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If you are in Playa Del Carmen or Tulum a terrific day trip is the beach at Akumal Bay. The beach has super white sand and the water is clear, with no waves - it is perfect for children and families and anyone looking for a quiet, calm beach and fantastic snorkling without joining a tour.
The best thing about the beach is the great snorkeling and depending on where you start the reef can be 20-300 feet out. You can see sea turtles feeding in the grass close to shore especially in the early morning. Head out farther to the reef for coral, a variety of fish, barracudas, squid, and sting rays. There are two Dive Shops, one is Akumal Scuba, located right on the beach on either side of Lol Ha restaurant. Park across the street for free. Snorkel gear rentals for $18 a day, lifejackets and lockers available for an extra fee. Lol Ha rents out palapas and two chairs for 250 pesos per day.
There's a huge sign and overpass to get into Playa del Akumal. You can't miss it driving North or South on 307.
Head 35 km south of Playa or 25 km north of Tulum in a rental car, taxi or the most economical option, COLECTIVO.
From Playa take the colectivo vans that are lined up on Calle 2 between Avenidas 15 and 20. The coordinator will point you to the van to get into. Remind the driver where you want to stop. Look for the white walkway to cross HWY 307 then walk about 10 minutes down the main street to the bay. The drivers pick up and drop off local residents, workers and tourists alike anywhere along the highway from Cancun to Tulum. The cost depends on the distance, about 25 pesos per person from Playa to Akumal. When returning just stand on the side of the highway in the direction needed and a colectivo van will be along shortly to pick you up. For getting back to Playa, do not cross the walkway but wait in the shelter on the highway just past the road to Akumal Bay.
The folks at Akumal Scuba are really setup for Diving, and have a dozen instructors, and boats to get you outside the reef. The advice is to arrive before 9am, when the waves of Scuba divers arrive.