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Akumal Visitors Guide

How to Get There, Things to Do & More

Updated December 2022

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 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 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!

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!

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

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

The closest airport to Akumal is Cancun International Airport (CUN). You’ll need to fly into Cancun and then make your way 1.5 hours south to Akumal via the 307 Highway. Don’t worry, it’s incredibly easy to travel from Cancun to Akumal. There is just the one main highway.  You’ll need a valid passport to travel to Mexico from out of the country.

  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 $135 USD round trip. For those with 4 to 6 passengers, the trip will cost about $160 USD  round trip. For 7 to 9  passengers, it is around $185 USD round trip. 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. Buses to Cancun or Playa depart every 15-20 minutes and cost about $1.10 USD.

From Cancun bus stations, you can go anywhere you please in Mexico. You can check the ADO website for prices and schedules. You can take an ADO bus from Cancun or Tulum to get 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!

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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.

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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 $5 USD.

  ISLAND LIFE TRAVEL TIP : GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

When planning an international vacation, Travel Insurance is a must in our opinion. Since your health insurance likely doesn’t cover you while outside of the country, travel insurance makes sure if you accidentally break a bone or get food poisoning, your medical needs are covered. Travel insurance also typically covers you for trip cancellation, lost or stolen luggage (it happens), Covid issues, flight delays, missed connections and more. We think it’s a no brainer and should be factored into any international trip budget. You can easily compare the top-rated travel insurance plans here.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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 rent a paddle board or take a sail, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the Caribbean Sea.

  Take one of the many catamaran tours available in the area to take in the splendor of the beautiful turquoise waters.

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!

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  ISLAND LIFE TRAVEL TIP : GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

When planning an international vacation, Travel Insurance is a must in our opinion. Since your health insurance likely doesn’t cover you while outside of the country, travel insurance makes sure if you accidentally break a bone or get food poisoning, your medical needs are covered. Travel insurance also typically covers you for trip cancellation, lost or stolen luggage (it happens), Covid issues, flight delays, missed connections and more. We think it’s a no brainer and should be factored into any international trip budget. You can easily compare the top-rated travel insurance plans here.

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