Friday, April 10, 2009

Akumal, Mexico: The Place of the Turtles

Akumal is a short ride from Playa del Carmen, but it's like a different world. The word "Akumal" means "The Place of the Turtles" in Maya. While Playa del Carmen is a lively city on the beach, Akumal is like a sleepy little village. Both have shops, bars, and restaurants, but Akumal's draw is the laid back beach and not the night life. Home to a sea turtle sanctuary, we saw no less than SIX sea turtles, three adults and three cute little juveniles when we were snorkeling there. When I go back to the Riviera Maya, I'll definitely spend more time at Akumal.
To get there from Playa, we walked to a street with some collectivos. We managed to find one that was going south. The collectivo is basically a mini van that goes up and down the highway, stopping at various destinations, depending on where the passengers want to go. It's sort of like a cab and a bus combined, and it was way cheaper than renting a car or getting a private taxi. The collectivo was packed filled with people before we left Playa, and just when I thought we were dropping people off, more people got on. It was squishy and weird but definitely interesting, sort of fun, and cheap. When we finally got to Akumal, the collectivo dropped us off on the highway, and we had to walk to the beach. At first, it was a little confusing because there was so much construction going on. We had to go over a walking bridge, dodge some construction debris, then find this freshly cemented path:Eventually, the path turned green and shady. We stocked up on water and snacks at a little grocery store that had this wooden mermaid hanging in front of it. I love mermaids!

I had a blast shopping at MexicArte, a folk art shop filled with jewelry, ornaments, and art crafted by local artisans. The beach was calm and relaxing.

We picked a shady spot near a palm tree, rented some snorkel equipment right on the beach at Akumal Dive Shop, then swam with a barracuda, some needlefish, French grunts, a bunch of other fish, and sea turtles. What a lovely end to a great trip!

There were quite a few vegan options at the Akumal restaurants, all within walking distance of the beach. The beach bar had veggie burgers, and two more restaurants had veggie options. We settled on the Turtle Bay Cafe.

I had the lentil burger. It was deliciously smothered with beets, carrots, lettuce, hummus and mustard. Yum! All that and a deliciously refreshing limeade for about six US dollars.

I'll definitely go back to Akumal again! Now, I'm off to the Florida Keys. I'll be diving in Key Largo and taking a sunset kayak tour in Key West. More on that soon!


Anonymous said...

A kayak tour? Wow! I'm still taking in all your Mexican goodness! Those photos are beautiful, and I think you capture the collectivo ambiance pretty well, too!
Oh Mexico, I miss you so!

River said...

Gorgeous pictures! I must admit I'm a little jealous of all the beachy awesomeness. That wooden mermaid is so cool!

Thank you for your comment! You may call me Ms. Hepburn! :-D

Anonymous said...

Such beautiful scenery... Have I told you yet that I'm jealous? Well, I seriously am!

A said...

Mmmm, that burger looks delish!

Theresa said...

Wow, it looks like a really lovely trip. Anywhere called the place of the turtles is bound to be a winner. Yummy looking burger and chips, too!

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Craig? said...

I just got back from Akumal, and the lentil burger was filled with cheese. guess they have changed things since you went there. :/ however, the veggie fajitas, no cheese, no butter, at LOL HA were FANTASTIC! highly recommended!!