Contrasting Tulum and Akumal

A friend recently shared a blog post from a friend of hers entitled Celebrate the Contrast. It was an entertaining read and thought provoking as well. It was with that concept in mind that I approached this week’s post for my blog.  All beaches are not created equal but, that said, any beach is better than no beach in my opinion. So, it may be an easy first step in the exercise of “celebrating the contrast” to apply this concept to beaches.

There were two beaches close to Puerto Aventuras, Mexico, that we wanted to check out. The first was at Tulum. I’d been to Tulum before to see the Mayan ruins but didn’t set foot on the beach so this time we skipped the ruins entirely and went straight to the beach. Jim was suffering a bit of stomach upset so he stayed behind while Gail and I hopped on the colectivo (local bus) at Puerto Aventuras. For the 28 mile ride south, it cost us 35 pesos ($2.35) each. Then we walked about a mile from the highway to the beach, just following the foot traffic and found our way with no trouble.

Tulum National Park

Tulum National Park

We walked the beach and checked out a couple of restaurants. I’d read if you ate or drank something at a restaurant on the beach, you could use the lounge chairs and palapas all day long. A palapa is a Mayan structure with a thatched roof that really looks and acts like a sun umbrella. This restaurant, called Adelita, attracted us but when the fellow told us there was a minimum of 300 pesos to get a chair, we said we’d keep looking.

Tulum Beach

Tulum Beach

In the end, we returned to Adelita and ordered some lunch and margaritas which covered our minimum anyway. I had a mango margarita and Gail ordered the kiwi. (Watch for a future post of all the awesome food and drinks we enjoyed on the Riviera Maya.) The best part was that I would have this palapa all day to sit in the shade thus preventing a major sunburn from the intense Mexican sun.


My Palapa at Adelita

The water was a beautiful turquoise, the perfect backdrop for beach photos. Disregard that guy in the water in this photo. He doesn’t belong to us.


Beach at Tulum

Me and Gail

Selfie of me and Gail

One of the coolest things I had read about Mexico is that on Sundays the locals are admitted free of charge to area museums and attractions. I think Sunday is the day that families get out and do family “stuff.” We observed many Mexican families enjoying time together on the beach. Maybe they stopped here after a free visit to the ruins. I don’t know whether they owned these boats or whether the boats are considered fair game for seating space but several were occupied. I loved the local feel.

Mexican families at the beach

Mexican families at the beach

This is one of my favorite photos. I saw this little guy striding among the boats and had to capture him on film.

IMG_9936 - Version 2

Mexican boy

One more view of incredibly beautiful Tulum, a relaxing idyllic paradise on the Riviera Maya. Ahhhh.

Beach and the Caribbean from Tulum

Beach and the Caribbean from Tulum

Akumal was on our itinerary for the following day. It was only half as far as Tulum by colectivo but the cost was the same which was still a bargain. Akumal is the beach where tourists go to snorkel and view the sea turtles. Our first look at the beach was certainly the opposite of our experience on the previous day. It seemed that every inch of shade was already occupied.

Beach at Akumal

Beach at Akumal

We finally found a spot far down the beach under a spindly palm tree shared by a beautiful young couple with a selfie stick that they used to capture pictures of themselves on the beach and cavorting in the water. You can see a frond here under which I moved about every few minutes to try to stay in the shade. But the more interesting point of this photo is the swarm of people going out to snorkel to view the sea turtles. There must have been at least five or six such groups churning the water at any moment. I was glad I hadn’t planned to snorkel that day because it was a madhouse.


Unfortunately, the constant cacophony of construction noise disturbed any thought of idyllic sunbathing. I would say that Akumal will become the next Playa del Carmen and we experienced it in the making.

IMG_0009 - Version 2 So, my celebrating the contrast caused me to appreciate our experience at Tulum with its low-key, relaxed, local vibe. I’m sure that young people who like to be where the action is would feel that they had scored big by being at Akumal instead. But, as I said, any beach is better than no beach at all. Yep, celebrate the contrast.



Based on events from January, 2015.

Categories: Mexico, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Contrasting Tulum and Akumal

  1. Sheryl

    You are not alone in selecting Tulum’s beach. I read a top 25 beaches in the world list recently that included the beach at Tulum (I don’t have the link but Google Tara was there a week ago and loved it as well. She was less excited, however, about the scorpion she found in her beach bag that day. She believed he crawled in while she was at the ruins.
    Thanks for your great post, Laura!

  2. EWWW! I recently heard about a hitchhiking scorpion that stung a passenger on a Alaskan Airlines flight and the flight attendants killed it (fortunately). You know me and bug type critters. I would freak out.

  3. You can totally see why people would be drawn to the beaches – they look like paradise! However I would prefer the less crowded option too – the colour of that sand is amazing. Great pic too of the little boy and the boats!

    • I love a beach, and the warmth of sunshine (as long as I’m in the shade), so I love the palms and palapas on these beaches, too.

  4. I need to be in the shade too! You’ve captured some lovely photos here I can see why the beaches are so popular!

    • I live in the midwest where it’s cold in winter so I like to go where it’s warm even though I’m a shade lover.

      • I can understand that I have got so acclimatised to our Mediterranean climate here in Perth that I freeze when I go back to the UK and northern Europe!

      • Did I inadvertently delete your comment on Amy’s Gift? I read it and I appreciate your sympathy. The bloggers I know are such a kind group and so supportive of one another. Thanks for being part of my circle.

      • I think you must have as it doesn’t seem to be there but don’t worry the important thing is that you read it. I was so sorry for you and your blogging community such a sad and tragic loss. I have found the same thing too have “met” some lovely people via the blogging world – it really is a caring supportive community. I am very happy to be part of your circle and thank you also for being part of mine 🙂

  5. This post was so fun to read. I want to go to a beach so badly. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the ocean. I’ll just bring a margarita with me to Big Blue now. . . 😉

    • i love the beach, too, as long as there’s a bit of shade. The turquoise water in the Caribbean is so beautiful—I hope you get to see the ocean again soon. It’s so therapeutic to me.

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