2018/05/07 12:53:50

Thoughts on the changes

We're been visiting the area for at least 15 years (adult couple, no kids).  Stayed a few times at the old ABR and then branched off into 
condo/villa rentals on HMB some years and most commonly the bungalows and the main Hotel Akumal Caribe (HAC).  Every year we hear about the changes and occasional chaos and wonder what we'll find when we return.  Sure it has changed but so far the vibe we enjoy has still been there at the heart of it all.  We agree that if cost were no issue our uncontested favorite is HAC.  You just can't beat the location, views, and with enough of a breeze the ability to ditch the AC and leave the windows open and sleep listening to the waves.  It's getting pricey though but it seemed to be much less busy this past week than the same week in previous years.  Even happy hour at LolHa was weirdly quiet until Friday and Saturday nights.  Hopefully that means maybe the price will stop going up so much every year to encourage more people to come!   Except on the weekend I'm pretty sure there were far more maintenance staff/security out around the hotel than guests.  The magical vibe can still be found but the extra security and the hassle of having to backtrack a lot to get off the property away from the beach did dampen it a bit for us. It almost feels like being at an AI with all the security around and not so much like a quaint beachside hotel.  
Our other favorite place is Isla Mujeres and it really is so much cheaper to go there.  Except for the lack of good walk-in from the beach snorkelling it rocks.  We're thinking maybe just Isla next year to see how much we miss Akumal if we take a year off but we will definitely be back, just maybe not every year as it's getting $$.  It's one of our happy places but we're learning that it's not the only one.
We just visited for 6 nights Apr 30-May6.  Wow, the beach is much quieter than it has been in the past few years and we have gone this exact same week for at least the past five years so pre and post Secrets.  Both Secrets and ABBWR seemed to be busy but either there are less day trippers or they are more spread out than they used to be as much less activity on the beach in front of HAC and the dive shop.  More buoys in they bay than life jackets out there!  The buoy lines are somewhat confusing and not very pretty but I'd rather look at them than huge groups of what we used to call the snorkel hoards so I'd say overall a big improvement.  In our days there we saw NO ONE swimming in either "circuit".  Lots of people swimming and snorkeling in the free areas in closer to shore and people snorkeling right up to the buoy line but no one that we could tell who were moving about within the circuits or in any type of circular direction within the buoy lines.  Also, the boats seemed to be taking people out beyond the buoy lines of circuit 1 and just leaving them to snorkel about "free form" for a while before boating them back in. Maybe that counts as circuit 1? I'm not sure.
We snorkeled every day going in just in front or Secrets, swimming out to the buoy line, following it along south and then turning out towards the reef at the end of the buoys.  Spent most of our time among the coral heads in front of the ABBWR.  Saw all the usual fish, rays, turtles etc.  Most interestingly every day we saw small individual turtles out in the reef area not in grassy areas which was nice.  We had our own equipment including short fins and snorkel vests.  No one stopped us, or gave us any grief at any time, we snorkel in the mornings before noon as I find the light is best then.  At least one day there was a guy patrolling in a kayak, one day on a SUP.  I heard a whistle in the distance a few times but didn't see anybody getting in any trouble.  Both times they seemed to stick mostly in front of LolHa/Dive Shop area but I think the SUP guy was in front of Secrets for a bit.  Groups were smallish and like I said not many of them at all, most seemed to taken out to behind circuit 1 by boat.  I found it much better than the all day, huge groups of years past. 
So to sum it up, changes happen but they aren't as huge as they sound if you pay attention to some of the drama on Facebook. 
It's a beautiful beach, the weather was great, you can snorkel easily with lots of interesting things to see.  Everyone seemed to enjoying
themselves out there no matter what they were doing.   There are great places to eat and drink in walking distance.  It's still a great place for a vacation just getting a bit pricey compared to some other places that we also like to visit.  
9 comments Leave a comment
Thanks Turtle Girl!
2018/05/07 15:46:32
Thanks for the update Turtle Girl.  Sounds like it has calmed down a LOT since we were there in November.  Glad to hear it!
2018/05/08 06:41:51
Gracias for the report, Turtlegirl!
We too have tried branching out. Both times we went to Puerto Morelos we ended up going down to Akumal for a day of great snorkeling.
We gave up on the snorkeling on Isla and haven't been back there since a rather interesting stay at Ixchel Condos on Playa Norte with Chimbo's disco or whatever is is RIGHT next door LOL.
Spent a week at Half Moon Bay last November only to discover we still love Akumal and will be bugging Kay and the gang again soon about a few condo options for November.
2018/05/08 08:21:14
el gran chico
Re:  "changes happen but they aren't as huge as they sound if you pay attention to some of the drama on Facebook"
Well said.  Lots of misinformation there too (all also on another forum I won't mention by name).   LG has the best information (by far) in my opinion.
Re: "In our days there we saw NO ONE swimming in either "circuit"       ..... "
Your experience sounds nearly identical to ours from March.  Perhaps that is the current "normal".
2018/05/08 15:11:12
I hope it's the new normal at least for late spring.  It's our favorite time to travel as we enjoy the quiet.
We always book through Loco Gringo for Akumal and I agree this site has by far the best info.  It's thanks to this forum
that we were brave enough to leave AI's behind years ago.  It seemed so overwhelming at the time and now we'd never
go back!  
It's interesting to go each year after reading so much on this forum and on Facebook in the months before we go and
wondering how different things will be.  So far we've found it's never as different as we think it's going to be and 
it keeps drawing us back.  
We haven't tried Puerto Morales yet, it sounds like a great spot but I'm scared to find somewhere else to tempt us to split
our time further.  It's just such a part of the world to visit, so many great choices and something for everyone.  
We've only had good experiences on Isla so far.  We like to stay mid-island, it's much quieter!
2018/05/09 08:23:32
Nice write up. We have been staying at the bungalows for about 7 years, and yes it's gotten busier. In years past, we've stayed in Playa, Tulum, and Puerto Morelos - loved them all but Akumal is still our favorite. We were there early March when the barricades were put in (at 1:30 AM with lots of commotion). This being said, we still had a great time - saw lots of turtles and fish, and the seaweed wasn't too bad. When we choose to park ourselves outside the HAC privacy rope, we had to deal with lots of day trippers, some smoking, some playing music, but it wasn't that bad. Of course behind the rope it's very tranquil. We noticed some happy hours at the Loh Ha were very quiet, some were packed.  One of our fellow guests is a good friend with the owner of the HAC, and we had a very interesting conversation with her.  We will probably be back next year.
2018/05/09 15:24:32
Thanks Turtlegirl!! Heading to Akumal in the morning and didn't know what to expect after reading some of the posts here and elsewhere. Now I think I have a better handle on it thanks to your post. It's been 2 years since our last visit. It'll been interesting to see what's changed. Also, have never gone this late in Spring before.
Appreciate you taking the time to post your experiences here! I'll try to do the same.
2018/05/12 09:37:33
Have a great trip pescador. We wish we were going back and I guess that's the most positive review anyone can give!  
It's a bit different each year by but that's the same everywhere you go.  I think it's better than it was two years ago in that
at least they are trying to control unsustainable number of snorkel tours that were happening.  I'll be interested to hear 
what you think.
2018/05/14 09:13:57
Got back last night. This was our 4th visit to the area. Were there from Sunday, the 13th to Friday. Stayed in HMB, same place we stayed last time. Very quiet there, not many people, guessing maybe 25% occupancy in the condos and hotels there. Still mostly gringos as far as I could tell.
I've got plenty of pics but don't get the URL thing you have to go thru to post them.
Sargassum-Wasn't too bad to start with but it got worse every day. The poor workers at our place were out there trying to clean it up every morning. In front of unoccupied properties, of which there was a number, it just piled up. The first night we walked to LBV and had to cross a mountain of it just north of the bar. Southern half of the bay seemed to be getting the worst of it.
Situation wasn't as bad at Akumal Bay but lots more people there to clean it up. Plenty piled up on the Tulum beach, which we walked from south of the ruin to Poc-Na.
Tour groups-Seemed like those going to AB were smaller groups coming from the vendors on the approach road, not buses. Not a lot of them though. Saw one group that seemed to be cutting into the bay thru Las Casitas. Definitely more buoys than life jackets in the bay. We did not snorkel there.  
At Yal Kul Lagoon the groups apparently have their own access point. We got there early and in spite of being the first walk-ups of the day, we found lots of tour groups all ready in the lagoon.
Akumal Bay Access-We went in thru HAC each time, saying we were going to Lol Ha (which we were), parking our bikes in the hotel rack so we didn't have to pay $5 to get in. Not too crowded there. Noticed that many of people on the beach and in the bar were Spanish speakers which is a departure from what I remember in previous visits.
Turtles-Since we only snorkeled at YKL we saw none. Did go down to the beach in front of our place Thurs night (with a red headlamp) and came across signs of a turtle coming up on the beach and then heading back down to the water.
Caught Karaoke @ LBV and live music Thurs night at LH. Good times!
Overall still a great place but like everything else in this world, it's changing rapidly. Less gringos, less wind, more sargassum, bigger airport, more traffic on 307. Thinking we may try a road trip to the Baja next time, we'll see how that goes..... 
2018/05/19 11:44:02

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