Is Scuba Diving In Akumal Worth It? Epic Or Not? Find Out Here

Is scuba diving in Akumal worth it? Is it the fabulous place to dive you've heard about, or is it an over-rated, over-priced, unsafe, and crowded tourist haven with beaches covered in Sargassum year-round? Find out below if diving in Akumal is the real deal.

Scuba Diving In Akumal – Epic or Not?

So, let's begin with the potential negatives.

Over-Rated?

The best and most authentic way to decide if scuba diving in Akumal is over-rated is to ask divers. There are two dive shops at Akumal Bay. On TripAdvisor, one is rated 5/5, and the other is rated 4.5/5. Pretty darn stellar. And that's from nearly 2,000 reviewers! Some of the most popular mentions in these reviews are

  • The fish
  • Sea turtles
  • Great instructor
  • Great diving experience
  • Great time
  • Best experience ever
  • WOW!!
  • Great diving
  • Great people, great experience
  • Underwater dream
  • Akumal cenote diving
  • Awesome diving


Over-rated? No

Over-Priced?

A snorkeling tour of Akumal Bay costs $40 USD per person. And this includes the use of the dive center facilities, your equipment, a boat ride out into the bay, and a guided tour. Seems pretty reasonable, considering that Akumal snorkeling is the best place to swim with sea turtles in Mexico.

A 4-5 day PADI Open Water Dive certification program costs $450 USD. This includes all the necessary equipment, books, instruction from Master Divers, 5 theory sessions, 5 sessions on confined water skills, 4 open water dives, tanks for your scuba diving in Akumal, and everything you need for your certification. And if you get a diving vacation package, you receive discounts and free transportation from your accommodation. To find out more, contact us.

For a single dive, scuba diving in Akumal costs 960 pesos (~$55 USD). But if you buy packages of dives, you can get them for as low as 720 pesos (~ $40 USD) each. Pretty reasonable, some would say relatively inexpensive.

Over-priced? No.

An Over Crowded Tourist Haven?

Tulum receives over 2,000,000 (2M) visitors yearly, or about 6,000 daily. And with all the recent construction in Tulum and the opening of the Tulum International Airport, that number is about to increase significantly. Cancun, on the other hand, receives nearly 20,000 visitors daily!

Conservation regulations restrict the number of visitors daily to Akumal Bay to 400. And while the beach near the entrance receives most of the visitors, the beach stretches a long way south. You don't have to go far if you want a quiet spot on the beach.

Over-crowded tourist haven? No

diving with sharks in Akumal

Year-Round Smelly Sargassum Covered Beach?

Sargassum seaweed in the Riviera Maya consists of brown algae and small 'air bladders' that keep the seaweed afloat. Growing to several meters, it is present throughout tropical areas of the world. It is the only seaweed that doesn't begin life attached to the ocean floor. In recent years, Sargassum accumulations have been hitting beaches in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and other parts of the world. It typically begins to accumulate and arrive beginning gradually in April. The worst months for Sargassum are usually June and July, and then it starts to decline. In most years, there is very little Sargassum by October; by November, there's usually none left.

However, not all beaches receive the same amount of Sargassum seaweed. Some receive much more significant amounts, while others receive much less. Akumal Bay is one of the beaches that receives less Sargassum than other beaches along the coast. For instance, the coastline south of Playa Del Carmen and past Akumal can sometimes be reported to have high levels of seaweed. Yet, beaches such as Akumal Bay often have much less seaweed. Also, even in extreme times, Akumal Bay has sections with little seaweed. This is in part because of the curvature of the bay and the protection offered by the barrier reef.

In addition, in recent years, local authorities have installed seaweed barriers that redirect the seaweed elsewhere. And local businesses also organize beach clean-up activities and remove any seaweed daily.

Year-Round Smelly Sargassum Covered Beach? You might experience some Sargassum seaweed if you visit between the end of April and September. However, with the natural contours of the bay, the protection offered by the barrier reef, the measures taken to prevent its arrival, and the daily clean-up – it's not likely to impact your visit very much. And if you're scuba diving in Akumal, there's lots of ocean and excellent dive sites where you won't experience any Sargassum. Also, you can go Akumal cenote diving (see below), where there isn't any Sargassum at any time of the year.

Is Diving In Akumal Epic?

So, with the potential negatives of scuba diving in Akumal dismissed, what makes diving in Akumal so good? And just how good is it? Is it epic? Let's start first with a bit of history and why Akumal Bay exists today.

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History of Akumal Bay

Set on the former site of a coconut plantation, Akumal is a quaint Mexican beachfront town. It was first founded in 1958 by Pablo Bush Romero. Because of the exotic coral reef surrounding the bay, it was set up as a community for scuba divers, and it soon became known as a local mecca for diving in Akumal.

"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. Adding to the allure is that it's home to three species of sea turtles: Green, Loggerhead & Hawksbill. While the double-barrier coral reef makes it a fantastic place for turtles, it also gives rise to an impressive collection of tropical fish and other marine life. Making it an excellent environment for scuba diving in Akumal.

Scuba Diving In Akumal

One of the reasons that the Riviera Maya is such an excellent place for scuba diving is the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the variety of fish species, excellent facilities, experienced divemasters, and Akumal cenote diving.

Meso-American Barrier Reef

The second-largest coral reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef stretches for 700 miles. Including past Akumal Bay. This location has a double barrier reef, making the bay a calm and ideal place. The reef supports dazzling arrays of coral and more than 65 species of stony coral, 350 species of mollusk, and more than 500 species of fish.

Not far from shore, a deep reef starts at 60 to 70 feet. It extends in finger-like ridges and drops to between 100 and 140 feet in beautiful canyons. A second reef ranges from 50 to 70 feet in depth. This is an ideal option for a second dive of the day. An even shallower part of the reef runs 25 to 45 feet deep with large Elkhorn formations. While the deeper dives may be for more advanced divers, intermediate and novice divers also have many choices. There's a great variety of sites when diving in Akumal.

Fish Species

When scuba diving in Akumal, many fish species exist (plus turtles, sharks, and rays). For example, angelfish, barracuda, boxfish, butterflyfish, damselfish, grouper, grunt, jack, lionfish, lobster, eels, parrotfish, pufferfish, scorpionfish, snapper, and triggerfish are all present. Download our handy guide to which species of fish, shark, ray, and marine mammals you'll most likely observe throughout the year while diving in Akumal.

Diving in Mexico is well-established and has a strong network of qualified and experienced divers. People who can guide or assist you in the planning and execution of dives. For example, the Akumal Dive Center, established in 1975, is the oldest in the Akumal area. Since 1975 they have overseen and guided over 1,000,000 dives!

Akumal Dive Center

Diving in Mexico is well-established and has a strong network of qualified and experienced divers. People who can guide or assist you in the planning and executing dives. For example, the Akumal Dive Center, established in 1975, is the oldest in the Akumal area. Since 1975, they have overseen and guided over 1,000,000 dives!

The Akumal Dive Center is the perfect location in the heart of Akumal Beach. Walking out of the dive center, you immediately feel the powder-white sand under your toes. A spectacular beach setting with swaying palm trees and the azure waters of the Caribbean Ocean. The bay provides the perfect location for confined water practice, and a short boat ride opens up your choice of over 35 dive sites. In addition, this is a fabulous place for those new to diving to take a discovery dive (no previous experience necessary), take your open water dive certification, or enhance your skills by taking a specialty course.

Ocean Breeze Akumal provides high-quality, affordable vacation apartments for your stay, and we work with the Akumal Dive Center to provide you with a safe diving experience of a lifetime. This includes transportation to the Akumal Dive Center and your dive site from the front door of your vacation apartment.

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Cenote Diving In Akumal

Another unique aspect of diving in this region is the cavern and cave diving you can also do. Centrally located in the Riviera Maya, Akumal provides access to many cavern and cave diving opportunities. Our experienced friends at the Akumal Dive Center offer various cenote diving and certification options. Many locations are within only a few minutes drive, making Akumal cenote diving a real treat. And for ocean divers, it is an excellent option if the usually good weather brews up a storm. There's always a cenote to dive and explore.

"Absolutely one of the best places I have stayed while on a Diving trip in 10 years! The accommodations are "top notch" and very modern. The location is perfect for the area and the pool and jacuzzi at the condominium are beautiful and relaxing. Also, having a Washer/Dryer in the unit is exceptionally convenient. Also, you will have all the information you need for a smooth check-in, as almost all questions are answered before you even arrive. And, if you have any questions, the are immediately answered by either the owner or the very helpful staff. I will ABSOLUTELY be staying here again!" Tony, former US Navy Diver who stayed with us while diving in Akumal.
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If You Needed More Reasons For Diving In Akumal

Ok, before we get into the details on the fantastic ocean diving sites and Akumal cenote diving sites, below are four more reasons (if you need them) why diving in Akumal is epic.

  • Warm waters - The tropical temperatures allow you to continue enjoying the warm weather, even underwater, for longer dives.
  • Visibility – The clear crystal waters of the Caribbean Sea offer divers a better visual experience with plenty of sunlight for excellent visibility.
  • Less gear – Diving is much more fun when not wearing heavy dry suits and carrying additional equipment during immersion.
  • Low stress – Let's be clear: scuba diving is a technical sport with a higher risk level than most activities. That said, diving in the calm waters of the Meso-American Reef is one of the less stressful diving adventures you'll find beside your local swimming pool.

Ocean Diving Sites in Akumal

The Akumal Dive Center has over 35 dive sites in and along the coast close to Akumal Bay alone. A map of these dive sites is located opposite.

Described below are eleven of the most popular dives.

Las Redes (The Nets)

This is the main reef for diving in Akumal. It is directly in front of Akumal Bay, with three different ranges of coral reef separated by transversal sand channels. The first coral reef starts at 30ft (10 m). This has a high diversity of marine species with an abundance of smaller fishes grouped in banks or large schools. The visibility is 35 ft (11 m). There is a large number of stony coral species, including Elkhorn (Acropora palmata), Deer Horn (Acropora cervicornix), and Lettuce (lobophytum).

The next range of coral reefs is at 50 ft (15 m).  Here, there are many Green turtles.  On some dives, there have been 20 green turtles located here.  Also, it is expected to find medium size fish species, including barracudas, groupers, and cuberas.  The visibility is 65 ft (20 m). This is the deepest range of stony coral at this dive site at 130ft (40m).  Larger species can be seen, like mature turtles, large sponges, and adult nurse sharks.  But the most attractive sites are the large formations of stony corals and the deep blue colors.

The average water temperature is 28 degrees Celsius (82.5F), and the length of this dive is 1.5 km.

La Herradura (Horseshoe)

La Herradura is beside the Las Redes dive site.  It maintains a similar structure with a sand bottom and stony coral formations at 60-90 ft (17-30m).  As this is exposed from the intense current from the south, this is a fascinating place.  It is very common to see stingrays (myliobatiformes) and lobsters (panulirus argus).  This site is named for the shape of the stony coral, which formed into the shape of a horseshoe from the exposure to the strong currents from the south.

It is possible to pass from the deeper areas to a shallow area by following the channel of sand.  With a high species diversity, it is the perfect place to practice multilevel dives and another excellent reason for diving in Akumal.

La Moto (Motorcycle Reef)

Located at the northern tip of Akumal between Akumal Bay and Half Moon Bay.  This dive consists of two different areas.  One is the shallow part, 30-45ft (10-12 m), where we have impressive formations of stony coral.  These are mostly flat formations until we reach the shore of this reef at 50 ft (15 m).  Here, it is possible to find 3m coral formations over the sand bottom.

Also, in this sand area, there are little islands of coral where Mexican lobsters are expected to be found hiding under ledges.  This area has diverse species of fish as well as hawksbill and green turtles.  Between the change in depth from 45ft to 60ft over sand is a motorcycle, from which the dive is named.

Dicks Reef

This site was named after Old Dick. At 40′ to 50′, this is the most topographically diverse dive site in Akumal, with coral structures that reach 20′ from the bottom to interspersed islands of coral in the sand. For advanced divers, ask your divemaster to take you through the channels that cut under and through the reef. These short tunnels can sometimes bring encounters with sleeping nurse sharks and hunting barracuda.

Morgan Reef

At Morgan Reef, the depth of the stony coral is around 30-45 ft (10-13 m).  The stony coral here is more diverse than at Las Redes.  This thriving coral reef has some of the most important coral species of the Mesoamerican reef.  As well as the colorful coral plentiful fish, and turtles make this a striking dive.

There are a large number of nurse sharks here, too.  They prefer to sleep during the day.  Hanging out between the stony coral outcroppings.  Also, there is a karstic formation at about 50 ft (15 m) where green turtles congregate together.  It is pretty standard to see 5 or more turtles together here.

Yal Ku

Situated directly in front of Yal-ku Lagoon. While popular for snorkeling, this is also excellent for diving in Akumal. It is a shallow dive site (20′-50′) and the most famous feeding site due to its constant flow of nutrients in and out of the lagoon. Under the extensive and climbing Elkhorn coral structures, there are various tunnels to swim through. Don't be surprised to see more lobster here than you can count.

Tzimin-Ha

This 80′-90′ site has colorful reef fingers home to various fish of all shapes & sizes. Occasionally, a large jawfish or grouper will check you out while you're admiring the profuse sponges that cover this reef. Don't forget to download our marine sightings guide to discover the best months to see grouper and other species while diving in Akumal.

Trigger Fish

Trigger Fish is a unique site that is a local residents' favorite deep dive (60-100 ft. ). Widely separated coral patches make homes for many tropical fish not found at most other sites. The white sandy background brilliantly brings out the colors of the coral patches.

Gonzalos Reef

Only a 4-minute boat ride directly in front of Akumal Bay, this site (60-80 ft. ) is decorated by large, vivid reef fingers. You will see Hawksbill, Green, and Loggerhead turtles here feeding, playing, and checking out the visiting divers.

Xaak

This 60-90 ft. dive site, located about 15 minutes north of the bay, is an exceptional dive. Reef fingers reach up to 30 feet from the sea floor. Turtles, nurse sharks, rays, and a bright spectrum of fish are common sightings here. As well you can plan a surface interval at Yalkuito's calm lagoon.

"Everything was as good or better than we thought it would be. The condo is well equipped 2 bedrooms with comfortable king sized beds, and well equipped kitchen. There is a balcony overlooking the road and jungle, great spot for morning coffee, or an evening cocktail. Nice pool and patio area out back, and the rooftop terrace with sun loungers and 2 hottubs was a great spot to get some morning sun with a great view." Dave
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Half Moon Bay (Media Luna)

Media Luna comprises karstic atolls distributed over the sand at a depth of 40 ft (12 m). These tall atolls, predominantly of karstic stony coral, are seen up to 25 ft (8 m). Here also is the most abundant area with Elkhorn (Acropora) coral colonies. It is possible to dive between the stretches of coral channels. Notable highlights here are the hawksbill turtles and spotted eagle rays. Plentiful parrotfish, chopas, butterflyfish, puffers, damsels, and barracudas make this a very colorful dive(download our marine sightings guide for the best time of year for each species). These colorful fish are contrasted against a backdrop of the clear, light blue ocean.

Akumal Cenote Diving

Cenote scuba diving in Akumal is also a popular and thrilling experience for diving enthusiasts. Akumal is located in, a region known for its stunning cenotes, which are natural sinkholes filled with crystal-clear freshwater. Akumal cenote diving allows you to explore these unique underwater formations, filled with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. There are many cenotes that are worth exploring, including at the twelve cenotes below.

Dos Ojos Cenote

Dos Ojos is one of the most famous cenotes in the area and is known for its two connected sinkholes, resembling two eyes. It offers various dive routes with stunning rock formations and incredible visibility. This is the most popular Akumal cenote diving location.

Cenote Aktun Ha (Car Wash)

Car Wash is a shallow cenote, making it suitable for snorkelers and novice divers. It gets its name because local taxi drivers used to wash their cars here, but now it's a popular dive site with a wide variety of aquatic life.

Angelita

Angelita, "little angel," is an atypical, once-in-a-lifetime experience for Akumal cenote diving. This picturesque circular-shaped cenote goes straight down to 60m. Descending through clear fresh water, you will sink into a mystical hydrogen sulfate layer at 30m that looks like a massive cloud with trunks and branches reaching through it. Underneath the cloud, the salt water begins. It is dark here, giving the diver the feeling of being in a forest at night.

Cenote Tajma-Ha

Tajma-Ha is another cenote offering excellent diving experiences with its intricate cave formations and large underwater chambers. It's suitable for divers of various skill levels in Akumal cenote diving. Its name was inspired by the famous mausoleum in India.

Eden

A large and beautiful Cenote, Eden is like a swimming pool in the middle of the jungle. Big rocks covered by mosses and plants on the bottom of the cenote are home to various fish, freshwater eels, and abundant aquatic plant life. It's often used for Diving courses on days the ocean is too rough to dive. For inexperienced Cavern Divers, this Cenote is ideal. A breathtaking halocline stretches through the cenote. For Cave Divers, there are many different passages to explore, often connected to nearby Cenotes.

Dreamgate

Akumal cenote diving doesn't get much better than this. Cenote Dreamgate is one of the most famous sinkholes in Mexico. Because of its stunningly decorative stalagmites and stalactites, Dreamgate was featured in the BBC documentary "Planet Earth."

El Pit Cenote

The Pit is a deep cenote with a maximum depth of around 40 meters (130 feet). It's famous for its eerie halocline, where freshwater meets saltwater, creating a mesmerizing visual effect. A fantastic place for diving in Akumal (see below right).

Cenote Manati (also known as Casa Cenote)

Diving in Cenote Manati gives the diver a unique and different diving experience in this area. The cenote got its name from the manatees, which used to frequently swim in its waters. But most people today know the cenote as Casa Cenote for the restaurant right before its entrance.

Cenote Manati is only a few steps away from the ocean in the middle of a mangrove field, giving the diver the feeling of diving underneath the jungle. It's where you can combine scuba diving in Akumal with Akumal cenote diving. Its extensive open areas and overhead passages, such as mangrove tunnels and rocky overhangs, make this a perfect diving site for novice and experienced divers alike.

With a halocline (mixture of warm seawater and cool fresh water creating visual distortion) and nice light effects, divers can enjoy moving through passages and cracks of limestone.

species to see during the year when diving in akumal
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Cenote Nicte-Ha

This cenote is known for its beautiful sunlight filtering through the water, creating mesmerizing underwater landscapes. It's great for both novice and experienced divers.

Cenote Calavera

Also known as the "Temple of Doom," it features three different holes or entrances, allowing divers to explore its unique formations and underwater tunnels.

Taak Bi Ha

TAAK BI HA, which means "Hidden Road of Water" in Mayan, is one of the newest cenotes open for cavern diving, located a few hundred meters from the Dos Ojos cenote. A small entrance with a steep staircase leads to an amazing dry cave lit for visitors. Near the entrance, we find a hole with pulleys where heavy equipment can be lowered and raised with a rope.

This cenote has an abundance of fragile stalactites, stalagmites, many spectacular columns, and tiny passages. Excellent diving skills, perfect buoyancy control, and previous cenote experience are mandatory due to its shallow water and very fragile formation.

TAAK BI HA is also a perfect entrance for cave diving with access to the Sac Actun system with 376 km of lines explored.


Tak Be Lum

Recently opened to the public, Tak Be Lum is hidden in the jungle and is an authentic introduction to cave diving. Its entrance is spectacular. Tak Be Lum is known for its formations, which can only be admired here, of particular form. It seems that the cave walls are made of plastic, and large fires have raged in some places. Nobody knows where these bubble-like formations come from. Due to its proximity to the surface and the amount of organic matter, it provides enough food for the curious blind fish, which can be seen here on almost every dive. Another Akumal cenote diving gem.

Is Scuba Diving In Akumal Worth It?

So, is scuba diving in Akumal worth it? With hundreds of species of fish, sharks, turtles, and other marine life, the 2nd largest coral reef in the world, and the incredible options for Akumal cenote diving, diving in Akumal is epic. Added to that is the natural beauty of the ocean, excellent visibility, fabulous sandy beaches, and warm water. If you're a diver, why wouldn't you come?

Ocean diving guide for Akumal
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Additional Info On Scuba Diving In Akumal

For those of you hooked and ready to experience ocean diving in Akumal and/or Akumal cenote diving, below is more info on your trip.

How To Get To Akumal Bay

Akumal is between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum on the Mayan Riviera of Mexico. Driving 30 minutes south of Playa Del Carmen or 20 minutes north of Tulum along Highway 307, you'll arrive in Akumal. 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 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 return north, turning right to head into the bay. As you enter from the highway towards the beach, there are several parking lots. Each one costs about 20 pesos an hour to park.

When Is The Best Diving In Akumal?

There is no bad time for scuba diving in Akumal. In fact, the water temperatures remain constant year-round and cool only slightly during the winter months.

December to April is considered the best time to visit Mexico and, therefore, the most popular time to dive in the Caribbean. Because the winter months constitute high season, you should book as early as possible to secure the best rate. On average, Akumal's water temperatures vary between 78 and 82ºF (25 and 28ºC).

The best time for Akumal cenote diving is between May and September. These months bring the best light to the caves, resulting in better photographs. From May to September, green and loggerhead turtles arrive to lay their eggs on the area's beaches.

"Cleanliness 10/10; Staff 10/10; Location 10/10; Facilities 10/10; Comfort 10/10; Value for money 10/10. El lugar es muy comodo y limpio. La anfitriona siempre dispuesta auxiliarnos y hacer la estancia muy agradable" (The place is very comfortable and clean. The host always willing to help us and make the stay very pleasant), Dalia
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More Information on Scuba Diving in Akumal

As well as the dive sites described above there are plenty of other diving opportunities. Including diving with Bull sharks, night dives, snorkeling with Whale sharks and much more.

Contact us for more information on scuba diving in Akumal. Or to book a dive along with your accommodation. We will happily provide a no-obligation quote.