Akumal and Flashing Turtles

Hey everyone, I apologize for the ridiculously long previous post and promise this one will be smaller. I do realize that most of you have lives of some sort and listening to me blab on and on and about blabbing on and on is probably a waste of your time and …. Well, you get my point. 😉

Akumal Mexico Turtle Diving
Diving after a breath at the surface

So yesterday we finally got to check out the beach at Akumal. Though the weather the past few days hasn’t been the warmest (okay, so plus 26 is definitely better than -26 and with the humidity it still feels like 32 however), the wind has been pretty calm lately. We heard that Akumal has a nice reef just offshore and that it broke the waves up but we still didn’t want to risk going out all the way there and not getting a chance to snorkel.

To our shame, we’ve been here over a month and the only time we’ve strapped the mask and snorkel on was in the pool as we were teaching Cole how to do it. I could hardly stand to look at myself anymore, the shame of not having snorkeled was too great. Fine, it wasn’t too great but I did feel we owed it ourselves to get out and see what the underwater world had to offer. I also suppose that I should have done a bit of snorkeling in Cozumel instead of bitching about the taxi mafia but I’m not even sure we brought our snorkeling equipment that day.

We headed out before 10 and were a little nervous about the wind. We were also a little nervous because though we’ve had a dozen people telling us how to get there we never bothered listening that closely to how they actually reached the beach. You see Akumal is a little like Tulum in that the town is actually off the beach a ways. When the collectivo drops you off you’re pretty much on the side of the highway next to a very large overpass.

You have two options at this point, follow the ramp into town and grab a taxi to the beach or climb the pedestrian walkway and head towards the beach. We weren’t sure which way was best seeing that it looked like a fair walk into town and the pedestrian bridge was 2 flights of stairs higher than either of us felt like walking. We opted to cross the bridge solely on the fact that we knew the water was that direction. It seemed ridiculous to walk in the opposite direction really.

After climbing the stairs and crossing over we headed in the direction of the beach. We had read that it was 2 kilometers to the beach and when we got to the other road we were a little disconcerted to find neither a taxi nor a soul in sight. We could have turned around and walked into town but we figured there would be a taxi along sooner or later.

There was a nicely paved pathway meandering in the direction we thought we should go so we followed that. Thankfully there was a little shade here and there along the walk because though the temperature wasn’t ridiculous, the sun felt like someone had turned the dial up to incinerate. Poor Micki was baking and Jordan refused to walk or let me carry her. Needless to say the second we stumbled across a little grocery shop we stopped to pick up some drinks and bask in the AC for a minute or two.

After we set out again we were a little stumped on where to go. There weren’t any signs around and it looked like a giant wall loomed in front of us. Basically between the wall and the security guy at the gate it made us think that we had taken a wrong turn somewhere. Since there was only one road in or out of the area we knew that something wasn’t adding up.

Thankfully we found a huge map to guide our way. The only problem with that was we had no idea where in the hell we were on that it. I guess you can say that whoever drew it was exercising their creative license. Based purely on the fact that the road ran smack through that gate we barreled on ahead. As soon as we did we realized that the beach was right there. Not only that but there were signs all over for the restaurants and shops we had read about.

As we walked onto the beach proper there were two things that instantly struck me. One was that there was like zero waves and the second that this was an excellent place to take your kids. The bay itself was smaller than I expected but it was still a decent enough size considering all the people mucking about. The beach also had half decent sand and the water seemed very clear. The only downside to the whole place was there wasn’t a lot of lounge chairs to be had. Well, there weren’t any to be honest but we did manage to find a cozy spot under a few coconut trees to set up camp. Once we had staked our plot we grabbed the kids and headed to the restaurant to grab some lunch.

We had heard that the Lolha restaurant was pretty good. It was however also almost twice the price that we had read about. Not to be undone we plowed ahead and ordered some grub. I had a bacon cheeseburger and a big plate of fries. I haven’t had a lot of chances to have that since we got here. It seems we eat Mexican or Italian most of the time so it was a real treat for me.

I also got a chance to wash it down with a Corona. Corona is my favorite beer but it seems out here it’s hard to come by and I usually have to make do with Sol which I find is just a cheap ripoff. The food was pretty tasty but I realized my mistake as we walked back to our towels.

Lolha Restaurant at Akumal Beach
Tables Facing the Beach at Lolha Restaurant Akumal Beach

I was just itching to get out in the water and go snorkeling but I had just eaten a monster burger and was stuffed. Luckily, half the people were wearing flippers and I didn’t look too out of place waddling back to our spot. After a few minutes of watching the crowds venture out into the bay I couldn’t resist any longer. I kissed Micki and the kids goodbye (we were each going to have a turn since someone had to watch the kids) and jumped in.

The water was glorious. I have to say I’ve snorkeled in a lot of different places over the years and yesterday was the first day I truly wished I had some flippers. Micki and I decided years ago that flippers were just too cumbersome to carry around with us everywhere. We still believe it (especially now that we have the kids stuff as well) but that didn’t stop me from wishing I had some that day.

The reason Akumal is such a good snorkeling spot is hands down because of the turtles. There’s sea grass everywhere in the bay and to a turtle that has to be good eating. We had read about where to see what in the bay but it wasn’t too hard to figure out where the only turtle was that day. There were at least a dozen people surrounding it the majority of the time. If the turtle decided to join a rock band and dye his head purple I believe he’d still have the same amount of groupies. True, seeing a wild sea turtle only a few feet from you is a definite cool thing however people come on, give the thing some breathing room.

When I finally reached it I was a little winded and glad to be able to relax for a few moments. It was a lot smaller than the previous ones I’ve seen and to be honest I have no idea what kind it was. I suppose I could go look it up but I’d rather just finish this sea tale.

So there I was (along with 6 or 7 other people) floating along the water watching a young sea turtle chomping away while trying not to bump into anyone. One fellow kept going down to take pictures and every time his camera made a loud clicking noise it scared the turtle away. Now those with fins could easily keep up but I was barefoot (of course) and it was a bit of work. Especially with that big burger sitting in there.

I was preparing to take my leave when I witnessed what I found hugely comical. There were only 5 or 6 of us at that point and one happened to be a couple. I was starting to turn away when the girl started frantically gesturing to her boyfriend. I thought either she had seen something cool or something had happened right then that I missed.

As I looked closer I could see her trying to tell him something. He was waving her off but she was persistent. He finally relented and next thing I knew she was swimming down to the turtle bare chested. He swam down as well and took her picture next to the turtle. The funniest thing is I swear the turtle looked at her and shook his head in disgust. If the turtle could talk I’m sure he would have said “Damn humans, can’t you see I’m eating here?” I literally laughed so hard I got water into my mask.

I saw a big group of people heading towards us so I decided to explore the rest of the bay. To the north I finally found some corral and colorful fish (up to that point I had only seen the occasional one here or there). After swimming around a bit I headed back inland. I stopped for half a minute to watch the sea turtle again (there were 18 people circling it) and swam to shore. I have to say that going in took a lot longer than going out.

Micki and the kids were playing in the shallows (it was the first time they could play in and out of the water without us worrying about them falling in the waves). Micki decided she would hold off snorkeling until the next time (we’re totally going back) and we enjoyed playing with the kids.

Cole and Jordan got a treat when I grabbed the half eaten hot dog bun that Cole had at lunch and fed the fish. Cole got so brave he would actually hold the pieces while the fish nibbled. There were dozens around us by the time we were done. The majority of them followed me around for the next 20 minutes hoping I had more.

The clouds looked like they were rolling in so we decided to call it a day. We had had a good time and plan on returning again soon.

We also had a good chuckle as we walked out of the gates and noticed a group of guys trying to make sense of the same large map we had previously found. There were 4 of them and each wanted to go in a different direction. We told them to just walk through the gate and they were there. It felt nice to give someone directions for a change.

We then walked the half kilometer back to the collectivo stand. No way was it 2 kilometers as they say however walking in it sure felt like it. We had a nice ride home though and got to relax for the rest of the night.

With that I’ll leave you with this thought. Never flash a turtle when there are a half dozen witnesses with cameras. I would imagine there’ll be a few funny Facebook postings in the next few days. Have fun!

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