Akumal means ´turtle nest´in Mayan, due to the large quantity of turtles that arrive there each and every year to lay their eggs on the beach.
Akumal is one of the oldest tourist destinations on the Mexican Caribbean coastline, yet it still remains one of the smallest and most environmentally conscious in the area. It was founded in 1958 as a community for scuba divers excavating the site of the shipwrecked Matanceros, and prior to that it was a simple coconut plantation located on beautiful bay and surrounded by miles of jungle. In 40 years it has seen very little change compared to the big resorts of Playa del Carmen or Cancun nearby and remains a haven for divers and nature enthusiasts. It sits on the edge of the second largest coral reef in the world, the Great Mayan Reef, or the MesoAmerican Barrier Reef as it is more commonly known. This barrier reef system spans the coastline of 4 countries.
“A special place, for special people.”
The Hotel Akumal Caribe is the oldest resort in the town and at the forefront of conserving the environment. Expedition Akumal was founded and continues to be financially supported by the Hotel Akumal Caribe, where you can find our Science Office and on-site wet laboratory. The hotel offers the perfect location for our coral restoration work. We are surrounded by beautiful gardens tended to by wonderful local staff. Many of the hotel regulars are divers and nature-lovers who come here for the unique natural setting and world-famous diving. The hotel has many ecological initiatives, including the aquaponics program situated outside our office and extensive sustainable practices throughout the hotel and it’s restaurant.
You can find out more about the hotel on their website Hotel Akumal Caribe.
We work in collaboration with the Centro Ecologico de Akumal, commonly know as CEA, who have been monitoring and protecting the reefs of Akumal for 20 years. The CEA staff helped us with initial permits and training with their partners Oceanus A.C
CEA have many educational programs that you can get involved with. You can find out more about them at the CEA Website
Akumal Dive Center
Expedition Akumal works closely with Akumal Dive Center who provide us with discounted boats and staff volunteers to conduct the work. In return, lead biologist, Jenny Mallon provides training in reef ecology and restoration science. In 2017, Expedition Akumal supported one divemaster to attend the intensive coral reproduction course at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and invited the whole Akumal Dive Center team to participate in the unique opportunity to observe coral spawning and to collect coral gametes.
Akumal Dive Center provide Expedition Akumal with boats, captains, divemasters and dive equipment and are an essential part of the restoration team. Find out more about them and the services that they offer at the Akumal Dive Center Website
The History of Akumal
In 1962, Mr. Pablo Bush Romero acquired this property that had a majestic coconut plantation facing the sea from which he could embrace the natural paradise of Akumal that had no development or town. In those days, one had to come over by boat from Cozumel.
His vision was to carve out a small outpost on a fabulous new frontier with a small tourist development for diving enthusiasts.
Pablo was considered a pioneer in introducing global tourism to the Mexican southeast and he unveiled this area as “The Mexican Caribbean” when his development plans began in Akumal in 1970. Club Akumal Caribe Villa Maya was established as the first tourist development on the coast of Quintana Roo.
As a result of his founding a National Diving Club in Mexico, CEDAM, extensive invitations were sent to fellow dive enthusiasts to spend their vacations in Akumal and in this way began to position itself as a premier tourist destination. Akumal served as the base camp for expeditions of this club of exploration, diving, archaeology and museums. It’s membership included a dedicated group of divers who through their passion for this underwater sport, contributed a valuable service to Mexico by collaborating with the respective authorities on historical expeditions such as the exploration of the sunken ship “El Matanceros”. This Spanish vessel was shipwrecked on February 22, 1742 just south of Akumal.
Akumal soon became known as the “Diving Capital of the World” among diving enthusiasts in the 1970’s. Years later, Cancún was developed and the government changed the coastal name “Mexican Caribbean” to what it is referred to today – “The Riviera Maya”.
In 1974, at the request of Pablo, the bronze sculpture of Gonzalo Guerrero “Father of the Mestizaje” (the mixture of two cultures) was forged by the artist Raúl Ayala Arellano and then displayed on the property of Club Akumal Caribe as an important point of historical significance and interest.”
“Today the family of Don Pablo continue to own, operate and manage this private property consisting of 56 hotel rooms, the Lolha Restaurant complex and Super Chomak Market. We welcome you and hope that you enjoy your experience with us! “
To find out more about Akumal or if you would like to be involved please Contact Us
Without the coral reef, there is no wildlife, and without wildlife there will be no tourism, which is why our coral restoration work is so essential not anly for the environment, but also for the local economy; businesses, fishermen, divers, tour guides, and the Akumal community as a whole.