Yal Ku Lagoon is a renowned snorkeling spot located amidst a gorgeous environment. It is composed of a small bay and a set of shallow pools sheltered from waves and currents, making it an ideal place for snorkeling beginners. Aquatic life isn’t thriving here (few species do appreciate the fresh water pouring in from Cenotes rivers) and the entrance cost is quite high, but this uncommon place is still worth a visit. Don’t hesitate to add Akumal Bay to your snorkeling day, it is located 1 mile from Yal Ku and sea turtles are to be seen there.
Yal Ku Lagoon is located 1mi from the small village of Akumal, about 22mi South of Playa del Carmen and 15mi North of Tulum. If you’re driving, take “Akumal” exit from federal road 3017 and head to the village. From there, the “Yal Ku” signs will easily lead you to the park entrance. If you prefer public transportation (collectivos or more classic busses), the nearest stop is “Akumal”. Busses don’t stop closer to Yal Ku: consider taking a cab from Akumal.
The entrance fee to the lagoon is 14 US dollars (200 mex. pesos) per person for a whole day. You can bring your own snorkeling gear or rent it on site. Please note that the use of sunscreen and mosquito repellent is forbidden in the park in order to preserve the fragile marine environment.
The site is equipped with numerous stairways for a safe water entrance; many of them are located close to the park entrance.
Yal Ku lagoon is perfectly fit for snorkeling: its shallow waters (↕3-12ft/1-3m) are sheltered from waves and currents. The site is made of a bay and a network of channels fringed with rocks and mangrove swamps.
Start with the exploration of the small (only a few meters wide) rocky pools connected to each other. This area, close to the entrance and easily accessible through the stairways and ladders set on the shore, is logically the most frequented and water is often troubled. Swimming forward from here, you will come to the less frequented heart of the lagoon (↕6-10ft/2-3m). Beware tidal currents that can sometimes appear in the area.
The seabed is mainly made of large smooth rocks, sometimes covered with seaweed. Fringing some areas, mangroves add an original touch to the landscape. You will spot a lot of fish in the lagoon, but few different species dwell here. You will mainly see stripped sergeant-majors, sometimes only a few centimeters underneath the water surface. Mullets, bermuda chub and garfish (hunting right underneath the water surface) are also amongst the most frequent species to be spotted here. A little less frequent but still easy to spot are blue surgeonfish and doctorfish tang.
The lagoon being a place where fresh and salt water meet, visibility can be poor in some places. A lot of snorkelers here are beginners: beware collisions and fin strokes!
There is a snack bar inside the park. Numerous options (restaurants, convenience stores and hotels) can also be found only 1 mile from here, in Akumal.
These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
We went there on a very windy day, when snorkelling Akumal Bay was impossible. The Lagoon offered a very sheltered area with tons of fish life. The water is super clear with no coral or vegetable life, mostly rocky formations with several mangroves with sunken root systems attracting schools of fish.
Permits and schools of Permits
There are several tours that offer this Lagoon but the best option is to simply take a taxi from your hotel and go directly to the Lagoon ($14USD)
The Lagoon is fed from fresh water and connects to Akumal Bay so you can access Akumal from the Lagoon but the conditions were not good for us and the visibility in the bay was very bad so we stayed in the Lagoon area. This spot is great for beginner & intermediate snorkelers
Here’s a video I made of our day at the Lagoon: https://youtu.be/2JvE8y_kF1s
Hi! Thank you for your feedback. I just updated the species list. Feel free to share some of your photos in the photo gallery, if you wish to! Cheers
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Shallow seagrass beds with turtles and stingrays
Shallow reef with coral and colorful fish
Marine reserve with shallow lagoon and colorful fish
Freshwater pools with rocks, algae and fish
Freshwater pools and caves
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