EXCURSIONS, FUN THINGS AND GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT:
Akumal • Puerto Aventuras • Soliman Bay •Tankah • Tulum
Beach Life and Water Sports:
In Akumal you're just minutes away from the crystal-clear Yal Ku Lagoon where you'll find superb snorkeling. You can also venture to nearby beaches and try snorkeling in other locations as well, like Akumal Bay or Half Moon Bay. You'll see a variety of sea life which might include parrot fish, angel fish, trigger fish, lobster, sting rays, sea turtles, groupers, octopus and a number of other sea creatures. Please don't use sun screen as it can be harmful to the environment, wear a T-shirt instead. There is an entrance fee to Yal Ku lagoon (unless you are staying at a vacation villa on the Lagoon where you will have free access). There is also excellent snorkeling in the ocean in Half Moon Bay, Akumal Bay, South Akumal Bay and Jade Beach.
Snorkeling options are great in Puerto Aventuras and Tankah, too. While you can snorkel in Playa del Carmen, you may want to head further south or even take the ferry to Cozumel for some great snorkeling.
Life's a beach
You'll love just lounging around on the beach. There are excellent beaches in all of the areas. The beaches at Playa del Carmen will be more active with more people. With the international flavor of Playa del Carmen, you will have some topless sunbathers. Puerto Aventuras has several great sandy beaches that are not heavily used. Nicest beaches in Akumal would be Akumal Bay and south (Jade Beach and Akumal Sur); though Half Moon Bay has a smaller sandy beach and great snorkeling and the Yal Ku Lagoon is near. The Soliman Bay and Tankah Bay areas would be the quietest beach areas with few people and a few great beachside restaurant-bars. Tulum's famous beach starts just south of the ruins and is dotted with beach restaurant bars.
Akumal means The Place of The Turtles, so of course you can except to see them here during turtle season May to November. Please do not disturb the turtles or their nests in anyway. Do not use a flashlight without an appropriate filter. Plan your holiday during the summer or fall in the Akumal area and experience the thrill of witnessing these amazing creatures in their native habitat.
Akumal is noted for its vast underground cave system, but you can do ocean diving in this area, too. There are a couple of dive shops right in Akumal; if you are certified you are set to go. Cave diving requires classes which are available through local shops. There is also diving south of Akumal in the Akumal Aventuras area and Tankah. Puerto Aventuras area has several dive operators as well.
A variety of big ones are waiting out there for avid fishermen. You can catch marlin, sailfish, barracuda, king wahoo, bonefish, yellowtail and others. Dive shops can arrange fishing excursions for you; choose from deep sea, shore or fly fishing. In the Tankah area you can even fish from shore. You can also arrange for deep sea fishing at the marina in Puerto Aventuras.
Golf, Tennis . . .
There is a championship 18-hole golf course in Playacar. In Puerto Aventuras there is a 9-hole golf course and tennis courts. The new Riviera Maya Golf Club is located at the Bahia Principe in Aventuras Akumal. Tennis courts are also available at the Oasis Akumal Hotel. Fee for using facilities.
Visit a cenote
There are no rivers in the Yucatan because of the limestone; instead there is an extensive underground water system carved through the limestone forming caves and cenotes. You can dive or snorkel in these cenotes. One area just south of Akumal on Highway 307 is called Dos Ojos, where you'll be transported by truck through the jungle (about 20 minutes) where a guide will take you through the cenotes. If may seem a bit eerie as you lower yourself down through a hole in the ground to enter the cenote, but once you are in it opens up and your guide has an underwater light which will highlight the formations through the caves. There's also Gran Cenote, located on the road to Coba. A local Mayan family will charge you a few dollars for entrance to the cenote where you can enjoy a swim through a cave. The Manatee Cenote is across the road from the beach at Tankah. If you ask around, you'll find other cenotes scattered throughout the jungle in the area.
TULUM is one of the most beautiful Mayan sites in Mexico. This ancient walled city is located on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean sea. It is the only known Mayan city located on the sea. Discover the Castle located at the highest point and the Temple of the Frescos with interior murals depicting Mayan Gods and symbols of nature. There are some fine beach areas in this area, too, so bring your suit!
COBA is located about 40 minutes from Tankah. Carved out of the jungle, much of this city has not yet been restored. The towering Nohoch Mul pyramid at 137 feet is the tallest temple in the Yucatan. This is a very large area, plan to do lots of walking or better yet, rent a bicycle for just a few dollars. If you go early in the morning you'll find this this ancient Mayan city quite mystical and you will avoid the tour bus crowd.
CHICHEN ITZA is located about 2 hours from Akumal. This most famous Mayan city is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Hours at Chichen are 8:00 am to 5:30 pm plus there is a light show each evening at 7pm. El Castillo, The Castle of Kukulcan, The Ossuary, The Ball Court and many other structures will astound you. There are organized tours or it is very easy to take a day trip in your rental car.
Xel-Ha ecological park celebrates the wonders of a magical creation. Xel-Ha means 'The Place Where The Waters Are Born'. Lagoons, cenotes, caves and pools offer limitless water activities. This park is also home to over 100 species of birds, 350 species of plants and 99 different marine creatures. The park is located just south of Akumal and is open 365 days a year (hours vary according to the season).
Perhaps you've heard about Xcaret, an eco-archaeological park just south of Playa del Carmen. While this is quite touristy, you can have a great day of good clean fun. Float down underground rivers, swim with the dolphins (extra charge; get there early in order to make a reservation), lounge at the beach lagoon, snorkel or dive (extra charge for diving), explore the coral reef aquarium, museum, botanical garden, orchid farm, mushroom farm, jaguar island, wild bird breeding aviary, open air theater, butterfly pavillion or go horseback riding (+$). There are several shows and entertainment throughout the day and food is available at several restaurants. You'll also find numerous replicas of archaeological sites on display. Xcaret is open seven days a week (closing time varies according to the season).
Bird Watching and Wildlife
Visit the Sian Ka'an (Mayan for "Where the Sky is Born") Biosphere where you can take a boat ride into a inland bay and visit a fascinating island bird refuge. This is the most important biosphere in Mexico. Tours of the biosphere are offered by a group called Friends of Sian Ka'an. This wonderful and peaceful place provides nesting sites for thousands of water birds including the roseate spoonbill, woodstork, magnificent frigatebird and boat-billed heron. The rare jabiru stork nests in the reserve as do endangered sea turtles along the beaches. Other inhabitants in this area include jaguar ocelot, margay, jaguarund and cougar, crocodile, howler and spider monkeys, tapir and West Indian manatee. Flora is abundant in Sian Ka'an as well.
Located just 4 km. south of Akumal, this park offers guided guided walking tours through caves with abundant stalactites and stalagmites 5 million years old and an underground cenote. In Mayan, Aktun Chen means "the cave with the cenote inside". Before or after, you can explore the tropical jungle and exotic wildlife, but keep an eye on the monkeys-they will take anything they can get their hands on-glasses, hats-they aren't fussy!
A day trip to the largest island in Mexico is quite easy and convenient. You simply take the ferry from Playa del Carmen over to Cozumel (cost is about $30 roundtrip and takes about 30 minutes each way). You can shop, dine at one of the many restaurants or rent a car or scooter and drive around the island which is about 11 miles wide and 29 miles long. You can stop at one of the beach clubs on the southern end of the island or explore the undeveloped east coast (there are several beach side bar/restaurants). If you like to snorkel or dive, Cozumel is the top spot in the Caribbean because of its vast reef system and abundant fish life.
Hang out in a hammock. Make a trip to the colonial city of Merida. Try sky diving (yes you can do that in Playa del Carmen). Hop on a horse (there are a number of ranchos offering horseback riding). Interested in "clothing optional" beaches? There are several along the coast. Get up early and watch the sunrise over Caribbean. Take a hike on a beach. Just drive and stop and explore some of the smaller Mexican villages. Take a nap whenever you feel like it. Build sand castles on the beach. Bring or buy a kite and fly it high above the palm trees . . a week will not be enough time on the Mayan Riviera.
Miscellaneous Information . . .
Childcare is available in Akumal, so bring the kids. While you dive or snorkel or explore, Akumal Kids! will babysit right in your private villa or condo. Some properties may have staff who can babysit or help you make arrangements for child care.
Spas and Pampering You are on vacation, so go ahead, treat yourself to a visit to a Day Spa, have a soothing massage at your private villa or condo, visit a gym and tone those muscles. It's all available for you here in the Riviera Maya. Yoga enthusiasts will want to take advantage of Yoga in Akumal which offers a variety of yoga classes.
Groceries In Akumal, there are 2 grocery stores that are quite well stocked (Super Chomak has the better selection if you want American brands). Prices are higher here, but they are very convenient. Playa del Carmen has several large grocery stores (Chedraui and Soriana on Hwy. 307, San Francisco in town) where you can buy just about anything you will need. A Sam's Club and Walmart are also located in Playa. If you plan to do lots of cooking and eating in, it may be worth your time to stop in Playa on your way down the coast. There are a few stores where you can buy the basics in Puerto Aventuras. And in the Tankah area, there are also many stores in the nearby city of Tulum including a brand new Chedraui.
Or, if you want your vacation villa pre-stocked when you arrive with food and beverages, there is a local grocery service that will do all the shopping for you and have your order waiting in your villa when you arrive. For more information on this service, click here: Riviera Maya Groceries
Charities in Akumal Many people ask about charities and how they can help. There are a number of worthwhile charitable organizations in the area. There are charities for children, wildlife, turtles, eco-conservation, animals, etc. If you have an area of special interest, please ask for more information.