Visiting Akumal has always been my favorite day-trip from Playa del Carmen. Whenever I meet a new visitor to Playa it is THE place I recommend they visit. The beach is pristine and the crystal clear water is filled with sea turtles who feed in the bay. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who hasn’t enjoyed snorkeling with those majestic creatures.
Just last week I discovered yet another treasure of Akumal – Yal-ku lagoon. I’d heard of it before and had created a picture in my mind of a sandy inlet like some of the other lagoons I’d seen along the Riviera Maya. Upon entering the lagoon via a jungle-clad path dotted with bronze sculptures, however, I realized that Yal-ku was indeed a very unique place, unlike anything I’d seen in the area.
Yal-ku is located to the north of the main beach. Upon arriving in Akumal from the highway, follow the road to the end and turn left. After about five minutes, take another left at the sign for the lagoon which leads to the parking lot and registration area. Here, tickets are available for 150 Pesos per person, or about US$12. Snorkels, fins and life jackets are also available for hire, or you can bring your own.
If I had to describe the lagoon, I would say it is half-cenote, half-ocean. This description is fairly accurate, as Yal-ku is fed by both natural ground water and sea water which flows in from the Caribbean.
The lagoon is most famous for its snorkeling, and whilst you wont find any sea turtles here, you will see a lot of fish of all shapes and sizes. It was some of the best snorkeling I’ve done in the area, swimming around in the clear, protected lagoon and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere.
The lagoon is rather large, and there are many islands and rocky coves to explore. Snorkeling around the large mangrove island was a unique experience as I’d never seen mangroves from under the water before; with fish hiding and feeding in its slimy roots.
I went with a group of ladies and we hired a thatched palapa for the day for 200 Pesos (about $18). You don’t have to do this, and there are lockers and some seating areas available to leave your belongings, but it was really nice to have our own shaded area complete with a large round table, chairs and even a hammock.
It was just a few steps from the palapa to the entry of the lagoon, which made for a lovely relaxing day of snorkeling and chilling out. We brought our own drinks and snacks (alcohol is not allowed) and enjoyed views out over the lagoon which stretched towards the Caribbean.
We enjoyed ourselves so much we were one of the last groups to leave when the staff came around at closing time to rouse everyone out of the water for closing time.
So now when I’m recommending places to visit to first-time visitors to Playa del Carmen, I’ll have to include the Yal-ku lagoon in Akumal on my list of the top places to visit. A beautiful, natural environment which has been well preserved for all to enjoy. Especially the fish!
Tip: Yal-ku lagoon is located in the area of Akumal, about a 40 minute drive south of Playa del Carmen. It is best reached by car.