9 Oct 2018
Congratulations! You did it! You finally made it to Riviera Maya, and you’ve probably got “Swimming with Turtles” on your list of things to do in Akumal. If you’re not here yet or well on your way, please contact us immediately, and we’ll gladly correct this situation for you. Sea turtles are beautiful, gentle creatures that are a pure delight to hang around with and if you’re lucky enough to be on this coast it’s easy to get caught up in the hype about swimming with turtles in their natural habitat.
Safety considerations with you and the marine environment in mind
Whether it’s your first visit or your 20th consecutive year joining us in Akumal, you’ll find a myriad of options, indications and of course, opinions about who, how and where you can swim with turtles in Akumal Bay. Thanks to social media, amazing beachfront vacation rentals and great deals on flights the number of travelers visiting this quiet one-road town have grown over the years, so guidelines are safeguarding the well-being of the coral reef, turtles, and tourists’.
Upon arriving in Akumal Bay, you’ll find a system of orange and white buoys has been installed. The white buoys define the swimming areas designated for swimmers, and the orange ones are the paths for boats to navigate safely in and out of the Bay. The north end of the bay is designated for divers, commercial tour operators, and boats. Except guests staying at Las Casitas who have their own private beach area. There are two large penned areas assigned for tour operators (pink and purple on the map) and one area that is always off limits year round as part of the bay protection program (black on the map).
There are two ways to swim with turtles
You can take a guided tour with an authorized guide or swim on your own. It is up to you and your swimming abilities to decide if you want to swim by yourself or use a guide. Either way, please make sure to read signage and follow instructions accordingly. Selecting a guided tour can be a bit overwhelming, so we like to recommend The Akumal Dive Shop and Akumal Dive Center for their excellent service, facilities and customer satisfaction. If you like to streamline your vacation for maximum playtime, you can always just contact LocoGringo’s excellent concierge, Paulina, and she’ll set up a snorkel tour for you!
Somethings in life are still free
You’ll be glad to know that swimming in Akumal Bay is absolutely free. Yes, free. That said, lodging, parking, life vests and snorkel gear are not free nor is the use of restrooms so do bring your pesos to pay for the use of these facilities or equipment. If you’re staying in any of the surrounding areas you can walk to Akumal Bay enter through the pathway that’s just past the arch that leads to the beach. You’ll probably encounter free-lancing snorkel guides who will offer their services which you can only power through with a smile and a “no thank you.” I personally recommend avoiding making eye contact as they are great at engaging conversation and before you know it you’ve spent twice what you wanted.
Snorkelers swimming sans guide can walk over to the central area of the bay just past Club Akumal Caribe Hotel where you’ll see another series of white buoys for you to enter.
Simple guidelines to keep in mind
Whether you’re swimming alone or with a guide, please remember these tips.
Observe the turtles from afar. Do not touch, chase or harass the turtles in any way or form. They don’t like it. How would you feel if somebody showed up at your door and started touching, poking, grabbing and running after you in your own home?
The weird rock formations in the middle of the bay are not nature’s rest stops for you to stand on while you take a breather or selfies. They’re beautiful coral heads that can display a rainbow of colors and are home to other marine animals.
Take home pictures, memories and all your trash with you. Like one of my friend’s mom used to say back home, “Mi casa es tu casa pero sin hacer mugrero” which means “My home is your home just don’t make a mess.”
Do wear a life vest, regardless of what an awesome swimmer you are and how many trophies you’ve won. You are entering the ocean, an entirely different habitat where even the most avid swimmer may quickly tire or find themselves in a bind.
These are not rocks. Don’t stand on the coral.
So there you have it guys, now you know how to swim with turtles the right way in Akumal in a nutshell.
Of course, if you have any doubts or questions feel free to swing by CEA or The Akumal Dive Center and their staff will happily point you in the right direction.