While traveling one of my main passions is to try to swim with as many different marine life in the wild as possible. Whether it’s Dolphins, Seals, or shoals of fish, I am always on the lookout for the next opportunity to do so.
So when I visited Riviera Maya in Mexico I knew I had to get down to the small fishing village of Akumal where I discovered swimming with sea turtles was possible just yards off the beach. The ocean floor at Akumal is covered in seagrass and that’s what attracts the sea turtles to this area. They’ll spend hours just swimming around eating the seagrass and every so often heading up to the surface for oxygen. Luckily for me (great planning more like), I was staying a short ride up the road from Akumal.
After being dropped off on the highway, I made the short 10-minute walk down to Akumal Village passing a few little food shacks and a small supermarket on the way down. A small word of warning, on the walk down to the main village you will no doubt pass groups of men trying to sell you tours to swim with the Turtles. They will tell you that it’s best to pay to go on a tour with them as they know where the best place to go swimming with sea Turtles. It’s completely up to you if you want to take one of these tours but if you’re on a budget you really don’t need to as the Turtles are easy to spot.
Once I arrived at the center of Akumal, I was greeted by a stunning beach stretching down around the bay with the lush turquoise Caribbean sea gently lapping up against the soft sand. Spread out along the edge of the beach was a couple of restaurants and bars selling a range of local and international cuisine with a relaxed atmosphere, it looked like a great place to chill out.
Need Snorkelling Gear? No Worries
There are two dive shops in Akumal, Akumal Dive Shop and Akumal Dive Center, both hire out life jackets, masks, and snorkel and can provide you with lockers. If you aren’t a strong swimmer or you easily tire it’s advisable to rent a life jacket as you will be in the water for quite some time, swimming around trying to find and/or watching the sea turtles.
Swimming With Sea Turtles…
Now for the part we are waiting for! No sooner had I made it down to the beach than I had dumped my beach bag, donned my snorkel gear and made a beeline for the water. Within 5 minutes of swimming around, I caught a glimpse of our first sea turtle, lazily swimming along feeding on the seagrass. I swam along with it for what seemed like ages just watching in awe at these graceful sea creatures just minding their own business. I found the whole experience of swimming with sea turtles so relaxing and calming, after a while you forget your swimming around in the ocean. I spent a further two hours swimming around watching the turtles, and even came across a stingray!
When you first enter the water you will see groups of people swarming around patches in the ocean watching turtles, you will be tempted to swim over and join in, but don’t. People tend to forget the turtles are wild animals in their natural environment, respect the turtles, give them space, and don’t try to touch them. Swim around on your own for a bit and you will eventually come across a turtle by yourself, you will enjoy the experience a whole lot more.