Deja Vu in Akumal, Mexico

Snorkeling in Akumal-10

We quickly exited our colectivo on the side of the highway. My life had passed before my eyes more than enough times for one ride. Mexican colectivo drivers are not known for their smooth driving but maniacal weaving between trucks, buses, and cars to get to stops filled with people before other colectivos do. This was a money game.

We had arrived in Akumal in one piece and I was relieved. The path before me was a familiar one. We had been multiple times before and we were looking for some time in the water with sea turtles. Sea turtles, I come to find out, are some of my favorite marine animals and I can spend the day being content just following them around. In Akumal, not only are you swimming in an area known for nests, but these awesome creatures can be found just a stones throw from the beach.

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What I failed to mention the last time were in Akumal is that I had been suffering with a crazy fear of the open water. The moment I meandered into the open sea where I was unable to touch the bottom, I went into full blown panic attack.

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Add onto the fact that the snorkels we had at the time would leak into our mouths and I’m surprised I didn’t drown. I was treading water at an exhausting pace and with each breath I took, I felt as though I was met with a salty mouthful of DEATH. As tears began welling up in my eyes, my friend Cynthia went into rescue mode. With a soothing voice she swam me back to shore, my body paralyzed and my pride in shambles. I still get the heebie jeebies when I think about it.

But this time I was ready. Not only did we rent non-cheap-Walmart snorkel gear but this time I was SCUBA certified. Diving has single handedly changed my views of deep water. I understand a bit more and know how to handle myself in tense situations.

Shaun and I fearlessly dove into the water and head out to the turtles. Our bodies glided through the waters like pros and my confidence was high.

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It was at a certain point (near the permanently stationed catamaran) that I began to have flashbacks and my stomach dropped. For a brief moment I relived the anxiety of 2 years past – and miraculously, it washed right over me. I gave Shaun an “okay” sign and we kept putting along.

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We swam all the way to the far reef and were graciously rewarded for our efforts. We saw at least 5 turtles munching away on seagrass and one turtle that had an entourage of what appeared to be large fish attached to its shell. With eyes full of wonder, Shaun and I freedove effortlessly made our way through the water.

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We made our way back to shore and I was on cloud 9. Forget the coral, I’m all about animals. There is something phenomenal about being able to see nature in the purest form. We had been out there a solid 45 minutes with no issue, no panic attack, no exhaustion. I was proud of myself.

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I was in my element, at last.

A few things to consider when heading out to Akumal (as of May 2013):

  • The colectivo ride from Tulum to Akumal will run you 30-35 pesos.
  • It takes about 30 minutes.
  • A taxi will try to charge you around 200 pesos for a one way trip.
  • Lucy’s Tacos is currently under renovations. GREAT for them. Crappy for us.
  • Snorkel rental on the beach is 120 pesos but do come with a lifejacket.
  • The turtles can be found 50+ feet from the beach.
  • Clarity is much better 100+ feet from the beach.
  • There are palm trees for shade, which makes this a fab all-day trip.

30 Responses to “Deja Vu in Akumal, Mexico”

  1. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures May 22, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    You should be so proud of yourself! What GORGEOUS shots of the turtle!!!

    • Erica June 1, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

      Thanks Andi. I was so proud. I couldn’t believe how I conquered that fear. It means a lot to me!

  2. Maria May 22, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    That turtle is pretty darn cool and love your freshly beached look 😀

    • Erica June 1, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

      I seriously had the best hair OF MY LIFE on the beaches in Mexico.

  3. Heather May 23, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    So awesome! I love your pictures of the turtles, and totally agree on the snorkelling vs scuba. Snorkelling made me feel uncomfortable, filled my mouth with water, and my mask leaked like crazy. Scuba on the other hand was WAY better. Congrats on the upgrade! 🙂

    • Erica June 2, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

      At least I know with scuba that air will always be there!

  4. Becki Kremer May 28, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    Kiddos to your braveness (yes, I did just make that word up!) Andy and I are down here in La Paz, Mexico and made our way over to Balandra beach. They have kayaks that you rent there, and I have never kayaked before, but Andy said this spot was the perfect location. Calm water, shallow bay, perfect kayaking! We started walking out to get into our kayaks, which I was slightly afraid. I’ve been stung by a jelly fish before and it is something I don’t ever want to feel again! But I’m so glad I did it because while we were paddling along we saw a string ray just gliding by! After that we saw a puffer fish, and even tons of crabs! Sometimes it just works out in the end to be brave 🙂

    • Erica June 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm #


  5. Audrey | That Backpacker May 28, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    The water looks so inviting! And that’s so cool that you got to see sea turtles! 😉

  6. Kenin Bassart May 29, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    So very jealous at the moment! Sea Turtles are amazing creatures. Awesome that you overcame your fear to be able to experience such a moment!

  7. Alex May 29, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    Taking photos while snorkeling is no easy task, and you guys rocked it! Nice work!

    • Erica June 2, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

      Shaun is pro at freediving. 🙂

  8. Sofie @ Wonderful Wanderings May 31, 2013 at 4:21 am #

    I want to do this!!!!
    I looooove snorkeling and turtles!
    Oh boy, my bucket list just got longer.
    Again 🙂

  9. Laurence May 31, 2013 at 5:44 am #

    Love that last shot of the turtle! So clear 😀

    • Erica June 2, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

      …which is why I love our Go Pro.

  10. Stephanie - The Travel Chica May 31, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    The water is so clear. I miss that part of the world.

  11. Abby June 1, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    I can’t believe you went through that!! So proud that you beat it. It was just Mother Nature showing you who was boss — now you know, and you can dive in and get those GORGEOUS shots of turtles. Wow. I also love them. My roommate bought me a tiny turtle in college, I saw three my first time snorkeling, and was able to swim with one my first time scuba diving. I think they are lucky — and you saw six. 🙂

    • Erica June 2, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

      They are EVERYWHERE in this location if you’re willing to swim out. I love being under the sea. It is like another world.

  12. Ayngelina June 1, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Amazing day trip idea. I definitely want to go here.

    • Erica June 2, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

      Cheap and easy. Best thing EVER.

  13. TammyOnTheMove June 4, 2013 at 3:53 am #

    I am usually scared of open water (I blame Jaws), but this water seems so clear that even I would snorkel there.

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

      Actually, heading into the water and realizing there isn’t much there helped me with my fear of deep ocean water.

  14. Emily in Chile June 5, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    Sea turtles! I love them, what a great day it must have been to conquer a fear, hang out in that scenery AND see multiple turtles.

  15. Christy June 6, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    I am extremely jealous you got to swim with turtles. I’m obsessed with sea turtles!

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

      I’ve started to become a bit obsessed, I’m not going to lie.

  16. Sebastian @ June 14, 2013 at 7:02 am #

    That looks awesome. This year the weather in Europe is sooo bad… awful winter and still waiting for summer! I need beach, sun, cocktails and relaxation!

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

      STILL WINTER?! OMG. No. No thank you.

  17. Ali June 16, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    I love snorkeling, and turtles are definitely the best part! So glad you did so well with it this time!

    • Erica June 18, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

      I’m happy too – it means no more anxiety in the future! 😀

  18. Nicole @ Green Global Travel June 18, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    There is nothing like the water in the Caribbean Sea. Beautiful and clear, plus you get to swim with turtles, what more could you want?

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