Akumal is famous in these parts for Loggerhead & green turtle. In fact, Akumal is affectionately known as ‘The Land Of The Turtles’. But if you fancy a day away from the beach, immersing yourself in a real life a tropical fish tank then Yal-Ku Lagoon is the place to be.
Akumal can be accessed by collectivo from Playa Del Carmen & Tulum. Once you have reached the centre which is around a 5-10 minute walk from the highway you will find a road to your left just before the arches. Now you are more than welcome to wander along this road to Yal-Ku but it is around a 50 minute walk with very little shade. The best option in to jump in a taxi just before the arches for $100 pesos to the entrance of Yal-Ku Lagoon,
You will be greeted by a friendly gentleman who will show you the prices for entry before guiding you to the cashier. At the time of our visit the cost for entry was $269 pesos per person or $14 US Dollars. The prices here seem to change on a weekly basis so just be sure to take enough cash to cover any price increases. They do speak a little English in case you have any questions.
At the cashier you have the option to rent snorkels, flippers, life vests & lockers. We always travel with our own snorkel gear so we just purchased a locker at $50 pesos. From what I can remember the rental for everything else was around $70-90 pesos per item.
Next to the cashier area are the toilets, changing rooms, showers and lockers. A 30 second walk from here through the jungle and you are welcomed with what could be my favourite view so far:
We only put our valuables into the locker like money and phones. Our beach bag came with us and we left it on one of the benches scattered around the lagoon along with our flip-flops and clothes.
The water was cooler than the sea due to it being a mix of freshwater and sea water. We started to swim out towards the ocean where there was quite a strong current. We’re both relatively good swimmers so it was a good workout. If you aren’t a confident swimmer I would 100% recommend that you get a life vest to make swimming a bit easier.
We swam towards the ocean and didn’t see an awful lot so headed back into the coves of the lagoon. That was the best decision we made. The variety of species was so surprising! We’ve been snorkelling in Mexico numerous times and never have we witnessed the diversity that Yal-Ku holds! It turns out that Yal-Ku is part of the same ecosystem that Xel-Ha is (one of the big expensive eco-parks here in Riviera Maya) We saw everything from parrot fish to barracuda to jelly fish to damsels, even two different species of angel fish!
The best snorkelling spots are the areas where you enter the lagoon. There are so many little crevices for the fish here. Every time we looked closely we saw more and more species! It is essentially a nursery for these fish.
Be sure to take some time to explore the grounds. Hidden throughout the jungle are lots of different statues. This one was my favourite:
If you are considering a trip to Xel-Ha then definitely look into Yal-Ku Lagoon as a different option. Our AirB&B host was the person who recommended it to us. No it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that Xel-Ha does but if you’re like us and there purely to stick your head under the sea and swim with the fishes then this is an excellent option. We were definitely more than satisfied.
– Bring eco-friendly sun cream. The lagoon is a very delicate eco-system. Do not upset it by swimming with chemicals on your skin! They have showers for you to rinse off any products on your skin/hair.
-If you don’t have eco-friendly sun cream then consider buying a rash guard. These will protect you from the sun without the need for chemicals. Wal-Mart here in Mexico currently sell them for a couple hundred pesos.
-They don’t allow coolers into the park but you can pack some water and snacks in your beach bag to keep you going.
-There is a snack bar on site but it is expensive.
-Take an underwater camera. We use a Garmin with a dive housing. You can also buy casings for your current camera. There are some very instagram worthy pictures to be taken here!
– Arrive earlyish. We were there around 10am and lucky if there were 5 people in the lagoon. Tour groups do come here but the lagoon is so big we hardly noticed them! (Opening times 9am-5pm everyday) We spent a good half day there but could’ve easily lasted the whole day! There really are enough nooks and crannies to explore.
Have you ever been to Yal-Ku Lagoon? What’s your favourite hidden gem? Let us know in the comments below.