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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.