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Swim with Turtles in Akumal

By Gabriela Noguez |

Visit Akumal in the Mexican state of Quinta Roo, where you can see protected species of sea turtles, swim with them, and snorkel.

The Caribbean has become one of the favorite destinations for beach lovers. That’s why we’ve taken you to Cartagena, the Dominican Republic,  and to the Turtle National Park in Costa Rica, among other destinations. Luckily, the Mexican Caribbean still preserves some attractions that have remained free from mass tourism. In these places you can still find a peaceful environment full of white sand and turquoise waters, which are so characteristic of this natural region. A great example is Akumal Bay.

Today, DINKtravelers, your world travel guide, invites you to visit a natural habitat of sea turtles in Quintana Roo. We’ll give you some advice so that you live an unforgettable experience as you protect and preserve nature.

Species of Sea Turtles at Akumal Bay

Akumal is located approximately an hour and a half away from the city of Cancun, in the region of Tulum. In the Maya language Tulum means “land of turtles”, and boy is that true! It’s the main habitat of three sea turtle species: the green, the loggerhead, and the hawksbill turtle, as well as several species of coral such as the elkhorn and the sea fan coral.

Akumal is one of the main coasts in Mexico where these turtles feed, mate, nest and spawn. Since it is the habitat of vulnerable and endangered species, Akumal Bay has conservation and protection programmes,  and organizes educational activities for tourists and locals.

Akumal Bay Snorkeling Rules

Fortunately for travelers who enjoy nature, in Akumal Bay it is possible to swim in crystalline waters and have a marvelous encounter with the turtles of this region.

We know you care about conservation of ecosystems, flora, and fauna. That’s why we want to offer you a list of recommendations so you can enjoy your experience while protecting the environment.

  • Respect the schedules and sighting routes established by the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP, acronym in Spanish)
  • Always visit sea turtle sighting areas accompanied by a certified guide.
  • Don’t use products such as sunblock creams or tanning lotions that are not biodegradable so as not to damage the ecosystem.
  • Wear safety equipment: short fins, snorkel, and floating vest.
  • Don’t feed, touch, or tease the turtles or any other species you find during your stay.
  • Don’t extract or cut sea grass because it’s what the turtles feed on.
  • Try to keep your distance from the turtles by staying at least three meters away from them so as not to stress them.
  • Given that turtles are highly sensitive creatures, it’s important to make sure they remain calm. By following these advice we’re sure your experience will be unforgettable and responsible.

3 Things to Do in Akumal

Sea turtle sightings are not the only attraction in Akumal. Since the swell is not too heavy, you can also swim safely in the sea, or rest under the shade of a palm tree.

#1 Yal Ku Lagoon

Yal Ku lagoon is one of Akumal’s best-kept secrets and one of the most charming places in the Mayan Riviera. In Yal Ku, the convergence of fresh water and salt water create a unique ecosystem. Take into account that the use of sunblock creams and the consumption of food and beverages are not allowed in the area. Moreover, the number of people who can visit the place at the same time is limited.

#2 Akumal Snorkeling

For hygiene reasons, we recommend you bring your own snorkel equipment with you. However, if you don’t have one, don’t worry. At the entrance you can rent any necessary equipment you need to enjoy the experience. Given the place’s characteristics, there’s a fish of a wide variety of colors. Among the species you’ll see there are sea stars, sea urchins, blue tang, and trigger fish.


#3 Akumal Cenote

The Aktun Natural Park was created for the conservation and preservation of Akumal’s natural wealth. There, you can swim in a cenote that’s connected with several caves.

Don’t miss other attractions such as ziplines and learn how to help protect wildlife through the endangered wildlife species reproduction project.

Apart from that, you’ll get the chance to visit a dry cave, the largest in the state!

Recommendations to Visit Akumal

  • Akumal is located near Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen, so access from these three cities is quite easy.
  • Take cash. Even though credit cards are accepted at most stores and restaurants, some might only take cash.
  • There are international food restaurants in the area, but DINKtravelers suggests choosing those with local fresh seafood. Try coconut shrimp, dogfish pasties, and the famous snail ceviche.
  • Akumal inspired the creation of a popular beer that was named after it. Remember to try it! It’s 100% Caribbean! Here you can get more information about Akumal Beers.

Akumal Bay Snorkeling: Basic Tips

Snorkeling is a relaxing and fun way to discover the fascinating and multicolored universe that exists underwater. You can’t miss snorkeling in Akumal, since it is a way to swim near sea turtles or different fish species. In order to practice it you need four fundamental items: snorkel, mask, floating vest, and fins. Make sure you also follow these tips:

  • Before getting into the water, adjust the life vest and make sure it stays put when entering the water.
  • Put the fins on while sitting near the shore and walk carefully while you still touch the bottom.
  • Before starting to swim, adjust the mask and make sure the water doesn’t filter in. If you wear glasses, rent a mask that you can wear on top of them.
  • Place the snorkel near your mouth and put your face down the water, with your head at an angle of 45 degrees.
  • Softly bite the snorkel’s mouthpiece and seal it with your lips.
  • Breathe slowly through your mouth. If you take a little while to get used to this, don’t panic. Just relax and focus on inhaling and exhaling regularly.
  • Avoid pulling your head to your chest to prevent water from filling the snorkel. In case it happens, hold your breath, submerge completely, and then take the snorkel out to the surface of the water. Exhale strongly to expel the water out of the tube.
  • Guides are allowed to take six visitors at a time to snorkel with turtles.
  • There are designated areas to see the turtles.

Now you know more about Akumal and how you can swim with turtles, add Akumal on your destination list for your next vacations on the beach. Don’t forget our recommendations and respect the protected species of Akumal Bay.