Akumal is a small beach town located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum and is 60 miles south of the Cancun International Airport. Most people either choose to lodge in Akumal or visit from one of the neighboring cities. No matter where you stay, Akumal is a popular day trip destination. With so much to do and see, here is how to spend a day (or 24 hours) in Akumal.
Depending on the time of year, you can expect the sun to rise between 7 to 7:30am during the peak tourist season (winter). If the sky is clear the sunrise is less impressive, but none the less it is a beautiful sight to see the sun rise over the trees.
If you love flying solo, at sunrise you may be the only person on the beach. Enjoy the quiet atmosphere, the beach gets crowded by mid-morning.
8:00am - Breakfast
Unless you have a kitchen and plan on making your own breakfast, head to the Turtle Bay Cafe, Lucy's Kitchen or La Buena Vida. La Buena Vida now serves breakfast from 8-11am daily. Here you'll find the traditional breakfast options, but with excellent views of the ocean.
I'm partial to the Turtle Bay Cafe as they have a wide selection of pastries, juices, smoothies and egg dishes. But I do recommend the Turtle Bay Cafe for lunch. Almond and soy milk are also available for vegans.
Walk to the main entry way to the beach. You'll notice a small shack not too far from the ocean. It's nearby the Akumal dive center. Here, you can sign up for a guided snorkeling sea turtle tour.
If you have your own gear you do not need a tour guide, but I recommend it. Getting a tour is somewhat of a waiting game. If a time slot is not available, you'll wait at the shack until a few more people sign up to get a group. Sometimes locals wander around asking, "Hey you want to snorkel?"
Either way, expect to pay around $40USD. The guided tour includes gear and a life vest. The best part is that the tour starts and ends at the shack, so no long distance travel. The guide swims with a small life raft and takes the group around the buoys. Most tours will not let you swim with suntan lotion on. Listen to the guide and do not touch the sea turtles. The lotion and oil from our hands causes an allergic reaction on the turtle's skin. You'll notice this on the tour where some turtles have goiters on their neck.
Every tour is different and depends on the weather. I saw around 8 turtles where others have seen close to 20. They are so cute and will surface for air before heading back to the sea grass.
Afterwards you can shower in the dive shop's shower in town. If not hang out til lunch.
This is my favorite restaurant in Akumal. The cutest part of this cafe are the colorful tables,
and the local stray cats that run around looking for food. I sort of wish I owned the place!
After lunch, take a walk along Akumal's shoreline. It's the best digestion aide to get your metabolism going. Enjoy the gentle crashing of the waves as you pass various resort beach clubs. Toward the end of the hotel strip, the sand turns into rocks. I recommend bringing sandals or walking slowly to avoid sticks and stones nearly breaking your feet bones. Eventually, you'll notice a half "U" shape tree. This is the perfect tree for a selfie.
After a nice, long hot walk, take a dip during the peak of the heat. The pre-swim walk allows for your food to digest and now it's time to relax and enjoy the ocean.
Around 5pm, the beach loses sun since it moves behind the trees. This is a great time to pack up your stuff and head into the small beach town. Grab a homemade ice cream cone at Lucy's Kitchen. Located in Plaza Ukana, Lucy's Kitchen is a small street-side shop, similar to a grab-n-go establishment. There are a couple tables outside, but don't be shy, grab a scoop, or two, and start your shopping adventure. You can't go wrong the traditional chocolate or vanilla.
Since it's still too warm to eat, head to the beach market shops that are near Lucy's Kitchen, The Turtle Bay Cafe and nearby the beach entryway. You'll find everything from Mexican silver to sea-troves of cheap and really expensive gifts.
Sadly, the silver is American priced. I looked at a quarter-sized Mayan pendant that was quoted around $70-80 USD. The market stalls nearby the Turtle Bay Cafe sells handmade and traditional gifts that are cheaper in price.
If you love vanilla, stock up on some Mexican vanilla. Vanilla is sold at any mainstream gift shop or food market. Try El Pueblito Minisuper.
You must go to MexicArte. The boutique-style shop features more modernized gifts, but not all gifts are indigenous to Mexico. You may find the occasional scarf made in India or China.
For Mexican folk art, check out Galeria Lamanai.
7:00pm - Dinner at El Ultimo Maya
If you want an affordable, local establishment head to El Ultimo Maya. Guests choose from a variety of fajita, quesadilla and taco options. Veggie options available. Here, you'll find nothing but authenticity. They offer heartier meals like lemon and Parmesan pasta (choose either veggies, meat or seafood) or plenty of sea-fare for the sailor to get his chops wet with king prawns, fish or ceviche.
8:45pm - Drinks
Slog down an ice cold brew or fruity mai-tai at Tequillaville or La Buena Vida. These establishments are open later either til 10pm or 11pm respectively.
Akumal is a quiet town unlike Playa del Carmen where people party until sunrise.
10:30pm - Lights Out
Head back to your hotel, apartment or home and say goodnight to a very long and stressful day at the beach.
What you do recommend to do in just one day in Akumal?