Swimming With Sea Turtles!

Akumal in Mayan means “Place of the Turtle”, and it certainly lives up to its name. You can literally walk out the front door of your bungalow, wade into the refreshing water and see turtles swimming! This was something I never tired of. Even just waiting for their heads to pop up out of the water was a treat! What an incredible experience.

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We stayed at the Hotel Akumal Caribe, an eco-friendly low-key resort that was the first hotel on the beach back in the 1970’s. It’s a simple place with 21 rooms in the 3-story hotel and about 20 bungalows. It has a small pool, restaurant with outside seating, spa, beach bar, dive shop and lots of palapas to hang out under. You can rent bikes and golf carts, and it’s within walking distance of shops and restaurants. If you want a laid back relaxed place to stay, this is it!

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The sea turtles feed on underwater grass really close to the shore. There are two kinds here, the green sea turtle and the loggerhead turtle. You can be standing in neck high water look down and see a turtle swimming by! And, if you’re lucky enough to be in Akumal May through November you can watch them nesting.

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Unfortunately these wonderful creatures are endangered. In March 2016, Akumal Bay was declared a marine protected area. The turtles are showing signs of stress, and some are growing tumors. This is due to people touching them among other things. Even though it’s really cool to swim with them we have to remember that they are wild animals!

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There is now a roped off swimming area that you can’t go past. Someone patrols the area in a kayak to make sure that people don’t cross over the rope. The grassy areas with the turtles are just beyond it, but they still swim into the roped off area and are easy to see. It’s sad that people don’t respect their space.

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Here are a few tips for swimming responsibly with sea turtles:

  • Use biodegradable sun block.
  • Keep a 7 ft. (2 m.) distance from corals and other marine species.
  • Swim near marine creatures and corals, not over them. You reduce the risk of kicking corals and allow sea turtles to rise to the water’s surface to breathe.
  • Keep your distance while any sea life is feeding.
  • Harassing, touching or grabbing marine creatures is not allowed.
  • Do not touch, walk or stand on corals. Use life jackets but not fins.
  • Do not remove anything dead or alive from the sea, it is a federal offense.

You can also come to Akumal for the day. It’s about 1 ½ hours south of Cancun and about 20 minutes north of Tulum. They rent snorkels and life jackets on the beach, or you can bring your own. You won’t be disappointed!

 

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