Akumal beach is one of the top places to visit in the Riviera Maya. It’s a quaint little beach town between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, and it has a lot of great surprises. Find out why it’s one of the number one destination for visitors get insider tips to make your visit to Akumal beach a fabulous experience.
1. Akumal beach and the small community was once a coconut plantation! This quaint Mexican beachfront town was first founded in 1958 by Pablo Bush Romero. Because of the exotic coral reef surrounding Akumal Bay, it was established as a community for scuba divers.
2. “Akumal” comes from the Mayan, meaning “place of turtles.” Each year hundreds of turtles arrive to lay their eggs in the sand and feed on the seagrasses.
3. Breakfast – The Turtle Bay Café and Bakery has an excellent menu throughout the day, but the breakfasts are outstanding. They serve everything from fabulous baked goods, local Mexican breakfast dishes, and lots of North American breakfast favorites. It’s a local favorite of Akumal Bay.
4. Lunch – My favorite lunch spot (and it’s also great for breakfast and dinner too!) is Lol-Ha Restaurant and Snack Bar. Sit down, relax, grab a cocktail, and enjoy lunch while watching the fun activities unfold at Akumal Beach. You can’t get any closer to the beach than this –you can choose tables on the sand.
5. Dinner – The best restaurant at Akumal Beach is Taverna. It’s a fabulous atmosphere and great friendly staff. They serve the best Italian food (and pizza !!!) in all of the Riviera Maya. You have to go there. It’s located just off Playa Akumal, in a grand open-air palapa.
6. Walking out onto Akumal Beach, you will see the fabulous powder white sand beach stretching north and south along the coastline. The beach stretches around Akumal Bay to the left, and the next headland around you will reach Half Moon Bay. The beach stretches a long way south and to Jade Bay to the right. Right in front of you are the azure waters of the Caribbean ocean. It’s one of the top-rated beaches in all of the Riviera Maya.
7. A few hundred yards offshore of Playa Akumal is the 2nd largest barrier reef globally, and one of the reasons snorkeling here is so special. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System is also known as the Great Mayan Reef. It stretches over 1000 km from northern Yucatan down the Riviera Maya coast into Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. The reef system is home to more than 65 species of stony coral, 350 species of mollusk, and more than 500 species of fish. It also includes sea turtles, rays, manatees, and sharks contributing to the complex ecosystem. The reef provides for incredible snorkeling and diving experiences. But it also protects the beaches. Akumal Beach is one of the more protected beaches, with the barrier reef actually consisting of 2 reefs. It’s one of the reasons that the snorkeling in Akumal Bay is so good.
Along with the dazzling arrays of different types of coral form in this underwater wilderness. The coral provides homes and food to hundreds of fish species, marine turtles, and sharks. Along the shores, the mangroves provide habitat for fish and shorebirds too. As well, the mangroves protect coastal areas from damage from intense storms.
8. You’ve probably heard of Sargassum Seaweed. In 2019 the coastline of the Riviera Maya was hit by a massive amount of Sargassum seaweed. Fortunately, since then, the amounts arriving have been far less. And because of 2019, many practices have been put in place to remove or divert the seaweed before it hits the beaches and clean up whatever does land on the beach. And Akumal Beach often has less sargassum than many other beaches in the Riviera Maya. So if you’re fretting about sargassum, you probably don’t have to worry unless you’re incredibly unlucky.
9. The most popular thing to do when you are at Akumal Beach is snorkeling. If you want to swim with turtles, reef fish, rays, and hundreds of other fish, it’s the best place along the coast. And one of the best places in the world to go snorkeling.
10. The next most popular thing to do while at Akumal beach is scuba diving. With over 35 dive sites located here, Akumal beach provides fabulous diving opportunities. There are dazzling arrays of coral formations to explore. These support more than 65 species of stony coral, 350 species of mollusk, and more than 500 species of fish, including sea turtles, bull sharks, nurse sharks, and manatees. Far more impressive than the coral formations you can see while snorkeling. National Geographic describes it as more remarkable than the Great Barrier Reef.
11. Don’t have your PADI certification yet? Or perhaps you want to take a more advanced course? Experience the fantastic diving at Akumal Beach and excellent instruction from the area’s oldest and most established dive center. It’s a great place to get your certification.
12. To help preserve the coral reef and fish and mammals that make Akumal beach their home, divers, snorkelers and swimmers are asked to follow a few rules
13. Fishing is another of the great activities that you can do while at Akumal Beach. Whether it’s deep-sea fishing, bottom fishing, or fishing and snorkeling combination trips. The aquamarine waters of the Riviera Maya and plentiful fish make for a spectacular experience. Some of the abundant species found are Sailfish, White Marlin, Blue Marlin, Wahoo, Tuna, Barracuda, and Mahi Mahi. Fill the cooler and take a Panga boat fishing charter with a local fisher along Playa Akumal. Or do some big game fishing nearby.
14. Only 2 inches long when born, green sea turtles can grow to 5 feet in length. While weighing up to 700 lbs, making them the largest hardshell sea turtle globally. They have two large ‘paddle-like flippers. Interestingly their name does not derive from any particular green external coloration of the turtle. Its name comes from the greenish color of the turtles’ fat. It’s found only in a layer between their inner organs and their shell. When you go snorkeling in Akumal Bay, they’ll be the most common turtle you see.
15. With a lifespan of 50 years or so, Loggerheads weigh in at about 250 lbs and 3 feet in length. Their name comes from the ‘large log’ of ahead, and they have a reddish-brown hardshell and pale yellow underbelly. They feed on a diet of jellyfish, mollusks, and crustaceans. Unlike green turtles, Loggerheads feed on bottom-dwelling invertebrates, using their large, powerful jaws on its prey.
16. Hawksbill sea turtles are critically endangered and are much less common to see while snorkeling in Akumal Bay than Green and Loggerhead turtles. They are distinguished from Green and Loggerhead turtles by the sharp, narrow head reminiscent of a bird’s beak. They are also considered the most beautiful sea turtles due to their colorful shells. These shells can amazingly change color depending upon the water temperature. Adult hawksbill sea turtles are primarily found in tropical coral reefs. They rest in caves and ledges in and around these reefs throughout the day. They feed mainly on sea sponges, and one of the smaller sea turtles weighs up to 200 lbs and is 2-3 feet in length. They are less prevalent than green and loggerhead turtles, but they have started to mount a comeback in recent years.
17. As well as all the snorkeling, diving and other water activities you can do, there are lots of other more relaxing options at Akumal Beach too! Such as relaxing on the soft white sand or hanging out in the shallow sloped calm water, which is also great for swimming. But if you’re interested in something a little more decadent and relaxing, there’s also the Buddha Spa.
18. One of the best things about the weather at Akumal beach is the warm tropical climate all year round. It’s is great because it means that if you like it, hot Akumal weather is perfect all year round! Monthly temperatures in Akumal Bay vary only by a few degrees across the year. The temperature highs range from 27oC to 33oC (82F to 91 F) throughout the year.
19. Although Playa Akumal is in the northern hemisphere, it’s not too far from the equator. So, there’s not much variation in the sunrise and sunset times throughout the year. The earliest sunrise is in June each year after 6 AM. In contrast, the latest is in January at nearly 7:30 AM. The earliest sunset is in November at a little after 6 PM. The latest sunset is in July at a little after 7:30 PM. Both the sunrises and sunsets are spectacular all year-round.
20. As we are in the tropics, the weather at Akumal Bay does include some rain. Yet, the majority of precipitation comes between July and September. These months have 70% of the rainfall during the year. But, even in the wettest period, this rain falls on average only six days a month! As in many places in the tropics, rain often falls heavily. But only for a few minutes during the day.
21. One of the best things about the weather at Playa Akumal is how warm the ocean is. The ocean temperature is between 26 – 29oC (79 – 84 F). On average, it is 10F warmer than the sea on Mexico’s Pacific coast.
22. Akumal beach is made up of several different coves along the coastline. These include Half Moon Bay and Yal-Ku Lagoon to the north. South of these is Akumal Bay, Jade Bay, and Aventuras Akumal. But, the main area where most things happen is the central beach hub. Located within a few hundred yards of the beach are many restaurants, stores, local artisans selling their wares, and a couple of ATMs.,
23. Akumal Bay is between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum on the Mayan Riviera of Mexico. Driving 20-30 minutes south of Playa Del Carmen, or 15-20 minutes north of Tulum, along highway 307, you’ll arrive at Akumal Beach. On the ocean side is the beach town, and across the highway is Akumal Pueblo. Getting to Akumal Beach is pretty straightforward. Collectivos (the white vans that travel up and down highway 307) will drop you off on the highway at, or opposite, the entrance to Akumal Bay. It’s about a 5-10 minute walk from the road to the beach. If you’re driving south from Playa Del Carmen, take the retorno and go back north, turning right to head into the Bay.
24. There are several parking lots as you enter from the highway towards the beach. Each one costs about 20 pesos an hour to park. But if you plan to order food, drink while you’re there, or take a snorkeling tour, etc., you can get free parking from either Lol-Ha Restaurant or the Akumal Dive Center. As you approach Akumal beach, ignore all the people trying to get you to buy a tour or parking at the side of the road. Keep going until you are past the OXXO Store. Then make an immediate right turn. You’ll be at the start of an alley with a small rope that runs across the path. You’ll also find an attendant there. Inform the attendant where you are going (Lol-Ha or Akumal Dive Center), and he’ll let you through. Drive down the alleyway until you have to turn left and keep winding your way around. Watch for signs to both the Dive Center and Lol-Ha. Another attendant will likely point you in the right direction as you go.
25. The bonus of entering Akumal beach via Lol-Ha or the Akumal Dive Center is that they don’t charge you for access to the beach, as long as you use their services. There are two other entrances to the beach (which I’m not going to specify because I disagree with the charge), but they each charge you $5 a person. I prefer to buy a few beers at Lol-Ha and spend my money there.
Playa Akumal, or Akumal Beach, is one of the top places to visit in the Riviera Maya. It has a fabulous beach, calm water, and great activities and amenities. It's great for families and couple alike. Now you have the essential tips to make the most of your visit to this special place. Below are additional resources about Akumal Beach if you want more information.
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Exploring The Riviera Maya is Ocean Breeze Akumal's Blog. Here we explore the diversity of Mexico's best tourism destination to highlight the best beaches, cenotes, restaurants, attractions, Mayan ruins, etc., etc. We provide information to help you explore this spectacular part of the world and give you tips and tricks that only the locals know. Helping to give you the vacation experience of a lifetime.
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