South of Cancun and north of Xel-Ha, the snorkeling at Akumal is popular for both shore-accessed coral heads and the boat-accessed offshore barrier reef. It has very healthy reefs for the region due to the lower levels of water pollution and underwater freshwater vents. Known as Las Bahias De Akumal, the region surrounding the village of Akumal has five bays from North Akumal Beach to the south at Aventuras Beach.
The Yal-Ku Lagoon is the northern-most bay located just north of North Akumal Beach / Halfmoon Bay.
The North Akumal Beach in Half Moon Bay is another good snorkeling dive site located just north of Akumal Bay. It is a shore-accessed dive site which is protected. In the waters down to 15 feet deep, there is a broad sand-flat with coral heads and up to twenty old cannons. The water visibility can be up to 25 feet. During Half Moon Bay snorkeling, you may encounter parrotfish, stingrays, angelfish, lionfish and turtles among the soft corals and sponges.
The Akumal Bay just off the village offers snorkeling over patchy reefs that are habitat for green sea turtles, hawksbill turtles and loggerhead turtles amongst the coral head formations. In this shore-accessed dive, the water ranges from shallows down to 35 feet deep in the sand flats. The best starting point is from the Club Akumal Caribe resort.
Continuing south, there is good snorkeling on the patchy reef off of the Oasis Tulum Resort.
Lastly, the bay off Aventuras Beach has good snorkeling on the reef at the entrance to the bay. Further off shore, there is an extensive barrier reef with nice snorkeling. Most of the popular offshore snorkeling dive sites are offshore within a 5 to 10 minute boat ride. This snorkeling dive site is also known as Cuevas de Tiburones and has water depths from 20 to 40 feet deep with visibility up to 50 feet. There are good formations of elkhorn coral and staghorn coral.
Translated from Mayan as place-of-the-turtles, Akumal is located about 60 miles south of Cancun. To reach the snorkeling in Akumal by air, you will need to fly into Cancun International Airport (Aeropuerto de Cancun - CUN). Some of the hotels provide shuttle vans or there are shuttle vans to be hired down to Akumal. Renting a car to drive around can be hazardous do to the potential for unwarranted police stops resulting in required immediate cash payments. An alternative airport option is to fly into Aeropuerto Internacional de Cozumel (CZM) and take the ferry from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen. From there, you can take a much shorter shuttle van down to Akumal.
Note: while snorkeling here, keep in mind that from November through March you might encounter bull sharks right off the beach.
Overall, Akumal is the 2nd most popular snorkel dive spot of all 40 snorkeling dives in Mexico.