Mexico Day 5 Part 1: Akumal, Cenotes, and Caverns, Oh My

We were up with the dawn again, but this time we just needed to be in our own lobby at 7:45 am.

Breakfast was room service.

We had booked an excursion with Aventuras Mayas. Our tour guide, Jesse, met us on time.

We were the first stop and went to pick up ten other people, at three other resorts. As he picked each of us up, he asked us about where we were from. It must have been hard to remember our names, because he ended up calling us by from where we were from. There was Wisconsin, (2 couples that were from Wisconsin, of course), Boston Mamma (a mom from Boston with her three daughters), Canada (a couple from Canada), and then he called us California.

As we drove the 45 minutes south to Akumal, Jesse told us what to expect throughout the day. Our first stop was Akumal Bay, where we would do some snorkeling.

As we drove through Akumal, Jesse seemed to know everyone.

He was seriously a hoot.

We got to our area, and Jesse gave us quick snorkeling lessons. All of us had experience, so he did a very brief lesson. They did provide all the equipment we needed throughout the day.

We were going to be swimming in a sheltered bay. Jesse was our snorkeling guide, and also took along with us a couple of spotters. These guys had life preservers and helped to look for fish.

Once we got in the water, we saw there were lots of them.

We were required to wear these vests, but they were not inflated. If you wanted, you could blow into your own vest and inflate it. But both My Sweetie and I love diving down and seeing the wildlife up close, so we left our deflated and were able to swim just fine.

There was so much to see here! The photos just don't give it justice.

We were on the lookout for lionfish, and found a couple. This one stayed still long enough so that we could get a photo.

There was coral everywhere, with so many places to swim down.

In this area it was between 5 and 15 feet deep. We had been instructed to not touch the coral or stand on the bottom.

We headed out into the open bay. All of a sudden, Jesse told us to swim quietly but quickly across the bay. He has seen diving pelicans, and there was most likely a school of fish below the surface.

When we got there, we saw thousands of sardines.

At one point I floated as still as possible, and could feel them barely brushing against me.

There was also activity going on above water.

See those feet below?

A pelican was just a few feet away.

There was one time when I saw a shadow under water, only to put my head up and have a pelican land  right next to me.

You can see one flying away in the picture below.

While we were snorkeling, Jesse would find things that we could touch.

He found a sea urchin, and sacrificed his hand so we could touch it.

We also saw jellyfish, a small octopus, and a couple of small eels.

But what we were really waiting for was the sting rays. We had been told that when we got into the sandy part of the bay, that we were in sting ray territory. In this part of the bay it was at least 15 feet deep, and we had been instructed to stay on the surface and not touch the bottom.

The spotters were on the lookout, and within a few minutes had found a big guy.

A couple of us had go pro cameras, so Jesse took both of them down and got some amazing photos. 

We saw a few more of these amazing creatures. You can really see how when they are motionless, they really camouflage in the sand.

We headed back, this time exploring the other side of the bay.

We were closer to the bay opening, so had a few waves bobbing us about.

We had so much fun exploring as we swam back up the inlet.

My Sweetie loved diving down, as far as he could.

Our total time snorkeling was about an hour and a half. We dried off and headed back to the van and through Akumal.

Our next stop, about 20 minutes north, was a cenote. A cenote is a natural pit, filled with fresh water, where the limestone has collapsed into an aquifer.

We drove down the main highway and then turned off onto this dirt road. A few miles down, and we were at our destination.

To get into the cenote you had a couple of options. You could be boring and just walk down the steps, or you could be more adventurous.

That was how I decided to go in.

The drop was only about 15 feet.

Jesse and My Sweetie.

Jumping in.

The third way to get in was by zip line.

My turn.

The view underwater was amazing.

The color was so vibrant! Again, no touching or standing. And we did not use flippers in the cenote, so that the sand and dirt didn't kick up.

I was getting a bit chilled, so My Sweetie did most of the exploring. It turned out that this day was the coldest day of our trip. Temps were probably in the low 70's but it was lower humidity.

I sat on the step and had a fish massage.

People were paying $10 for 10 minutes of this at Xcaret. Seriously tickled, but it is supposed to be good for your feet.

There were a few tunnels to explore.

And a few of these cute little fellas.

After about an hour, we dried off and headed to the third spot. This was just a five minute drive deeper into the jungle.

The underground cavern.

This was probably the most amazing part of the trip. The water was so crystal clear, when we walked up at first I thought I was looking at a dry cave and didn't realize there was water in it.

They had lights throughout the cavern, so you could see perfectly.

These photos just can't show it.

It was incredible. I asked Jesse about depth, and we were at times, looking 75 feet down.

Jesse would dive down, and hold onto rocks. He would pause to equalize pressure, then dive even further. So far down, that we lost sight of him. After a minute, when we were sure we had just lost our guide, he would pop up, maybe 50 feet down the cavern. There were tunnels all through the cavern and he knew exactly where they were.

My Sweetie would follow him down maybe 10 to 15 feet, and had so much fun exploring.

Horrible photos I know, but this is me.

My Sweetie, having a blast.

With our low-light go pro, this was the best photo we had.

After about 30 minutes of exploring, we walked a short distance to a small eating area. The cooks had prepared grilled chicken, rice, beans, chips, fresh salsa and guacamole, and salad fixings.

The food was actually very good.

When we were at the cenote and cavern, there was a photographer that took lots of photos of us. While we were eating, they came around with a tablet and showed us all the photos. They were fun to look at. We could have purchased a thumbdrive with them for around $30, but we decided not to. They were great and did not pressure us at all.

This was probably our favorite excursion. If we go When we go back to Riviera Maya, this is definitely on our list of things to do again.

Mexico Trip:

Day 1: First Day
Day 2: Checking out the Grand, Bike Ride, Tony's
Day 3: Xcaret
Day 4: Beach Walk, Kayaking, and the Gourmet Restaurant
Day 5, Part 1: Akumal, Cenotes, and Caverns, Oh My
Day 5, Part 2: Japanese Restaurant and Lobby Bar
Day 6: Beach, Kayaking, and the Italian Restaurant
Day 7: Tennis, Walking on the Beach, A Surprise
Day 8: Our Last Day, Boo Hoo


  1. These are such fun! Thanks for sharing them! I love that big water hole area and the underwater caves - so freaky and beautiful!

    Love you!


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