My husband and I booked the Mayan Adventure Snorkeling Tour via the travel rep at our hotel during our April 2010 vacation — we’d known we wanted to go snorkeling, but didn’t know where. I’m so glad that we ended up with this tour!
Our guide, Julio, drove our tour group from Playa del Carmen out to Akumal, our first of three snorkeling locations. There, he distributed life vests (manually inflatable), masks, and individually-wrapped breathing tubes. After renting some slightly suspicious-looking snorkel gear on a previous vacation, I was glad to see the focus on hygiene.
There was also a focus on environmental awareness, mainly centered around sunscreen. My husband and I had been told by our travel rep that only biodegradable sunscreen was allowed; truth be told, though, the guides would prefer that snorkelers not wear sunscreen at all, since even the biodegradable versions need sunlight to biodegrade. We’d already slathered it on in our hotel room previously, though, and I can attest that most of it had washed off by the time we got to the underground cenote at the end of the tour. Julio suggested that those who are highly susceptible to sunburn simply keep their t-shirt on, although he didn’t force us to shower off any previously-applied sunblock.
We snorkeled in three locations: an ocean inlet, an open cenote, and an underground cenote. Julio made sure to point out all the potential dangers and wonders of each spot. We were especially glad that he showed us a map of the ocean inlet, as my husband and I got separated from the group and had to find our way back on our own! (Both of us wear glasses, and there were several red-shirted tour guides for various groups, so one red guy started to look like another…) Apart from that minor scare, the snorkeling at Yal-Ku Lagoon was beautiful.
The open cenote that was next on the agenda included a diving platform and a zipline, for the adventurous types. I passed on both, but my husband did the zipline and loved it! Several people jumped off of the diving platform multiple times. Not as many fish as in the lagoon, but the water was crisp and cool and refreshing.
The underground cenote was even colder, but was completely breathtaking. A few beams of natural light filtered from above us down into the deep, and the crevasses below us seemed to go down forever. The beauty was amazing (and was, unfortunately, too dark for my underwater camera to capture).
Lunch is included in this tour, which we hadn’t realized at the time of booking. The food was delicious yet basic: chicken, tortillas, rice, beans, all fresh and very welcome after a morning of snorkeling.
I brought a camera with an underwater case, but there were some staff photographers at certain locations — at the zipline and diving platform, and in the underground cenote. They took some candid shots at the open cenote, and some posed shots of couples and family groups at the underground cenote. The price of the photos was extremely reasonable: about $20 for a CD-R of the candid and posed shots, plus some stock photos of the cenotes and wildlife.
Overall, this was a fabulous experience. Highly recommend!