The Best Trees to Plant in the Riviera Maya

Once you own the property of your dreams in the Riviera Maya, there are other aspects to consider such as: the best trees to plant to make your garden a spectacular space.

Something special about the Riviera Maya is the beautiful weather year round. Also, having a beautiful garden to entertain or to hang your hammock and enjoy a nap is very important. Most developers in the Riviera destroy the jungle before building; nonetheless this shouldn’t stop you from having a beautiful tropical garden in your backyard.

It is important to consider the available space, as trees will grow and may affect the construction. There are plenty of trees that will grow in the poor soil of the Yucatan Peninsula, but we decided to focus in trees that are adequate for urban spaces, with reduced space.

If you are looking for amazing ornate trees to plant in the Yucatan Peninsula, have a look at these:

AKTIS

(Thevetia gaumeri helms)

This is a small tree, its maximum height is 16 feet and it has plenty of foliage to provide shade. It has beautiful bell shaped yellow flowers.

Trees Riviera Maya

BALCHE

(Lonchocarpus longistylus)

This is the Mayans sacred tree, and an endemic species of the Yucatan Peninsula. The tree can grow up to 30 feet, and has beautiful purple flowers. The bark is used by the Mayans to prepare a fermented beverage with the same name.

Trees Riviera Maya

FLOR DE MAYO

(Plumeria rubra)

This tree has a maximum height of 26 feet, and an interesting and unique look. The flowers can be many colors and have a beautiful parfum that will linger in your garden.

Trees Riviera Maya

Any kind of citrus tree

The Yucatan Peninsula is a great place to grow citrus. There are many kinds of oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes that will thrive with little care. The most traditional citrus in the Yucatan is the Naranja Agria, which is used to cook traditional regional dishes such as: Cochinita Pibil and Lechon al horno, it is also ideal to prepare margaritas as it is naturally sour.

Citrus aurantium can only grow up to 26 feet high, with dark shiny leaves and small white flowers that have a beautiful fragrance.

Trees Riviera Maya

There are so many trees that can grow in the Riviera Maya, we would never finish this list. But we encourage you to learn more about native trees and chose the one that fits your space, taste and budget.

Choosing the right tree can increase the value of your property and provide shadow, oxygen and beauty for many years to come. If you want to learn more about trees that will grow in the Yucatan Peninsula, have a look at this page.

 

 

Why You Should Visit Sian Ka’an in Tulum

Besides the glorious beaches and the world renowned archaeological site, Tulum has yet another attraction you should visit: the astonishing Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an, a magical place that you must visit if you’re in the Riviera Maya. If you’re interested in eco-tourism, you consider yourself a conscious traveler and you care about the environment, then visiting Sian Ka’an is for you.

This Biosphere is one of the many natural beauties that our planet has for us to enjoy; here you will find thousands of species of flora and fauna, both terrestrial and marine, some of which are unique of this environment. Sian Ka’an is home of thousands of animals that found comfort and easily have fitted in this magnificent place.

It’s important to highlight the fact that Sian Ka’an was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 by the UNESCO. This title is only given to sites with highly natural or cultural value for the general heritage for the humanity. For this, and many others reasons, this is one of the most protected areas in the Mexican Caribbean. Sian Ka’an Biosphere covers 10% of the State of Quintana Roo, with a total size of 150,000 hectares.

Also, Sian Ka’an is part of the program “Man and Biosphere” (MAB), this Project is dedicated to improve the relation between people and their environment.

If you’re into nature and you like to be surrounded by its beauty, then the Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an is the perfect place for you. Enjoy a peaceful getaway and go camping while you coexist with nature. There are different activities available, like taking a boat ride to discover the amazing crystal-clear waters. If you like snorkeling, book a tour to the reef for an amazing adventure. It’s said that the coral reef is made out of 84 different species of coral… I bet you want to see that yourself! To finish an amazing journey, sit and relax in one of the few boutique hotels or camping sites to admire the sunset or gaze at the starry night; the perfect way to end the day!

Some recommendations

  • The best way to get to the reserve is by car or motorbike. Public transportation is scarce, and finding a taxi to go back to Tulum can be a challenge, so don’t risk getting stranded there.
  • Plan ahead and carry everything that you will need to make your trip prosperous. Include a mosquito repellent, enough water, food and snacks, and of course, a camera so you can keep all the memories from this fantastic paradise… and it’s even better if you have a waterproof camera!
  • Be conscious and respect the environment. The unique and incomparable biodiversity found here must be kept clean and every visitor must respect the environment. If coming here is in your plans, help us to conserve this World Heritage site!
  • Be careful. Even when the road has a good share of traffic, the beaches at the reserve are almost empty. Swim carefully and avoid risks; if you find yourself in trouble, finding help can take some time.
  • Some areas of the lagoon are known for being home of crocodiles. If you book a tour through the lagoon, make sure to double check with your guide if it’s safe to swim before jumping out of the boat!

Live an eco-sustainable experience and have fun in a different and unique way in the Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an!

Things to do in Isla Mujeres

If you are visiting or living in the Riviera Maya, you can’t miss the opportunity to spend a day in this amazing Caribbean island. Isla Mujeres is the perfect spot to take a trip with your partner or your family. Only a short ferry trip away from Puerto Juarez, Cancun, Isla Mujeres is a place you must visit.

This popular destination’s name translated from Spanish means “Women Island”. And a lovely island it is. The tropical landscape blends perfectly with the Caribbean waters that surround its beautiful glistening shores. The swaying palms and gorgeous weather is just two of a thousand reasons why you would choose a getaway to Isla Mujeres. You can reach this unique Mexican island by taking the Ultramar ferry from Puerto Juarez, Cancun. If you are planning to bring your own transportation, there is a ferry that transports vehicles from one port to another.

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Once you arrive on this dreamy island, the frontage road that follows along the shoreline offers various open-air restaurants, boutique shops, and services such as golf cart rentals and excursions. The parkway thoroughfare will eventually lead you south towards more of the Island’s natural sites. If you want to set out on your own, grab a self-guided map and rent a golf cart for the day and do some exploring. It’s hard to lose your way on an island that is 4.3 miles long and a half a mile wide.

Don’t let the size of the island fool you. There are plenty of places to see and things to do in Isla Mujeres. You can snorkel through and around an underwater museum, experience the Dolphin Discovery or visit the turtle farm to just mention a few. If sipping on your favorite beach beverage while working on your tan or relaxing under a palapa is more your style, Playa Norte (north beach) is the place to be. Let the servers cater to your thirst and snacking needs.

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When your day is winding down and it is time to relax, Isla Mujeres Centro has a pedestrian friendly street that offers plenty of choices to dine on fresh seafood, tacos and other Mexican food cuisines. The ocean breeze and glowing sky from the sunset creates a magical evening for all to sit back and enjoy. If you are staying on the island, there are a variety of accommodations that will fit everyone’s specific needs.

Isla Mujeres is a great place to have a vacation home, an investment property or a combination of both. With the increasing popularity of the Yucatan Peninsula being a vacation haven, more and more tourists are flocking to the area. Isla Mujeres is one of those destinations that is experiencing incredible growth. No matter if it is summer or winter, people want to see this quaint island paradise. It might be time to start thinking about investing and living in Mexico!

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It’s Whale Shark Season!

Foto: internetFoto: Internet

The whale sharks have returned once again to Quintana Roo. Whale shark season runs from June to September, until the time has come for them to move to their next destination.

In the meantime, you have the chance to live one of the most stunning experiences in life, swimming next to them and being able to see them in their natural environment.

Whale sharks are the largest fish on the planet and with a life span of 70 – 100 years they can reach up to 40 feet long (12 meters) and weigh an average of 5 tons, though larger and heavier have been spotted.

Surprisingly for such a large mammal their mouths are filters feeders, meaning that they cannot bite or chew so their diet consists mostly of plankton which makes them completely harmless to humans.

Related: 10 Interesting Facts About Whale Sharks

In the Yucatan Peninsula you can take advantage of this annual gathering of the whale sharks at Holbox or at Isla Mujeres.

With a past record breaking number of 400 whale sharks arriving off the Yucatan Coast at one time, it’s one of the largest known gathering of whale sharks on record. You are almost guaranteed not to be disappointed.

The Island of Holbox is located on the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and is separated from the mainland by a shallow lagoon.

This Island is well known for its fishing and rural qualities but every year for the few months the whale sharks appear the little fishing village is bursting with people wanting to welcome the whale sharks back.

It is good to consider that with the new toll way to Merida, you can get to Holbox in 1 hour and 30 minutes, for 90 pesos each way.

Related: 10 Things to Do in Merida

Foto: Internet

Isla Mujeres (Spanish for Island of Women) is approx. 13 kilometers off the Yucatan Peninsula coast with easy access to the Island from Cancun, which makes this island a great day trip for tourists.

Isla Mujeres is usually a quiet place, but with the whale sharks yearly visit this little island of under 13,000 inhabitants is booming during their short visit.

You can find many tour operators located around the tourist areas both in Holbox and Isla Mujeres (or even on-line).

They usually offer boat trips out to spot these amazing creatures or even to take you swimming with the whale sharks, the experienced tour guides and divers have been doing these tours for many years and will be able to give you the best advice when swimming with the largest fish on the earth.

Be sure to shop around to get the best price and value for your money!

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate

We make it happen!

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Chaya: The Mayan Superfood

Finding local organic vegetables in the Riviera Maya can be difficult, due to the lack of soil in the Riviera; most of the fruits and vegetables have to be brought from other places. Even healthy food like spinach can be contaminated with chemical or organic elements, and little is known about the effects that those chemicals can cause in our body, soil and water.

With proper planning and a compost bin, almost anybody can have an organic vegetable patch in the Riviera Maya. If you lack the space and the motivation to do so, maybe planting a traditional Chaya Plant is a great alternative to growing a whole garden. This plant has three times more nutrients than spinach and it is easy to find and grow everywhere in the Yucatan Peninsula.

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Chaya: Characteristics and Nutrition Facts

The Chaya Plant, also known as Tree Spinach is a bush that can reach up to 10 feet in height. It has big green leaves and a fragile stem that can produce a sticky white liquid when it breaks. For centuries, people in the Yucatan Peninsula have been consuming this plant, as it is rich in nutrients, flavorful and easy to grow.

Nutritionists claim that the Chaya provides enormous benefits to the human body, it improves blood circulation, regulates blood sugar and blood pressure. It also aids digestion as it has a good amount of fiber. This nutrition powerhouse has other nutrients that are highly beneficial to our body as well.

The best part about Chaya is that because it is indigenous plant it is really easy to grow in the Riviera Maya and Yucatan Peninsula. If you find a Chaya plant, take a stem and break it in to foot long pieces, stick them in the soil and voila; your tree spinach will grow at an amazing rate and will be producing nutrition packed leaves in no time.

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Chaya: Benefits of Consuming the Mayan Spinach

The Chaya is a natural source of vitamin A, vitamin B, phosphorus, calcium, iron, protein and minerals. It also provides a boost of energy, and some people claim that it even has an anti-stress effect.

Some of the benefits of consuming Chaya are: improved blood circulation, a better digestion, and it is aids with cases of varicose veins and hemorrhoids. It also helps to lower cholesterol, reduce weight gain and to disinfect the lungs preventing coughs.

Eating Chaya can increase the calcium in bones, as the Chaya has more natural calcium than the traditional spinach. Chaya also has a massive amount of iron, which prevents anemia, improve memory and brain function. Some people believe it can help against arthritis and diabetes.

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Because this regional plant is easy to grow and maintain it is a great starter plant for your new home in Mexico. Providing many nutritional and healing benefits Chaya really is a Mayan superfood.

10 Interesting Facts About Whale Sharks

  1. Despite their name, the whale shark is neither a whale nor a mammal; it is a slow-moving filter feeding shark and the largest known fish species. The whale part of the name comes from its sheer size. The whale shark is an Ovoviviparous species, this means that it keeps its eggs inside her body and once they are mature; tiny whale sharks emerge alive from the mother’s body.

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  1. The whale shark has an extremely thick skin, in some cases up to four inches thick. In addition, their skin has a much darker tone than the rest of the fish with white patterns comprising dots, vertical and horizontal lines; making really interesting patterns.
  1. The whale sharks huge mouth can be as big as five feet long, but swimming alongside a whale shark is 100% safe as they have no interest in consuming humans. They also have a filtration system that does not allow the passage of anything bigger than small fish like sardines and their many rows of tiny teeth are located in the back of their mouth; so they can not really harm anyone.

 photo whalesharkteeth_zps9pmy2akf.jpg Whale Shark Teeth
Source: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/gallery/descript/whaleshark/whaleshark.html

  1. These majestic animals have an advanced filtration system that allows them to eat without having to swim, compared to other animals that require them to move forward to push water inside their mouth. The whale shark is able to use their gills to pull water into their mouth, where it accumulates plankton, krill and other small seafood like sardines or anchovies.
  1. These fish live in tropical waters at an average 700 meters deep. They are generally solitary animals, but are grouped when they find an area rich in food.
  1. The whale shark is known to be the world’s largest fish, with verified specimens as long as 40 feet; that is as long as a trailer. There are many reported sightings of much bigger whale sharks, over 65 feet long; but they have not been documented and therefore are considered a myth.
  1. Despite its imposing size, whale sharks are completely harmless and peaceful creatures. Tourists can swim very close them, and in the past visitors were even allowed to even touch them but this is no longer permitted.

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  1. Summer is the best season to observe these magnificent creatures, especially the months from June to September. The Riviera Maya has many tour companies that organize whale shark tours, which includes everything you need to enjoy this experience.
  1. If you live in the Riviera Maya or are vacationing here, the best places to find whale sharks are in the area between Isla Mujeres, Contoy and Holbox Island.
  1. Each year an estimated 1,400 whale shark reach the coasts of the peninsula, and about 200 approach the islands of Holbox and Contoy in the state of Quintana Roo.

Swimming with the whale sharks is a once in a lifetime experience, remember this is a peaceful creature but there have been reports of them attacking boats; after being harassed. If you are going on a whale shark tour, respect the whale sharks and follow the indications given by your tour guide.

Would you like to partake in unique experiences like this all the time? Consider retiring or purchasing a vacation home in Mexico there are so many things to do here, you will never run out of once in a lifetime experiences.

From dreaming to owning your dream home in Mexico, Top Mexico Real Estate has a decade team of Top Mexico Buyers’ Representatives with the experience in helping foreigners become homeowners in Mexico.

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The Miracle of Life: Akumal Sea Turtle Nesting Season

The miracle of life is an amazing thing. For millions of years life on our planet has been the sole pillar of everything we know and love. It all really comes down to creating life, and keeping it that way for millions upon millions of years to come. And to be able to witness the miracle of life – be it human or otherwise – is a unique experience that not very many people get to live in their lifetime.

Amongst the many amazing species that call the Riviera Maya home is the sea turtle. In the world, there are eight existing sea turtle species – and most of them are critically endangered. Of these eight species, seven of them live and nest in Mexican beaches. We are a privileged country! And out of those, four nest in the gorgeous, pristine beaches of Quintana Roo.

However, due to heavy tourist congestion, sea turtles start migrating south to find isolated beaches that less humans transit through. And if that seems impossible, they settle for those where there are sea turtle protection programs that (try to) control the traffic of people. One of those places, and the most popular for both swimming with these majestic animals and witnessing sea turtle nesting season, is Akumal.

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Akumal means “Place of the Turtles” in Mayan (‘Ak’ means turtle; ‘Umal’ means place). The name is, of course, justified, as this is not only one of the most important nesting beaches in the region, but it is also one of the biggest natural homes to juvenile sea turtles in the area. This tranquil bay area – very popular amongst tourists – is home to approximately 40 juvenile sea turtles. This is their natural habitat, as it is a popular feeding area for them due to the amounts of sea grass that the bay possesses.

While these juvenile turtles come and go on a daily basis, the phenomenon known as “sea turtle season” refers strictly to the nesting season, which takes place between May and September every year. Now, this season is not a general rule for all eight species, but to the three that nest in Akumal: caretta caretta (loggerhead), chelonia mydas (green turtle), and the occasional eretmochelys imbricata (hawksbill turtle) – hey, now you know three scientific names to impress your friends!

Life Cycle

The most common species to nest in the region are the loggerhead and the green sea turtles, with record over 900 nests in 2013 (in Akumal) throughout the whole season, for both species. However, there are also leatherbacks and hawksbill nests found throughout the state. The life cycle of a sea turtle is fairly simple:

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  • Mating – adult female sea turtles come out to the beach to nest between May and September. They can lay anywhere between 80 and 120 eggs, depending on species.
  • Incubation – this period lasts approximately 45 to 55 days.
  • Hatching – after the incubation period, hatchlings pop out of their shells and make their way out to the ocean*.
  • The Lost Years – the first three years of a sea turtle are referred to as “the lost years” because they migrate to different feeding areas and are hard to keep track of.
  • Juvenile Years – for the next 15 years they migrate around the world to feeding areas until they reach adulthood.
  • Adulthood – this is when they reach their breeding age, which goes from 15 to 50 years old.
  • Mating – adult male turtles court females in order for the cycle to continue.
  • Lifespan – sea turtles can live up to 100 years old, depending on species.

*Unfortunately, only one out of 1,000 hatchlings makes it to adulthood for different reasons:

  • Natural reasons – during incubation, raccoons and crabs dig the nests and feed on the eggs. After hatching, seagulls target turtles, as they are soft-shelled and easy to digest. Through their first years, sharks and whales can eat them, too.
  • Human Interaction – ocean pollution, garbage, obstacles on the beaches, accidental fishing, ‘hit and run’ (when boats hit turtles), and more, are the major cause of death in sea turtles.

How You Can Help and Experience Nesting Season

There are many ways to get involved in the conservation process:

  • Volunteering – sea turtle camps rely 100% on volunteer work. Here they teach you the proper way to patrol and monitor sea turtles throughout nesting season (working with both adults and hatchlings). Volunteer work costs both financially and physically, but it is worth experiencing.
  • Eco-touring – the beaches on which these turtles nest are open to the public (places such as Xpu-Ha close the access at night, but you can stay at a hotel there), so the best way to help with conservation is by education yourself as to what you can and cannot do on the beach (such as leaving garbage or obstacles for the turtles). You can contact a sea turtle camp and find out if they offer educational night walks where you get to witness the nesting process, or if they will have hatchling releases for you to see. Donating to these programs is a huge contribution, as they are NGOs and do not profit from their work.

While Akumal is certainly not the only nesting beach in the Riviera Maya, it is the most popular one – specially because there are juvenile sea turtles swimming in the bay every day of the year. It’s their home, after all. However, you can witness the nesting season at other beaches such as Xpu-Ha, Xcacel, Sian Ka’an, Tulum and Cancun.

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Don’t miss the opportunity of experiencing this unique and life-changing event. Sea turtles are beautiful creatures and they depend on you to continue gracing the oceans we all visit the Riviera Maya for.

If you wish their home will someday be your home, please feel free to contact one of our Top Mexico Buyer’s Representatives who will gladly help you in the process of relocating and finding your dream home in paradise.

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate

We Make It Happen!

Experiencias Xcaret: 6 Experiences, 6 Times the Fun

If you’ve ever been to or heard of the Riviera Maya, you have probably heard about Xcaret. It is one of the biggest ecofriendly touristic and natural parks in the area, attracting thousands upon thousands of tourists per year. Although some may consider it pricy, it is worth every penny you invest. The Xcaret family has expanded over the past 20 years and now has a total of six parks ranging from eco-natural parks, to adventure parks, to culture parks. There is something for everyone! Check out the list of Xcaret parks and their highlights:

  • Xcaret

Priced at approximately $129 USD (for the full package, including transportation), Xcaret is one of the most popular destinations in the Riviera Maya. The park offers a full days’ worth of fun water activities, learning opportunities, culinary experiences, and much more. You can swim down the underground rivers, visit the butterfly pavilion, visit the newborn macaws, the jaguar island (where you can spot jaguars and panthers), or just walk around the park exploring every corner of it. Churches, haciendas, restaurants, observation towers, archeological sites, and much more, make up the 200 acre space. Don’t forget to stay until the end to enjoy the amazing Mexico Espectacular show featuring live music, traditional folkloric dances and a journey through Mexico’s history.

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  • Xel Ha

The aquatic-themed park is located approximately 120km south of Cancun. Also priced at $129 USD, this park offers less activities than Xcaret, but more food and drinks! With an unlimited buffet, beverages, and national open bar, you will enjoy a – literally- full day. You can swim down the river and into the cove while snorkeling and observing the beautiful life. Xel Ha, after all, claims being the biggest natural aquarium in the Riviera Maya. Amongst the many activities, you can also purchase swimming with dolphins, Sea Trek, amongst other fun extra activities.

  • Xplor

Although the park uses the natural surroundings, caves, underground rivers, and jungle, it is much more focused on adrenaline and adventure. The $149 USD per person entry fee includes an unlimited buffet, zip line circuits, river rafting circuits, circuits for amphibious vehicles, and two river circuits to snorkel in. The four activities take all day to go through, so it is recommended to bring comfortable shoes and be ready for a lot of walking and, especially, fun! They have recently opened Xplor Fuego, which is essentially the same thing except at night. Everything is illuminated with fire, making it a whole different experience for only $99 USD.

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  • Xichen

Chichen Itza isn’t a park, under the strict description or general idea of what a park is; however, Experiencias Xcaret now offers tours to Chichen Itza as part of the many activities tourists can do while visiting the Riviera Maya. The archeological site tour is 12 hours long, but is as luxurious as it gets. Besides having an experienced – and bilingual – guide with you throughout the tour, and having the opportunity to visit the beautiful ancient Mayan civilization, the luxury tour includes a light gourmet breakfast, drinks, a visit to the wonderful Valladolid City, a cenote, lunch buffet, and a unique experience that will leave you longing to visit all the other archeological sites in the region.

  • Xenotes

Everyone tells you that you must visit at least one cenote when visiting paradise. But it’s so hard to choose just one from all the many options out there, and even more, what type of cenote should you visit? The Xenotes tour offers a nature-filled day at four cenotes (of different types). The price is $119 USD and you get snacks, coffee, breakfast breads, a glam picnic, rappel, kayak, zip lining, and snorkel. Just like Chichen Itza, it isn’t a park in itself, but rather an adventure offered by the same company that has given millions of people memories for life.

  • Xoximilco

This glammed up version of the original Xochimilco is located just a few minutes south of Cancún. Trajineras (traditional Aztec boats) are pushed with long sticks by experts down beautifully landscaped canals while guests enjoy a night to remember. Each trajinera can carry up to 22 people; whether you are here with many friends, or about to make new friends, you will have an experience of a lifetime. The $119 ticket includes a cruise through the canals at night, a three-course Mexican meal with an open bar of tequila, beer, fresh water and soft drink, all while being accompanied by different traditional ensembles playing music through the cruise.

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We recommend that you visit Experiencias Xcaret website for further information about each amazing adventure that will leave you wanting more. Whichever park you choose to visit – or if you choose to visit more – you will find yourself diving into a world of adventure, nature, adrenaline, and excitement. These parks are made to be enjoyed with friends and family. Start booking your holidays and get ready for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Now, if you have any questions about any of the Xcaret experiences, about living in Mexico, buying property, or are interested in one of the many real estate options we have listed on our website, feel free to contact one of our Top Mexico Buyers’ Representatives who will gladly assist you on your journey to becoming a homeowner in Mexico.

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate…

We Make It Happen!

Top 25 Beaches in the Riviera Maya: A Day at Akumal Beach

Beach #15 on the Countdown to the Best Beach in the Riviera Maya: Akumal Beach

Most beaches are just that: beaches. Beautiful white sand, gorgeous blue waters…everything you want a beach to be. But sometimes, beaches come with amazing surprises. Akumal Beach is #15 on our Top 25 Beaches in the Riviera Maya, and for good reason! Akumal (which means Place of the Turtles in Mayan) is home to juvenile and adult sea turtles. Not only that, but it’s a beautiful and tranquil bay, as well.

Akumal is a bay surrounded by coral reef, which stops the break. This makes the water seem pool-like, calm and wave-less. The deepest parts are approximately 6 meters and it hosts all types of life; from corals, to fish, to seahorses, rays, and turtles, Akumal is a large, natural aquarium!

Located south of Playa del Carmen, and north of Tulum, it is easily accessible and a beautiful place to spend the day, or weekend, at. Akumal beach offers all types of activities, from snorkeling to diving, and has an array of delicious restaurants, as well. A day at Akumal Beach will never be boring. And, if you visit during the right season, you may also encounter nesting sea turtles and hatchling releases from the Akumal Ecological Center (CEA).

Akumal Beach is unique in that ecology, nature and tourism go hand in hand. The town’s people and the Ecological Center work together with snorkeling guides and tourists in order to preserve the bay in all its glory for the juvenile sea turtles that call this place home. Donations can be made to help with the efforts.

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Akumal Beach: Getting There

Akumal is divided into Pueblo (town) and Beach. It is very easy to reach Akumal from any point of the Riviera Maya, as it is located 20 minutes south of Playa del Carmen, and 20 minutes north of Tulum.

Driving: If you have a car (rented, or otherwise), all you need to do is get onto the Federal Highway 309 and drive south (coming from Playa del Carmen), or north (coming from Tulum), until you reach Akumal. It is very well signaled. If you are coming from the north, it is right past Sirenis; if you are coming from the south, you need to pass the Bahia Principe resort. Akumal Pueblo is on the west side of the highway and is mainly where the workers live; you want to go to Akumal Beach which is where all the tourist attraction is.

Taking a Taxi: A taxi will charge you over $300 MXN to drive you to Akumal. A taxi from the airport will cost $900 MXN, or more. However, if this is the alternative you want to take, just mention to the driver that you want to go to Akumal Beach and they will drive you all the way down to where the main access is.

Public transportation:

Colectivos: Colectivos are readily available on the highway. However, you can also take one from the van central on 15th Avenue with 2nd Street in Playa del Carmen. Hop on the one heading towards Tulum and ask to be dropped off in Akumal. Cross the overpass bridge and walk approximately 5 minutes until you reach the beach. Coming from Tulum, you will need to take a van headed towards Playa del Carmen. You will already be dropped off on the east side of the highway, so there is no need to cross the overpass bridge. The colectivo should cost no more than $3 USD per person.

Buses:  You can take the Mayab buses at the ADO terminal, heading towards the south. These buses make stops as they drive down the highway, so just make sure you ask the driver to point out the stop at Akumal.

Akumal Beach: Things To Do

Akumal offers an array of fun activities for the whole family, mostly nature related. Here is a list of things you can do while visiting Akumal Beach:

  • Snorkel with sea turtles – this is the main attraction in Akumal. Just remember to respect nature by not touching or harassing the turtles, and by not stepping on the corals. You will not only see turtles, but you will probably also see rays, all types of fish (even barracuda!), and the diversity of its corals.
  • Go diving – there are two dive shops in Akumal ready to take you out on amazing dives just past the reef where you can encounter adult sea turtles and many other species.
  • Visit Yal Ku Lagoon. Located approximately 10 minutes from Akumal Bay, this lagoon is a mix of fresh and salt water, giving life to beautiful marine life.
  • Go fishing, catch your fish, and have it cooked at La Cueva del Pescador restaurant.
  • Eat at one of the many delicious and fresh restaurants – most of them offer catch of the day – and enjoy great Mexican and international cuisine.
  • Rent a kayak and paddle throughout the bay.
  • If visiting during nesting season, walk on the beach looking out for nests (do not touch them, of course).
  • Visit the Ecological Center for information about marine life and the possibility of taking a night tour to see nesting sea turtles (during season May through September).

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Akumal Beach: Recommendations

Akumal is a small fishing town, however, they don’t lack any services. You can find everything from restaurants, to medical clinics (if necessary), convenience stores, shops, bars, and more. Nonetheless, it’s always best to take some things into consideration:

  • Bring money – Akumal is an expensive place. Food, tours, and souvenirs are all pricey so it’s best that you are ready to spend.
  • Use biodegradable sunblock and put it on 30 minutes before going into the water – as mentioned before, Akumal is an ecological town working on saving the marine ecosystems. Sunblock bleaches corals and kills fish, so be considerate when using it.
  • Make sure you listen to your guide, or locals, about how to treat marine life (no touching, harassing, or stepping on things).
  • Although Akumal looks like a pool, it is still the ocean, so rent out life jackets before going in for a swim – better be safe than sorry!
  • Be careful when snorkeling and do not to touch anything – corals are home to sea urchins, and they hurt.
  • Akumal does not have beach clubs and does not rent out beach beds (unless you’re a guest at one of the hotels), so make sure you bring towels and shade.

Remember to have fun and enjoy the beautiful and natural marine life that calls Akumal home! This beach is one of the most popular destinations when visiting the Riviera Maya; it is beautiful, calm, and does perfectly well as a day’s getaway destination.

You can continue learning about the best beaches in the region by following our Top 25 Beaches in the Riviera Maya countdown every Friday! If you are looking for the perfect beach, make sure you check out our options. We aim to provide you with the best information about living in the Riviera Maya!

Top Mexico Real Estate is the leading website in real estate in the Riviera Maya and throughout Mexico. We help foreigners find their dream homes in paradise. If you are looking to invest in a vacation, retirement, or full-time property in the Riviera Maya, feel free to contact one of our Top Mexico Buyer’s Representatives. They will happily guide you through the process of becoming a homeowner in Mexico!

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate…

We Make It Happen!

Swimming with the Turtles in Akumal

Swimming with the turtles in Akumal is a once in a lifetime experience you cannot miss. For centuries or even millennia, turtles have nested in the rocky shores of Akumal where the eggs are left to hatch and re-start the cycle of life.

The presence of this magnificent creatures probably impressed the ancient Mayans, who called this area in the coast, Akumal; “The Place of the Turtle.”

There are seven known species of turtles in the world, and all of them are endangered species; three of them can be seen at the Akumal beaches and two of them nest on the beaches of Akumal.

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Swimming with the Turtles in Akumal: Species found in the area

LOGGERHEAD TURTLES (Caretta caretta):

Adults weigh from 100–200 kg and grow to 1.15 m in length; this species feed primarily on shellfish such as crabs and snails. Nesting season is between April and July, and females nest 3–7 times every season, with approximately 120 round, white eggs in each nest.

GREEN TURTLES (Chelonia mydas):

Adults weigh between 100–250 kg and grow to 1.2 m in length, this species feeds primarily on sea grass. Nesting season is between June and September, and female nests from 3–7 times a year and each nest contains 120–150 round, white eggs.

HAWKSBILL TURTLE (Eretmochelys imbricata):

Adult hawksbill sea turtles weigh around 80 kg and have been known to grow up to 1 m in length, and this turtle’s favorite treat is toxic jellyfish. Please note that this species doesn’t breed in this area, but some specimens can be seen swimming in Akumal.

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Swimming with the Turtles in Akumal: Participate in the conservation effort!

Since its foundation in 1993, Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA) has had one mission:  protect nesting sea turtles. CEA runs several programs and preserve the natural environment on the Akumal coast.

Their program is operated through a government-authorized management plan for the protection, conservation, research and management of sea turtles on four local beaches. CEA staff and volunteers patrol the beaches nightly to identify and protect nesting females, their nests and hatchlings.

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VOLUNTEERING:

Volunteers are always welcome, keep in mind this is a physical job that might take a toll on your body. Also the nesting and hatching of the turtles happen mostly during after dusk, so prepare yourself for some sleepless nights.

Volunteers must be willing to cover other educational and promotional positions, and speaking at least two languages is a requirement. Prior knowledge is not required, the volunteers have to have an enthusiastic and adventurous personality and be willing to adjust to a different environment and culture.

General Requirements for Volunteers:

  • Must be 21 years of age or older.
  • There is a selection process, not all applicants are accepted.
  • There is a 2 months minimal commitment to the program.
  • There is a monthly fee that helps cover for the program expenses. The cost is $200 USD (foreigners) or $100 USD (Mexicans). The payment is due one month before the start of the program.
  • A valid passport and visa or FM3 for the length of your stay is required.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure that you have all the recommended vaccinations.
  • You should have valid insurance for medical services.

Swimming with turtles in Akumal is a dream for many, but helping preserving the species and the environment is a life changing experience.

Here at Top Mexico Real Estate we pride ourselves on promoting local organizations working to preserve the beauty of the Mayan Riviera. Visit the Centro Ecologico Akumal (CEA) website at ceakumal.org to learn more about their programs or to make a donation.

We would like to thank Quetzal for sponsoring this blog. Quetzal is a new development in Bahia Principe. To learn more about Quetzal, please click here.