While travelling one of our main passions is to try to swim with as many different marine life in the wild as possible. Whether it’s Dolphins, Seals or shoals of fish, we are always on the lookout for the next opportunity to do so.
So when we recently visited Riviera Maya in Mexico we knew we had to get down to the small fishing village of Akumal where we discovered swimming with sea turtles was possible just yards off the beach. The ocean floor at Akumal is covered in sea grass and that’s what attracts the sea turtles to this area. They’ll spend hours just swimming around eating the sea grass and every so often heading up to the surface for oxygen. Luckily for us (great planning more like) we were staying a short Collectivo ride up the road from Akumal. The Collectivo, a minivan which is popular with the locals, travels up and down the main high connecting Tulum and Playa Del Carmen and for around 35 pesos (£1.40) it’s the cheapest and best way to get around Riviera Maya.
After the Collectivo dropped us off on the highway, we made the short 10 minute walk down to Akumal Village passing a few little food shacks and a small supermarket on the way down. A small word of warning, on the walk down to the main village you will no doubt pass groups of men trying to sell you tours to swim with the Turtles. They will tell you that it’s best to pay to go on a tour with them as they know where the best place to go swimming with sea Turtles. It’s completely up to you if you want to take one of these tours but if you’re on a budget you really don’t need to as the Turtles are easy to spot as you will see below.
Once we arrived into the centre of Akumal, we were greeted by a stunning beach stretching down around the bay with the lush turquoise Caribbean sea gently lapping up against the soft sand. Spread out along the edge of the beach was a couple of restaurants and bars selling a range of local and international cuisine with a relaxed atmosphere, it looked a great place to chill out with some fish tacos and a bottle or two of Corona. Unfortunately we had not long had a (late) breakfast so didn’t stop to try any of the food, plus we were here for one thing and one thing only, swimming with the sea turtles!
Need Snorkelling Gear? No Worries..
There are two dive shops in Akumal, Akumal Dive Shop and Akumal Dive Center, both hire out life jackets, mask and snorkel and can provide you with lockers. As we already had our own mask and snorkel we just hired out a locker for a few $ to store our bags in. If you aren’t a strong swimmer or you easily tire it’s advisable to hire out a life jacket as you will be in the water for quite sometime swimming around trying to find and/or watching the sea turtles.
Swimming With Sea Turtles…
Now for the bit we had been waiting for! No sooner had we made it down on to the beach we had dumped our beach bag, donned our snorkel gear and made a beeline for the water. Within 5 minutes of swimming around we caught a glimpse of our first sea turtle, lazily swimming along feeding on the seagrass. We swam along with it for what seemed like ages just watching in awe at these graceful sea creatures just minding their own business. We found the whole experience of swimming with sea turtles so relaxing and calming, after a while you forget your swimming around in the ocean. We spent a further two hours swimming around watching the turtles, we even came across a stingray!
When you first enter the water you will see groups of people swarming around patches in the ocean watching turtles, you will be tempted to swim over and join in, but don’t. People tend to forget the turtles are wild animals in their natural environment, respect the turtles, give them space and don’t try to touch them. Swim around on your own for a bit and you will eventually come across a turtle by yourself, you will enjoy the experience a whole lot more.
We loved our time swimming with sea turtles and have already researched about where we are going to do it next on our travels. We definitely recommend it to anyone who is visiting Riviera Maya to make time to visit Akumal, you won’t regret. We are also going to try to volunteer at the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Sanctuary in Sri Lanka when we visit early next year, as along with most people we know the dangers us humans put these beautiful creatures in, we need to protect our marine life and help where we can and do our bit to protect them where/when possible.
Have you ever visited Akumal and swam with the sea turtles? Or perhaps you’ve swam with them elsewhere on your travels, we would love to hear your tales!
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