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Swimming with Sea Turtles in Akumal
Interested in learning more about how you can swim with the sea turtles in Akumal Bay?
Well, today I’m going to cover everything you need to know in order to have the best sea turtle experience in Akumal.
Have you ever dreamed of swimming freely alongside sea turtles?
I don’t know about you, but swimming with sea turtles had been on my bucket list for years. I had been around the world several times and somehow I had yet to find the opportunity to go swimming with sea turtles in the wild.
That was until I arrived to the Riviera Maya.
After spending the previous day exploring the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum, it was time to knock yet another adventure off my bucketlist in the Riviera Maya. This time, I was on a mission to check out some of the activities available in Akumal Bay — a popular, touristy beach front destination situated approximately 25 mins south of Playa del Carmen and half way from Playa to Tulum.
You have a few options when it comes to getting to Akumal and swimming with the sea turtles and below I’m going to explain each of your options in-depth so you have everything you need in order to make the best of your day in Akumal.
How to Visit Akumal Independently
Visiting Akumal independently is a breeze thanks to the extensive colectivo system that runs to and from Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen. For those of you who are not familiar with the word “colectivo”, it’s the name for the shared group taxi system in the Riviera Maya which many locals use to get to and from work each day.
The colectivos operate the following two routes.
- Cancun to Playa del Carmen
- Playa del Carmen to Tulum
What most tourist don’t know or care to know is that foreigners and visitors are welcome to use the colectivos as well.
Sure, it’s a little intimidating the first time around but once you realize that all you need to do is tell the driver your destination, you’ll quickly learn that it’s not only an easy way to get from Point A to Point B in the Riviera Maya but it’s also dirt cheap.
If you’re looking for the cheapest way to get to Akumal, your best bet is to take the colectivo from the colectivo station in Playa del Carmen and you can learn how to do so in the next section below.
How to Get to Akumal by Colectivo
Fortunately, getting from Playa del Carmen to Akumal couldn’t get any easier.
The colectivo station in Playa del Carmen is located on Calle 2 Norte between Avenida 15 and 20 [See Map].
In order to visit the Akumal sea turtles, you’re going to want to take the colectivo heading in the direction of Tulum.
The colectivos heading towards Tulum can be found in the middle of Calle 2 between Av 15 and 20. You’ll hear the colectivo guys yelling “Tulum!” Hop on this colectivo and you’ll be on your way.
The colectivo from Playa del Carmen to Akumal takes approximately 25-30 minutes and costs 35 pesos per person ($2.68 USD) for a one-way journey.
Where to Find the Akumal Sea Turtles
If you take the colectivo from Playa to Akumal, you will be dropped off underneath a white bridge with a pedestrian overpass. Simply walk up the stairs and cross the bridge that takes you over the highway. Once you arrive on the other side of the road, simply walk straight down the road towards the beach about a half mile or so and you’ll arrive at Akumal Bay.
Warning: There has been a lot of talk in the local Facebook groups that there are people that stand near the entrance of the beach claiming to charge $50 USD per person to access and/or swim with the sea turtles. This is a SCAM. Do not fall for it. Simply pass by and act like you’re just heading to the beach for the day and be sure to keep your snorkel equipment packed away just in case.
Note: If you do not have your own snorkel equipment, you have three options:
- You can purchase quality snorkeling equipment at a very reasonable price prior to here.
- You can pick up snorkel gear at Walmart in Playa del Carmen prior to your arrival to Akumal.
- If you arrive in Akumal without equipment you will need to rent some from one of the local dive shops. I believe the cost is somewhere around $18-20 USD per day. A bit pricey, I know. In saying that, it’s one of those once in a lifetime experiences that you won’t want to miss.
Once you’ve got your snorkel equipment in hand walk down the beach (south) past the line of boats parked along the shoreline. Keep an eye out for other snorkelers or tour groups in the water and follow along with them. Where there are snorkelers, there are likely sea turtles.
Akumal Snorkeling Tours
If you’re not feeling confident enough to make your way to Akumal to swim with the sea turtles on your own, your best bet would be to book a tour like the one below.
What’s great about this Akumal Snorkeling Tour is that it includes hotel pickup (any hotel in the Riviera Maya), water, snacks, and also includes a visit to two cenotes.
More Tips for Akumal
1. The most economical way to get to Akumal is to take a colectivo as mentioned above. Of course, there are a variety of other ways to get to Akumal, such as the bus, a taxi, rental car or through organized tours to Akumal.
2. There is no admission price to visit Akumal. If you are approached and asked to pay for anything other than a tour, simply walk away. The beach is free to access and if you’ve got your snorkel equipment, you’re good to go.
3. Arrive early! Please don’t make the mistake of arriving to Akumal at noon. If you do, you will have limited visibility. Why? Well, you’ve got a combination of independent travelers and tour groups swimming around and they’re all looking for the same thing. Everyone will be swimming and kicking up the sand and all of a sudden a beautiful crystal clear bay becomes a cloudy mess. Do yourself a favor and get there bright and early.
4. Getting back to Playa del Carmen, Cancun or Tulum is as easy as getting to Akumal. All you need to do is walk out to the highway area and you’ll see colectivos waiting to take off. If there isn’t a colectivo in sight, simply stand by the edge of the highway and put your hand out and you’ll be sure to find yourself a colectivo heading north (or south if you’re heading back to Tulum).
5. Please be sure to give the sea turtles some space. I did some freediving to get a closer look at the turtles, not realizing that I wasn’t supposed to be getting that close to them. I believe that one of the rules is to give them at least 6 feet of space and because of this I now regret attempting to take selfies with the turtles. Fortunately, it was a learning experience and now I can share this information with you, the readers.
6. You should know that Akumal Bay is becoming more and more popular by the day due to the opportunity to swim alongside Green Turtles, Hawksbill Turtles and Loggerhead sea turtles in the wild. Be a responsible tourist
Note: It is illegal to touch the sea turtles or any other wildlife in Akumal. Don’t be an idiot.
Other than that, I wish you the best of luck and I hope you enjoy Akumal as much as we did!
Akumal Packing List
Here’s a brief overview of what I recommend that you pack for your upcoming trip to Akumal. All of the items below can be purchased directly through the links at very affordable prices. At least, a heck of a lot cheaper than if you were to purchase them here in Mexico.
Akumal Sea Turtle Video
Did you find this article helpful? Have any other questions? Leave a comment below!
Article last updated: 12/20/2016