Situated about one hour south of the Cancun International Airport, between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, is Akumal. The name is derived from the Mayan language meaning ‘Place of the Turtle.’ There are several protected bays enclosed by the Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest barrier reef system in the world. The turtles use this pristine location as nesting grounds and spend their days munching on the sea grass just a hundred meters or so from the shores.
The calm, turquoise waters of the bays are perfect for snorkeling, kayaking and families with younger children. Along the palm-fringed beaches, there is plenty of white sand to park a beach blanket and cooler for an afternoon of Caribbean bliss by the sea!
There are a few hotels, condominiums and villas lining this part of the Mexican Caribbean coastline. But for the most part, it is a sleepy fishing village with a couple of dive shops offering diving and deep sea fishing excursions, as well as a few family-owned businesses with local guides providing snorkeling tours.
On the east side of the Federal 307 Highway is the tourist center where the bays sit and the tours are offered. On the west side is the local residential area with grocery stores and little, authentic restaurants serving up casual eats like tacos and whole rotisserie chickens roasted over and open coal grill. Both areas are worth checking out and present a glimpse of what day-to-day life looks like in the Yucatan Peninsula!