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Snorkelling at the Yal-Ku Lagoon

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After completing our Open Water scuba certifications, we expected the idea of snorkeling to lose its appeal. Why float on top of the water when you can dive right down into it? But at shallow sites like the Yal-Ku Lagoon in Akumal, snorkeling is just as good as scuba. Perhaps even better.

Yal-Ku Lagoon

Yal-Ku is a natural lagoon near the sea, not as large or expensive as the much more famous Xel-Ha, but big enough to comfortably occupy half a day. We visited in the afternoon, following an unforgettable experience swimming with Akumal’s sea turtles.

The big advantage snorkeling has over scuba is that you can spend as long as you want in the water. We swam around Yal-Ku for at least 90 minutes, which was easier than it sounds even without a life jacket. The visibility was a little blurry, especially where the fresh water mixed with the salty ocean water, but we saw a ton of fish, including barracudas, trumpet fish and a couple gigantic rainbow parrot fish, who led us on a chase around the lagoon.

Toward the end of our swim, we went through a tunnel in the limestone rock, and ended up in front of a school of thousands of silver fish, moving in perfect unison. Doing my best whale impression, I dove into the center of the school, making them dart away from me with such precisely synchronized movements, it seemed impossible that they weren’t sharing a collective consciousness.

You could spend an entire day at Yal-Ku, even booking a palapa. A stand at the entrance will rent whatever snorkel gear you need, at a reasonable price, so all you have to bring is your swimsuit and towel.

Location on our Map

I used this underwater camera!!!!

Yal-Ku Lagoon
Yal-Ku Lagoon
Yal-Ku Lagoon
Yal-Ku Lagoon
Yal-Ku Lagoon
Yal-Ku Lagoon
Yal-Ku Lagoon
Yal-Ku Lagoon
Yal-Ku Lagoon
Yal-Ku Lagoon
Yal-Ku Lagoon
Yal-Ku Lagoon
Yal-Ku Lagoon
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February 10, 2014 at 10:18 pm Comments (0)

Swimming with Sea Turtles at Akumal

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We were floating on our bellies in the waters of Akumal Bay while, just a couple meters below, giant turtles grazed on sea grass. It was an experience that instantly joined the ranks of my all-time favorites.

Turtles Akumal

We had been skeptical upon arriving in Akumal, a small town just north of Tulum. Yes, our friends and acquaintances had raved about it, but really: a place where you can swim with sea turtles? For free? I’ll believe it when I see it. We expected that Akumal would prove to be just another tourist trap on the over-developed Costa Maya.

At first, our fears seemed to be borne out. Akumal is swarming with foreigners, and to get to the beach you have to fight through an obnoxious lineup of salespeople hawking special tours and experiences. But the beach is free. And despite the crowd, we had no problem finding a relatively quiet area.

We spread out our towels underneath a palm tree. So far, so good. But still, we were distrustful. We’re just going to swim out into the water, and presto there will be sea turtles? Just like that, grazing and unconcerned by our presence? Yeah right! We grabbed our snorkel gear and swam out into the bay, and almost immediately we found sea turtles. Just like that.

So many turtles! And so big! I chose one and swam alongside it for awhile, watching as it ate. Occasionally, it would run out of air and slowly climb to the surface. Such moments which were exhilarating, since it truly didn’t care about my presence, and would come so close I could have easily reached out and touched it.

We stayed in the water for almost two hours. You might think that watching turtles eat grass would quickly get old, but it didn’t. While in the water, we saw some coral formations and families of colorful squid. But the stars of the show were the turtles… such beautiful, peaceful creatures, simply watching them made me content and relaxed. Akumal is a special place in the world. If you’re anywhere near the area, swimming with the turtles is an experience you shouldn’t pass up.

Location on our Map

-Video and photos taken with this Underwater Camera

Turtles Akumal
Turtles Akumal
Turtles Akumal
Turtles Akumal
Turtles Akumal
Turtles Akumal
Turtles Akumal
Turtles Akumal
Turtles Akumal
Turtles Akumal
Turtles Akumal
Turtles Akumal
Turtles Akumal
Turtles Akumal
Turtles Akumal
Turtles Akumal
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February 10, 2014 at 4:13 pm Comments (3)

Isla Mujeres’ Garrafón Castilla

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When you’re on Isla Mujeres, there’s really only one decision with which you’ll need to trouble yourself: of all the tantalizing options, where should you plop down your butt for the entire day? We chose Garrafón de Castilla, a small beach club on the southern end of the island.

Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling

Garrafón de Castilla is named for the reef just offshore, and is not to be confused with nearby Parque Garrafón. The latter is an expensive theme-park type experience, featuring attractions like zip lines and swimming with dolphins. Garrafón de Castilla, on the other hand, is a small beach with snorkeling and a 50 peso ($4 USD) cover charge. Sand, water and sun is all we wanted.

Our day at the beach went like this: lay on a chair, snorkel a bit, lay on the chair some more, eat, snorkel, and chair (this time falling asleep). Perfect. The snorkeling was a lot of fun; despite its proximity to shore, the reef is in decent condition. We saw lobsters, a manta ray and too many colorful fish.

No really, there were way too many colorful fish. The club sells fish food along with its snorkel gear and so, even though we weren’t feeding the fish, they’ve come to recognize snorkeling humans as floating feed machines. It was initially cute, but quickly got weird, and then kind of scary. I could not escape this swarm of little yellow fish, and they were starting to look impatient.

Still, too many fish is hardly a real complaint, and overall Garrafón de Castilla offers a wonderful day out, especially considering the price. If you’re looking for a relaxing spot to chill out in the sun, you can’t do better than this.

Location on our Map

I took the underwater video with this camera!

Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
Garrafón Castilla Snorkeling
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January 9, 2014 at 7:19 pm Comments (0)
Snorkelling at the Yal-Ku Lagoon After completing our Open Water scuba certifications, we expected the idea of snorkeling to lose its appeal. Why float on top of the water when you can dive right down into it? But at shallow sites like the Yal-Ku Lagoon in Akumal, snorkeling is just as good as scuba. Perhaps even better.
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