Akumal and the friendly turtle

Filed under: Places to Visit - by Louise Hennessy

Turtles are such peaceful-looking creatures aren´t they? Never in a hurry, cruising along at their own pace in amongst the other marine life; a true example of how WE should be living. Perhaps this is why Akumal is one of our favourite places  for a day trip…

There’s always a doubt at the back of our minds when we visit..Will we see one this time? Is it the right time of day? Will they be too far out? However, the adorable creatures have never failed to surprise us as yet;  and as long as you don’t attempt to touch or bother them,  they seem quite unscathed about being observed.


When we first visited Akumal it was hard to grasp the idea that it was actually possible to swim with turtles from a public beach; it’s just not done in this region, where activities like this generally require some kind of a fee.. The wonderful thing about Akumal is just that, you are going to the beach for the day, oh.. and yes, by the way, you may come across a few sea turtles, and maybe the odd stingray!….No strings attached.


The turnoff for Akumal can be deceiving, but once you spot the bridge and do the necessary u-turning (if coming from Playa del Carmen) it’s plain sailing down the only lane. That is, until you leave the transport and have no idea where the beach is, even though it is only a hundred metres or so away. Hidden from view behind various lodgings and shops is the stunning bay of Akumal, cradling a gentle sea, and amazingly still dotted with a fair few palm trees. If you strain your eyes out to sea you can make out the white tips where the waves are fiercer as they break over the reef.  Depending on how good a swimmer you are will determine whether you swim out or take a lancha (fishing boat) on a snorkelling trip; if you choose to simply swim around a short distance from shore there are places to hire snorkelling equipment if you don’t have any.


So how do you find a turtle? Well, from experience there is no formula. It’s common to see snorkelers  hovering over a certain area and it can be very tempting to swim out to see what they are looking at. However, by the time you get there, they may have moved, as although they don’t seem to mind being watched, even turtles have their limit!  Don’t count on following the crowd as being your best bet, our most magical moments have been when least expected; swimming out leisurely 30-40 metres, stopping to tread water in a few places, when suddenly a beautiful turtle would appear nearby munching on the seabed. If you watch for long enough (it’s actually hard to tear yourself away from watching them!) they rise slowly to the surface for air, sticking out their sweet patchwork head for you to admire for an instant. It’s a wonderful feeling to see them…


Sunset on Akumal Bay is without a doubt one of the loveliest along this coast. The sun becomes tender and forgiving, and smiles upon your already flushed cheeks. Nobody seems to be in any rush to leave this beach, and with good reason, as this is most relaxing part of the day; it will bring a gooey smile to anyone’s face to see those orangey tones disappearing into the the soft waves. And as evening falls, what better way to enjoy the twinkling lights of the coast and stars, than by finishing your day off with a bite to eat at a restaurant right on the beach, while exchanging stories on your experiences over the last few days….

NOTE: We cannot emphasize enough the need to use ONLY 100% BIODEGRADABLE SUN LOTION  in this area, COMPLETELY FREE OF CHEMICALS, MINERAL OIL S and PARABENS. Anything else can and will severely affect the health of the turtles. As this is a common requisite throughout the region please don’t forget to look for such products which meet these requirements, prior to your visit.

Speak to our concierge for information on trips!

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