6 Top Things to do in Akumal Riviera Maya

things to do in Akumal

6 Top Things to do in Akumal Riviera Maya.

The natural beauty and variety of attractions near Akumal make it ideal to visit for the day on a private tour. Located midway between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, Akumal has breathtaking beaches and lagoons. From sea turtles to cenotes, here are 6 must-do activities in Akumal.

akumal turtles

Swim with sea turtles

Akumal has a natural sheltered bay protected by a reef. It’s the perfect place to snorkel with sea turtles in their natural environment. Make sure you book a tour guide (mandatory) and read the Akumal bay regulation before the activity.

akumal beach

Akumal beaches

Akumal’s beaches are the jewel of the Riviera Maya coastline. Stroll on the sand or swim and snorkel in the clear warm sea.

tulum ruins

Tulum ruins

Situated on a headland overlooking the beach and sea, Tulum ruins are the most visited archaeological site in Mexico after Chichen Itza. Marvel over the engineering feat of these well-preserved buildings and imagine 13th century Mayan life in this beautiful spot. Take captivating photos of this historic site before enjoying a refreshing swim in the sea.

lagoon yalku

Yal Ku Lagoon

Don’t miss Yal Ku Lagoon in Akumal. The lush site has footpaths, statues, benches and the calm lagoon waters are safe for less confident swimmers. It’s like snorkeling in an aquarium with a lot of colorful fishes!

cenote dos ojos

Snorkel in cenotes

There are many excellent cenotes near Akumal including Taak Bi Ha, Dos Ojos and Nicte Ha. Snorkeling in the crystal clear waters is a unique experience and each cenote is different. Some are covered, like caves; others are open to the sky and edged with ferns. Why not visit several?

Delicious lunch in Akumal

Escape the heat with a relaxed lunch at one of the excellent restaurants in Akumal. Our favorites are “Buena Vista” and “La Cueva del Pescador” for fresh fish and yummy seafood.

Why not plan to spend a day in Akumal, swimming, snorkeling with sea turtles and enjoying the nearby attractions? Choose a private tour which includes transport, snorkel equipment and a friendly local guide.

Akumal Bay regulation – Swim with the turtles

Akumal bay regulation


Akumal Bay Regulation

You may have seen or read many things on social media about the Swim with Turtles activity, some companies offer this tour, some others don’t, some people say it is allowed or not allowed… To help you to understand the issue, here the details of the Akumal Bay regulation, and the good news is that it is possible to swim with the turtles!

We would like to inform all of our customers about it and explain that we are excited for the law protecting our turtles and set up of sustainable activities.

As a result of the law, Absolute Adventure Mexico has partnered with a local cooperative to be allowed to bring tourists to the bay. 

The 2017 Akumal bay regulation includes:

  • Swimming and sighting of sea turtles is only permitted from 9am to 5 pm
  • Tourists should use exclusively the routes and timetable established by CONANP***.
  • It will be carried out in groups of up to 6 people plus a guide authorized by CONANP.
  • Snorkeling session cannot exceed 55 minutes.
  • Both the entrance and exit of the sighting area should be done slowly and quietly walking along the beach
  • Life jackets are mandatory (to avoid total immersion).
  • The minimum distance between groups that do the activity will be 10 meters (33 ft).
  • Tourists must maintain a minimum distance of 3 meters (10 ft) from the back of each turtle, without exceeding the observation time of five minutes.
  • Camera flash are forbidden. Only use of recreational underwater camera/video allowed. Camera sticks must not be put too close from the turtles.
  • During the course of snorkeling it is prohibited to touch, feed, disturb, retain, remove, hold, and / or damage any specimen of wildlife.
  • If the turtle shows signs of rapid movement, evasion, or sudden changes of direction, or longer dives, observation activities will be immediately suspended
  • Only the use of biodegradable sunscreens is allowed.

Akumal Bay has high biological wealth which provides alimentation and rest zone for three species of sea turtles: Green turtles (Chelonia mydas), Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata).

The bay offers an easy access with shallow and pristine waters, where sighting of sea turtles and others wild species can be enjoyed it by swimmers and snorkelers. So it makes the Akumal bay the perfect place to swim with turtles.

With the growth of the tourism in the state of Quintana Roo, Akumal became a great place for sighting without any regulation. Since 2015 the beach access is disputed between the community and different public and private actors.

That is why the Environment Agency of Mexico (SEMARNAT*) started to work on a regulation for conservation of Akumal and protection of the natural habitat of the sea turtles. They published a technical study for the protection and conservation of the bay.

On July 6th 2016 the SEMARNAT introduced a new law, effective same day, to limit the number of swimmers with turtles in the bay of Akumal. The limit decreased from thousands of swimmers a day to less than 300. Only few local cooperatives are allowed to bring twelve individuals per day, which is controlled by the PROFEPA**.

The last review of the regulation was published in April of 2017 introducing new guidelines for the activity.


* SEMARNAT: Secretaría del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales – Secretary of Ambient Environment and Natural Resources

** PROFEPA: PRocuraduría FEderal de Protección al Ambiente – Federal Administration of the Ambient Protection

*** CONAP: COnsejo National de Areas Protegidas