The Bahia Principe Akumal Resort in part of a huge vacation complex that includes the Bahia Principe Tulum and Bahia Principe Coba resorts. The Bahia Principe Akumal is situated on a reef-protected bay, between the clear blue Caribbean and the lush Yucatan jungle, 70 miles south of the Cancun airport.

Akumal (“place of turtles”) Resort was formerly a large coconut plantation accessible only by boat until 1958 when it became the headquarters for the Mexican underwater research project (CEDAM) exploring sunken Spanish galleons on the many nearby reefs.

akumal sea turtle diving resort hotelWith visibility of 200 feet, and extraordinary underwater life, these reefs provide some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world (so said Jacques Cousteau). Diving is without a doubt still the main focus, although the search for sunken treasure is almost abandoned.

November to February are the busiest months, with vacationers enjoying the perfect waters, clear skys, warm days and cool nights. You’ll find an abundance of restaurants, bars, grocery stores, gift shops, dive shops (of course), money exchange, laundry service, and travel agency. The regional Cancun bus service is an excellent and inexpensive means of travel, running every half hour.

akumal-seaturtles diving resortSituated on the edge of the jungle, this is a vast plant and animal kingdom with many species still undiscovered. Birdwatchers “flock” here. ;-) An interesting time to come is from May to June when Akumal hosts its most famous visitors. Several varieties of sea-turtles migrate to these clear warm waters and serene beaches to lay their 70,000 eggs and mingle with the tourists. It’s great family fun and the off-season rental rates make for a bargain vacation!

Arrival at the Akumal Bahia Principe complex may leave you feeling overwhelmed. This resort is huge. However, the ever-present shuttles will quickly deliver you anywhere on the property. In spite of the trams, you’ll still be doing a bit of walking. The villas are set up in a tidy, orderly fashion, and roads/paths wind their way through lush vegetation to connect them, and many guest enjoy the “strolls”. Iguanas run rampant!

The complex hosts a Mexican Fiesta every Thursday night at the Hacienda Dona Isabel for 160 pesos per person. The Akumal side of the resort is some distance from the Hacienda Dona Isabel, the large shopping and entertainment complex. Sign markers say it’s half-a-mile away. The weather is freakin’ hot and humid, and expect to be sweat-soaked if you decide to “hoof it”. This is, after all, tropical jungle.

Six or seven different, fresh juices welcome you every morning, eggs made to order, freshly grilled meats and seafood at lunch and dinner, pasta made to order, and of course traditional Mexican cuisine. There is a different country-theme each night for dinner, giving you more choices. The a la carte restaurants are fancier with extra service and menus (alcohol is not included).

Chefs prepare paella pool-side in traditional massive paella pans. Try the Tequila restaurant on the Tulum side or the Arlequin gourmet international on the Akumal side. Although, there are usually quite a few youngsters accompanying their parents, you won’t see much of them during the day, as they are kept busy with the kids club. Mariachis play in the lobby on some nights and in the main buffet restaurant on Mexican night.

The main buffet is in the Riviera with breakfast of waffles, pancakes, eggs, fruits, pastries, bacon, potatoes, etc. Lunch and dinner offer beef, pork, chicken, pasta, fish, salads, potatoes, rice, mexican, fruits, pastries. Not five star quality in spite of what the brochures say (maybe 4 stars?). In Mexico there is no “truth in advertising” laws, so take ads with a “grain of salt”.

Scotiabank supplies the only ATM on site, that being at the Hacienda Dona Isabel. But seeing as the thing has an external card reader you may prefer banking at one of the Scotiabanks in Playa del Carmen. The hotel front desk charges a fee to change dollars.

The hotel offers a shuttle service to Playa del Carmen twice a week for $7 per person per trip. Skip this and just get to the highway. A colectivo (ruta, servicio, plain old local bus) will take you to and from PDC for less than $2 dollars per person. Use local transport from the main road and save some pesos. Twenty peso gets you to almost any nearby town. If you speak or look “Foreign” it is automatically assumed that you are American and you will be charge a “Gringo price”.

The Bahia Principe Akumal “activities” pool is rated best pool in the whole resort complex. However, if it’s relaxation you’re looking for, this is not the pool for you – go to the main Akumal pool or to one of the other properties. The activity pool had something going on constantly. There is water aerobics, water volleyball, beach volleyball, bingo, dance lessons, spanish lessons, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

The resort maintains luscious tropical vegetation and sparkling, marble floors. The maintenance staff follows you everywhere, picking up your cigarette butts and empty drink glasses. The maids are all expert at forming interesting towel animals for your enjoyment. Mini bars are kept well stocked with snacks, sodas and cervezas to enjoy while sitting on your balcony. Spa services include massage and pedicure.

A night arrival to the resort is impressive, with a huge, tastefully lit lobby area, and Champagne and OJ at check-in. You now feel that you are really on vacation and ready to be pampered.

Bahia Principe Akumal buildings #47, 48 and 49 face the back of the bar/amphitheater get a bit noisy. Building #66, with more deluxe rooms, is literally on the beach, and usually booked up. Villa 65 is a great location. It is beach front and just far enough from all the action to be quiet, but close enough to walk everywhere. It is tricky getting the catamarans out between the reef and big rocks, so you should know how to sail.

The Bahia Principe Akumal “quiet” pool is especially popular with the guests. It incorporates a lagoon-like layout that affords a bit of privacy. The “activity” pool is set to music, fun and games, with the animation staff orchestrating a full range of things to do (if that is what you prefer).

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