This is a family guide for vacationing in Akumal, Mexico, a small town on the east coast of Mexico about 65 miles south of Cancun. Akumal is a wonderful place in the Mexican Caribbean to take a family and enjoy beautiful beaches, snorkeling, friendly people, and delicious food. Akumal is a peaceful, quiet town with beautiful, secluded beaches; clear, shallow bay water, second largest reef on Earth within 100 yards from the beach, and turtles.
You'll want to fly into the Cancun International Airport and drive down to Akumal. Akumal Bay is about 1 hour south from Cancun. You'll want to rent a van, which can hold a family of five. The round trip cost from Cancun, to Akumal, and back is about $100 US (year 2015). We used Paradise Transfers at http://www.paradisetransfers.com/. They were friendly and professional. Our driver, Manuel, held a sign with our name on it directly at the exit doors of the airport. And he spoke English. There are many companies offering transportation service that you can schedule prior to arriving. Most Transportation companies provide the option to ride with other people or book your own ride with just your family. That's what we did. It's nice, because we get to talk to the driver along the way, and we also stopped at a grocery store on the way down.
When you arrive at Cancun International Airport, the process is very simple. There's a long line of tourists. Get in that line. When it's your turn, you take yourself and family to the official who will request your IDs and passports and paperwork that you'll be given by the flight attendants on the way down to Mexico. The official will check a few things in your documents and will stamp the heck out of them.
After that, you'll wait for your luggage at the carousel. Once you grab your bags, you follow everyone else out the doors. Don't stop walking until you get to your van. Don't talk to anyone; don't answer anyone's invitation to get more information. There are a ton of very pleasant-looking folks that you'll have to just walk straight past without stopping. It's okay. Just keep walking right out the doors to the wonderful fresh, warm, humid air of Cancun. And look for your ride. The area just outside of the exit doors is a bit of a busy mess, but just look for your company with which you arranged a ride to Akumal. Below is a picture of me with my daughter in the transportation area at the Cancun airport. It's beautiful there. Palm trees, lots of people transporting tourists, and cold cervezas for the trip to Akumal.
On the way to Akumal, you can stop at a grocery store for an extra small fee. If you're vacationing in a condo with a kitchen, then this will be a good idea. But not it's not necessary. There are two grocery stores that are stocked with everything you need to cook, prepare, and eat all of your meals, snacks and desserts.
Next, you'll need money. We recommend bringing credit or debit cards, U.S. dollars, and Mexican pesos. Half of the money that we brought to Mexico was in dollars, and the other half was in pesos. We called our card companies and informed them that we were traveling to Mexico so that our transactions would not trigger any alerts.
The first thing to do is to get your passports and driver's licenses in order. Parents will need both. Kids will need only their passports.
At the airport from which we were flying to Mexico, we grabbed some food. We ate half of it we ate at the gate, the rest we ate along the way. Bringing your own food on the airplane is a great way to save some cash. Airplane food is typically not as good. You never know when one of the kids might need a snack. And there's no place to eat in the Mexican airport.
The first thing that you want to do when you arrive in Akumal is to get a massage. Why? That'll help you get deflated from where you came, and get you all softened up for where you are. Instead of waiting a few days to get comfy, why not just get a deep tissue massage? Heck yeah! I recommend the Budha Garden Spa in Akumal Mexico. Talk to the owner. She's great. And she'll be your massage therapist.
One of the best things we did was to rent a condo with a full kitchen. It makes the vacation more affordable by cooking at least one meal a day and preparing all of your in-between snacks at home. Here's a image of my family grabbing some breakfast in the morning.
Homemade breakfast in Akumal is easy to make and delicious to eat. Here's what you'll need. Eggs. Grab a dozen from the local grocery store.
Buy some nice flour tortillas from the local market. Heat a pan. Throw some butter or oil in there. Warm up and slightly toast the tortillas. The goal is to just warm them up and soften them.
You can buy a big stack of about 50 tortillas in a bag. Yum. If you can, buy the fresh ones that are already warm. You'll find that the stack will stay warm for a couple days, even in the fridge.
In another pan, you're scrambling up a big pile of eggs. I use a ton of butter. Scoop some eggs and set 'em into a tortilla. Plate it.
My favorite breakfast in Akumal: scrambled, buttery eggs in a tortilla. Some local hot sauce. Served with watermelon and avocado chunks. Bit of salt on the avocado. Serve.
There's a nice place to grab a coffee and some pastries called Turtle Bay Cafe. It's also a restaurant where they have a full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The bar is fully stocked. The family loved to walk down the street from our condo to the cafe. About a mile. Well worth it. Un pequeño café caliente, por favor.
Inside the cafe is Lucy's where they serve very good ice cream. Helados, por favor.
Next to Turtle Bay Cafe and Lucy's ice cream is a nice restaurant. Just like every place in Akumal, all seating is outside, under the shade of either straw hut roofs or palm trees. It's just beautiful.
It depends upon where you stay in town, but you'll likely enjoy walking around. The streets are safe, clean, and beautiful. The streets and sidewalks are made with handset paving stones and masonry pieces. The walks are lined with palm trees. At this part of our daily walk, there's a memorial park off the side of the street. We often walked barefoot.
We really enjoyed walking on the beach along the ocean shore. We walked every day from our condo to town or the local restaurant.
Here's a path along the street of Akumal.
Some of the trees in Akumal are enormous with wonderful root structure that crawls and sprawls out in every direction.
Here's a path to the front of one of the town stores.
The cacti is amazingly large.
Here's an idea for serving a good, healthy, quick lunch to the family in Akumal. Buy cans of tuna in water, avocado, and mango. Mix the tuna with some mayo and relish. Bam! Tuna salad. Cut the mango so that when you spread it, little bit-sized cubes pop out. Delicioso almuerzo.
Yummy bites by the pool.
There's a restaurant in Half Moon Bay called La Buena Vida. This was our favorite and most memorable place to eat in Akumal. The location of the restaurant is perfect. Almost all of the seating is outside, except for about a dozen nice tables. The food is fresh and amazingly delicious. The servers are all very friendly and most speak a few languages including English.
Our favorite items on the menu were the pescado tacos, enchiladas, and burritos. In April 2015, a plate of three fish tacos with coleslaw was $105 pesos, which is about $7 US. A beer was about $3 US.
Oftentimes, it seemed we were the only ones at La Buena Vida. It got busy around 9 AM, 12 Noon, and 5 PM. Breakfast was our favorite time. We sat in at the table and chairs in the sand. You have to take your shoes off. And you simply sit back, enjoy the view of the bay, listen to the waves swishing and the palm leaves rustling, and be served whatever you want. Pretty awesome.
At La Buena Vida, you can it at the bar, the covered dining area, at tables made out of tree stumps and adirondack chairs in the sand, swing in some rope hammocks, or layout near the shore on some big soft pillows. You have no reason to be in a hurry here. Pick your favorite spot, sit back, and relax.
At the La Buena Vida restaurant, there are fun places to sit, including tree houses. Adults and children may climb at their own risk to the top of the palm tree and enjoy the view from way above the tables below.
Each tree house as a bucket on a rope that you can pull up and lower down to retrieve your food and drinks.
Here's favorite dish at La Buena Vida. Whole fried fish.
I know how it might look to you, but it's delicious.
The nachos are fantastic. As you can see, there's not a lot of cheese, like American's like their nachos. This is a really nice presentation of a classic dish with a bit of guac and soft cheese crumbles. Love the freshly chopped tomatoes and sliced hot green peppers.
For an appetiser, we like to have a plate of fresh guacamole, with a little tomato pieces and a bit of cheese. The chips are perfect.
A round of Shirley Temples. Cerveza pairs well with fried whole fish.
You can't beat the view from your table at La Buena Vida.
Here's a short video of walking through La Buena Vida restaurant in Akumal Mexico.
The sand is fun to play in.
The kids and I sculpted figures and built castles.
I love this type of image.
Now, that's a happy woman at the beach.
After a long day at the beach, you've got to cool off with a coconut drink. You can get a splash of some hard stuff in there, if you'd like.
We loved staying at Tan Ik Condos. A big, white building with six condominium units within. This is the main entrance from the street. Tan Ik is located about 3/4ths of the way up Half Moon Bay, north of the town Akumal Bay. Half Moon Bay is considered North Akumal. Akumal Bay is the town where the vacationers are walking around. Akumal Pueblo is the town where the local population resides. Akumal South is where the beach and hotels are located.
This is the ocean-side of Tan Ik. I'm standing at the water's edge. The beach is almost white. You can see the nice beach chairs that are available for only the Tank Ik residents.
The sand is smooth, with a little roughness to it. The staff comb and clean the beach every morning at about 6 or 7 AM. That's really nice. The beach sand is made up of coral that has been broken down into very small pieces - sand grains of coral reef and sea shells.
I'm now standing next to the beach chairs of Tan Ik. The brown stuff at the water's edge is a lot of sea grass that came in with the wind and waves. It wasn't that bad. Looks worse than it is. The seagrass tended to collect at the water's edge. So, the water itself was crystal clear, blue-green, and warm.
Now, I'm standing on the other side of the beach chairs. Next door south was a nice condo building. Next door north was a nice condo building with a restaurant and bar on the bottom floor. We walked over there to grab a couple margaritas every once in a while. That restaurant and bar was a bit too fancy, stuffy, and expensive for us.
Here's a short video of me walking through our condo called Tan Ik in Half Moon Bay, Akumal, Mexico.
Here's a short video of the beach, pool, and ocean of the Tan Ik Condo in Half Moon Bay in Akumal. This video will help you determine if you like the location and access to the beach and ocean.
Here's a short video of the beach, pool, and ocean of the Hacienda de la Tortuga and La Mirage in Half Moon Bay in Akumal. This video will help you determine if you like the location and access to the beach and ocean.
Here's a short video of the beach, pool, and ocean of Casa Fortuna in Half Moon Bay in Akumal. This video will help you determine if you like the location and access to the beach and ocean.
Here's a short video of the beach, pool, and ocean of the La Joya in Half Moon Bay in Akumal. This video will help you determine if you like the location and access to the beach and ocean.
Here's another look at La Joya.
Here's a short video of the beach, pool, and ocean of the Villas Flamingo in Half Moon Bay in Akumal. This video will help you determine if you like the location and access to the beach and ocean.
Here's a short video of the beach, pool, and ocean of the Playa Caribe Hotel in Half Moon Bay in Akumal. This video will help you determine if you like the location and access to the beach and ocean.
Here's a short video of the beach, pool, and ocean of the Playa Blanca in Half Moon Bay in Akumal. This video will help you determine if you like the location and access to the beach and ocean.
Here's a short video of the beach, pool, and ocean of the Lol Kana'ab in Half Moon Bay in Akumal. This video will help you determine if you like the location and access to the beach and ocean.
Here's a short video of the beach, pool, and ocean of the Condo Half Moon Bay in Half Moon Bay in Akumal. This video will help you determine if you like the location and access to the beach and ocean.
Here's a short video of the beach, pool, and ocean of the Vista Del Mar Hotel in Half Moon Bay in Akumal. This video will help you determine if you like the location and access to the beach and ocean.
Another look at Vista Del Mar Hotel.
Here's a short video of the beach, pool, and ocean of the Akumal Dive Adventures Shop next to La Buena Vida in Half Moon Bay in Akumal.
We loved the beach. The sand is clean, combed every day, and soft.
Akumal Bay and Half Moon Bay where very clean and safe. But sometimes the garbage cans get raided by the coati. Mammals about 2 feet long with tails that are as long as their bodies. Kind of look like racoons but with tails. Don't get near them. They're out during the day, and they sleep at night.
Here's a good example of a quick, tasty lunch that everyone loved to eat, while taking a break from the hot, noontime sun. It's a plate of an avocado, split open, and tuna. Pretty basic stuff. Very healthy. We ate well for breakfast and dinner. In between, we were pretty much busy, swimming, walking, snorkeling, sun bathing, swimming, and didn't feel like eating a big lunch.
We tested several different types of tuna, and this brand was our favorite. Yellow fin tuna meat in olive oil. You learn Spanish quickly when you're hungry.
There's plenty of fresh eggs and avocados at the grocery store in town. Here's my favorite Akumal breakfast that I made for the family - scrambled eggs with hot sauce and avocado halves. Basic. Good eatin'. Affordable, easy-to-prepare breakfast for a family of five vacationing in Akumal.
I'm an InterNACHI-certified home inspector, and I couldn't help noticing some of the questionable conditions of the electrical systems and components. Here you have a few electrical meter boxes and main disconnects in an exterior shelter-type structure. Don't let the kids play outside around the electrical meters.
So, what should you wear in Half Moon Bay, walking the streets and sidewalks? Not much. Grab your bathing suit on day one, and don't take it off until you get home. Throw a shirt long, long-sleeve preferably, to keep the hot sun off you during mid-day. Grab some flip-flops or go bare foot. And don't forget a nice hat with a brim.
There are a lot of iguanas in Akumal. They like to bathe in the sun. They stretch and flex, but don't move a whole lot. They're fun to look at. The kids loved taking pictures of them. But we kept our distance. This one is hanging out at the front porch of an abandoned beach home. It's about a foot and a half long.
In Akumal, there are farmer's market days. On those days, you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables from a local farmer, including water melon, pineapple, mangos, and bananas. All of this was about $140 pesos or less than $10 US.
We cracked open a couple coconuts, drank the water, and ate the pieces inside. A little bit of lime and it's good to go as a healthy snack.
Looks gross! Right? You may not believe it, but my kids love this dish. It's a plate of black beans, blended into a thick soup, with bits of queso fresco on top. Served warm. It was delicious. Affordable. About $2 US. Healthy. We ate up plates of this stuff with corn chips or tostadas (tortillas).
Be sure to bring a deck of cards. My kids took breaks from the hot, mid-day sun to play a couple hands of various card games. It's a nice quiet way for the kids to pass the time.
There are beautiful palm trees with coconuts all over the place. The shade they provide is wonderful. And the sounds of the leaves are like swifts of quiet crackling. I fell asleep under a few of these trees.
There's nothing like taking a snorkeling selfie in Mexico. May you do likewise many times in your life.
When you're out there in the water, be sure to grab someone swimming around and ask for a nice photo of you and your love. Here's my wife and I. We're about 200 yards away from the shore. The water might be 10 feet deep at its deepest. Not very deep. You can go very far from the beach, but still be only 5-10 feet deep in water. The coral reef is beautiful. Breath-taking. Lots of color, fish, turtles, stingrays, needle-nose fish, and more. The water is crystal clear when the winds are calm, the sky is clear, and the sun is high above.
We brought our own snorkeling gear, and we don't dive. So, we didn't need the services of the Akumal Dive Shop.
But it's a big place, and they have everything you need there, from lotion to diving expeditions.
There are two Akumals. The Akumal for the tourists, which is the small town located near the Akumal beach. And the Akumal town called Akumal Pueblo. That's where the locals live. Both places are nice. Easy to get around. Good food in both places. We stayed mostly in Akumal, the touristy town, along the beach.
There are many small shops along the streets of Akumal. You can get everything you need right in town. There are grocery stores, a farmer's market, gas station, ATM machines, drug store, and lots of shops to buy touristy stuff like sea shells and turtle masks.
Here's the sign above the thatched sidewalk roof for the drugstore, cerveza, and Akumal Real Estate.
Here we are walking the main street in Akumal.
Here's the arch. It's right in the middle of town. Next to the arch, the taxis are located. We would regularly walk from our condo to town, and then grab a taxi home. The ride home was about $10-$20, depending on who was your driver and how well you negotiate prior to getting into the taxi.
The arch at Akumal.
Signs to everything.
One of the benefits of walking everywhere is that you can pick a beautiful flower that's along the way.
And give that flower to your gorgeous wife.
Here we are at Akumal Beach. The public access is very crowded. The people are friendly, beautiful, from all over the world. The water is clear, blue, and warm. There are no fees to the beach and water. But if you'd like to go out and see the turtles, you have plenty of folks who will sell that swimming guide service to you.
Amazing plant life is all around you in Mexico. This is a flower hanging from a large banana plant. They make great windbreaks or screens; they shade the sun; they utilize the water and nutrients in waste drains; banana leaves can be fed to horses, cows and other grazers; and the dried remains of the trunks can be used for weaving baskets and mats.
Just wonderfully interesting to look at.
You've got to love a town with a small corner store.
Turn a corner in town, and you may come across some awesome art work.
Kids showing that they love this place.
We spent a lot of time trying to take a picture of just the right plant, palm tree, flower, sea shell, coral rock, and wave.
Good attempt at making soft chicken tacos from our condo kitchen.
Resting and singing in the shade on the beach.
Another good attempt at making soft tacos.
Beautiful all around.
The hotels and condos are painted as beautifully as the flowers.
The Mexican coffee is really good. And this opinion is coming from a well-trained coffee drinker.
This is a picture of what I love to do on vacation in Akumal. Watch the storm clouds move across the ocean horizon.
All of the kids played really well together even though they couldn't speak each other's language.
The folks we met were so friendly, inviting, and fun. I loved to see how large families, with 4 generations, got along so well.
For $100 US, we hired a taxi service to take us to Tulum, about an hour South of Akumal. Tulum is the site of a Pre-Columbian Maya walled city that served as a major port. It was well worth the money and the trip. The kids actually enjoyed the tour of the ruins. Our guide was very nice.
While in Tulum, we stopped at a very fancy restaurant on the beach. The place was a beautiful resort with a restaurant, spa, and bungalows. The beach was perfect, white and soft. The water was wavy and cloudy, but, again, the kids loved it. They thought that the waves were so much fun, in contrast with the calm reef bay water in Akumal.
There's a place in Akumal called Las Tres Acapulquenas. Teresa owns and operates it. If you get hungry, you've got to stop in and get something to eat. Teresa is beautiful and friendly, and she'll put a big smile on your face. You'll be well-taken care of. And the food and drinks are tasty.
If Teresa doesn't have the just the right ingredient, she'll run out her restaurant door, down the street, and chop a piece of something off a plant, run back, and throw it in your food. She's a hoot!
Every time I went to town, I'd search for my friend here to sing "Oh Pretty Woman" together.
Dancing and singing happy love songs. The music just comes over you, and makes you get up and sing in Spanish.
We hope you enjoyed reading The King's Guide to a Family Vacation in Akumal Mexico.
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