I was honestly pretty lazy in Tulum. I was over traveling, tired, and didn’t want to do much else besides lie on the beach and eat Mexican food. I had heard about a place nearby where you could snorkel and see giant sea turtles as well as tropical fish in a coral reef. I had to keep convincing myself all morning to go before I finally made it out the door. I think part of it was not wanting to go alone but when have I ever let that hold me back before?
Here is a BIG insider tip on Akumal and how to do it for only $35 MXN (about $1.75 USD). To get to Akumal from the Tulum city center take a taxi collectivo which you can catch along the main road. There will be signs posted with a picture of a bus on it or, if you see a bunch of people standing around waiting for something ask if this is where you can catch a taxi collectivo. You want the collectivo going in the direction of Playa del Carmen and they will stop along the way at Akumal. It’s only $35 MXN (about $1.75 USD). The collectivo will drop you off at a bus stop that says Akumal. From there, walk East towards the beach. As you walk towards the beach, you will be approached by people telling you you need to rent a life jacket, that you need a tour guide, that you won’t be able to see the fish or turtles without them. All of this is a lie. Just say, “No, gracias” and walk on past them. When you get to the beach walk south until you reach a red flag, and the snorkeling is just beyond that. You’ll know you’re there by the hordes of people in the water snorkeling. I think it’s more fun to actually use goggles than a snorkel mask. You can get down in close with the fish and turtles but don’t touch them! If you don’t have goggles or a snorkel mask you can rent one there but you do not need to rent a life jacket.
Just as I got to the beach, Edgargo sent me a message asking me what I was up to. I told him I was at Akumal and he said he’d come ride his bike to meet me. He’s crazy, it was in the middle of the day, in the sweltering heat and it would take him about an hour to get there.
We snorkeled in the water for a few hours until we were starving and needed food. If you’re on a budget don’t eat at the restaurants in Akumal, they are highly over priced. There is an OXXO (Mexico’s convenience store chain) right at the entrance to the beach where you can buy snacks for cheap. I suggest buying snacks to hold you over and eating back in Tulum.
When we got back to Tulum we ate at my favorite Anojitos place and I showed him my favorite ice cream place for dessert. I had been eating ice cream at this Italian gelato place called Campanella everyday since coming to Tulum. They have the best ice cream I have ever had in my life and since ice cream is one of my favorite foods, I’ve had a lot of it.
Since we had first met, Edgargo had been asking me if we could camp on the beach. I didn’t know if I was up for anymore romantic encounters after what had happened in Cuba so I kept saying no. Finally, on my last night in Tulum after spending a somewhat romantic day snorkeling with him, I agreed. I mean my life motto is YOLO, right? What did I have to lose?
The plan was for me to go back to where I was staying, pack my stuff, meet him at his hostel, and then we’d head to the beach. Well, that didn’t happen. When I got to his hostel he was acting super weird saying he was too tired to go camping and we should just sleep in a tent pitched in the hostel yard. This romantic event was really taking a turn for the worse. We got into the tent in the hostel yard and it was extremely uncomfortable. It was pitched on top of concrete and without any padding, I was very uncomfortable. I told him I didn’t want to sleep there and I’d just go back to where I was staying. He kept trying to get me to lay down and I could quickly see where this was going. I thought well I could leave now or I could have sex with him in this tent in the middle of a hostel yard. Wanting to be more spontaneous and carefree I chose the second option and afterwards I really wished I had gone with the first. I’d love to be the type of person who is all about free love but that’s just not me. It was a good lesson in something I already knew about myself. I’d rather have sex with someone special who I care about then have sex just to have sex. Not to mention it was pretty lackluster.
How to get to Akumal:
From Tulum take a taxi collectivo going North. You can catch them on the main Tulum Avenida, it should say Playa del Carmen on the front and the driver should be yelling out where they are going as well.
Get off at the Akumal bus stop, it’s about 30 to 45 minutes outside of Tulum. You can ask the driver to let you know when it’s your stop.
Walk East towards the water.
Do not believe any of the vendors trying to sell you tours or life jackets. Just walk straight to the water.
Once you get to the beach turn right and walk until you see an orange flag. The snorkeling is past the orange flag. You should see groups of people in the water snorkeling as well.
Make sure not to touch the giant turtles or fish and don’t wear too much sunscreen.