Comparison Akumal vs Playa del Carmen – Both top places to visit in the Riviera Maya, both Akumal and Playa del Carmen are on the Yucatan Peninsula so they both share beautiful blue waters. And while Playa del Carmen is beaches with a hotel strip, Akumal has better snorkeling and underwater scenery. Click here to book online Cancun activities and day tours
Comparing Akumal vs Playa del Carmen
In this battle, we pick Akumal as the winner. Swimming with turtles in Mexico is what Akumal is known for. White sand, blue waters and incredible marine life is what you get from Akumal, while Playa del Carmen has the lux hotels strip by the beach. Comparing the two, we choose Akumal. Read here Tulum vs Playa del Carmen and Akumal vs Tulum
SIM CARD AT CANCUN AIRPORT
I wouldn’t recommend you to buy a sim card at Cancun airport. If you wish comfort you can buy eSim online and if you aren’t in a hurry just go around phone shops in the city and compare prices to buy the cheapest sim card in Cancun. Read here best Mexico sim card for tourist
WHERE TO STAY IN AKUMAL AND PLAYA DEL CARMEN
A total of $20 USD would be the range of your budget for accommodation in Playa del Carmen and Akumal. There are hotels mid-budget for $50-70 USD and you can find luxury accommodations starting from $120 USD.
Why Snorkeling is Huge in Akumal
Akumal literally means in Mayan a “place of turtles“. In Yucatan Peninsula, a big number of turtles arrive every year to lay their eggs on the Akumal beach during the summer. Summer in Akumal is between May and October. These turtles are also known as Akumal sea turtles, laying approximately 70,000 eggs every year. Every year, you can see loggerheads and green sea turtles laying their eggs on the beaches of Half Moon Bay and surrounding areas.
Akumal is also popular for its exotic coral reef surrounding Akumal bay which makes it one of the top places in the Riviera Maya for diving and snorkeling.
The reef system is home to more than 65 species of stony coral, 350 species of mollusk, and more than 500 species of fish. It also includes sea turtles, rays, manatees, and sharks contributing to the complex ecosystem.
BOOK YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE
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How to Get to Akumal Bay – Akumal vs Playa del Carmen
Akumal Bay or Akumal beach is easily reachable from Playa del Carmen with a 20-30 minute drive south of Playa del Carmen. If you’re coming from Tulum, Akumal is 15-20 minutes drive from north of Tulum, on highway 307.
Things to Do in Akumal – Akumal vs Playa del Carmen
1. Akumal Bay / Akumal Beach
Swimming in Akumal Bay or Akumal beach is completely free – great news! You’ll have to pay for everything else, and since snorkeling is huge in Akumal, either bring your own snorkeling gear or rent them near the beaches.
2. Aktun Chen – Playa del Carmen vs Akumal
One of the most unique things to see in Akumal is the Aktun-Chen Natural Park, an incredible cave system and a beautiful one at that. You’ll see stalactites, columns, pillars, and translucent curtains that are all totally dry, and just breathtaking especially in real life. There are activities near Aktun-Chen like swimming in the cenote and ziplining.
3. Yal-ku Lagoon
Another beautiful thing to do in Akumal is the Yal-ku Lagoon. A shallow cenote offering clear waters – perfect for snorkelers. In Yal ku Lagoon you can snorkel with fish & sea turtles.
3. Akumal Monkey Sanctuary and Rescued Animals
A perfect place to see to complete your nature and animal experience in Akumal is the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary and Rescued Animals in Akumal. This is a sanctuary to a wide variety of animals. The top goal of the rescue center is to make sure they give the best care to all the rescued monkeys and other animals. This activity is perfect for families, couples and everyone a great break from the water.
4. Cenote Santa Cruz
Cenote Santa Cruz is a cenote for swimming in Akumal, not to be confused with the Cenote Santa Cruz that they have in Tulum.
Things to do in Playa Del Carmen – Akumal vs Playa del Carmen
1. Parque Los Fundadores / Founders Park / Parque Los Fundadores
Parque Fundadores or the Founders Park is found in Playa del Carmen’s City Center and is free for access to the public. You’ll easily see this arriving in Playa del Carmen, as it’s one of the first sights to see, just outside ADO Bus Station.
In Parque Lost Fundadores, you’ll see the Portal Maya Statue, a beautiful statue of two figures high up in the air, reaching to touch each other.
2. Xcaret Park – Akumal vs Playa del Camen
Xcaret Park is best when you want to visit a private-themed park and resort. Inside Xcaret Park, you’ll see Jaguar Island, Coral Reef Aquarium, and Monkey Island. It’s an eco-archeological park in Playa del Carmen.
Xenses Park is also part of Xcaret.
3. 3D Museum of Wonders
Something fun to do with kids or kids at heart, the 3D Museum of Wonders has a lot of illusional artwork created by Michaelangelo, DaVinci, and other famous artists.
4. Cenote Chaak Tun / Cavernas Chaaktun
The Cavernas Chaaktun are small caverns that you will love swimming in and discovering in Playa del Carmen. Not to miss if you love nature and would love to do some exploring while in Playa del Carme.
5. 5 Avenida Norte / Quinta Avenida / 5th Avenue
The 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen also known as Quinta Avenida is one of the popular streets in Playa del Carmen that is frequented by tourists. It’s a street where everything is happening, and where the local sellers can speak English, so if you’re trying to find a comfortable way to start your trip in Playa del Carmen, and want to talk to English speakers, you might like this place.
6. Chikin Ha
Chikin Ha is another Cenote in Playa del Carmen that is worth your time if you’re looking to experience more nature. It’s a 30-minute drive from Playa del Carmen, and a cenote good for swimming.
7. Playacar / Sandos Playacar
Playacar beach is a bit of an exclusive resort experience if that’s what you’re after.
Exclusive resorts, higher-priced accommodations, and food are here. All-inclusive is that you can get in Sandos.
8. Cenote Cristalino
Cenote Cristalino or Crystal Clear Cenote is one of the top beautiful cenotes to visit in Playa del Carmen less than 30 minutes from Playa del Carmen. This cenote has an entrance fee of $200 pesos (Mexican) for adults and $150 for children. Mexicans get some discounts, with $170 for Mexican adults and $120 pesos for children.
9. Rio Secreto
Playa del Carmen has an underground river, the Rio Secreto. This reminds us of the beautiful Palawan Underground River in the Philippines, a UNESCO heritage site itself.
Because it is one of Playa del Carmen’s main things to do, you can’t go to Rio Secreto without an official tour of the reserve.
Tickets cost $79 (Mexican pesos) for adults and $39.50 for kids from ages 4 to 12 years old.
Rio Secreto is definitely not one to miss as it is one of Riviera Maya’s most fascinating things to witness.
Cash in Mexico
Mexico has its own currency called the Mexican Peso. A $1 USD=19 MXN. There are lots of ATMs and exchange currency in many parts of the country. And you have to know that the country’s dollars are very common and well-accepted. Click here to know more about the exchange rate of Mexico.
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Final Thoughts on Comparing Akumal vs Playa del Carmen – Which One to Choose?
You will never go wrong for any vacation in Yucatan Area. Choosing between Akumal and Playa del Carmen, while Playa del Carmen is perfect for an all-inclusive family getaway, Akumal adds to this with its underwater snorkeling with turtles and beautiful coral reef. You can’t go wrong with either of these beautiful destinations.
Let us know what you ended up choosing and have a wonderful Caribbean trip!
About the Author: Ruben, co-founder of Gamintraveler.com since 2014, is a seasoned traveler from Spain who has explored over 100 countries since 2009. Known for his extensive travel adventures across South America, Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and Africa, Ruben combines his passion for adventurous yet sustainable living with his love for cycling, highlighted by his remarkable 5-month bicycle journey from Spain to Norway. He currently resides in Spain, where he continues to share his travel experiences alongside his partner, Rachel, and their son, Han.