One of the most unique and exciting experiences I’ve had while on vacation was snorkeling with turtles at the end of March. The most brilliant thing about it was that it was in the turtles’ natural environment, not an aquarium or controlled setting. There is so much heat and talk out there about how animals are mistreated in places like SeaWorld, aquariums, and dolphinariums that it makes people question where and when they should see animals. While I don’t believe in causing excess stress to animals, seeing them in their natural, wild habitat is almost a magical thing to experience.
The town of Akumal is located on the Riviera Maya and is essentially the home to many sea turtles. Fun fact: AKUMAL actually means “place of the turtle” in Mayan! If your resort doesn’t happen to be within walking distance of Akumal, you can easily take the Collectivo from the highway (easy and cost-effective, but a bit of a walk from the highway to the actual town), catch a cab, or join a tour. Akumal Bay Dive Shop, Pirates of Akumal and others offer “guided” tours of the bay for around $25 US. You can also simply rent snorkeling equipment for the day for around $12, OR just bring your own and save the money.
We were lucky enough to be given 1 hour of free snorkeling (including life jacket, flippers, and snorkel/mask) at our resort every day. We just dressed up, walked down the beach and walked into the water. It’s really that simple. Within a few METERS of the shore we saw sea turtles!
These creatures are really amazing. Most of them seem comfortable with snorkelers, but we tried not to stress them out too much anyway. If you just quietly swim around the turtle, you may find that they pop up and take breaths right next to you.
Loud noise and diving down to them obviously stresses them out. We found one little guy that was missing a fin and he was just stressed by our presence so we left him alone. Just be a kind observer and watch them eat and swim. It’s a pretty wonderful experience! Check out this video of the little guy I hung out with for a while one day.
Check out our video: Snorkeling With Turtles
If you’d like to know more about the green sea turtles and their habitat, you can pop into the Centro Ecological Akumal just off the beach.