This is one of my favorite photos from our travels. It was taken in Akumal, Mexico in 2006. (Check out the bear in CAM’s arm – that bear truly has traveled more than most adults!)
Akumal is a tiny pueblo between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum on the Yucatan coast. I stumbled upon the town when traveling with some girlfriends (without children!) in 2003.
Akumal has a grocery store, some craft stores, two dive shops and a couple of restaurants. The Ecological Center is the heart and pride of the town. It hosts an interesting display on the history of Akumal as a nesting place for Green and Loggerhead turtles and information on the activities of center employees and volunteers in caring for the local turtle population. You can also sign up to participate in night-time turtle walks to help find turtle hatchlings. Hatchlings, on a dark beach, are guided by moonlight towards the water. Beach lights from houses and hotels can confuse them and cause them to turn away from the ocean and toward the danger of buildings on the shore.
CAM, who was then 10, was fascinated by the night-time beach walk and utterly intrigued by the hatchlings. Months after we had returned home, he was still re-telling the story of how he had helped to find a hatchling. Since BigB had fallen asleep as we drove to the start point for the walk, so, while CAM and his Dad were looking for hatchlings, I waited on a recliner with my (not-so-small) baby fast asleep on my lap. Imagine my surprise when a turtle came out of the ocean, lumbered heavily directly towards me, and started to thrash about on the sand preparing a nest. What a sight! Unfortunately this particular turtle-mom had chosen a spot extremely close to an existing nest, so although the naturalists tried to encourage her to move a little away from the existing nest, in the end she gave up and lurched back to the ocean – most likely to attempt to find a nesting spot at a different place on the bay.
We stayed at the Vista Del Mar condo hotel. Our two-bed condo opened directly onto the beach with hooks for hammocks outside the door. The tiled, white-painted interior was a cool respite from the heat in the middle of the day.
This condo hotel is not like the larger resort hotel developments which have been built along the Mayan Riviera from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen and more recently, south towards Tulum. The rooms are spacious and comfortable with fully equipped kitchens but they are simply furnished and there is only AC in the bedrooms. Similarly, there is an internet cafe on site, but no internet in the rooms and no cable TV.
The hotel facilities are basic – the on-site pool is small for example – but there are treehouses on the beach in which my children ate their meals at every opportunity and, who needs a fancy pool when there’s a reef on your doorstep? BigB and I snorkled daily.
Next time you decide to visit Mexico, I encourage you to stray a little outside dedicated tourist resort areas. You never know, you might, like me, find a family-friendly place like Akumal in which you really can relax away from the rush of modern life.
Mayan Ruins and Water Parks in Mexico