Have you ever dreamt of walking through a sandy pathway in the jungle, only to wind up at a beautiful blue lagoon chock full of bright, tropical fish and breathtaking underwater rock formations? If so, I have the place for you—a snorkeler’s paradise, Yal-Ku lagoon.
G and I found Yal-Ku lagoon after a travel mishap—one we were actually glad we made. After emerging from our little taxi (they were very different from the ones in America- more laidback and personal) our driver chuckled and said, “Have fun, you will walk for about two hours!” We laughed back, handed over the 170 pesos (about $14 USD) and went on our way. Shortly after, we discovered that maybe he wasn’t just joking…he dropped us off near the entrance (he could have taken the cobble-stoned road down to the snorkel stand, but we suspect he had another customer ready to roll) and we were on our own.
And okay, maybe it wasn’t a 2-hour walk, more like 3 miles, but it felt long in the Spanish heat. I’m thankful we went in the morning, it would have been a whole different story in the afternoon! In the end, I’m grateful he dropped us off where he did. It gave us the opportunity to explore a true gem on our trip. Akumal means “Land of Turtles” in the Mayan language—and though we didn’t see any, I hear that they’re easy to spot and beautiful in the clear water. Though it’s dubbed as a more touristy destination (many of the houses you’ll pass while walking down the road are beach vacation rentals) you truly feel like you’re off of the normal resort property and immersing yourself in apart of the Hispanic culture. Passing the mercados, the modest policía station and the cheerful locals, were all characteristics of the town I was glad I had the opportunity to experience.
My only suggestion if you’re planning on exploring the town? Rent a bike from one of the many stands you’ll pass—it will speed up your excursion and are available for very reasonable prices; think $5 USD.
Originally, we wanted to go to Half-Moon Bay but after looking for signs and having absolutely no idea where we were going, we landed upon Yal-Ku Lagoon and decided that this would be the place we settled down to snorkel.
It costs $12 USD for entrance ($9 USD for kiddos), $5 USD for the snorkel & visor and another $5 USD for the fins. We found this pretty reasonable for the experience (the views and the fish…breathtaking) and they also offer lockers to rent for $3 USD and life-vests for $5 USD. If you go—make sure to note my prices, here. Though, they’re listed on the easy-to-read menu in their hut, unless you’re fluent in Spanish, it can be hard to communicate and sort through USD vs. Pesos.
In Pesos (At Time of Writing):
Entrance Fee Adult: 150.00
Entrance Fee Child: 113.00
Snorkel & Visor, Fins and Life-Vest: 63.00/each
Locker Rental: 38.00
Where we set up camp for the day. Our little corner of paradise.
Note: There’s usually not this many people in your area of the water, a tour group just happened to be swimming through to get to another area at the time this photograph was being taken.
After gawking at the beautiful sculptures on site, magnificent waters and speaking with some very kind local workers, we dove in—and we emerged after two and a half hours of the best snorkeling experience we have ever had.
Want to go? Ask a hotel representative, a taxi driver, just about anyone. There’s no wrong way. Once they drop you outside the beautiful arches into the town of Akumal, there will be countless signs leading the way.
- Regular sunscreen is not allowed into the lagoon as it is dangerous to sea-life. Either bring organic, buy organic at Yal-Ku, wear a t-shirt, or just burn. Your call (I burned).
- Bring cash. That means USD or Pesos, people. Pick one. Not a mix. You may be thinking that it’s obvious…but we accidently gave our taxi-driver all of the pesos we had and were forced to mesh the two, thank goodness for the patience of the kind Yal-Ku worker!
- Bring a waterproof camera! Either a disposable one, a real one or a LifeProof case for an iPhone. We used our LifeProof case and it worked perfectly- we usually don’t travel without it!
- We took a taxi because it was our first trip to Mexico and had a premeditated vision of what taking a bus in Mexico would be like. It was great, but not the most inexpensive option! I wish I would have taken a local’s advice and took the Colectivo, pretty much a large mini-van that transports you, much like a public bus here in the States. The best part? The fee is usually a mere $2/$3 USD per person depending on where you’re going.
What’s your favorite memory revolving around water activities? Snorkeling here was an unforgettable experience, and it’s definitely one of mine!