This ancient structure at the Mayan
city of Tulum is thought to have been a
watchtower over the sea.
Akumal, Mexico is located
on the Yucatán Peninsula,
directly across from Cozumel.
To get to Akumal, you must
fly into Cancun International Airport and
drive down through Playa del Carmen,
toward Tulum. You can make the drive
yourself, but taxi and shuttle services are
also available. Such a trip is appropriate for
the casual aquarist, snorkelers, divers, or
just families looking for a fun, educational,
and all-around beautiful vacation.
After an inauspicious start involving a
broken-down car before we even got to
the airport, a leaky camera housing, and a
not-so-bilingual guard at the gate, the day
eventually turned around and the rest of
the trip was quite enjoyable.
One of the first joys of the day was
witnessing my fiancée’s reaction to seeing
the coastline as we approached the airport.
She is afraid of flying, but she managed to
not notice the turbulence as the blue of the
ocean came into sight. This was her first
trip outside of the United States other than
a trip to Canada, and it would be the first
time she would be exposed to the beauty
(and the poverty) of the Yucatán.
I believe that such travel has an effect on
one’s soul—a positive one, at that. The life
you see before you even get into the water
is amazing and quite deserving of mention.
There were birds, butterflies, and lizards
big and small, nocturnal and diurnal.
There were many lizards scampering about,
enjoying the tropical heat and the shade
available from the palm trees. The pelicans
swooped in to catch fish while butterflies
flitted about the beach, lovely to behold, as
were the birds that hunted them. Though
some might find it sad to think of the lovely
butterflies being hunted, the truth is that
they have a place on the food chain and
we must respect that. You must consider
nature as a whole and not just one piece, if
you want to best appreciate it.
Once in the water, I encountered feisty
sergeant majors Abudefduf sp., hogfish that
truly deserve the name, and an Atlantic blue
tang Acanthurus coeruleus, which could be
best described as perky. A sea fan swayed in
the currents, adding a sense of tranquility
to an otherwise hectic day. This was also
my fiancée’s first snorkeling experience
other than lessons in the pool. If you have
friends or family that have never snorkeled
before, then believe me, even if you are an
old salt like my family and me, you will