Living La Buena Vida in Akumal

Akumal is a small beach town located on the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, about 22 miles south of Playa Del Carmen and 17 miles north of Tulum. Akumal has some of the most stunning beaches I’ve ever seen and feature white sand and beautiful, crystal clearwater. If you’re lucky enough to be planning a trip to Akumal, I’ve shared a few great things to do and some of my favorite places to eat and enjoy a few drinks.

What To Do:

Akumal actually means the “Place of Turtles”, which is extremely fitting.  One of the coolest things you can do in Akumal is swim with endangered green sea turtles. The water in Akumal Bay is usually extremely calm and crystal clear and the sea floor is covered in sea grass, which the turtle’s love. They spend hours just hanging out and munching away. You don’t need to rent a boat or pay a guide to get a good view of the little critters. You also don’t need to worry about bringing your own snorkel equipment and can rent everything right in the bay at either the Akumal Dive Center or the Akumal Dive Shop.

Another great place to go snorkeling is in the Yal Ku Lagoon. It is protected from the main body of water and stays very calm. The water is also not very deep, about 6 to 15 feet, and you can see all the way to the bottom. So it’s great for families and for people who are not super comfortable in the water. Use of most sunscreens here are forbidden (only bio safe suncreens are allowed), so make sure to rinse off thoroughly before you arrive at the lagoon. You can rent snorkels and fins right at the lagoon and entry costs about $10 to $15 US dollars.

Cenotes are naturally made swimming holes created by the collapse of limestone bedrock. Cenote means “sacred well” and the Mayan people relied on these during extremely dry times. Many of these cenotes stay pretty hidden, but are still fairly easy to find. Snorkeling through underwater caverns can be a little terrifying, but it’s definitely a unique experience. Cenote Santa Cruz is one of the closest ones to Akumal. Many cenotes do have snorkeling gear that you can rent. But if you plan on exploring any that are a little farther off the beaten path, I would suggest that you bring your own.

Akumal is very centrally located, and although you don't necessarily need a car, I would still highly recommend renting one, even for just a few days. This way you can check out many of the other beaches close by or go to Tulum and visit the ancient Mayan Ruins.

Where To Eat:

La Buena Vida Restaurant & Bar is located right on the beachfront and has an awesome view of the ocean. If you’re looking for a place to get drinks in the evening, I highly recommend hitting up La Buena Vida’s bar. The bar has swing seats, a sea serpent bone chandelier, and life size Day of the Dead statues. Make sure to order the La Buena Vida, their house specialty, which is made with Baileys, Kahlua, coconut cream and Grand Marnier.

Another great oceanfront spot is Lol-ha Restaurant. They have extensive menus and offer daily Happy Hour from 5:30 to 6:30, so it’s a perfect place to stop by for a few drinks after a long day snorkeling in the bay. If you’re visiting for dinner, we recommend trying their tuna tartare or one of their highly rated burgers (can you say cheeseburger in paradise?).

If you’re looking for a low key breakfast spot, head to Turtle Bay Café and Bakery. They have an extensive breakfast menu and serve delicious smoothies all day. I also quickly made friends with the cats who lived right there and would wander around on the patio. It was a great way to spend my last morning here. During their happy hour, which is from 4 to 6 pm, they do 2 for 1 Margaritas, Mojitos, Daiquiris, and Well Drinks (doesn’t get much better than that).