Destination: Akumal, Mexico
Where We Stayed: Hacienda de la Tortuga
What We Did: Snorkeled in Turtle Bay, swam in the warm ocean, explored Yal-Ku lagoon
Where We Ate: La Buena Vida, La Lunita and Turtle Bay Cafe
The Best: SEA TURTLES
The Worst: Mosquitos and rain
The Smartest: Booking a place with A/C
For Next Time: Visit Tulum
After scuba diving in Cozumel, my fiancé and I took the ferry back to the mainland and a bus down to a tiny town called Akumal. We found our condo via Airbnb, it was in a small four story building in Half Moon Bay right next to the water above La Lunita restaurant. I wanted a different experience than our previous all-inclusive stay on the island and this was it. It felt incredibly secluded and had a gorgeous view—an important feature when you happen to get rained in, but more on that later.
We frequented three restaurants during our stay, my favorite being La Buena Vida with swing chairs at the bar and waves that gently lapped just feet from the dinner tables. Their menu superstars were the mango empanadas, stuffed avocados and tamarind margaritas. Yum.
I had debated heavily between staying in Akumal or Tulum (the latest travel hotspot with great restaurants and beautiful Mayan ruins) but Akumal won me over in the end because of its calmer water and abundance of sea turtles. Akumal even means "place of the turtle" in Mayan. Visitors also described it as having less bustle than Tulum—although, being in the off-season like we were I think both would have been delightfully peaceful. Only a 15 minute drive apart, at least it was easy to see both. Or so I thought.
I was nervous about going in October, the region's rainiest month, but for the most part we lucked out on the weather. The majority of our time was sunny, a little too sunny even with extreme UV rays that left Don some serious sunburns. The humidity was constant (air conditioning is a MUST), we had some cloud coverage toward the end of the week and only our final day brought an unexpected storm. It poured while the wind battered the palm trees on our beach. Our power went out and we were left housebound for the day. This was my only disappointment from the trip—it happened to be the day we were going to visit Tulum.
The rest of our time in Akumal, however, was fully utilized. We made it to one of TripAdvisor's most recommended destinations—the Yal-Ku lagoon. It was only a short walk from our place and above ground it appeared to be an enchanting water garden. We had read about the colorful fish we'd see and by the looks of Google images, a bright day would have made for a splendid time. Unfortunately, the dark sky made me feel like I was snorkeling in creepy crocodile infested water. This picture explains it best:
Fortunately, we had a MUCH better snorkeling experience at the neighboring Turtle Bay. In fact, it was the highlight of our stay. We taxied ourselves and our gear across town, ate a charming breakfast at Turtle Bay Cafe and soon found ourselves swimming amongst sea turtles and stingrays right off shore. It was pure magic. Just take a look at the video and photos below, I can feel that warm ocean just looking at them.