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Akumal is a small beach-front tourist resort community 62 miles south of Cancun, between the towns of Playa del Carmen and Tulum on the Yukatan Peninsula.

Akumal means "place of the turtles" in the Mayan language. The town has kept its relaxed, laid back mood amongst boom towns such as Playa Del Carmen and Cancun. Unlike the many pre-planned resort communities popping up on the Riviera Maya coast, Akumal is a quaint Mexican town with a rich history and a proud local mix of Mexicans and ex-patriots. Abundant tropical fish, nearby sunken Spanish galleon and coral gardens make this a popular destination for divers from around the world.

Its coral reef is part of the Mesoamerican Reef that stretches over 720 kilometers along the Yucatan Peninsula into Honduras. Referred to as the "Jewel of the Caribbean," the reef is home to a high diversity of species not only coral and fish but also colorful flora, mammals, and reptiles, many of which can be seen in the area bays.

The fine white sandy beaches at Akumal Bay and Half Moon Bay are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Sea turtles can be found laying eggs on the beaches at night throughout the nesting season from the end of April to October, or swimming in the main bay during the day. Sea turtles are endangered species and are protected by federal law.

Puerto Aventuras, 15 minutes north, houses the museum of relics from the history of Akumal Mexico, founded by Pablo Bush Romero and his CEDAM diving explorations. Since Cancun lacks good snorkeling, visitors often venture the one hour drive south from Cancun for a day of fantastic snorkeling in one of the lagoons.

Another unique feature of this area is Yalku lagoon. This small series of lagoons leading out to the sea once served as a trading route for ancient Mayans. Its calm waters are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Bird watching enthusiasts will enjoy quiet mornings in Yalku where a large variety of the Peninsula's bird population gather on the set of a spectacular sunrise. Kayaking, catamaran rides, deep sea fishing excursions and jungle tours are available. There is something for everyone.

The people of this small town not only enjoy these waters but are dedicated to the protection of their natural beauty. They have established a non-profit ecological organization that sponsors research of the Yucatan's coastal marine environment and preservation of the Mayan culture. Students and volunteers from around the world have been involved in projects such as developing reconstructed wetlands, preserving mangroves and working with scientists to study the ecology of the coral reef and the geology of the Yucatan.

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