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Akumal Beach, a Little-Known Paradise in the Mayan Riviera

  • Joel CZ 
  • 7 min read
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A haven for turtles, Akumal Beach is a paradise in Mexico with a turquoise sea and clear and warm water.

Located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Akumal is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Although becoming more popular every year, the destination is still famous for its diving and the ease of seeing marine animals.

The word Akumal means “Place of the Turtles,” and it is not difficult to see them here, especially in summer, when they come to lay their eggs.

Despite having a lot of hotels and restaurants and being advertised more, the beach is beautiful and worthwhile if you have time to include it in your Riviera Maya itinerary.

Akumal is considered the beach of sea turtles, so it is a great idea to swim and enjoy them in their natural habitat.

Access to Akumal Beach

Unless you are a hotel or resort guest, you must pay to enter the beach. This is because it’s located inside a Natural Park.

Don’t listen to the “hawkers” around you on the streets saying they sell tickets. Just go straight to the entrance.

The entrance fee is about $5 (US), which is a bit confusing. You are in a park after all, yet it will be full of tourists, restaurants, and hotels scattered around the sand.

A personal recommendation is to enter through the Akumal Beach Hotel Caribe, which is near the ticket office, and pay for a day pass, it may cost you a bit more than 5 dollars, but it is well worth it.

You can use the facilities and of course, get free access to the beach.

Remember that all beaches here charge for deck chairs and umbrellas anyway.

Swimming with turtles at Akumal Beach

akumal beach
Source: Polly Dawson /

The snorkeling takes approximately 45 minutes and is done with a group of 4 people. They also offer photography and snorkeling packages on site.

During the tour, I was able to observe several turtles, some of them quite large, as well as fish and manta rays.

You will notice that there is a delimited swimming area. This is a precaution to preserve the turtle habitat, which can be fully understood.

Turtle season in Akumal

The turtle season starts in May and ends at the end of October. In fact, during this same period, the sargassum season occurs, which are algae formations that appear on the beach.

This makes sense since seaweed is the food for turtles.

Unfortunately, sargassum infestation has occurred more frequently in recent years, which can make swimming in the sea and visibility difficult.

What is Akumal Beach like?

akumal beach
Source: Mike Fouque /

The strip of sand is about 5 km long, but the most beautiful part without rocks is practically half of it. It is precisely in these places where hotels and restaurants are distributed.

The water on the beach is incredibly crystal clear. Even if you don’t dive, you can easily see fish and even turtles in the shallow water.

Near the entrance, there are fewer waves in the left corner, so it is ideal for those who want calm water or are with children.

I only ate and used the services of the “beach club/restaurant” where I spent the day, at Akumal Hotel Caribe.

But in general, the prices here are higher than on the beaches of Playa del Carmen, and they are more similar to Tulum and Cozumel.

Safety on the beach

In terms of security for entering the water, your belongings can be stored in lockers available in several places.

However, many tourists leave their things on the sand without much concern.

If you have valuables and want to go into the sea without worrying about them, I recommend keeping them with you whenever possible.

Discover Cenote Yal-Ku

akumal beach
Source: mundosemfim /

About 3 km from Akumal beach is the Cenote Yal-Ku, a real open-air aquarium. You can get there on foot if you dare or by cab.

The freshwaters are sourced from inside the cenote and flow into the sea, providing conditions for developing a unique biosphere.

However, it is necessary to take into account the care that must be taken with the local flora and fauna. Don’t litter!

It is a very worthwhile trip to this cenote because of its proximity. The entrance fee is around $15 (US) per adult. Learn more about cenotes.

How to get to Akumal Beach

Leaving from Playa del Carmen: It is possible to get to Akumal by public transportation.

The cheapest option is the vans, which leave from Playa del Carmen, on Calle 2 Norte between avenues 15 and 20, costing around 40 pesos.

This type of transportation is generally used by locals who take the Playa del Carmen to Tulum route during the week.

However, on weekends the flow is even greater as residents use the transport to travel to places of leisure.

A very important tip is to tell the driver which beach you want to get off at so you don’t get lost.

You get off on the road, then cross to the other side and walk about 700 meters to access the beach.

To return, you must go near the highway and take a van towards Playa del Carmen.

There, the vans are parked, waiting for passengers; the wait is not long.

If you prefer to go by cab or hire an agency for the tour, it is also possible, although it is easier and cheaper to do it on your own.

Tours usually include transfers to your hotel, snorkeling with the turtles, snorkeling in 2 different cenotes, guides, and much more.

Renting a car (always my favorite) is an excellent option, as it allows you to explore other places along the way.

Coming from Tulum

Coming from Tulum, you can also take the vans that leave from the ruins region.

The trip takes only about 20 minutes. If you are coming by car, do the same, drive along Highway 307 to the beach.

There is also the possibility of taking a cab.

Leaving from Cancun

The public transportation route can be a bit more complex if you are in Cancun.

You will have to go downtown and, at the bus station, take a bus to Playa del Carmen and change to a van going to Akumal.

Another possibility is to take an ADO bus to Playa del Carmen and then the vans.

The ADO buses going to Tulum pass in front of Akumal, but you should ask the driver if you can get off there.

If you have a car, just take Highway 307 (Cancun – Tulum) for about 110km.

The trip takes about an hour on average.

Where to stay in Akumal Beach

I think it’s best to stay in a beachfront hotel. And there are many options. The Secrets Riviera Maya is one of the largest resorts and has all-inclusive.

Another simpler and even better rated one is where I spent the day, the Hotel Club Akumal Caribe, and the Del Sol Beachfront, which is not on this beach but near and facing the sea.

There are also many beach houses here, called villas, and some of the best rated are the Riviera Maya Haciendas, KASA Cooper, and Casa Coral.

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