Wednesday, July 27, 2011

La Laguna. Yal-ku.


When I planned out this trip, I made sure we had a fixed itinerary for the days that we were touring but on the days that we weren't I deliberately left the calendar wide open.  Today was one of those days.  With nothing set on the agenda, we needed to figure out how to spend out day.


We decided it was going to be a water day.  At breakfast, Marty came up with a perfect suggestion.  A day of snorkeling and swimming in Akumal. The last time I was in Akumal, it was a sleepy beach village.  The only accommodations were palapas on the beach.  According to Marty, Akumal is still sleepy, relative to its neighbors - Playa del Carmen and Tulum.  I was dying to see how it had changed over the years.

After breakfast, we rushed back to our room, got into our swimsuits and packed our packs for the day.
Marty had kindly arranged for one of his taxi drivers to take us to Akumal.  It would be about a half hour ride from Tulum.

We had told the driver to take us to Yal-ku Lagoon which lies north of Half Moon Bay in Akumal.

Yal-Ku is a narrow inlet through which fresh water traveling via underground rivers reaches the ocean. The lagoon has many small islands and areas where wildlife, flora, and fauna thrive. The primary activity at Yal-Ku is snorkeling. Perfect place to kick off our day.

The admission to Yal-Ku is 110 pesos which is about $10.  You can rent snorkeling equipment and the cost depends on what you rent.

We had arrived fairly early in the morning and so there was no line or anything to get in.

We walked up to the counter, paid our admission and rented a snorkeling mask for my brother.  I wanted to check things out first before deciding whether or not to snorkel.




We locked our packs inside the locker and headed down the path to the lagoon.

There, we encountered a small tour group.  We could tell they were a group because they were all wearing matching life vests with the company logo printed on the back.

In he went!  We let them go ahead and then my brother followed.  There is no beach at Yal-ku so you can either jump off the rocks or walk down the steps.  Bro did the latter.  His report back was that the water was cold but clear.

He put on his mask, dunked his head into the water and I watched him swim away.



 



While he snorkeled, I did quick walk around the area we were in - a small lagoon dotted with little islands covered with mangrove trees.  Scattered about were lots of beautiful statues. 
















The islands and mangrove trees also provide refuge for pelicans.  My brother snapped these photos while he was taking a break from snorkeling.


 Yal-ku turned out to be a much prettier place than I had expected and far less crowded to.  It really is a place just for snorkeling and so there are no large boats, speed boats or even jet skis to disturb the peace. 

And out he came!  A few short minutes after he had swum off, my brother was back at the dock.  His report.  I should snorkel. So, we both headed back to the counter and I got my gear.

Since I had watched an entire tour group take off with life vests and fins on, I decided I should do the same.  I'm not as comfortable being in unknown waters as other folks might naturally so I'm going in fully armed.

Armed with my gear, we headed back down towards the lagoon.  I strapped on all my stuff and clumsily stepped down the ladder.  Hey, it's not easy to walk with a big pair of rubber fins on your feet.


Dunk her!  Compared to the air temperature, the water was cold.  Brrrr.....No sooner had I gotten my ankles wet and my brother started splashing water up at me.   So not nice.  No sooner had I gotten my chest wet and he decided he was going to try and dunk me.  So, so not nice.  Yeah, he loves to torture his sister any chance he gets :-)   Okay, I admit it.  The best way to deal with cold water is just to plunge in.

It didn't take long for my body to adjust to the water temperature by which time I was really enjoying being in the crystalline green water.  Though it was a bit of an overcast day,  I could see colorful fish swimming all about. 

We had tried out my brother's camera in the hotel pool in Palenque so we knew how to operate it underwater.  The challenge was going to be for two people, who are blind as bats without their eyeglasses, to see the fish well enough to photograph and videotape them.

Surprisingly, I saw really well underwater.  Maybe it's the distortion caused by water but I saw really, really well!!  Same for my brother so we each took turns using the camera.  Because of the overcast skies, the lighting was not the best underwater but it wasn't bad.

Here's a compilation of the photos and videos we took.  Not bad for two first timers but we'll definitely have to practice to improve our techniques with using the camera underwater.








Time really does fly when you're having fun.  Before we knew it, we had been in the water for 3 hours!!  We decided that would be enough so we (reluctantly) got out of the water and returned our gear.  We showered off the saltwater and sand but kept our swimsuits on as our next destination would be Akumal Bay to grab a quick bite and do more snorkeling.

On the road to Akumal Bay.  With map in hand, we headed down the road that leads to Akumal Bay.  It's about a 1.5 kilometer walk and we figured it would take us about 1/2 hour or so to get there factoring time to be able to quickly dart off and take a look at something.  We're both very curious by nature :-)

The one thing that I love about Akumal is that it's a small place and very tranquil.  Very few condos and hotels and the ones that are there are very small.....nothing like the monstrosities that dominate the landscape in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.  There's a single road that connects north to south and it has very little traffic on it.  Speed bumps means no cars whizzing by you.  The fact that it was a bit overcast made the walk through the heat and humidity very bearable.  That and we were still drying off.

By the time we arrived into Akumal Bay, we were both dry, hungry and ready for whatever the afternoon held for us.

Definitely coming back to Akumal and I don't plan to wait another 25 years before doing so!