Travel Planning

From car rental and ground transportation to where to buy groceries, this is your source for Akumal travel planning. We strive to provide current information that we hope will make your planning easy and your Akumal vacation even better. We want the only surprise you have, to be just how "blue" the water really is.

To get you started, here are some of our most frequently asked questions related to trip planning:



What is the closest airport?



Cancun International. The Cancun Airport is located about a one and half hours drive north of Akumal. 30 - 45 minute drive from Playa del Carmen, depending on traffic.

Some visitors to the Riviera Maya also choose to fly into Cozumel. This works well if you plan on spending some time diving and is also worth a quick look when checking airfare. From the Cozumel airport you will need to take a taxi to the ferry dock, ferry to Playa del Carmen and either rent a car in Playa or bring a taxi. 




Should I rent a car?



We recommend you do.  There are many places to explore during your visit and this is often most convenient via rental car. While in Akumal a rental car may not be necessary. Taxis are easy to find around Akumal Bay, but are much less frequent if you are staying in North Akumal / Half Moon Bay. If you choose lodging in points south, South Akumal, Soliman Bay, Tankah, a rental car would be very important.



How's the driving?



Driving in Mexico is very similar to driving in the US or Canada and is very safe. You will find that Mexicans are very polite and quite willing to help. As with anywhere, drive slowly, respect traffic laws and never drink and drive. This is your vacation, so please take your time and enjoy the scenery.

A few things to keep in mind when driving in Mexico:

  1. DRIVE DEFENSIVELY. Drive slowly, keep your distance and be pending of pedestrians and livestock along the road. This is the most important thing we can say. Remember that many drivers in Mexico do not routinely use their turn signals and some vehicles will not have functioning brake lights. Avoid accidents by keeping your distance, using your turn signals and being aware.
  2. THE LEFT TURN One of the most obvious differences between driving in Mexico and driving in the US is use of the left turn signal. This is also one of the most frequent causes of vehicle accidents in our area. What you need to know: While driving on the highway, a left turn signal is an invitation for the car behind you to pass.

    Trucks and buses frequently use their left turn signal as a way of communicating an opportunity to pass. If you are turning left, pull off to the right and allow vehicles behind you to travel through. DO NOT STOP in the highway with your left turn signal on. The person traveling behind you may interpret this as “an all clear” signal and attempt to pass. Remember to use common sense and good judgment. The Riviera Maya is home to people from all over the world, some who use their left turn signal for nothing more than a simple left turn.
  3. NO SHOULDER Rollovers and other accidents are often the result of loose or no shoulder along the roadside. When a shoulder is present it often doubles as a bus stop, livestock crossing or roadside stand. Drive slowly and don’t expect to have a shoulder present.

  4. THE GREEN ANGELSThe Green Angels patrol Mexico’s highways and provide FREE roadside assistance should you break down or be involved in an accident. You will know them by the bright green truck. They can be seen regularly on Highway 307 between Cancun and Tulum and also traveling the highways between the coast and Merida.

  5. Buy Mexican Auto Insurance. In the event of an accident Mexican authorities will not accept foreign auto insurance policies. Having Mexican auto insurance means that someone is looking out for you. This is very important and should put your mind at ease. In the event of an accident you may not be allowed to move your vehicle and could be detained by police until fault can be established. This is especially true in cases where someone is injured. Mexican insurance companies are professionals at dealing with these situations. A claims adjuster and an attorney may meet you at the scene or police station. In most cases once you have presented your proof of Mexican insurance you will be free to go. Rental car agencies will often send a client representative to translate if needed and generally walk you through the process.

  6. Try to restrict driving to daylight hours. This is common sense wherever you drive. Traffic hazards, pedestrians and livestock are all much easier to see.

  7. Watch out for “Topes"  Widely used in Mexico, “Topes” or Speed Bumps have prove to be very effective at decreasing speed and encouraging drivers to move forward cautiously. They are in fact so effective that you will find in most residential areas.




Where do I buy gas?



PEMEX is the national chain of fuel providers and the only official outlet. The PEMEX stations are easily recognized by their bright green color scheme. Unleaded gasoline is referred to as “Magna Sin”. Some stations also offer “Magna Premium” which has a higher-octane level.

  1. Be prepared to pay for your fuel with Mexican Currency. Although many PEMEX stations accept US Currency the exchange rate is very poor.
  2. During busy travel times gas shortages are not infrequent. Always top off your fuel tank when near a station.
  3. Gasoline is measured in liters in Mexico, 1 gallon = 3.3785 liters
  4. Be aware that some gas stations in Mexico have been known to attempt certain 'rip-off' ploys. To avoid being ripped-off, make sure the fuel pump is set to $0.00 when you begin fueling.
  5. Pay careful attention to how much change you should receive in return when paying for your fuel. Gas station attendants have been known to intentionally give tourists the incorrect amount of change.
  6. We prefer the PEMEX station just outside of Puerto Aventuras, on the right side of the highway as you are traveling north towards Cancun. Most stations in the Rivera Maya are reputable and courteous. We do however encourage you to be aware when purchasing fuel. We advise extra caution if filling up at the station in Tulum.



Is it safe? What security measures are in place?



Quintana Roo has a lower incidence of crime than any major US city. Mexicans strong sense of family and community are to be admired and contribute to the relative safety we enjoy in the Riviera Maya. We are not however, free from petty theft and crime of opportunity.

As in any part of the world, practice good common sense. Lock your doors at night and when leaving your accommodation. To be safer lock areas of your accommodation that you may not use frequently so that you don't forget later on. Do not leave cameras and other electronics unattended. Use the security safes provided in your accommodations.

We ask that you leave expensive and very sentimental jewelery at home. Unfortunately, a number of grandmother's wedding rings are now somewhere in Half Moon Bay or laying on a coral reef, yet to be found.

While out on day trips, bring only what you need and leave the rest behind.

It's very easy to leave your better judgement behind in such a laid back and peaceful setting, but we want to encourage to maintain the everyday security measures you assume when in your own home.

Most accommodations provide night security. Many communities also have gated entries and are patrolled by both private security and local police officers.

When going to any foreign country check with your insurance agent before your trip about coverage for losses while on vacation.



How much cash should I bring? Are there ATM machines available? 



You should plan on arriving with enough cash to carry you for at least two days. This will give you a chance to exchange travelers cheques and familiarize yourself with local ATM machines. US Dollars are widely accepted and many businesses now welcome Visa, MasterCard and American Express. However, we do recommend that you either purchase some pesos from your local bank prior to departure or exchange some currency at the airport before leaving. You should have pesos available when leaving the airport for auto fuel, snacks and drinks and maybe a little tip for luggage handlers.

There are two ATM machines in Akumal, both near the entrance (the arches). The Super Chomak has an ATM machine and so does the Mini Super El Pueblo just across the street. The ATM machines offer a good exchange rate, but this can sometimes be off set by higher service fees (up to $3 per transaction).



How can I see a nesting sea turtle?



Sea Turtles have been returning to the beaches of Akumal and the Mexican Caribbean to nest for centuries. This is our legacy, to ensure their safe return to Akumal beaches for generations to come.

Beginning in May and through September, female sea turtles will make their way out of the sea to the beaches where they will hopefully dig their nests and deposit eggs. A female sea turtle may come ashore many times before finally laying her eggs.

It is a very moving thing to see. The huge female lumbering ashore. She is completely exhausted after digging her nest and will have to take many rest breaks as she crawls back into the sea.

The eggs mature in 58 days
Right around the beginning of July we will see baby turtles dig their way out of their nests and begin the journey back to the sea.

The best way to see a sea turtle nesting or the baby turtles hatching is on the CEA turtle walk. Guided by a trained volunteer, these turtle walks patrol the beaches at night to watch for females and mark their nests. On occasion, when nests are in an area that places them at high risk, the volunteers will collect the eggs and bury them in a protected nesting area.




Will my cell phone work?



Yes, probably. Be sure to check with your service provider. We have found that Sprint, Verizon and Cingular work well. Signal is strong in Akumal but lessens as you travel south on the highway. If you are staying on Soliman Bay or Tankah Bay you will probably not have signal until you travel a little north or a little south on the highway. Signal is strong from Akumal north to Cancun.

Again, check with your provider. Roaming rates will apply and they can be quite expensive. Find out what your rates will be and if there are international plans available before you travel.

Some properties are now equipped with Vonage or Skype phone systems making calling home easier than ever.




What if there is a problem during my vacation?



Our on-site management staff is there to help you resolve any problems you may have with your accommodations, as quickly as possible. In addition to the on-site office, which is staffed during normal business hours, emergency contact numbers will be included with your confirmation voucher. Contact information for the Akumal Direct local representative will be included in pre-arrival instructions and posted in the rental. Again, the on-site staff to which you are directed to contact will be your best resource to resolve any issue quickly.




Where can I find the best snorkeling?



This is a big question, with an answer that requires a good deal of nuance. We think some of the best snorkeling in the area can be found right in our own Half Moon Bay. Half Moon Bay itself is an important sea turtle testing area. During the late spring and summer there are many turtles spending their days in the bay. You can also see rays, octopus (usually at night), parrot fish, barracuda and a variety of coral types.

The Xel-Ha Eco-Park offers not only great snorkeling, but kayaks, dolphin swims, restaurants and many other activities, making it great for groups of a variety of interest and comfort levels. 

We would also suggest a day trip to Cozumel for avid snorkelers. Cozumel's clear calm water is well known to divers, but it is also a great place to snorkel. There are public access points along the shore and you may also want to check out Chankanab National Park.  Chankanab is a protected lagoon, similar to Xel-Ha.




What recommendations do you have for tipping?



First, we want you to know that tipping is done at your discretion. We want you to enjoy your visit to the Riviera Maya and feel that you have received value for your dollar. We are also very proud of the people who care for our properties and encourage you tip whenever you feel appropriate. We recommend an average tip of $1 - $3 per person, per night for the housekeeping staff and $2 - $5 per night for the grounds and maintenance staff or 5% of the total cost of your rental. These are only guidelines. Any tips should be reflect your satisfaction with the service you have received and the quality of your accommodations.

Tips can be left in the unit, or with the staff or management.

In restaurants standard tips are between 15%  and 20% assuming your service and meal were favorable.




Will I need special electrical adapters?



If you are traveling from the U.S. no adapter will be needed. Most properties are equipped with standard electrical outlets of 110 V. If traveling from other areas an adapter may be needed.

Akumal Direct Reservations provides vacation rentals and travel information for Akumal and Mexico's Riviera Maya.

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