Update Feb 18, 2018
The existing rules still apply to swimming with the turtles.
Rules and Guidelines for swimming with Turtles in Akumal Bay
Snorkel Tour Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Mondays.
An authorized guide is mandatory within Circuits 1 and 2.
Snorkel activities can only be done with the official SEMARNAP permits.
Maximum 6 people per group with an authorized guide.
Maximum time per group: 55 minutes for Circuit 1 and 65 minutes for Circuit 2.
Please respect the designated swimming areas.
Do not swim inside the boat channel and the surrounded area squared off in red, it is very dangerous.
Please help us conserve this area by following the rules.
This area is protected by the Federal Government.
The arrows read as follows:
Circuit 1 Entrance
Circuit 2 Entrance
DANGER! Navigation channel. No swimming.
Where exactly can I swim?
In late 2017 a system of buoys was installed through the bay delimiting the perimeter where commercial tour operators can take paying tourists on a quick, easy tour to swim with turtles. Visitors can most certainly swim within the designated guide-free areas of Akumal Bay at their leisure in the central and southern end of the bay. The north beach of Akumal Bay just in front of Las Casitas is also open for guide-free swimming. At the moment the signage can be somewhat confusing so be sure to stop by the Akumal Dive Center where they are more than happy to show exactly where you can enter the water to snorkel on your own.
Every year this small sleepy beach town welcomes hundreds of thousands of travelers from all over the world to swim with the resident turtles of Akumal Bay in their natural habitat. Just like the expats that have decided to make this small Mexican town their permanent home, sea turtles have chosen to reside in Akumal Bay year round too making this one of the most popular activities on the coast.
Who can swim in the guide-free areas?
Adults, children, senior citizens that can swim and are sure of their underwater skills can partake in this delightful recreational activity in the Caribbean waters at their own risk. Akumal Bay is preferred by travelers given that it is normally quite calm in comparison to larger beaches. However, this is still the ocean, and there are other amazing creatures including colorful tropical fish, stingrays, coral heads, the occasional barracuda and sea urchins.
Do I have to wear a life-vest?
Technically, no but preferably yes. Swimming in natural bodies of water requires a bit more skill and stamina than in a swimming pool. Some currents and riptides can carry you further out from the shore so the swim back to the mainland quite the effort. Wearing a life jacket will also help you float should you get tired and avoid stand on the coral which is strictly prohibited as doing so will kill the coral.
Can I wear fins?
Only short fins are to be used inside the bay to avoid kicking the coral which causes the coral to break and die. It takes coral one whole year to grow .03 centimeters to 2 centimeters. This is hardly an inch, so it is important to be very mindful of one’s movements while snorkeling.
Do I have to bring my own snorkel gear?
No, you can rent snorkel gear at any of the dive shops in town.
Where can I learn more about the sea turtles in Akumal Bay?
You can visit CEA Centro Ecologico de Akumal right next door to the Akumal Dive Shop for more information and details about the turtle conservation programs. CEA a non-governmental organization that focuses on sustainability-related issues and improving ecosystem management in and around Akumal.
As this is a new program ordinance for the entire community stay-tuned to LocoGringo.com for the latest updates about snorkeling in Akumal Bay.