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Where is the best snorkeling on Mayan Riveriera? And where to stay?

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Mar 3rd, 2008, 03:44 PM
  #1
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Where is the best snorkeling on Mayan Riveriera? And where to stay?

It seems from reading posts that the best snorkeling is at Akumal--is that true? We are experienced snorkelers and snorkel-mad! We have been trying to arrange a trip to Bonaire since that island was highly regarded in the snorkel department, but it is virtually impossible to get to from Seattle. So, plan B is to have our adult children (from NYC and LA) and grandchild join us somewhere central for a family/snorkel vacation next December. It is so confusing! We'd love a quiet 3 bedroom condo situated on the beach with good snorkeling out the door, plus good restaurants nearby and things for the young people to do while the baby is asleep and the grandparents babysit. I have checked out VRBO a bit and am confused about the best location to look for. Any advice or links (locogringo is sooo confusing!) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,
Sally in Seattle
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Mar 3rd, 2008, 05:57 PM
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There is fantasti snorkeling at Akumal and Tulum.
Sorry, I can't help you with a condo.
For good info on the area, go to:
http://www.locogringo.com/forums/default.asp
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Mar 3rd, 2008, 06:35 PM
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Sally,

I'm siting her laughing at your post because I'm in the exact same boat! I have been scouring over VRBO and locogringo for weeks! It's a ton of great info but overwhelming! I just can't make up my mind on where to stay or whether to split our time.

The only advice I can give is start a checklist of the musts for a condo. Like I want to make sure we have internet, that is a must for us. Then narrow it down from there.

I know what you mean in terms of location though (between Half Moon/Jade/akumal Beach). Is it too rocky, can you swim in one area and then snorkel your way out furthur to a reef?

I figure it's a small area so we can drive a few minutes to hit a primo spot but if you are taking grandkids you may want a pool just in case it's too rocky to swim. Just been my experience.

Good luck, I'm sure I will be mooching off your posts
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Mar 3rd, 2008, 09:41 PM
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Aliegator, I just found this map: http://www.costamayatravelers.com/akumalmap.html
To unravel the info a bit.
Schmerl, thank you very much for the link to the forums. That helps a bit with the overload of info.
Sally
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Mar 3rd, 2008, 09:44 PM
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And another map:
http://www.rivieramayavillas.com/map_of_akumal.html
Sally
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Mar 4th, 2008, 06:47 AM
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Yes Akumal is great for snorkeling. You can check out Vista del Mar, which has both condos and hotel rooms. It's directly on Half Moon Bay, and you can snorkel right from your room. However, even though Half Moon Bay is great for snorkeling, the bottom is very rocky, with some sea urchins, so it's not the best for swimming. Akumal Bay which is a 15 minute walk form Half Moon Bay, is good for both snorkelling and swimming.
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Mar 4th, 2008, 08:14 AM
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Akumal is excellent. For another fun and quite different experience consider snorkeling in one of more of the cenotes. Fresh water with lots of fish and oh are they COLD! But an experience not to miss. Several companies offer tours that provide snorkeling in cenotes as well as caves. Great fun.
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Mar 4th, 2008, 10:07 AM
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Is there any public parking at Akumal Beach?
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Mar 4th, 2008, 02:40 PM
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Yes there are two places to park at Akumal. The first is just outside the arches at the entrance to Akumal Bay on the right hand side before you get to the arches, before the Loncheria and the Super Chomak store.

There is also parking just inside the arches to your left, near the Cueva del Pescador restaurant (good food, yum) but they charge for that, not sure how much.
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Mar 4th, 2008, 05:27 PM
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you might want to check out the locogringos website; lots of very detailed info on lodging, dining, snorkeling the coast of the Riviera Maya.
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Mar 4th, 2008, 05:48 PM
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We went to Akumal last spring break, look for my trip report.
Betsy
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Mar 4th, 2008, 05:49 PM
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playa del carmen, and akumel is a good spot to got snorkeling. snorkeling iin akumel is just wonderful, you can see the sea turtles, stingrays, baracuda, and the eagle ray.
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Mar 4th, 2008, 05:59 PM
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We are also from Seattle and stayed in Akumal over Christmas. At the risk of being pilloried by fans of the area, here are pluses and minuses to the Mayan Riviera, including Akumal. Our group was made up of 5 families and 9 teenagers. Three families stayed in condos on Half-Moon Bay, and two families stayed in hotel rooms at Vista del Mar. Yes, the snorkeling is very good in Half-Moon Bay (my husband was pleased with it and snorkeling is important to him), but the beach at Tulum is prettier, although much more of a "hot spot" and not as quiet. Trash on the beach in some areas of Half-Moon Bay was something that bothered us, especially when we first arrived. I'm not sure where you usually take beach vacations, but Mexico is different from Hawaii, for example.

There are some good restaurants in Akumal: Turtle Bay, La Cueva del Pescador and the Italian restaurant near Yal-Ku Lagoon. And Yal-Ku Lagoon has very good snorkeling, although it does have an admission fee, but my husband and I thought it was worth it.

Pluses to the Mayan Riviera: fish tacos, very nice Mayan people, margaritas, good snorkeling, proximity to Mayan ruins, cost vs. some other locations, ease in getting to Cancun. Minuses: trash on some beaches, beach development is not as well done as that in Hawaii and some other locations, military checkpoints on major freeways, and blatant rip-offs at some gas stations by not-so-nice people.

All of this said, most of the group enjoyed the trip and found that there are a lot of activities in this area for diverse interests. Scuba diving, kite-surfing, snorkeling, visiting ruins and cenotes and enjoying good Mexican food.

The Akumal Beach Club, an all-inclusive on the main bay in Akumal, is very popular with some people, and, in retrospect, I think our family would have preferred it to a condo in some ways, but there are definite advantages to a condo, too. For example, we all hired a local cook through locogringo, and she prepared a wonderful meal at one of the condos for all the adults. The teenagers, also, had a very good time (sleep-overs) and were not bothered by the minuses above. If you have small children, I would definitely recommend a place with a pool, unless you are on the main beach. Half-Moon Bay is not small-kid friendly.

All in all, we thought Akumal was a good destination on the Mayan Riviera for families, because it is like a small town.
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Mar 5th, 2008, 09:13 AM
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If you are "snorkel-mad" and this trip is primarily for snorkeling, you should do whatever it takes to get to Bonaire, which is probably the best overall place for snorkeling in the Caribbean - cetainly much better than the Yucatan overall. By the way, I define a "good" snorkeling site as extensive coral reefs and/or gorgonian forests - not sand beds or turtle grass beds - in good shape with as a wide diversity of fish and invertebrates, most of which are easily accessible from shore, and many or most of which are at reasonable depths for snorkeing.

But if you do end up in the Yucatan, I will say that the snorkeing off Cozumel (not counting that Chankunab - sp?? - place which is bad) is overall better than any of the spots on the Maya Riviera coast itself like Akumal, Tulum, Playa Soliman, Playa del Carmen, etc... And I'm sorry, the Yal-Ku Lagoon was one of the most abysmally bad places I have ever snorkeled. I would suggest Dzul Ha on Cozumel for shore snorkeling.

We have snorkeled at all of these places in the Yucatan and in Bonaire, as well as on other Caribbean islands, plus the South Pacific, Hawaii, and the GBR. I mention this only so you understand that I have a basis of experience on which to base my assessment of Akumal.

And don't get me wrong - I love the Yucatan and consider it a great vacation spot - the beaches are gorgeous (for lounging and swimming), the Mayan ruins fascinating, the colonial towns like Merida lively and historic, the array of Mexican crafts fabulous. It's just not the best place in the Caribbean for SNORKELING.
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Mar 5th, 2008, 10:57 AM
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I did hear from members of our group who went on a day trip to Cozumel that the snorkeling was fantastic. They also commented on how very, very busy it is there, so I'm not sure about peace and quiet. I haven't been snorkeling on any of the Caribbean islands for 20 years because of distance from Seattle, but I'm not surprised that Bonaire is better than the Yucatan.
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Mar 5th, 2008, 03:13 PM
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We stayed at a Vista Del Mar condo last June. Two bedroom, two bath and it was spotlessly clean on arrival and every day the maids came in and brushed away every grain of sand! We had a downstairs condo and liked being able to walk out onto the beach with a few steps to the sea and hammocks! You'll need reef shoes to snorkel from this beach. We enjoyed the snorkeling and we also tried scuba diving which was fun (definitely a one-off for me).

We loved Turtle cafe too

Check reviews at Tripadvisor too.
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Mar 5th, 2008, 09:10 PM
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Dear reisender, sylvia, BetsyG, matthew, voyager61, resipsaloquitur, and high flyer, thank you all for your input. I especially appreciate the frankness that voyager and resip... expressed, we will take your advice in consideration. We also have snorkeled in many places (including Cozumel) and, although we appreciate each place for its uniqueness, we also want to see new things and different environments. For this vacation, we also have the granddaughter and others to consider, so the snorkeling might have to take a back seat. Thanks, high flyer, for the recc for the Vista del Mar. Clean is good! And, sylvia, I am finding my way around locogringo better now!
Sally in seattle
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Mar 5th, 2008, 09:11 PM
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Oops, forgot zootsi and the info on the rocky bottom of Half Moon Bay--thanks!
S/S
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Apr 27th, 2008, 09:18 AM
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Hi Sally in Seattle. My husband and I share your love of snorkeling, especially from the beach. I'd like to know where you have decided to stay in Akumal for your family vacation. We hope to be in PDC/Akumal in early January,2009.
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May 7th, 2008, 10:06 PM
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hi, marthag, we decided to get a condo from VRBO.com and got a ground floor 2 bedroom at La Sirena at a great price because they consider it low season to go Dec. 6-13. We are going to fly into Cancun on the 5th and go to Chichen Itza, and then meet our daughter in Cancun the next day to drive down to Akumal. We wanted a ground floor condo because of the 2 1/2 yo granddaughter, and this one has a screened in porch as well so we can leave the door open for the breeze and still feel that the baby won't wander off. I am very fond of turtles, so Akumal (meaning "place of turtles") seems perfect. We are very excited. I hope your trip is fantastic!
Sally in Seattle
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