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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)

Learning How to Scuba Dive

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One reason Jürgen and I chose the Yucatán Peninsula as our home for 91 days was our desire to learn how to scuba dive. This is one of the best places in the world to do so. After some research, we decided on the four-day certification course offered by Wet Set, a scuba-diving shop found in Puerto Morelos.

We were introduced to scuba diving almost ten years ago, when we participated in a two-hour beginners-level course offered on a cruise ship. Being able to breathe underwater was an exhilarating experience; the course gave us a tantalizing sample of scuba diving, and we immediately wanted more. But the years passed by, and we never found ourselves in a position to properly learn.

Until now. Puerto Morelos was the perfect spot to complete our certification. Just offshore is the world’s second-longest reef, and the town itself is peaceful and quiet, ideal for studying. Most importantly, the pros at Wet Set couldn’t have been more helpful. This small shop near the Ojo de Agua Hotel, run by an American/Scottish husband and wife team, boasts a tremendously friendly and qualified staff.

Under the watchful, critical supervision of our instructor, Lisa, we went from clueless scuba newbies to certified divers in four days. Scuba is a lot more knowledge-based than I realized. There are a lot of facts and skills with which to become familiar. Now that I’m certified, I can tell you what nitrogen narcosis is and, without any problems, could calculate your post-dive pressure group. I can confidently assemble your diving equipment and communicate potentially important phrases like “I’m out of air, give me yours”, using my hands.

Of course, the classroom was just part of it. A huge chunk of our time was spent in the water, practicing and demonstrating necessary skills. Things like taking our masks off underwater, recovering our regulators, providing air to our buddies, ascending to the surface in one breath, and hovering mid-water without moving a limb. These skill checks were not just important, but kind of fun. Upon completing each, I felt a little less anxious about diving. It’s a relief when you know that you can now deal with a situation as serious as running out of air.

We made four dives as part of our course, visiting various spots along the reef. These initial underwater forays were split between fun and work; we had to practice specific tasks, but also had time to sight-see. We swam past a giant sea turtle, trumpet fish, and even found a moray eel staring at us from his cave. And with each dive, our confidence grew.

After four exhausting days, we received our Open Water Certifications with a feeling of accomplishment. If you’re looking for a great place to learn how to scuba dive, make your way to Puerto Morelos and find Wet Set. If you’re already certified, they offer good-value dives in various spots along the reef and, for those not into scuba, they do snorkeling, as well as something called “snuba” diving: a hybrid between scuba and snorkel.

Location of Wet Set on our Map
Wet Set – Website

Great Place To Stay In Puerto Morelos

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December 4, 2013 at 8:21 pm Comments (7)
Swimming with Sea Turtles at Akumal 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.
For 91 Days