Things to do in Akumal Mexico

Akumal Things to do

Akumal is one of the best places for snorkeling and swimming with turtles in the Riviera Maya. In our Akumal Travel Guide, you will find things to do, hotels, and transportation to this amazing destination.

Explore and Travel to Akumal – a hidden natural treasure, home of many turtle species.

FFG highly recommends you visit Akumal. Our Akumal Travel Guide for hotels, tours, and things to do in Akumal, a magical small town on the Mexican Caribbean coast, will give you a general idea about this amazing destination. Akumal will offer you the once-in-a-lifetime experience of swimming with the famous Akumal turtles or, if you prefer, dive and snorkel around the world´s second-largest reef.

Akumal Beach
Akumal Beach – photo by flickr/Robert.Pittman

This quaint and picturesque town is located just 20 minutes away from Playa del Carmen and 10 minutes from Tulum. The Half Moon Bay of Akumal gives you the chance to see an abundance of marine life, schools of fish, barracudas, rays, lobsters, and of course sea turtles in a free natural environment. This area is one of the best places for snorkeling in Riviera Maya Mexico.

Upon arrival in Akumal, you will be blown away by the color of the sea. A few steps further you will see how calm and clear the water is and its charming sense of peace and tranquility. Now it’s just a question of choosing your palm tree to leave your things under, grab your snorkel and mask, and head to the warm Caribbean Sea.

Akumal has its very own Turtle Protection Project in which they work very closely with the Tourism Board to raise awareness about the importance of protecting these amazing creatures and the eco-system.

Top 10 Activities in Akumal

Top activities in Akumal like swimming with turtles, snorkeling in Yal Ku Lagoon, discovering a cenote or simply relaxing in Akumal village. In Akumal, you will find many activities to carry out. Akumal is a small quaint town located just 30 minutes away from Playa del Carmen and 25 minutes from Tulum.

Turtles Akumal Bay Playa Yucatan Peninsula Mexico
Turtles Akumal Bay Playa Yucatan Peninsula Mexico by Mal B

Akumal is not just famous for marine turtles, but it also offers many more activities. You will be able to swim in the amazing Lagoon of Yal Ku, visit the Ecological Center that works towards conserving our environment, and watch the amazing sunrises that bless Akumal each morning.

Swimming with Turtles

“An amazing and life-changing experience”

This is the most famous activity in Akumal. In total, 3 species of turtles visit Akumal to lay their eggs, including two types of Loggerhead Turtles and the Green Turtle. You will be able to swim alongside these amazing animals as they glide elegantly in the water as well as see other sea life, including manta rays, octopi, and an abundance of fish.

  • Cost: There exist several places in Akumal that offer hiring snorkel equipment. Prices are roughly 75 Mexican pesos (approx 5 USD) per piece of equipment from 9am-4pm. Mayan Explore recommends this Snorkel with turtles tour in Akumal Bay.
Swim with turtles in Cancun
Swimming with Turtles in Akumal

The Akumal bay has good underwater visibility thanks to its protective reef, making it ideal for viewing the plentiful sea turtles living there. Experienced snorkelers should take care to maintain a respectful distance, but novice swimmers will have no difficulty spotting these majestic creatures gliding gracefully through the water. Their powerful front fins are especially impressive to behold.

When our time in the sea was up, we found refuge in the Lol-Ha restaurant where we could enjoy shade and a stunning view of the ocean as well as delicious local cuisine: chilaquiles and a cochinita pibil torta. There’s nothing quite like a refreshing drink or bite to eat after being in salt water all day.

Our visit to Akumal turned out to be the highlight of our entire trip to Mexico – one of those special experiences that you never forget. For anyone considering snorkeling with turtles at Akumal, it’s important to plan a visit as early in the morning as possible (no later than 9:30am) to make sure you get the most out of your experience. With that in mind, take a look at our instructions for accessing the beach below – happy snorkeling!

Yal Ku Lagoon

“A hidden gem just 5 minutes away from Akumal Half Moon Bay”

The Yal Ku Lagoon is a small inlet that has no waves, therefore swimming here is particularly easy. There exists a vast variety of fish, so don’t forget to bring your snorkel. However, if you don’t have one, you can rent it here. You will find a small shop selling cold drinks, snacks, and sunblock.

  • Price: 9 USD for adults;4.50 USD for children.
  • How to get there: Getting to Yal Ku Lagoon is very easy. Upon arrival in Akumal, go through the large archway and follow the road to your left. Continue for 5 minutes and then you will see street signs to Yal Ku Lagoon.

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination on the Riviera Maya, Yal Ku Lagoon is one of the few places still unspoiled by tourism. Boasting a variety of marine life and idyllic surroundings, this lagoon is a special place for visitors to explore and enjoy.

Snorkeling at Yal-Ku lagoon at Akumal
Snorkeling at Yal-Ku lagoon at Akumal ebatty

Comprised of both freshwater and saltwater, Yal Ku Lagoon has something for everyone. The shallow water makes it perfect for beginners wanting to take up snorkeling, while its unique environment attracts a wide array of creatures in all shapes and sizes. You can even bring your own picnic or drinks to relax and enjoy the day!

But how do you get there? Well, there is no sign on the federal highway, so unless you have done some research online beforehand, you may find it hard to find it. There are two entrances – the original Yal-Ku lagoon entrance and the Xcaret entrance – where you will have to pay a fee if entering through the latter. Alternatively, you can visit Yal Ku Lagoon by taking a tour. This is a great option if you’re short on time or are traveling solo and want to join other people on their trip.

When considering when to plan your visit to Yal Ku Lagoon, bear in mind that peak season is usually from November to April, so it is best to avoid these months if possible. If you plan to go during summertime, make sure to arrive early in order to find a parking spot.

For people who love nature and snorkeling, Yal Ku Lagoon is an absolute must-visit destination on the Riviera Maya. With beautiful scenery, plenty of marine life to discover, and various ways to get there, this special lagoon really does have something for everyone.

Aktun Chen Nature Park

“Pure adrenaline, action & adventure”

Aktun Chen is a natural Eco-park located just 5 minutes away from Akumal. You will be able to walk through 5 million-year-old caves and caverns as well as ride the exhilarating zip-line through the lush Mayan jungle and end up plunging into an underground cenote. You will also see a variety of monkeys, deer, and birds in the 6-acre natural zoo.

  • How to get there: Aktun Chen is roughly 5 minutes away from Akumal. Head south towards Tulum. As soon as you are on the main highway you will see street signs.
  • Price: Adults 1,232 Mexican pesos (approx 100 USD); Children 737 Mexican pesos (approx 50 USD).
  • What to do: The tour includes Cave Adventure; Cenote Adventure; Canopy Adventure, and Full Adventure.

Located near Akumal, Aktun Chen is a 400-acre tropical forest reserve. Here, visitors can explore the lush vegetation of the rainforest through 10 thrilling zip lines as well as two suspension bridges. Flying through the tree canopies provides an unforgettable experience and has the potential to offer sightings of birds, monkeys, and other creatures living amongst the branches.

Aktun Chen nature park, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Aktun Chen nature park, Quintana Roo, Mexico by martin_vmorris

For those more interested in exploring below ground, the park also offers an incredible cave tour. Led by passionate guides, this tour will take you 0.6 kilometers through the limestone cave, giving you the chance to marvel at stunning stalactites above you and observe the tranquility of an underground lake below.
After your adventures beneath the surface, it’s time to recharge at the restaurant situated on the reserve. Here, you can enjoy delicious traditional Mexican fare while surrounded by wildlife like white-tailed deer, parrots, and spider monkeys. It’s truly an unforgettable experience!

Finally, visitors can relax and cool off by swimming in the cenote located next to the restaurant. Crystal clear water awaits you as well as stalagmites and curious catfish swimming by. This magical atmosphere has earned the park a spot in National Geographic’s Top Ten Underground Walks list – number three no less.

Cenote Dos Ojos

“Swim where the Hollywood movie “The Cave” was filmed”

An activity in Akumal for people who love exciting adventures, such as snorkeling and diving in natural caves with crystal clear waters. This is one of the deepest cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, 118 meters/396 feet deep. Divers from all around the world come here to explore the Mayan underworld. We recommend anyone visiting this area to snorkel here. Mayan Explore offers an amazing Certified Divers Cavern and Cenote- 2 Tanks Dive.

  • How to get there: head towards Tulum on the Highway. You will then see street signs for Cenote Dos Ojos.
  • Cost: basic entrance 100 Mexican pesos (approx 8 USD) per person.
  • What to do: snorkeling; swimming; diving.

Cenote Dos Ojos is a unique underground cave system located on the Yucatán Peninsula. Despite its name, Cenote Dos Ojos is actually comprised of two distinct cenotes—the main cenote being 10 meters (33 feet) deep and the second cenote being 118 meters (396 feet) deep. This system is connected through an underwater passageway measuring 400 meters in length, lending to the name “Two Eyes Cenote”.

Dos Ojos Cenote
Dos Ojos Cenote by stravag

The crystal clear waters are a pleasant 24-25 Celsius (high 70s Fahrenheit), making it a great spot for swimming and snorkeling. The two cenotes feature stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations that are fragile, so visitors are asked to refrain from touching them. Additionally, Cenote Dos Ojos is home to various species of bats that inhabit an adjacent cave known as Bat Cave, which may only be explored with a guide. As such, this underground body of water makes for a fascinating tour destination for both adults and children alike.

Downtown Akumal

“A small quaint Caribbean town”

Akumal is a small picturesque town, and perfect for taking a stroll around it. There exist a variety of relaxing activities in Akumal such as: having coffee; having dinner in a small picturesque restaurant; drinking a beer in a bar as well and shopping around in a few small shops to buy souvenirs. Some of our favorite restaurants include Turtle Bay Bakery, Lol Ha Restaurant, and La Buena Vida.

Downtown Akumal
Akumal Puerto Adventuras by dchrisoh

The downtown area boasts a wide variety of restaurants, shops, markets, and hotels, along with several ATMs providing convenient access to cash for transactions.

For those hoping to discover a few hidden gems, Akumal has plenty to offer. Be sure to visit Galería Lamanai to peruse a selection of Mexican folk art and craft items. MexiArte provides another excellent option for travelers seeking souvenirs made by artisans throughout Mexico.

Akumal Ecological Center

“Educational, interesting and a must for any visitor”

The Akumal Ecological Center works on conserving the area of Akumal through research, training, and ecosystem management. These dedicated people organize many events to raise awareness about protecting our planet and its ecosystems.

  • Opening Times: 9am – 6pm.
  • Price: donation.
  • What to do: guided tour to swim with turtles, with in-depth information about the Caribbean waters and reef life.
Protecting Tortugas
Protecting Tortugas, Centro Ecologico Akumal by dchrisoh

Akumal is renowned for its pristine natural beauty. Its conservation is a core priority of the local community, and a major responsibility of the Akumal Ecological Centre (CEA). This non-profit organization partners with numerous other initiatives, such as the Xcacel-Xcacelito Sea Turtle Sanctuary, to ensure that the region’s immense biodiversity is protected for generations to come. CEA has developed a range of initiatives, including workshops, events, and programs, which concurrently work towards responsible environmental stewardship and the preservation of endangered species. Together, these initiatives create an optimistic outlook for the future of Akumal.

Half Moon Bay

“A small piece of paradise at Half Moon Bay Akumal”

Half Moon Bay is an idyllic beach just north of Akumal Bay, Here you can carry out some activities such as: swimming with turtles and relaxing under the swaying palm trees and stunning white sandy beaches. The beaches are some of the best in the world, attracting people from all around the world to enjoy this little piece of heaven.

  • How to get there: Upon arriving in Akumal, go through the large arch, follow the road to your left, and continue on this road for roughly 5 minutes and you will see a large half-moon-shaped beach.
Half Moon Bay, Akumal
Half Moon Bay, Akumal” by Viv Lynch

Approximately one mile from the renowned Akumal Playa beach lies Half-Moon Bay– an idyllic, residential area known for its scenic beauty and tranquil atmosphere. Blessed with the raw majesty of nature, this rocky bay is ideal for a snorkeling adventure as it offers a secluded atmosphere and fewer tourists compared to other Caribbean destinations. To enjoy all that Half-Moon Bay has to offer, head to La Buena Vida – widely considered as one of the best beach bars in the Caribbean. Here visitors can take advantage of the bar’s delicious menu or order a signature margarita while admiring the majestic sights and sounds of the Caribbean Sea.


“The world’s largest natural aquarium”

Xel-Ha is one of the top activities to do near Akumal and in Riviera Maya. This All-Inclusive day is the ideal day out for the whole family. Enjoy some of the action-packed adventures or simply kick back on one of the hammocks with a cold beer and relax. Activities include bike tours; snorkeling; cliff of courage; cenotes; Mo´s Flight; Mayan caves; Path of Wind; Black Lagoon, and Hammock Island. There is so much to do here that one day just isn’t enough!

  • Times: 8.30am – 7pm.
  • Price per person: 116 USD (All-Inclusive package with transportation); Children under 12 58 USD.
  • How to get there: head towards Tulum. Located just 20 minutes from Akumal.

Located near Tulum, this stunning park is home to beautiful landscapes of jungle, clear blue waters, and some of the most spectacular sunsets in the region.

Xel-Ha by Drew And Merissa

For those seeking adventure, the Scenic Lighthouse provides access to a variety of activities. This 131-foot-tall structure offers breathtaking views that make it the perfect spot for panoramic photos. Visitors can also explore the onsite river via float tubes or swimming and take on various challenge courses featuring zip lines, swings, parallel ropes, and more. More daring adventurers may wish to test their courage by climbing the five-meter Cliff of Courage before jumping into the awaiting waters.

Xel-Há is also an ideal destination for those looking to explore the marine life of the region’s cove. With snorkeling equipment provided upon entry, visitors can observe a diverse range of species and take part in guided tours through the mangrove-lined river.

No visit to Xel-Há would be complete without indulging in the all-inclusive food and beverage service. Devour classic Mexican cuisine, along with international dishes and signature tropical drinks, at one of the park’s many buffet restaurants. Enjoy as much as you like as often as you like throughout your stay!

Scuba Diving

Diving in Akumal is recognized as being one of the top diving sites in the world. Most of the diving sites are just a 10-minute ride from Akumal. To see a full list of diving tours in Akumal and Riviera Maya, please click here. Some of our favorites include:

  • Motorcycle Reef: named after the real motorbike that lies on the seabed. This shallow dive site is 50 feet under the sea and you will see many schools of fish and a large variety of coral.
  • Gonzalo´s Reef: located just 4 minutes away from Akumal, very famous for deep swimming turtles and larger fish.
  • Xaak Reef: This is a deep site, at around 90 feet. You will be able to see turtles, nurse sharks, and rays. This is a 2 tank dive trip. The perfect choice for diving fanatics.
Akumal Scuba Diving
Akumal Scuba Diving by Serge Melki

Welcome to Akumal, home of the second-largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. Whether you’re an experienced diver or just getting started, you’ll find plenty of awe-inspiring sights beneath the sea’s surface here. From depths of 10-12 meters (35-45 feet), dive into a world of coral canyons and formations, where turtles, morays, lionfish, and more await your discovery. At shallower depths from 10-15 meters (30-50 feet), marvel at the starfish, trumpet fish, lobster, and barracuda. Move deeper down to 20-30 meters (65-100 feet) and be on the lookout for sleeping Nurse Sharks and Green Morays. No matter how deep you venture, you’ll be surrounded by hard corals and multicolored reef fish, all sheltered by the gentle currents of the area. Dive in and explore a paradise beneath the waves at Akumal!

Hidden Worlds

“Snorkel in one of the most beautiful cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula”

Hidden Worlds is the ultimate activity for adrenaline junkies. Ride the world’s first rollercoaster zip-line called “Avatar”, and snorkel in caves and go down zip-lines. If you are looking to explore cenotes, then Hidden Worlds is the place to go! With its multi-optional activities, Hidden Worlds will take your breath away.

  • Times: Tours last roughly 4 hours.
  • Cost per person: Prices range from 35 USD to 130 USD depending on the package.
  • How to get there: head towards Tulum. Located just 20 minutes away from Akumal.
Snorkeling at Yal-Ku lagoon at Akumal
Snorkeling at Yal-Ku lagoon at Akumal by ebatty

Visitors to the Yucatan region can now explore the incredible depths of its subterranean cenotes, on a guided tour with Hidden Worlds Cenote Park. Famed for some of the world’s best cenote diving and snorkeling experiences, the park offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore these magnificent underwater cave systems. With three scheduled dive departures and six scheduled snorkel tours running daily, visitors are guaranteed unforgettable moments in this extraordinary environment.

The highlight of this aquatic playground is Dreamgate Cenote – a newly discovered dive destination that offers breathtakingly beautiful views, rich wildlife, and a truly unique experience. Furthermore, the park is home to other famous dives including Bat Cave, Dos Ojos, and Orquideas Cenote – all offering sensational snorkeling and diving trips suitable for all levels. So, why wait? Start planning your visit today and uncover the awe-inspiring secrets of the Yucatan’s cenotes.

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