When I first heard about Akumal bay I was thrilled at the idea of visiting a place where I could swim with free and wild turtles. Of course I was concerned about the safety of the animals, I don’t really like to bother them just for my curiosity, but I read that the area is somehow a natural reserve, so I thought that it would be ok.
When I got to the beach I was approached by a representative from SEMARNAT (the official organization for the protection of the environment) that explained to me all the important rules that everyone should follow to protect the animals and the reef: it is forbidden to touch and feed the animals or to go too close to them, you can’t use lotions and if you want to swim in the protected area you need to wear a snorkeling jacket in order to protect the reef (you can rent one if you don’t have it).
You are also not supposed to enter the protected areas without a tour…but that depends on how many guards are actually patrolling around.
Imagine my disappointment when I saw how overcrowded the beach was…
Both locals and tourists were listening to loud music, eating, drinking and smoking. All the bars and the restaurants were full of people eating nothing but meat and fish (and that is quite annoying for me). I soon abandoned the idea of a swim because the water was overcrowded too.
I soon learned that even if the bay was declared a protected area, commercial businesses are still the main interest for everyone.
So, my suggestion is: if you don’t like partying on the beach and spend your day among hundreds of people, the best time to visit Akumal Beach is late in the afternoon.
At around 6.30 pm both the beach and the water were less crowdy and I decided to have a swim and look for the turtles. At this time of the day there are less guards so you will be free to swim around without a jacket as long as you respect the animals, and that’s why I didn’t need a guided tour or the snorkeling vest.
It may look silly but as I got into the water I saw some of the most beautiful things in my life: not only the turtles, gently eating sea-weed, but also barracudas, devil fishes and many other astonishing creatures. It is really unbelievable that the majority of people still think of them as food. As a matter of fact, when I got out of the water I saw a fisherman proudly exhibiting a barracuda he had just fished…. such a beautiful being killed just for food, what a shame.
Even if I really got touched by this experience, I’m still wondering whether it was ethical or not
If you need more information on how to get to Akumal and what to do in the area visit this page
If you want to know more about the history and the issues of this so called natural reserve visit this page