“Elegant Skeleton” (Catrina) figurines painted in shades of white, orange and blue line the store shelves. Ceramic turtles painted in a panoply of colors dangle from necklaces. Maracas, the shade of ripe mangos, perch in open baskets.
Your child’s imagination roars into delight as she moves toward the turquoise and fuchsia ceramic Day of the Dead Skull. Your imagination rushes into worry as you hope you have enough pesos in hand just in case your child accidentally breaks something.
“Do you know how many damaged maracas and ornaments we have bought in the last seven years?” one local mom said. “We could open our own shop!”
But don’t let the fear of broken souvenirs deter you from visiting the open-air market, souvenir shops, and art stores on the beach side of Akumal. Shopping can be a learning activity. It’s a chance for you and your family to learn about traditional Mexican culture, as many of the shops feature handicrafts made from regional and national artisans. Also, children are often tactile explorers, whose sense of touch is essential for growth in physical abilities, cognitive and language skills, and social and emotional development.
“They love going to gift shops and seeing the artwork and cool trinkets,” explained a local dad. “Akumal has a handful of shops and kids seem to love them all, especially if they have stuffed animals and beach toys for kids.”
Shopping is also a nice pause after snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing and grabbing something to eat at one of the many nearby, family-friendly restaurants.
The beachside of Akumal has the best places for shopping. Here is a list of kid-friendly places to visit during your stay, as recommended by local parents. Hours vary, and most shops are open every day:
Super Market Chomak was top-rated by local parents because of its shelves of stuffed animals, magnets, t-shirts, trinkets and snorkeling gear. Swimsuits, fashionable sandals, and hats are also available. It’s also a grocery store where you can get snacks, hot food, cold drinks, beer, and wine. A well-stocked pharmacy has last-minute items. The store is located on the left past the arch if you are coming from the beach and features an Aztec warrior playing ball on its large sign. Hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Mercado Palapa is in Plaza Ukana directly across the street from Super Chomak, next to the basketball court. It is a series of small, open-air shops under a thatched roof made of dried palm trees, called a “palapa.” The Mercado provides a little shade on hot days as you browse nooks filled with trinkets and handicrafts from regional and national artists. It has a wide selection of items for younger and older kids including, wooden airplanes, necklaces and friendship bracelets, Mayan masks, ceramic turtles, and small, wooden guitars. Pesos and dollars only. Hours 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Bonnilla is on the opposite side of Mercado Palapa, also in Plaza Ukana. It’s a classic souvenir shop, but also features paintings of local wildlife, the ocean, and abstract pieces in dark blues and greens. Many of the paintings are done on site by local artisans. Hours 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Akumal Dive Center is not just for diving, fishing, and snorkeling. Kids may be drawn to the colorful dive gear, masks, and swim toys. The public entrance is across from a parking lot. You can’t miss it. Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
La Buena Vida Shops is a cluster of souvenir shops called the “Bone Zone” in Half Moon Bay on North Beach Road, across from La Buena Vida (“The Good Life) restaurant. Each shop has its own theme. One sells trinkets, maracas, dream catchers, and hammocks while another specializes in artisanal handicrafts called Huichol Art, which are intricate yarn and bead designs in vibrant colors common in western central Mexico.
The combination of dazzling colors, intricate designs, and Day of the Dead figurines is irresistible. This might be a good place to keep a watchful eye for curious hands that love to touch and explore. Hours vary by shop. Most open around noon and close around 8 or 9 p.m.
A mother visiting from Atlanta recommended ending a day of souvenir shopping at La Buena Vida Shops and then going across the street to the restaurant to eat.
“It felt like an indoor playground with the treehouse, carvings, swing seats at the bar, and beachside hammocks,” she said. To be able to eat and play at the same time was quite a dream for my two boys.”
Money — A few shops take credit or debit cards, but it’s best to bring pesos or dollars. You can get cash at the bank ATM at the alcove tucked under the big arch at the center of town. The adjacent to the lobby of Las Casitas Akumal, facing the basketball court.
Parking – If you are shopping in the town center, it’s best to park at one of the three parking lots available and walk to the various stores as they are all in a cluster. Parking is available directly in front of the La Buena Vida shops.
For more info about area shopping in Akumal, visit our directory.