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Akumal Visitors Guide

How to Get There, Things to Do & More

Updated June 2024 ⋅ Written by Vanessa Howard ⋅ Edited by Laura Schulthies

Akumal Visitors Guide

Welcome to Akumal

For those looking for a laid-back beach town on the beautiful Caribbean Sea, Akumal, Mexico is a perfect choice. The name “Akumal” comes from the Mayan word for “place of the turtles” and this Riviera Maya town has gained notoriety for being one of the best places in Mexico to spot and swim with sea turtles. Come to Akumal if you want white sand beaches and turquoise water without the crowds. You may never want to leave!

For those looking for a laid-back beach town on the beautiful Caribbean Sea, Akumal, Mexico is a perfect choice. The name “Akumal” comes from the Mayan word for “place of the turtles” and this Riviera Maya town has gained notoriety for being one of the best places in Mexico to spot and swim with sea turtles. Come to Akumal if you want white sand beaches and turquoise water without the crowds. You may never want to leave!

Contents

Akumal Visitors Guide: Sea Turtle
Akumal History

A Bit Of History

Before the Spanish colonization of the region, Akumal was known as a major Mayan trade center and port. One of the earliest records of the area comes from 1511 when a Spanish galleon E, Matancero, shipwrecked on its shore. The Mayans, who called Akumal home, quickly captured the 17 Spanish sailors who survived. Fifteen of the sailors soon died, but the two remaining captives became accepted among the locals over time.

One of the sailors, Gonzalo Guerrero, soon married a local Mayan princess and they had three children. He taught the Maya about modern war techniques and helped them fend off Spanish invaders. He even abandoned his Spanish heritage and considered himself a Mayan! A statue of Gonzalo Guerro still sits at the entrance to Akumal today.

Akumal Today

Akumal Today

Today in Akumal there are numerous hotels, several centers for diving and snorkeling, coffee shops and stores. Akumal attracts people worldwide with its beautiful white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and abundant sea life.

Snorkeling and diving enthusiasts can swim in the bay with the famous giant turtles and explore the shipwrecks. However, it is forbidden to touch marine animals and corals.

Where Is Akumal?

Cozumel on a Map

Akumal is a small beach-front resort community in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. It lies 62 miles south of Cancun between the towns of Playa del Carmen and Tulum in the Riviera Maya.

Akumal, like other towns and islands in the region, is adjacent to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-longest coral reef system in the world. This puts Akumal and its neighbors in a perfect spot for turquoise Caribbean waters, white sand beaches and world-class snorkeling and diving. This is DEFINITELY the island life!

Akumal Visitors Guide: Parrots
Akumal Visitors Guide

Best Time to Visit Akumal?

Akumal has a tropical climate, which means warm temperatures and relatively low rainfall throughout the year. However, there is a “rainy season” visitors should be aware of. Average temperatures in Akumal vary little throughout the year, hovering in the mid-80s throughout most of the year. Nighttime temperatures dip to the low-70s.

Akumal has a tropical climate, which means warm temperatures and relatively low rainfall throughout the year. However, there is a “rainy season” visitors should be aware of. Average temperatures in Akumal vary little throughout the year, hovering in the mid-80s throughout most of the year. Nighttime temperatures dip to the low-70s.

December – March – Best Time to Visit

Since the weather is perfect, you’ll find more travelers in Akumal during this peak time of year. The average highs are in the low 80s, but you will also likely find higher room rates and larger crowds due to it being the high season. In addition, at this time of year, you have the lowest chance of seeing any rainfall during your stay.

April – June

The spring weather is sunny and breezy and by April, the crowds begin to dissipate. April temperatures remain in the low 80s with a slight chance of rainfall, but it can be quite windy. It’s essential to keep in mind that June is one of the hottest months in Akumal.

July – August

During the summer months, the temperatures in Akumal are quite warm, in the high-80s and low-90s. Summer months see the most precipitation, with an average of 6 to 7 days of rainfall per month. Due to the heat, June through August is a relatively slow season, so lodging and other accommodations may cost slightly less.

September – November

Fall brings high temperatures around 82°F – 89.5°F, which feels lovely given the humidity and wind. Precipitation increases significantly to around 3 to 9 days per month. If you are looking for minimal crowds, tourism is the slowest during these months due to the weather, so flights and accommodations are more affordably priced.

December – March – Best Time to Visit

Since the weather is perfect, you’ll find more travelers in Akumal during this peak time of year. The average highs are in the low 80s, but you will also likely find higher room rates and larger crowds due to it being the high season. In addition, at this time of year, you have the lowest chance of seeing any rainfall during your stay.

April – June

The Spring weather is sunny and breezy, and by April the crowds begin to dissipate. April temperatures remain in the low 80s with a slight chance of rainfall, but it can be quite windy. It’s essential to keep in mind that June is one of the hottest months in Akumal.

July – August

During the summer months, the high temperatures in Akumal are quite warm in the high-80s and low-90s. Summer months see the most precipitation, with an average of 6 to 7 days of rainfall per month. Due to the heat, June through August is a relatively slow season, so lodging and other accommodations may cost slightly less.

September – November

Fall brings high temperatures around 82°F – 89.5°F, which feels lovely given the humidity and wind. Precipitation increases significantly to around 3 to 9 days per month. If you are looking for minimal crowds, tourism is the slowest during these months due to the weather, so flights and accommodations are more affordably priced.

  When Is The Akumal Hurricane Season?

Akumal hurricane season begins in late May and lasts until early November, with the peak occurring between September and October. The odds of a hurricane hitting Akumal are fairly low, but hurricanes traveling near Akumal can still cause inclement and severe weather. Be sure to check weather reports ahead of time and we always suggest getting travel insurance during these months just in case.

Hurricane Season
Akumal Visitors Guide: View
Akumal Travel Guide

How To Get to Akumal

Getting to Akumal is incredibly easy and once you’re in this relaxed beach town it will be well worth the journey.

Mexico Airport

Arrival By Air

Most people fly into Cancun International Airport (CUN) when traveling to Akumal. This is the largest airport on the Yucatan Peninsula offering direct flights from the United States. You’ll need to make your way 1.5 hours south to Akumal via the 307 Highway from the Cancun Airport. However, direct flights are coming to the new Tulum International Airport soon.

The new Tulum Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport (TQO) is now open. The airport allows International travelers to connect to Tulum via Mexico City with domestic airlines such as Aeromexico. Direct flights from the United States will begin arriving in March of 2024. From the Tulum Airport, it’s an easy 45-minute drive to Akumal.

  Search for great deals on flights here.

Akumal Visitors Guide

Airport Shuttles in Akumal

Shuttles are by far the most recommended way to get from Cancun Airport to Akumal. While there are cheaper ways to get to Akumal, they often take triple the amount of time and who wants to deal with that after getting off a flight, going through the Customs line, and waiting for luggage?

For up to 3 passengers, the total cost will be around $235 USD round trip. For those with 4 to 6 passengers, the trip will cost about $257 USD  round trip. If you have 7 to 9 passengers, the round trip cost will be around $295. For groups of up to 16 passengers, it is around $450 USD round trip.

There is also a shared shuttle available for $75 per person. For couples and groups, a private shuttle from Cancun to Akumal is really the way to go.

  You can easily book ground transportation from the airport to your hotel here.

Island Life Mexico

Rental Cars in Akumal

It’s easy to rent a car for your time in Akumal. You’ll find most of the major rental car companies at Cancun International Airport, though some of the rental companies are located along the highway. The added bonus of the freedom to stop at cenotes along the way is another plus. You’ve also got the option of renting a car in Tulum, which is only 20 minutes from Akumal.

The typical price for a car rental is about $30-$40 USD per day depending on how long you rent the car and the size. You’ll need a valid drivers license and to be at least 21 years old to rent a car in Mexico, and anyone between the ages of 21-24 will need to pay an additional daily fee.

  Search for great deals on rental cars here.

Puerto Morelos Visitors Guide

Taxis in Akumal

Taxi rates are set and not metered in this region of Mexico, so you’ll want to agree on a price before you get into a taxi. There should be a rate card in the taxi, and you can ask to see it. You are not expected to tip, but it’s appreciated once you reach your destination safely. You may be able to work out a deal on long-distance destinations or have the taxi wait for you while you visit or shop along the Mayan Riviera.

A taxi will be one of the most expensive options in getting from Cancun or Tulum to Akumal. Fares are typically around $4.50 USD for 10 miles and $16 USD for 25 miles. It can easily cost $30 USD for a 20-minute trip from Tulum to Akumal.

Keep in mind that at the Cancun Airport regular taxis are prohibited so only official airport taxis are allowed. This rule often makes them overpriced.

Puerto Morelos Visitors Guide

Buses in Akumal

Buses can be a great and affordable way to get around Riviera Maya, particularly to Akumal. It’s a good idea to buy the best class ticket you possibly can, to get the most direct and best service.

To take a bus to Playa or Cancun, you must get up to the highway using a taxi. There is a bus station on the east side of the highway. Tickets can only be purchased at the bus terminal or from the bus driver.

It costs between $1.30 to $5.34 per passenger to ride the bus from Akumal to Tulum. To ride from Akumal to Playa del Carmen it costs between $1.60 to $5.93.  The colectivo costs between $1.78 to $2.73  to Tulum and between $1.78 to $2.67 to Akumal.

Things To Do in Akumal

Akumal's Top Highlights

Akumal is a charmingly beautiful beach town with an amazing number of things to do!

Snorkel with sea turtles in Akumal
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Snorkel with sea turtles in Akumal
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1. Snorkel with the Sea Turtles

Akumal means “place of the turtle” in the Mayan language and it is one of the best places in Mexico to swim with sea turtles. Snorkeling with sea turtles is one of the top activities in Akumal, and for good reason. The water is clear with excellent visibility and you’re almost guaranteed to see the turtles in the water. Even if snorkeling isn’t your thing, there’s something magical about seeing the turtles in their natural habitat.

To snorkel with the sea turtles in Akumal, you can simply rent gear or use your own and head out in the bay from the shore. Just make sure to get there early, as the water grows hazy with sand kicked up by fellow snorkelers and rising daytime temperatures.

  Not wanting to go it alone? Check out the amazing tour options such as, the Swim With Sea Turtles Tour, or this Half Day Sea Turtles and Cenotes Tour, or this Hidden Cenotes, Swimming With Sea Turtles, and Lunch Tour.

Sunset on the beach in Akumal
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Sunset on the beach in Akumal
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2. Relax on the Beach

With its soft ivory sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, Akumal is a great place to have a relaxing beach day. Playa Akumal (Akumal Beach) is famous for snorkeling with turtles, but it’s also fantastic for relaxing on the sandy shores of the Caribbean. The beaches of Akumal are big and wide, meaning there’s room for everyone without it feeling too crowded like it can in some of the bigger tourist destinations around the Riviera Maya.

The beaches in the area are largely encompassed in the “Las Bahias de Akumal”, a series of five bays starting to the south of Yal-Ku Lagoon with North Akumal Beach and ending at Aventuras Akumal to the south.

Akumal Beach and Half Moon Bay are known for being incredibly beautiful and great places to spot sea turtles. Some of the beaches in Akumal do have an entrance fee of around $7 USD.

  ISLAND LIFE TRAVEL TIP : GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

Travel Insurance is a must in our opinion. Standard health insurance likely doesn’t cover you while outside of the country so travel insurance will cover any emergency medical needs as well as trip cancellation, lost or stolen luggage (it happens), flight delays, missed connections and more. You can easily compare the top-rated travel insurance plans here.

Swimming in a cenote in Akumal
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Swimming in a cenote in Akumal
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3. Swim in Cenotes

There are seemingly endless cenotes on the Riviera Maya and several delightful options near Akumal. Take a swim in Gran Cenote and Yal-ku Lagoon. Gran Cenote is south of Tulum, while Yal-Ku is north of Akumal.

The cenotes charge an entrance fee, which is typically around $15-$20 USD. Keep in mind that prices may vary by season and the exchange rate. The cenotes often have snorkel gear and lockers available for rent.

 For more cenote info and great local cenote recommendations, be sure to check out our Ultimate Cenote Guide.

Explore Akumal town
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Explore Akumal town
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4. Explore the Town

Akumal is a charmingly quaint town that can easily be explored on foot. You’ll find shops, markets, restaurants and hotels in the downtown area. There are also a few ATMs in town, which is useful in the often cash-only Riviera Maya.

Spend an afternoon wandering the town and you’ll undoubtedly discover a few hidden gems. The shops and galleries are a highlight, so be sure to check out the Galeria Lamanai, which offers a selection of Mexican folk art, to pick up some local goods. Or check out MexiArte for a wide variety of souvenirs made by individual artisans throughout Mexico.

Monkey at Akumal Animal Sanctuary
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Akumal Visitors Guide
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5. Visit the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary

If you love animals, you should pay a visit to Akumal’s famous animal sanctuary, where you will find a wide variety of animals, including monkeys, birds and more. The top priority of this rescue center is to make sure the rescued and donated animals receive the care and attention they need to make a full recovery.

Many animals living in the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary come from very poor conditions working for circuses and similar attractions. Visiting the sanctuary is a fun activity for the whole family, and you’ll also be helping the environment and wildlife in the area.

  This popular tour to the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary includes a guide and a “monkey bonding experience”.

  This ATV Tour includes a visit to the Monkey Sanctuary as well.

Spa day in Akumal Mexico
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Spa day in Akumal Mexico
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6. Have a Spa Day

How does a fantastic massage on the beach sound as you listen to the gentle lull of the rolling waves? If your accommodation doesn’t have the type of spa experience you are looking for, you’re in luck! In Akumal, you’ll be pleased to discover there is a tranquil and charming place called the Buhda Garden Spa.

This boutique spa is just steps away from the Caribbean Sea. Here you’ll find peaceful gardens, trickling fountains and intoxicating tropical flowers, making for a perfect place to unwind and enjoy professional spa services.

The spa menu boasts a variety of invigorating spa treatments, including luminous facial rituals, hot stone massages and a romantic couples massage.

Aktun-Chen Natural Park in Akumal
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Aktun-Chen Natural Park in Akumal
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7. Take in the Beauty at Aktun-Chen

A visit to Aktun-Chen Natural Park makes a great day trip from Akumal that offers plenty of different adventures! Not surprisingly, National Geographic has included Acktun Chen on the list of the “Top 10 Best and Most Impressive Underground Walkways in the World” and it’s easy to see why.

You can take a guided walk through a five-million-year-old dry cave, the most extensive dry cave system in the Riviera Maya. Inside you’ll be able to view spectacular natural domes decorated with beautiful stalactites, columns, pillars and translucent curtains that seem to glow in the soft blue light of the cave.

Once you are done exploring the cave you can take a swim in the gorgeous crystal-clear cenote. Or try the Riviera Maya Jungle zipline, an exhilarating and fun ride through the rainforest.

  This epic adventure tour to Aktun-Chen includes cenotes, ATV’s and ziplining in one day!

Sunset sail in Akumal
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Sunset sail in Akumal
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8. Get Out on the Water

Akumal’s magnificent coastline offers excellent opportunities to get out on the water. Whether you want to snorkel, rent a paddle board, or take a sail, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the Caribbean Sea.

Most deep-sea fishing and catamaran charters can be made from Cozumel or Playa del Carmen. You can also take a glass bottom boat tour that departs from Cozumel and travels along the reef system that stretches the gorgeous coast.

 Check out this Snorkeling Akumal tour and take in the splendor of the beautiful turquoise waters and vibrant sea creatures.

The Yal Ku Lagoon in Akumal, Mexico
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Admire the Yal-ku Lagoon
The Yal Ku Lagoon in Akumal, Mexico
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9. Admire the Yal-ku Lagoon

Just 10 minutes north of Akumal, you’ll find one of the best-kept secrets of the Riviera Maya, Yal-Ku Lagoon and cenote. This natural lagoon is a mix of saltwater and freshwater and hosts a variety of marine life, including manta rays, vibrant fish, and even barracudas. The Yal-ku Lagoon is one of the best places to snorkel with tropical fish in the area. 

The best way to explore the Yal-Ku Lagoon is by swimming or snorkeling in the calm waters. You can also relax on the beach and take in the stunning views of Akumal. The lagoon does have an entrance fee of around $15 USD (300 MXN) per person, and you can also rent snorkeling gear on-site. You can bring your own snorkeling gear, but keep in mind you will need to rent a mandatory life jacket if you don’t have one. 

There are several tours of Yal-Ku Lagoon, like this top-rated Magical Cenote and Paradise Lagoon Snorkeling Adventure that departs from nearby Playa del Carmen. 

Or this Private Akumal Sea Turtle Encounter and Yal-Ku Lagoon Snorkeling Tour

The Coba Ruins In Akumal, Mexico
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Visit The Coba Ruins
The Coba Ruins In Akumal, Mexico
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10. Visit The Coba Ruins

About an hour away from Akumal, you can explore the nearby ancient Mayan ruins of Coba. During the classic period between 600 AD and 900 AD, the ruins housed the largest network of stone causeways of the ancient Mayan world.

The Coba Ruins have an entrance fee of around $6 USD (MXN 100) per adult. We recommend avoiding visiting the ruins on Sundays if possible since locals get in free that day and it can get very crowded.

Keep in mind that the ruins of Coba are very spread out and it can be a very long, hot walk between sites. We highly recommend hiring a bike taxi just inside the main entrance to cycle you around the vast ruins. Not only will you see more, but riding in the back of a bike taxi through the forest is a blast!

 Check out this half-day guided Private Coba Ruins Tour, where you can learn more about the history and culture of the Mayans. They pick up from Tulum or Akumal. Or this all day Private Tour Of The Coba Ruins And A Cenote Swim with a delicious lunch and snorkeling included. 

Kayaking in Akumal Bay
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Kayak Akumal Bay
Kayaking In Akumal Bay
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11. Kayak Akumal Bay

Akumal Bay is ideal for kayaking thanks to its calm and sheltered nature. You can rent a kayak from one of the vendors on the beach and spend hours paddling around the bay while taking in the breathtaking scenery from the water. Maybe even spotting some of the marine life that calls Akumal Bay home.

You can explore the rocky coastline, paddle to the reef for some snorkeling, or relax and soak up the Akumal sunshine. You will also find a variety of shops, galleries, and restaurants near Akumal Bay.

Uxuxuxbi in Akumal, Mexico
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Explore Uxuxubi
Uxuxubi in Akumal, Mexico
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12. Explore Uxuxubi

Uxuxubi is one of the few places in the Mexican Caribbean that remains natural and wild. This authentic Mayan Village is 10 miles deep in the jungle just west of Akumal and allows us a glimpse into how Mayans continue to live just as their ancestors did before them. In the Mayan language, Uxuxubi means “the one who whistles,” and the current residents support themselves through ecotourism.  

At Uxuxubi, you can stroll through the village, watch as they harvest vegetables, and enjoy the simple and quiet lives they lead. Or visit the big lagoon, a sanctuary for Mexican crocodiles (Morelet’s). These crocodiles are on the brink of extinction due to the environmental deterioration of their habitats and illegal hunting for their skin.

Another option is to climb up a 30-foot-high wooden tower to see how the Mayan village spreads throughout the jungle. If you like the adventure, you can even take a short zip line over the crocodile-filled big lagoon or explore this part of the jungle on ATVs. 

Deep sea fishing in Akumal, Mexico
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Go Deep Sea Fishing
Deep Sea Fishing in Akumal, Mexico
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13. Go Deep Sea Fishing

Akumal’s location allows you to enjoy world-class deep-sea and saltwater fly fishing. Get ready for an adrenaline pumping day out on the water at one of the many locations along the Mexican Caribbean coast.

Hire a fishing charter with the highly rated Akumal Dive Shop for a fun day out on the water. They also offer an extensive catalog of diving options and snorkeling tours with turtles!

The Akumal Ecological Center in Akumal, Mexico
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Learn At The Akumal Ecological Center
The Akumal Ecological Center in Akumal, Mexico
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14. Learn At The Akumal Ecological Center

The non-profit organization Akumal Ecological Center works tirelessly to protect the ecosystem of the Riviera Maya region. The center’s primary focus is the study and conservation of sea turtles on 4 of Akumal’s pristine beaches. 

Visit the small museum to find out more about the reef and turtles of Akumal to learn more about the area’s delicate ecosystem. There are several exhibits on sea turtle ecology and the reef system of the Riviera Maya. 

The Akumal Ecological Center also offers a 4-week volunteer program focused on the conservation, protection, and research of female sea turtles, their nesting, and hatchlings.

The green at the Riviera Maya Golf Club
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Play A Round At The Riviera Maya Golf Club
The green at the Riviera Maya Golf Club
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15. Play A Round At The Riviera Maya Golf Club

If you’re looking for a sporty activity in Akumal, the Riviera Maya Golf Club is the perfect place to spend a sun filled afternoon in paradise! This golf club features a fantastic selection of club and green rentals. 

Golfers will love the location close to the ocean, with stunning greens overlooking the jungle and ocean. If you’re celebrating something special in Akumal, the Riviera Maya Golf Club can host your birthday or anniversary event as well!

Green fees for the 18-hole Champions course range from around $157 to $206, depending on the time of day. The 9-hole Executive course has a green fee of around $50, and you can reserve your tee time here.

Where To Stay In Akumal

There are all types of accommodations in Akumal. From all-inclusive resorts to boutique hotels and more. Location and amenities are the two top things to look for. For great hotel info and recommendations, check out our Akumal Hotel Guide or our Akumal All-Inclusive Resort Guide.

Akumal Hotel Guide

For hotel recommendations for every budget, check out our Akumal Hotel Guide

What To Pack For Your Trip!

The Mexican Caribbean is an enchanting wonderland of relaxation and adventure, one can easily have the trip of a lifetime here. Packing for such a vacation shouldn’t be hard, so we’ve put together a list to help you pack and included some of our favorites as well. Check out our What To Pack For Your Mexico Vacation Guide.

What to Pack For Your Mexican Vacation

Check out our Packing List For Beach Vacation!

Find The Best Akumal Flights

Finding the best flights to Akumal (via Cancun) shouldn’t be hard. We think the Kayak travel search engine is the best way to start. We’ve put together a quick guide to searching for the best flights using Kayak. Check out our Finding The Best Flights Guide.

Kayak Flights

Check out our Finding The Best Flights Guide!

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