The Must-Visit Akumal Beaches (& Where to Stay)
Akumal is a gem of Mexico’s Riviera Maya. It’s less well-known than neighboring Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, but what it lacks in notoriety, it more than makes up for with natural beauty. There are endless reasons to visit this paradise on Earth, but Akumal’s sugary white beaches are at the top of the list for most visitors.
In this post, we’re getting to know the must-visit Akumal beaches and where to stay.
Getting to Know Akumal
Akumal is locally known as Place of the Turtles and is one of the Yucatan Peninsula’s most beautiful stretches of beach on the Caribbean coast. Located 62 miles south of Cancun and nestled between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Akumal is ideally positioned for enjoying all that the region has to offer.
The town of Akumal is small and sleepy, with a lot less going on than in the bigger cities on the Riviera Maya. The benefit of this is that visitors have the opportunity to see how real Mexican life is away from the tourist infrastructure of the most popular Yucatan destinations. That being said, Akumal isn’t short on world-class accommodation and delicious local and international food options. With Akumal, you really do get the best of both worlds.
The beaches of Akumal primarily encompass Las Bahuas de Akumal, or The Bays of Akumal. There are five main bays starting with North Akumal Beach and Yal-Ku Lagoon to the north and ending with Aventuras Akumal in the south. Each beach has its own unique selling point so you’re sure to find a vibe that’s exactly right for you and your travel companions.
Akumal is perhaps best known for being where hundreds of turtles arrive annually to lay their eggs, making it one of the best places in the world to see baby turtles. We’ll talk more about this later in the article.
Important Things to Know When Visiting Akumal
These handy tips will ensure that you have the best possible time during your stay in Akumal:
- Don’t forget to pack your snorkel gear to take advantage of the crystal-clear water and the tropical world that exists under its surface (equipment is available to buy or rent in various locations in Akumal if you don’t have your own kit)
- Take care to avoid any raised mounds of sand as they could be turtle nests
- Foot protection is recommended on some parts of the coast so it’s worth investing in water shoes
- The warm, calm waters are great for swimming so don’t forget your reef-safe sunscreen
What to Do in Akumal
There’s so much to do and see in Akumal (if you can drag yourself away from the beautiful beaches, of course). Here are some of the best activities for visitors:
Every year between May and October, Akumal’s beaches become home to hundreds of loggerhead and green sea turtles. Half Moon Bay is where the majority of the turtles emerge from the sea, and during the season around 70,000 eggs are laid. If you’re planning to visit Akumal during that period, your trip won’t be complete without some turtle watching. You can even swim with them around the bay and there’s no need to book a tour as long as you have your own snorkel gear. It must be noted that turtles should never be touched and should always be given plenty of space.
Aktun-Chen Parque Natural
Aktun-Chen park combines a scenic rainforest with fascinating caves and a spectacular underground river and cenote. The park truly delivers one of the best natural tourist destinations on the Riviera Maya. There are plenty of family-friendly activities at Aktun-Chen, including swimming, snorkeling, underground walks, monkey spotting, and even zip-lining through the lush rainforest canopy. Top tip: book in advance for as much as 15% off the entrance fee.
Tulum Archeological Zone
This ancient Mayan ruin is one of the most impressive in the state of Quintana Roo thanks to its position overlooking the Caribbean coast of Tulum beach. Head there to explore the walled city of Tulum ruins early in the morning before the weather gets too hot and the site gets too busy. Tickets are available to buy at the entrance to the fortress and you can explore alone or as part of a guided tour. Whichever way you choose to see this incredible historic site, you’re sure to fill up your camera roll with extremely Instagrammable snaps.
Enjoy the Caribbean Sea
Mexico’s Caribbean coastline boasts some of the clearest, warmest water in the world, making it the ideal setting for various watersports. The water is safe for swimming, and snorkelers love exploring the shallows for tropical fish and colorful reefs. If you enjoy scuba diving you can head out deeper to see majestic stingrays and huge shoals of incredible fish. If you prefer your watersports on the surface of the ocean rather than underneath it, try your hand at kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
Now, let’s get into the must-visit Akumal beaches (& where to stay).
Best Beaches in Akumal
Families love tranquil Paamul for its relaxing vibe. Located just 20 minutes north of Akumal, Paamul has incredible snorkeling and swimming, and there’s also a dive shop if you want to get out in the deeper water.
There’s not a lot going on in Paamul but there are a few places to eat and drink and the tranquil beach will give you a level of relaxation you didn’t think possible.
Where to Stay – Paamul Hotel
If you prefer cozy accommodation over larger resorts, Paamul Hotel is the perfect place for your time in Akumal. Positioned just steps from a private section of Paamul beach and its clear, tranquil waters, you’ll be in the ideal location to fill your days with sun, snorkeling, and swimming.
The on-site restaurant is open all day and serves Mexican, American, and Brazilian cuisine. An à la carte breakfast is also available each morning at Paamul Hotel. The bar serves a tasty selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and the terrace is the perfect spot to enjoy Akumal’s famous sunsets with a drink in hand.
All of the bright and airy rooms benefit from free Wi-Fi, a coffee machine, a desk, air conditioning, and a flat-screen TV. Every room also has a private bathroom with a shower, a hairdryer, and plenty of complimentary toiletries. Some rooms also have a toaster and stovetop, allowing you to make snacks throughout the day, and family rooms are available.
Cancun International Airport is 45 miles from Paamul Hotel and a paid shuttle service is available to make the transfer quick and easy.
Top amenities include:
- Private beach area
- On-site restaurant
- Bar and terrace
- Family rooms are available
Check availability for this cozy hotel here.
Puerto Aventuras is 15 minutes north of Akumal and is an upmarket area popular with the yachting community. If you’re into deep-sea fishing and sailing, this is the spot for you.
Golf fans should also check out Puerto Aventuras for the 9-hole golf course, and the Dolphin Discovery Center where you can swim with dolphins is also nearby. The small public beach is pristine and is a great place to swim, sunbathe, and explore for marine life.
There are plenty of classy bars and restaurants to enjoy in the area, too.
Where to Stay – Chez Waffle Hotel
Chez Waffle Hotel is a great choice for four-star luxury in Puerto Aventuras.
The property is styled in a classically colonial fashion and makes a beautiful base for Akumal vacations. The terrace is a peaceful spot to sit out on, and the stone fountain really adds to the ambiance.
A unique feature of this property is that it has direct access to a natural cove that has been turned into the most fantastic outdoor swimming pool imaginable. There’s also a bar on-site, as well as some beautiful gardens to stroll in.
The rooms at Chez Waffle Hotel are equally as unique as the external areas of the hotel. Each one has all of the amenities you’d expect including air conditioning, cable TV, and a private bathroom with a hairdryer. In addition, the rooms have hammocks to relax in, plus some beautiful design features such as beds with canopies and beautifully tiled vanities in the bathrooms.
Top amenities include:
- Colonial styling
- Natural outdoor swimming pool
- On-site bar
- Beds with canopies
Check availability for this four-star option here.
North Akumal Beach
This beach resort stretches around Half Moon Bay and is close to Yal-Ku Lagoon. The major draw of this Akumal beach is that it’s protected by a reef break which keeps the waters as still as bathwater.
If you’re a keen scuba diver or snorkeler, you’ll love that this bay is teaming with tropical fish, turtles, and fascinating coral beds. The calm waters are also perfect for children, making North Akumal Beach popular with families visiting the area.
Basing yourself here will also give you great access to Yal-Ku Lagoon, a freshwater river that runs into the Caribbean sea.
Where to Stay – Barcelo Maya Palace
If five-star decadence is your thing, you need to check out Barcelo Maya Palace. This all-inclusive resort provides instant beach access so you can make the most of Akumal’s beautiful beaches.
The rooms at Barcelo feature authentic Mexican styling and lots of space for all the family. Each one has a private terrace or balcony, a flat-screen TV, big, comfy beds, and a minibar. Some of the rooms also have sea views and seating areas, and others offer access to premium services including private concierge services and late check-out.
There are six delicious restaurants on-site, serving cuisine from France, Brazil, and beyond. Two swimming pools will keep you entertained all day, and themed dinners and live performances will ensure that the evenings are just as fun.
If you’re traveling with family, you’ll love the kids’ outdoor play area. And, if you’re hoping for a more tranquil vacation, this hotel also doubles as a wellness resort and offers yoga classes and various spa packages. Fans of watersports can take advantage of free snorkeling equipment hire and kayaks.
Top amenities include:
- Rooms with private balconies
- Six restaurants
- Two swimming pools
- On-site wellness resort
Check availability for this luxurious all-inclusive resort here.
Xpu Ha’s beach is postcard-perfect thanks to its beautifully wide stretch of white powder sand. Sandwiched between two all-inclusive resorts, this is the perfect spot for a laid-back and luxurious vacation.
Where to Stay – Catalonia Royal Tulum
Head to Xpu-Ha beach and you’ll find the charming Catalonia Royal all-inclusive resort. This adults-only property is peaceful and luxurious and will make for the kind of vacation that you’ll never forget.
Nestled on the edge of the Caribbean sea, guests at the Catalonia Royal benefit from the most stunning views imaginable. Eight on-site restaurants make this hotel a foody’s dream, and guests can enjoy international cuisine as well as very tasty tacos in the Mexican restaurant. The hotel’s private beach area offers plenty of loungers in the shade of palm trees, or you can relax by the swimming pool and take advantage of the swim-up bar.
This resort has all of the amenities you could wish for. From free Wi-Fi to wellness packages, you’ll want for nothing. If you’re hoping to explore the Yucatan Peninsula, the resort’s concierge is on hand to help book day trips or advise you on where the region’s best beach clubs are.
The rooms at Catalonia are as luxurious as you might imagine, offering plenty of space and amenities for a comfortable stay. Check out the spectacular Privileged Junior Suite for benefits including a king-size four-poster bed, access to the wet spa area, and an exclusive à la carte menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Top amenities include:
- Authentic tacos on-site
- Private beach area
- Free Wi-Fi
- Concierge service
Check availability for this adults-only all-inclusive resort here.
Central Akumal Beach
The central Akumal Bay beach is wide, clean, and ideally located for days lazing by the Caribbean ocean. There are plenty of restaurants and shops lining this beach, so you can spend the day on the sand without worrying about going far for drinks and meals.
Lol Ha Restaurant is a popular beach bar and hangout spot where you can enjoy a cold beer and a delicious snack with unbeatable sea views.
Where to Stay – Hotel Akumal Caribe
Hotel Akumal Caribe is situated on the coast of Akumal Bay and is in the best spot for accessing the town’s shops and restaurants.
There’s an on-site spa and wellness center where guests can take advantage of a comprehensive menu of massages and treatments. The dive center offers snorkeling and fishing tours, and bicycle hire is also available at this hotel. If you prefer your vacations less active, you’re sure to enjoy the beach bar.
There are hotel rooms and bungalows available at this property so you can choose depending on your preferred style of accommodation. Whichever option you select, you’ll be rewarded with comfortable beds, beautiful views, and amenities including air conditioning and a ceiling fan. Rooms also have refrigerators and a laptop safe box.
Top amenities include:
- Dive center
- Bicycle hire
- Bungalows and rooms are available
- Rooms with refrigerators
Check availability for this central accommodation option here.
Jade Bay is one of several beautiful beaches that occupy Akumal’s southern coastline. Located around one mile south of Akumal village, this part of the area is home to some spectacular beachfront vacation homes, condos, and villas. Strolling the bay while you decide which property you’ll purchase as a vacation home one day is a great way to spend a sunny afternoon. This part of the Riviera Maya coastline is also protected by a coral reef that keeps the waters still and calm. Jade Bay is much quieter than other areas of Akumal, however, the walk back to the central beach and all its amenities is quick and easy.
Where to Stay – Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya
Take advantage of Jade Bay’s natural beauty by booking into the equally beautiful Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya. This is another adults-only option where the focus is entirely on decadent relaxation.
The rooms at this resort really do stand out as some of the best in all of Akumal. Mayan-inspired decor meets high-quality finishings to create the kind of environment that you’ll struggle to leave. There’s plenty of space in each room, and the best part about them is the private hot tub for next-level relaxation.
The private beach area is pristine and there are also three outdoor pools if you prefer to swim in freshwater. The seven on-site restaurants serve up world-class cuisine from Italian dishes to Asian feasts. There’s a great program of evening entertainment on offer, and if you like to party you’ll love the resort’s nightclub.
Top amenities include:
- Seven international restaurants
- Rooms with hot tubs
- Nightclub and evening entertainment
- Private white sand beach
Check availability for this stylish and luxurious hotel here.
Aventuras Akumal is a thriving community set on a beautiful white beach that is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. The beaches in this area are well kept and because there’s a community here you can be sure to find all of the amenities you need to make your stay a comfortable one.
Where to Stay – Bahia Principe Grand
The final option on our list is the newly renovated Bahia Principe Grand hotel which is positioned conveniently close to Akumal Aventuras beach.
All of the bright and spacious rooms benefit from a flat-screen TV, coffee machine, mini bar, and refrigerator. The private bathrooms are finished to a high standard and come complete with a hairdryer and free toiletries.
Outside of the rooms, you’ll find an incredible nine bars and four restaurants, as well as three swimming pools, a tennis court, and a fitness center. The wellness center is the perfect place to kick back and relax during your stay, and you’re guaranteed to leave feeling happy and refreshed. Guests are also welcome to take advantage of the nearby waterpark, nightclub, and casino.
Top amenities include:
- Well-equipped rooms
- Nine bars
- Four restaurants
- Wellness center
Check availability for this newly renovated resort here.
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So, now you know all about the must-visit Akumal beaches and where to stay when you visit them. The only thing that’s left to do is to figure out which stretch of soft white sand you want to spend your vacation relaxing on.