkel, versus renting a used one. This way, you can know that it has a good fit on your face and that it is clean. You want to make the most of your swim with the turtles!
Be Ready to Take Pictures
Be prepared with an underwater camera, or underwater housing for a camera or phone. You will want to capture these special memories!
Be Respectful & Follow the Rules
Regardless of locals trying to sell tours, be respectful of the beaches and marine life.
Don’t touch the turtles, and give them space.
Also be aware of the reef and other marine life, and try not to make any contact with the reef or sea grass with your feet or anything else.
I have heard that mixed things about snorkeling with fins. Some say it is prohibited, which is fine (they can be bulky in the water, hit the reefs/grass, or stir up sediment, making the water cloudy). If you are able to wear fins, be careful about moving around so that you do not disturb any marine life.
We have heard mixed things about where and how far you can snorkel out. Life jackets may be required in some places, but that is another rule that is tough to pin down.
There are lots of turtle nests on the beach, at least when we went in July. I recommend bringing a red light flashlight or head lamp if you plan on walking on the beach in the evening.
What to Bring
Check out our other Mexico blog posts here.
Here are some nice places to visit around Akumal:
Akumal Art, Akumal Pueblo
Akumal Natura Reserve, Akumal
Cenotes Casa Tortuga, Tulum
Cenote Cristalino, Puerto Aventuras
Cenote Jaguar, Tulum
Cenote Wayak, Santa Cruz, Tulum
Cenote Zacil-Ha, Tulum
Muyil Ruins, Tulum
Yal Ku Lagoon, Akumal
Zazil Kin Beach, Tulum
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! Feel free to contact me with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org