Oceanfront Vacation Rentals in the heart of the Riviera Maya
Akumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Colette's Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Akumal and the Riviera Maya
Thank you for inquiring about our condos in Akumal! Akumal is a beautiful area and we know that you will have a wonderful vacation there! If you are a first time visitor to the area, you may have a lot of questions about traveling to Mexico, and what your vacation will be like. We have been there many times, but we can still remember our doubts and fears about vacationing in a foreign country. We wish now that someone would have addressed those concerns for us a long time ago - we would have enjoyed our wonderful vacations a lot sooner!
Here’s a collection of frequently asked questions and answers about the area that you or a friend may have. We hope that this will help you make a more informed decision about where to spend your vacation. Please feel free to contact us if you desire more info - we’re just a phone call or an Email ( ) away!
Colette, Always Akumal
Quick links to FAQs:
You will need to book a flight to Cancun International Airport. If you don’t have a travel agent, we can recommend an excellent one to help you. Cancun receives various charters and airline flights from around the world. The Cancun Airport has recently opened a new wing about one block away from the main terminal (which unfortunately at this time is not well marked). You will arrive at either one of these gates and then will proceed through customs. (See Dave’s "Tips for the Mayan Riviera" [a complimentary ”nuts and bolts” guide we provide upon confirmation of booking] about navigating through Cancun Airport). Akumal is an easy drive approximately one hour south of Cancun, straight down the coast. The new highway is 4-lane divided to just south of Playa del Carmen and 2-lane from there to Tulum. To get to Akumal, you may take a taxi, take a public bus (used by most of the locals) or rent a car. We suggest renting a car for your stay. That way you will have the freedom to visit all the points of interest along the coast.
No, it’s as easy as renting one in the U.S. See Dave’s "Rental Car Tips" (also
provided to our guests) for more info. All the agents we've met speak English.
We used to be afraid to drive a car in Mexico, now we can’t do without it.
Driving a car down the Tulum Corridor is nothing like the horror stories you hear about the border towns, nor is it as busy as Cancun. Life is much more relaxed on the Riviera Maya and traffic congestion have been greatly relieved by the new highway 307. (Of course, don’t drive drunk - especially in a foreign country.) Drive with caution at night; some of the locals will ride their bikes home without lights on them. Not all of the vehicles in Mexico are as well maintained as those in the states - we’ve come up on a truck without back lights. Dave has some nice notes in his "Rental Car Tips" about driver courtesy on the roads. Here’s another hint: when you make a left turn on the highway sometimes you will see a pull-off section on the right. It’s polite to wait here to cross the highway rather than holding up traffic (safer too!). And, if you drive in Playa del Carmen, be aware of the one way streets.
Most of us who come frequently to the Akumal area spent our first vacations in Cancun. When
Dave and I spent our honeymoon in Cancun in 1987, we enjoyed the tours to snorkel and to the ruins, the beautiful beaches and the shopping.
It was a more relaxed Cancun then - believe it or not it was hard to find a place to give you ice cubes in your drink! Many of the large
hotels on the strip weren’t even built yet. Then Cancun went through a "boom". When we
returned four years later, it was turning into a metropolis! The traffic was deafening, the beaches crowded, and all of the restaurant chains such as Denny’s, Pizza Hut and Hard Rock Café
had moved in. Cancun was becoming a popular “spring break” area, and it no longer felt like “Mexico” to us.
We needed to find a new vacation haven and had always been impressed with the Tulum Corridor. The
Riviera Maya is the area of coastline that weaves its way south from the city of Cancun to the Mayan Ruins of Tulum and then down to Belize. We
had taken many excursions to this area when we were staying in Cancun. We had seen some beautiful resorts, done some great snorkeling and visited
the ruins. We had always wanted to return to explore the area on our own without being with 20-30 people on a tour bus. I guess you could say we
“weaned” ourselves into doing this, having fears and apprehensions about going out on our own. The next two vacations we stayed at
all-inclusive hotels further down the coast from Cancun, renting a car first for one day and then for three days at a time. The guidebooks are right; the Tulum Corridor boasts endless miles
of beautiful white sand beaches, bustling fishing villages turned into artist community/resort towns, shopping, snorkeling lagoons and bays, Mayan ruins, wonderful restaurants, deep sea
fishing, golf, great diving…..
We were hooked and the rest is history. We found the area of Akumal to be especially beautiful and to be that perfect balance between
tranquility and activity. I only wish that we had discovered it sooner and spent less money trying to figure it all out.
Let’s just say once you do it you never go back. For the same amount of money (remember, most tour brochures list prices by person - not by room) you can stay in what’s equivalent to a house rather than live in a bedroom all week. You can wake up to a pot of coffee brewing in your own kitchen in the morning, have a snack, make a meal, mix a drink if you like, play cards or relax on the sofa with a good book. I don’t believe the saying that “no one spends time in their room anyway”. If that room is actually a comfortable home, you just might. Maybe the weather isn't cooperating or you've had too much sun or you're just in the mood for a private "siesta"...
Also, most tour groups at hotels are booked by “run of the house”. This means you may or may not get an oceanfront room.
Many of the newer resorts were built for capacity - not for ocean views from the housing units. I don’t know about you, but there’s
nothing like waking up to the sight of those beautiful turquoise waters and the sound of the waves gently lapping on the shore!
One more thing. I know it’s a less secure feeling to go to Mexico, rent a car and drive down the coast on your own. But it’s well worth it, and our friends who have done so always say they can’t wait to go back. We’re here to help you through any doubts or concerns so that you have a great vacation.*Haven't booked your accommodations yet? Always Akumal offers unique one, two and three bedroom condos and villas.
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There are many places that you can exchange dollars for pesos. You may do so at the airport upon arrival, although we found the best
exchange rates in the City of Playa del Carmen and at the Marina at Puerto Aventuras. There is a place to exchange money at Akumal but the hours
are varied and unpredictable. Dave has some good info in his "Tips for the Mayan Riviera" about money exchange.
We’re sure you’ve heard the warnings about Mexico City, the state of Chiapas, and even some incidents on the Baja Coast. The Mayan people of the Yucatan (the region where Cancun and the Tulum Corridor are located) are hardworking, gracious and honest. Dave and I have always felt safe; even on the busy streets of Playa del Carmen at night. Mexico is a big country and, like the United States, there are areas you would not want to visit. Those areas are not on the Riviera Maya. Of course, as in traveling anywhere, use precautions. Count your money carefully at exchange booths and at restaurants, and make sure the carbons are destroyed from your credit card receipts.
Don’t be alarmed when traveling if you come across a military checkpoint. Just be polite to
the soldiers and tell them where you are going. They may ask to look in your glove compartment or trunk. It's no problem - they are there to protect the Mexican people from
the weapons smugglers and drug runners that come across the border from Central and South America.
You may be helped by a “Green Angel” - a service provided by the Mexican Government. These
are well-marked, Green pickup trucks that will stop to help stranded motorists and help with repairs. Of course there are always the highway
policemen and a willing taxi driver to give you assistance or a ride.
Most of the tourists don’t. The locals do appreciate it if you make an effort. Dave has included some common phrases in his "Tips for the Mayan Riviera", if you’d like to try them. Nearly everyone except the maids speaks enough English, so don’t worry about communication.*Haven't booked your accommodations yet? Always Akumal offers unique one, two and three bedroom condos and villas.
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Believe it or not, there are some people with these concerns. Of course not!
Some of the best restaurants I have ever eaten at have been on the Tulum Corridor - and especially at Akumal. You can order authentic Mexican food if you like, but the menus are all varied, as in the U.S.. The fresh fish
and seafood are outstanding and we’ve also had wonderful beef and chicken dishes. There are also plenty of places where you can just get a
hamburger, pizza or ice cream, or find a bakery. There is an excellent Italian restaurant within walking distance from the Penthouse at La Iguana
and another at Playa del Carmen, at Tulum and at Puerto Aventuras. Be prepared to thoroughly enjoy your evening meal - dining is more like the
European style and is not to be rushed. You can spend about two hours or more dining out; it is an event and not something to hurry through like
we do in the States. And remember, it is considered impolite for the waiter to bring you the bill in Mexico until you ask for it.
You shouldn’t. The local restaurants wash their produce in a purifying solution.
They’re very sensitive to the intestinal tracts of the tourists. We eat fresh fruits and vegetables and drink lemonade and iced tea at
all the restaurants. Who wants to avoid eating all the wonderful tropical fruits in January? I would avoid buying meals from street vendors,
however. When Dave and I purchase fresh fruits from the grocery store, we always soak them in a solution of iodine drops and water for about 15-20 minutes.
This removes the bacteria. We try to keep a bottle of iodine in the Penthouse at La Iguana for everyone’s use, but it can also be
purchased at a local drugstore.
One thing we do (just in case) is to eat two chewable tablets of Pepto Bismol each day. You are also probably going to eat a lot more seafood, salsa, and drink more cervezas than your body is used to, which can lead to similar symptoms as "Montezuma's Revenge".
My sister is very sensitive to spicy foods and this was a big concern for her when she went with us to Akumal.
She just avoided ordering those kinds of things on the menu - as I said, the dishes are varied and you can choose what you want (personally I would eat salsa ‘til its coming out of
my ears if I could). She gave the area a real “thumbs up” and can’t wait to come back (she’s a registered dietician and they’re really
fussy you know!).
Okay, Dave wanted me to put this in. Technically nudity is illegal in Mexico, but few people will ‘raise so much as an eyebrow’ if one is seen in such a state. Nude sunbathing is generally found only on the deserted beaches south of the Tulum ruins, but many women do go topless in all the resort areas south of Cancun. The Mexicans are quite modest, so it must be the European influence (the European vacationers discovered this place long before we did). Wear a cover-up when off the beach. Oh, and don't forget that sunblock!!!*Haven't booked your accommodations yet? Always Akumal offers unique one, two and three bedroom condos and villas.
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Gee, only if you get so darn lazy you can’t bring yourself to do anything - and that happens! What would you like to do? The view is so beautiful from the Penthouse at La Iguana that you could spend the entire day just admiring it and being ‘romantic’. You can spend all day relaxing on the beach, sunning and reading a good book. You can go for a snorkel right outside your door at the reef - just wade out in the shallow waters. (No more paying a guy in a boat to take you out snorkeling in high waves to a reef in the middle of the ocean - we call these the “snorkel trips from hell”). Or, you can walk a few steps away to beautiful Yal-ku lagoon (for a small fee) for a peaceful snorkel with schools of fish. If its windy, you can relax at one of the largest swimming pools in Akumal, in our courtyard. Or hit Happy Hour at the new restaurant/bar on the grounds. Or you can go to Akumal Bay, the next bay from ours. You can swim, snorkel, kayak or go on a dive. You can relax at the Lol-Ha Beach bar or have dinner on the ocean at beautiful Lol-Ha Restaurant (Don’t miss the authentic Mexican dance show on Thursday nights - reservations recommended). There’s an ice cream shop and some really interesting arts and crafts shops, as well as gifts and clothing and a local grocery store. There’s also a daycare center available for the kids.
You can drive just a few minutes away to the Tulum Ruins, a spectacular ancient Mayan City located on the cliffs of the ocean (admission to the ruins is free on Sundays). Or drive down to the deserted beaches south of Tulum and stop for a brewski at Ana y Jose’s (naked body surfing is highly recommended here!).
You can drive up the coast to Xpu-Ha (pronounced Shpoo-ha) - Dave’s favorite beach. Or Paamul, or swim in the cenote and at the beach at the restaurant at Casa Cenote….they have a wonderful Sunday barbecue. Or golf on the beautiful greens at Puerto Aventuras or at the resort of Playacar. Do the kids want to snorkel and swim with the dolphins? Go early to Xcaret (Shkaret), a “water park” just minutes up the road, or to Xel-Ha (Shell-Ha) Lagoon. There’s also a Dolphin Discovery at the Marina at Puerto Aventuras as well as a shipwreck museum, shopping and nice restaurants. You can also charter a boat to go deep sea fishing at Puerto Aventuras or Akumal.
Drive a little further up the coast to the city of Playa del Carmen. It’s a bustling town where the ferry leaves for Cozumel and the cruise ships come in. You can parasail, hang out at the beautiful beach and people-watch, or shop till you drop. (The prices at these shops are better than the prices at the roadside stands.) Or, take the ferry and tour the island of Cozumel, where you can shop, snorkel or dive.
Are you tired yet? For you history buffs, take a day trip inland to the spectacular Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. It contains a new museum and at least 5 square miles of excavated temples. Have a guide show you around - its well worth the trip and you’ll talk about it for days. You can also visit Coba, another abandoned Mayan city that is only partially excavated and a shorter trip inland. We climbed the tallest pyramid on the Yucatan Peninsula there (Do not do this on a hot day).
Do you like to dive? There are various cenotes for diving all along the coastline. Cenote Dos Ojos was the site of filming for a new IMAX feature “Journey into Amazing Caves”. Akumal (means Place of the Turtle) is also known for its diving. Originally a Mayan fishing village, Jacques Cousteau made the place famous for its diving and now there are two professional dive shops on the main bay.
Are you a bird watcher? My birdwatcher friends have their own favorite areas, besides the ones at Akumal. There’s Coba in the early morning, or the Biosphere Reserve down towards Belize. You can also go horseback riding, go to the Crocodile Farm, the Botanical Gardens, visit the island of Isla Mujeres or the city of Cancun for the day. You can even take a charter plane to the Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala (still too scary for me).
Or you can be just plain lazy - since that’s what vacations are for!
My favorite pastime is watching the sun set over Half Moon Bay from the roof of the condo. It always marks the end to another perfect day on the ocean. Sometimes we sit on the roof after the stars come out and share a bottle of good wine, feeling the warm ocean breeze on our skin. In September, the Milky Way is splashed right above our heads. I guess I prefer to count the falling stars with my honey these days than to spend my nights dancing at the disco.
That concludes (or at least I should stop myself!) this question-answer section. The last question is,
And my answer is, Of Course! Always Akumal…………
See you on the beach! Colette
|*Haven't booked your accommodations yet?
Always Akumal offers unique one, two and three bedroom condos and villas.
Got a question we haven't answered? Email us ( ) and we'll not only provide an answer - we may even add your question to this list!
Remember, Always Akumal offers unique one, two and three bedroom condos and villas!
Telephone: 763 - 757 - 8121