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Why This Beach Town South Of Cancun Is Trending With Winter Travelers 

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The Riviera Maya has been gaining traction in the last few years, offering a much more authentic and relaxed Mexican Caribbean experience compared to the buzzing Cancun.

And perhaps there’s no better example of the region’s rising popularity than the stunning Akumal.

Sunrise at Akumal beach, paradise bay at Riviera Maya, caribbean coast of Mexico

Formerly an underdeveloped beach town only known among diving enthusiasts, Akumal has since evolved into one of the Mexican Caribbean’s most sought-after hotspots.

Akumal’s popularity skyrocketed in 2023, claiming the second spot in hotel occupancy rates not only in the Mexican Caribbean but nationwide, only surpassed by Playacar.

This shows no signs of changing in 2024, as at the beginning of the year the destination’s beaches were bustling with activity.

Even during the off-peak season, the destination’s pristine natural beauty and accessibility remain a tourist magnet, drawing in thousands of visitors, according to nautical service provider Pio Jimenez.

@girlmom_nurse86 Pure. Paradise. #akumal #engaged #fyp #vacation #vacationmode #bling #myfuture #bahiaprincipeakumal #montana #beach ♬ Paradise – Bazzi

Not only that, but Jimenez also attributes Akumal’s soaring success to coordinated efforts among several stakeholders, including Conamo federal authorities, hoteliers, and service providers.

Moreover, locals anticipate a potential doubling of visitor numbers this year thanks to federal projects like the Tulum International Airport and the Maya Train.

A Slice Of Paradise

With some of the most spectacular beaches, cenotes, lagoons, and mangrove forests in the Riviera Maya, Akumal’s charm is anchored in its natural beauty.

Not surprisingly, this feature has allowed it to emerge as a leading eco-tourism hotspot in the Mexican Caribbean, attracting countless travelers seeking an idyllic retreat in nature.

Akumal Bay, for instance, is the perfect spot for enjoying activities like swimming, snorkeling and diving.  However, the real star here is the sea turtles.

@katlyn.stevens #mexico #akumal #cheaptravel #wildlife #natgeo #travel #travelhacks #cancun #snorkeling #ocean #caribean #viajar #HeyAngel ♬ Mexico en la Piel – Lupita Jiménez

In fact, Akumal is home to the World Turtle Sanctuary, and even ‘Akumal’ means ‘Place of the Turtle’ in the Mayan language. 

Fortunately, you can book one of the many turtle-watching tours available, allowing you to swim up close with these gentle creatures. 

The experience comes with certain caveats though, such as a limited number of tourists per trip and an emphasis on keeping a respectful distance –  but it’s all in an effort to protect both turtles and tourists.

@mexicoakumal THE LAND OF THE TURTLES 🐢 If you visit Akumal you will have the opportunity to know the best place to swim with turtles in Mexico while you enjoy the warm waters of the Caribbean and its white sand beaches🌊. Three species of turtles come to feed in the bay: the green turtle, the loggerhead turtle, and the hawksbill turtle. 🐢 Si visitas Akumal tendrás la oportunidad de conocer el mejor lugar para nadar con tortugas en México mientras disfrutas de las cálidas aguas del Caribe y sus playas de arena blanca🌊. Tres especies de tortugas vienen a alimentarse a la bahía: la tortuga verde, la tortuga caguama y la tortuga carey. 🐢 #seaturtle #akumal #diving #snorkeling #mexicancaribbean ♬ sonido original – AkumalMexico

Nevertheless, the bay is teeming with sea turtles, and with the tours taking place in shallow waters, you can rest assured that you’ll easily spot numerous turtles grazing on the seaweed-covered seabed.

But it’s not just turtles that you’ll find here. Akumal’s rich biodiversity includes tropical fish, manta rays, octopuses, crabs, lobsters, and more.

Luxury & Relaxation

Akumal’s selection of some of the most lavish 5-star all-inclusives in the Riviera Maya is undoubtedly one of the top reasons travelers can’t get enough of this paradisiacal town.

In contrast to Cancun or Tulum’s bustling hotel zones, Akumal promises a much more relaxed and secluded experience, complemented by stunning views of the Mexican Caribbean sea.

Secrets Akumal Drone

There’s also something for every preference and budget. If you’re seeking a peaceful escape marked by luxury, you can’t go wrong with Secrets Akumal, a AAA 5-Diamond property that’s consistently ranked as one of the best in the region.

Yet in reality travelers are spoiled for choice, as all-inclusives like the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort, the Grand Palladium Colonial Resort & Spa, and Bahia Principe Luxury Akumal also offer unparalleled service, amenities, and experiences.

For those seeking a stay immersed in nature, Akumal boasts chic eco-boutique resorts like Villa Morena Ecoliving and Akumal Natura Glamping, providing a perfect blend of comfort and lush jungle surroundings.

Diverse Experiences

No visit to Akumal is complete without exploring the town, located across the federal highway from the beach.

Colorful skulls souvenirs in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Shopping at one of the numerous arts and crafts shops, tasting delicious seafood at local restaurants, and even taking some Maya lessons are among the unique and authentic experiences you’ll find here.

Art enthusiasts can’t miss a visit to the Lamanai Art Gallery, celebrated for its world-class exhibitions by renowned artists.

Families, on the other hand, can make lasting memories at the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary, where you have the chance to interact with rescued monkeys and other exotic animals.

aerial view of a white sand beach in akumal

These are just a handful of the diverse activities and attractions that Akumal has in store for travelers. Hence, its popularity among winter travelers, expected to extend well into 2024, comes as no surprise.

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