A male spiny-tailed iguana basks in the warm tropical sunlight of Akumal.
predators go, so does the entire ecosystem.
Without them, prey animals reproduce out
of control, eat up all of their food, and then
starve. The ecosystem is in balance and we
need to respect that. Visit it, appreciate
it, but also respect it. Do your part by
not polluting the water—don’t wear non-biodegradable sunscreens, wear a t-shirt.
Buy one and throw it in your snorkel bag;
it’ll be years before you need another, and
you’ll save money, avoid polluting waters,
and not worry about losing your sun
protection because of it washing off.
A trumpetfish Aulostomus maculatus prowls for small fishes and crustaceans it finds among the
branching corals and gorgonians.
and salt waters. Cichlids and damsels, for
example, seem to fill the same ecological
niche when they are in close proximity
and use the same technology, so to speak.
Nature will use the same solution to a given
problem as often as possible, and it really is
cool to see them so close together.
If you intend to swim this cenote, there
are some important facts you should know.
The cave has a current that can drag you
under, so be careful. While it is not strong
when you get more than a few feet from
the mouth of the cave, do keep an eye on
the whirlpools on the surface near the cave.
Also, be aware that sunscreen is not allowed
in the water, so wear a t-shirt instead. A
wetsuit would be nice also, as the water is
cold, but it is not completely necessary.
On the final day, we saw a fish ball—
composed of a thousand or so jacks—and
“Barry” the barracuda, who is the protector
and eater of the school of fish. They are
eaten by only the one predator, which
is helpful for the overall stability of the
school. It is simply amazing to see. While it
is fun to watch on television, being there in
person is an entirely different experience.
If you have never been up close and
personal with a barracuda, it is at once
wonderful and terrifying, as it has a face
only a mother could love. Fierce, hungry,
and always on the prowl, its eyes speak
volumes. But do not go and think of the
barracuda as a monster because it is not;
it is an important player in the overall
food web of the planet. I’ll admit it did
seem like a monster, however. When we
were looking for it, we poked our heads up
and asked one another if we should look
somewhere else, then bang!—the second
we put our masks back in the water, there
it was. It kept its distance and we kept
ours, and then we continued on our way.
When you first have an encounter with
such a predator, you should not feel hatred
or fear, but a healthy respect. Know that
these fish, magnificent and streamlined
predators, have their place—if the apex
While such a trip may not qualify as
an adventure to some, it certainly can be,
and was for us. The freedom to have as
much (or as little) of an adventure as you
want makes Akumal a great place to stay.
Reefs that are easily accessible, turtles,
barracuda, nice beaches, and the ability
to feel like Indiana Jones at the Mayan
Ruins—what else could you ask for?
Speaking Spanish, while helpful, is not
necessary, as most people you will be
dealing with will be able to speak English.
For those traveling with non-snorkelers,
activities such as golf, horseback riding,
and other such excursions exist. The
tap water is oftentimes undrinkable, but
many hotels and grocery stores offer
bottled water. If you are buying your own,
remember to buy more than you expect to
need, maybe double what you expect to
use, as it’s much better to have extra than
All told, despite any initial hiccups and
technical glitches we may have had starting
out, our trip was a great one!