If you’ve been on the hunt for a beach in Mexico that offers powder white sand, 7 different shades of blue seas and an opportunity to swim with turtles then look no further than Akumal Beach.
Located halfway between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Akumal is the perfect place to spend a couple of days relaxing and catching up on your lengthy reading list.
What draws most people to Akumal Beach is the opportunity to swim with sea turtles and watch them in the wild. The locals of Akumal have created a conservation park for the habitat of the turtles who feed on the sea grass that grows in the tropical Caribbean waters offshore.
Akumal Beach is a fantastic day out and often combined with nearby Tulum (especially the Tulum ruins). Who can say no to a day at a perfect Caribbean beach?
The large stretch of Akumal beach is accessible by taking part in a guided snorkeling and turtle tour or by paying the admission fee of 120 pesos.
Once on Akumal Beach you’ll find soft powder white sands, palm trees and endless places to lay your towel down and spend a day working on your tan.
The admission fee to access Akumal Beach is to help with the conservation of the turtles who have made the beach their home for hundreds of years. The beach entrance fee for Akumal Beach includes lockers, bathrooms, and shower facilities.
Continue walking past the groups of tours that linger at the entrance and continue to walk down the beach for your own stretch of private beach to call your own. The further you walk down Akumal Beach the quieter it gets.
We spent a couple of days on Akumal Beach and it never gets overwhelmingly busy like other stretches of the Mayan Riveria. My advice is to grab some snacks from the 7/11 & Oxxo at the entrance to the beach and spend the day sunbathing, swimming, and relaxing on one of the loveliest stretches of sand in the Riveria Maya.
Note: I would recommend packing some sea shoes for Akumal Beach as there is quite a bit of coral and stones that cut up your feet upon entry to the water. You can purchase them in the nearby stores if you forget to bring a pair.
If you are planning on swimming and snorkeling with the turtles of Akumal you HAVE to take a guided tour. No exceptions. If you swim out on your own to the turtle-feeding ground, you will be escorted pretty quickly out of the water. Whether this is for conservation reasons or monetary gain, I’ll let you make that decision.
For more tour options keep reading below!
Conservation at Akumal Beach?
If I’m being completely honest, the ‘fee’ for accessing Akumal does not feel like it goes any way towards the conservation of the wildlife of Akumal but instead to the touts who wait outside the entrance to Akumal beach.
We spent 8 days at Akumal Beach observing the touts who offered tours to those walking past the entrance to the village of Akumal and the beach. There is not getting around paying the entrance fee unless you visit the Lol Ha beach bar & restaurant (see below for more information), so it’s just something that is pretty unavoidable.
You can avoid paying the fee by walking through the reception of Hotel Akumal Caribe and via the Lol Ha restaurant. Do be warned, you may be approached as you lay out on the beach by ‘Akumal Beach Patrol’ who check if you are wearing the wristband which is needed to gain entrance to Akumal Beach.
Half Moon Bay
Just around the headland of Akumal Beach as you walk past the Lol Ha restaurant and bar, you’ll find yourself in a residential area that has a lot of fantastic accommodation options and the fantastic beach of Half Moon Bay Beach.
The beach in Half Moon Bay is free to access, whilst it may not be as large as Akumal Beach, there is no charge for you to lay on the beach.
Access to the beach is via La Buena Vida restaurant and bar. From there you can walk the entire coastline and admire the pretty condos on the water’s edge. If you’re looking for a quiet place to base your vacation on the Riveria Maya, the condos in Akumal are a fantastic choice.
Click here for an Akumal guide on Half Moon Bay & the best restaurants.
Snorkeling with Turtles Tours
Up until quite recently, tourists were allowed to swim with the turtles in Akumal Beach on their own. Until the turtles started showing signs of distress – the locals of Akumal witnessed hundreds of people climbing upon turtles, swimming on top of them and making the experience miserable not only for the turtles but other tourists.
Now in 2024, the only way to see the turtles of Akumal in their natural habitat is to take a guided swimming tour out to them. You’ll find lots of options when you arrive at Akumal and a variety of prices. Its best to book something in advance – some tours include options to swim in cenotes, or visit the ruins of Tulum etc.
1. Hidden Cenote Swim, Snorkeling with Sea Turtles & Beachside Lunch
Visit a hidden cenote in Tulum, before swimming with the turtles in Akumal. Finish your day at a beach club and soak up the sunshine.
- Collection from hotel/accommodation
- Visit a cenote in Tulum
- Swim with sea turtles in Akumal
- Rest at Punta Venado Beach Club
2. Swim with Sea Turtles
Perfect if you have your own set of wheels – this tour includes a guided tour of the coral reefs of Akumal and the turtles.
- Guided sea turtle tour
- Snorkeling equipment included in the price
- Entrance to Akumal Beach included in the price
What to bring to Akumal Beach
If you plan on swimming with the sea turtles then I highly recommend bringing a water-proof case for your phone.
- The tour company will provide you with a snorkel and fins, but if you fancy buying your own set, I would recommend a full-face snorkel mask such as this one.
- A microfiber towel is also a great purchase for travels, it drys super quick and is lightweight to pack away. It takes up barely any space in your suitcase.
- Take underwater footage of the turtles of Akumal with your own GoPro that will capture incredible and memorable footage. The GoPro can also be mounted on the full-face snorkel mask.
- Reef-safe sunscreen like the Biotherm is a must when visiting Mexico (or really anywhere with marine life). You will have to shower before you enter the water beforehand, but Biotherm is my absolute favorite sunscreen in the entire world. It also smells divine.
- I am absolutely obsessed with Supergoop Glow Screen! As I’ve gotten older (& hopefully wiser) I have taken care of sun on my face. Supergoop Glow Screen protects my face throughout the day and gives such a beautiful sheen that makes it look like you’ve been kissed by the sun!
Where to eat in Akumal Beach
Immediately before you enter Akumal Beach, you’ll find 3 restaurants that are worth a visit.
Turtle Bay Bakery & Cafe – a great place to grab a muffin, cookie or baked goods from. Turtle Bay Bakery & Cafe does a solid breakfast too, and the service is great.
Taverna Akumal – if you’re tired of Mexican food, head to Taverna Akumal for a post-beach meal. Open from 4 pm and serves decent pizzas & Italian food.
La Cueva del Pescador – fresh and locally caught fish restaurant that serves a mean ceviche.
Once you are on Akumal Beach there is only Lol Ha Restaurant that is worth visiting for their Happy Hour. The cocktails are half-priced during Happy Hour and the best we had on our vacation around the Yucatan Peninsula. Sit at the bar for a fun experience. Happy Hour at Lol Ha is from 5.30 pm to 6.30 pm.
Getting to Akumal
By Car: I highly recommend picking up a rental car from RentalCars to make your trip far more enjoyable. From Playa del Carmen head on the highway 307 in the direction of Tulum, and if coming from Tulum head in the direction of Playa del Carmen.
Parking in Akumal
There are 2 places to park your car in Akumal.
Directly in front of the entrance to Akumal Beach which charges 40 pesos per hour. Or 5 seconds away there is a second larger car park that is marked as ‘Crazy Turtle’ on Google Maps and this charges 100 pesos for the entire day.
Colectivo: For one of the cheapest ways to get around the Riveria Maya hop on a Colectivo. The white vans travel from town to town along the highway, you can wave them down and if they’ve got space they will pull over and let you in. Tell the driver your destination and if that’s on the route, he’ll let you out near your stop.
The Colectivo from Tulum to Akumal is 40 pesos and takes just under 30 minutes. Follow the journey on Google/Apple Maps and when you’re 1 mile from Akumal, just say loudly for the driver to hear ‘Akumal’ and he will stop at the designated spot.
Akumal Beach is located on the same side as the Tulum – Playa del Carmen direction, following the road onto the beach and walk past the touts selling sea turtle snorkeling tours. You’ll see a 7/11 & Oxxo and know that you’re heading in the right direction.
By Taxi: Before you step foot into a taxi in the Riveria Maya make sure you have negotiated the price of the journey to avoid a nasty surprise. You can expect to pay anywhere from 650 pesos to 1000 pesos from Playa del Carmen. There is no Uber in this area.
Nestled in the heart of the Riviera Maya, Akumal, Mexico, is a gem that’s often overlooked. I’ve found it to be a paradise for those seeking a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle. With its pristine beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and friendly sea turtles, it’s a destination that’s hard to beat.
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or planning your first trip, Akumal, Mexico, offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural charm. Akumal Beach is a place that truly captures the essence of the Mexican Caribbean.
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