Boasting turquoise waters, an unrivaled luxury resort scene, and incredible nightlife, the Mexican Caribbean is the number one destination for Americans taking trips South of the border.
Historically, a majority of visitors have stayed in Cancun or Tulum, while other lesser-known spots in the wider state of Quintana Roo were often forgotten, even though their offer is just as great and the coastal scenery just as splendid.
Interestingly, in recent years, booking trends have begun to change, as vacationers are no longer necessarily headed to Cancun when flying into the local airport.
With overcrowding and an inevitable decrease in the quality of services provided becoming a concern, they are looking for better, more attractive alternatives.
One of them is a small beach town 62 miles South of Cancun’s Hotel Zone, the best-performing destination in all of Mexico this year in terms of room occupancy:
Akumal Is Soaring In Popularity
For the first time since records began, the charming coastal town of Akumal has registered an occupancy rate higher than anywhere in Mexico for the first semester.
Since January, the destination has managed to keep 85.1% of its room capacity full, trailed by Playacar, yet another up-and-coming resort area near Playa Del Carmen, and Cancun, which ranks only at number five with an occupation rate of 76.4%.
Though Cancun is still Mexico’s mighty King of Tourism, as well as the world’s most popular beach destination currently, it has failed to sell out rooms throughout the year as interest in unheard-of towns with a more relaxing atmosphere grows.
Cancun is the best place to go if you’re looking for high luxury and to socialize with your fellow young peers, but one could argue the frantic pace of the metropolis and the rapid internationalization of its Hotel Zone has scared away crowd-wary vacationers.
That is where Akumal comes into play.
A Quieter Tropical Oasis
As it is a small community of only a thousand or so inhabitants, sitting on the road between the much more popular Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, yet not belonging to either, it provides visitors with the peace and isolation they might desperately crave without sacrificing comfort.
Unlike other small towns in the Mexican Caribbean, Akumal was not born as a Mayan fishing village or Spanish-era colonial settlement. It was in fact founded in 1958 as a community for scuba divers by a famous Mexican businessman, whose family still owns property in the region.
Over the decades, as the community grew, it became a popular spot for snorkeling and marine life sightings, as it is perched between both Akumal and Half Moon Bay, two of the most beautiful natural crescents in all of the Mayan Riviera.
If you’re dreaming of a long stretch of white sand bounded by tall palms and hugged by the warm waters of the Caribbean, where turtles and eagle rays swim undisturbed, Akumal would be the most accurate representation of that postcard-like picture.
A Long, Exclusive Sandy Beach
The local beach, Playa Akumal, is incredibly popular among open-water swimmers and sunbathers alike, as it is equipped with a range of tourist amenities, including a restaurant and toilets.
The beach itself is not free to visit, with tourists having to pay a negligible fee of $5 to get in, but guests staying overnight in Akumal may be eligible for free entry, especially if their resort straddles the beachfront or is located within the bay’s protected reserve.
Other attractions in or near Akumal include the crystal-clear Yal-kú Lagoon, the untouristy, hidden cenotes of the Mayamar EcoRanch, and the Dolphin Discovery, a dolphin sanctuary where you can swim with the gracious, playful creatures.
Seeing that Akumal is more exclusive of a beach hotspot than Cancun is, with fewer hotels and accommodation options, it can be more expensive.
How Much Does It Cost To Stay In Akumal?
An overnight at the landmark Grand Palladium Colonial Resort & Spa, a favorite among wellness enthusiasts, could set you back by as much as $341 per night this fall, while the luxurious all-inclusive El Dorado Seaside Suites come at an even more expensive starting price of $438.
Luckily, most tourists landing in Quintana Roo are actively searching for five-star listings, where they can get pampered and enjoy Mexico’s world-renowned hospitality to the fullest, so we doubt they’d object to paying hundreds of dollars more for the ultimate Mexican Caribbean experience.
That’s not to say those on a tighter budget, especially young travelers who are simply hoping to be closer to nature, away from Cancun’s hustle and bustle, are not welcome.
The Hotel Akumal Caribe has rates starting from only $177, breakfast included, and more adventurous guests certainly wouldn’t mind trying the famous Akumal Natura Glamping, where they can sleep in huts surrounded by the beautiful jungle for as cheap as $73 per night.
Who Is Akumal For?
Akumal is somewhere you go for relaxing and taking in the tropical nature, and though the hotels may offer a wide range of entertainment options, the area itself is a nature reserve, and thus, the development of tourist facilities is more limited.
You won’t find Cancun’s glitzy, glamorous shopping malls here, nor Tulum’s wild, DJ-led jungle parties, but if it’s some tranquility you seek, and being in a more exclusive natural environment without all the distraction piques your interest, perhaps two or three nights in peaceful Akumal would do you some good.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com