disclaimer: i was too busy relaxing and enjoying myself to take photos, so i only have a few low-res photos from my friend’s phone to share. #notsorry. read on.
after spending the first few days of the new year quarantined in our house, binge-watching Jane the Virgin, i was ready for a little adventure. when my flight attendant friend suggested we take a short trip to somewhere warm and sunny, my heart leapt at the opportunity, and my body followed. we knew that we would have the most luck flying standby to somewhere with multiple flights to and from atlanta daily, and we also knew we needed to go somewhere near enough to not spend most of our time away up in the air. we settled on cancún, mexico.
cancún. the word alone took my mind on a trip, remembering high school friends’ stories of spring break and señor frog’s, leathery-tan adults who swear that their skin “just doesn’t burn”, and too many stories involving detailed accounts of montezuma’s revenge.
um, no thanks.
i have a few friends who take an annual business trip to cancún, and many of them explore other towns on the riviera maya afterward. when a few different people recommended the small town of akumal, i thought it would be worth investigating. as soon as i found out that akumal is the home to sea turtles, i was sold. we packed our bags and left for a whirlwind getaway.
with a quick flight (just around two hours) and just a little more than an hour-long shuttle ride, we were transported from chilly and damp atlanta to a warm and sunny tropical paradise. we stayed in the heart of akumal at the hotel akumal caribe, but akumal offers quite a few small hotels and airbnb options along its sandy beaches. we checked in, changed into our swimsuits, and started exploring the town.
many of the area’s sea turtles are found in the waters just off our hotel’s beach, so the area is more crowded with tour groups during the morning and early afternoon. we wanted to avoid the tourists, most of whom travel to akumal on a day trip from other towns along the riviera, so we walked down the main road to a less crowded beach for a late lunch at la buena vida restaurant. la buena vida’s menu is thorough an reasonably priced, and the outdoor dining area overlooks a picturesque cove. maybe it was the fact that it was nearly 3:00pm and we hadn’t eaten since 6:00am or that we’d walked quite awhile in the heat to get there, but the guacamole and tacos we ate were pretty dang delicious. it is definitely a restaurant worth visiting while in akumal.
our next destination was yal-ku lagoon, a calm, saltwater lagoon known for its fish-filled reefs. we trespassed our way to the lagoon to find a vantage point only to be heckled by a couple young locals, so we turned around an found the actual entrance. first of all, it was closed. secondly, we discovered that they charge for admission. we were disappointed, but a neighbor allowed us to enter his property for a heckle-free view. the lagoon was lovely, and, had we had more time in akumal, we would more than likely have returned to snorkel another day. but we only had one more full day, so we said adios to the waters and made our way back to the hotel.
the next day was our day for snorkeling and relaxing. a full snorkel kit can be rented for $10, and, unlike, the lagoon, the beach is free. we determined that the easiest way to find the sea turtles was to look for the tour groups in the water; if they’re paying to swim with the turtles, you had best believe they are going to swim with the turtles. we snorkeled at our own pace, spotting many adorable and giant sea turtles along the way. this alone made the trip completely worth it, and it was such a unique experience to meet them in their natural habitat. when we weren’t in the water, we were lounging on the hotel’s chairs both in the sun and under the cabanas. there is a pool on the property, as well, and it remained mostly quiet throughout the afternoon. by the end of the day, we both felt so rejuvenated that it seemed like we had spent a solid three days on the beach instead of just one.
we ate lunch and dinner at a little outdoor restaurant at the entrance to the town, and it was even better than la buena vida. i do not know the name of the place, but is nestled between the two convenience stores when you first enter town. their tacos and mole chicken were no-nonsense and delicious. it was quick, cheap, and tasty. all winners in my book.
our shuttle back to the airport and our flight home were quick and easy, and i returned to my husband feeling like a new woman. just a few days away made a world of difference in my health, attitude, and skin tone, and akumal was the perfect destination for a quick getaway. roundtrip flights from atlanta average around $300, and a hotel room for two can be reserved for $100-$150. if you book your transfer shuttle online beforehand, it will cut your costs nearly in half, bringing your roundtrip total to $175. Breakfast was included at our hotel (up to 200 pesos), and other meals average between $5-$15. With the other minor costs factored in (i.e. snorkel gear rentals, drinks, etc), a single adult could enjoy a weekend in akumal for around $500. knowing the difference my time away made in my heart, i’d say it’s worth it.