Snorkelling with turtles at Akumal Beach – April 2019

25/04/2019
Blog post

One thing I knew I simply had to do whilst I was in Mexico was snorkel with sea turtles at Akumal Bay. After much googling – Where I came across lots of conflicting information – I got there and without a doubt, it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Due to the sheer amount of confusing information online I thought I would share my experience for anyone out there who is as lost with it all as I was.

To kick things off, I’ll share how we got there.

Now there is the option to take a tour but honestly, the ones I googled weren’t very good value for money (in my opinion). There is also the option of getting a collectivo – A shared shuttle bus of sorts. These are dirt cheap but I read somewhere that a lot of locals use these to get to work, and if the bus is full, they won’t get on the bus and therefore might not get to work on time. That really stuck with me if I’m being honest and I didn’t want to be the reason someone missed their shift so that I could save a couple of quid.

Instead we opted for a private taxi. Nope, not the cheapest option I know, but as we decided pretty last minute to go to Akumal. It was the easiest option for us, especially with husband’s poorly foot. This cost us 1100 MXN – £45. Not the cheapest taxi ride in the world but it was just the two of us and the journey took around 30 minutes from our hotel so we didn’t feel to hard done by.

We were dropped off at the main entrance where several Akumal Bay staff members were informing tourists on the procedures. At 9am, we entered a small kiosk and paid 100 MXN/£4 each for wristbands that gave us access to the bay. Now I read that there are still several free access points along the bay but for £4 I didn’t really mind, especially as the money was for the conservation of the turtles. We paid another £4 deposit for a locker (you get it back when you return the key) and then we went through a turnstile where our wristbands were scanned. Once our belongings were safely stored away, it was time to head down to the beach.

We walked out of the doors and immediately a member of staff commandeered us – Well we think he was a member of staff, he had a legit t shirt on and a pass around his neck. He told us that in order to go find the turtles we needed to get a guide due to new regulations that had been put in place to protect the animals. The local guides on the beach were available for 500MXN/£20 each and this included snorkels and life jackets.

Now I’m not sure if the whole ‘you need a guide’ thing is a scam or what but in the end, we got one and it turned out to be the best decision for us.

The guide took us out in to the water and the first part was pretty easy but once we got into the deeper waters the water got choppier and the swim got hard (Thankfully our guide had bought a floatie ring out with him cos of Jody’s foot so I held on to that for most of the circuit). I also hadn’t snorkelled for three years so I got a bit of a panic on at first but once I saw my first turtle, all of those feelings evaporated.

Honestly, it was bloody amazing.

And we didn’t see just the one turtle, we saw around seven (and two rays and a squid). There are strict rules in place to ensure that you do not disturb the turtles (the guides keep you well back and there are fellas in kayaks ready to shout at your if you where you aren’t supposed too) and they seemed pretty oblivious to the humans surrounding them.

It was absolutely out of this world and one of the best things I have ever done. I didn’t have an underwater camera with me sadly so there’s no photographic evidence (sorry if you only came for the cute turtle pics) but I’ve got the memories safely stored away.

Things to note:

  • Get there early. You are way more likely to see turtles in the morning as this is when they feed on the sea grass. It’s also the quietest time of the day, by the time we left around 11, the place was heaving.
  • Apparently they only let 300 people in a day in the name of conservation so that’s another fantastic reason to wake up early and make your way to Akumal.
  • Like I said, I’m not 100% sure if needing a guide is a necessity but if you are a weak swimmer or might need assistance, it’s a good way to go. He also pointed out quite a few turtles (and other creatures) that we would have missed if we were on our own.
  • Also, the Akumal dive shop charges 50USD/39GBP for an hour long tour so going with a local guide is a bit more purse friendly. The dive shop tours also seemed to have a lot more people on them – The local will only take you and your party out.
  • Get there early. You are way more likely to see turtles in the morning as this is when they feed on the sea grass. It’s also the quietest time of the day, by the time we left around 11, the place was heaving.
  • Apparently they only let 300 people in a day in the name of conservation so that’s another fantastic reason to wake up early and make your way to Akumal.
  • Like I said, I’m not 100% sure if needing a guide is a necessity but if you are a weak swimmer or might need assistance, it’s a good way to go. He also pointed out quite a few turtles (and other creatures) that we would have missed if we were on our own.
  • Also, the Akumal dive shop charges 50USD/39GBP for an hour long tour so going with a local guide is a bit more purse friendly. The dive shop tours also seemed to have a lot more people on them – The local will only take you and your party out.
What’s your most memorable travel experience? Let me know in the comments!

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