History & Nature
Akumal was once a sprawling coconut plantation owned by Don Argimiro Arguelles until 1958 when it was discovered by CEDAM (Club de Exploracion y Deporte Acuaticos de Mexico), an exclusive dive club. Akumal became the headquarters for this group of divers who were in search of underwater treasures. Pablo Bush, one of the founders of CEDAM, bought thousands of acres of land around Akumal. This tropical coastline was only accessible by boat until the mid 1960’s. Cancun was founded in the late 1960’s, which brought more attention to this isolated and exotic Mexican coastline. Yet Akumal still maintains its tranquil way of life, with beautiful beaches and world renowned coral reefs.
Akumal is an ecologically conscious community. There is a recycling program in which much of the community participates. While staying at Vista del Mar please recycle your glass and plastic. For more information you can contact the CEA Center (Centro Ecologico de Akumal) located on Akumal Beach.
Many of the owners of the houses and condominiums have constructed wetlands. The simplest way to describe this is that they are contained drainage fields. They act as a filtering system for the gray water that comes from the three stage septic tank. Contained in gravel filled enclosures, these wetlands are planted with native flora. The roots of these plants utilize the nutrients from the effluent, in turn cleaning the water. These wetlands are an effective way of treating the water so as to not pollute the local water supply. A sample wetland is located directly next to the Vista del Mar Hotel on your way to Akumal Dive Adventures.
Akumal — The Natural Beauty
Akumal is situated between the beaches of the Caribbean and the inland jungle, creating an opportunity to see a wide array of tropical flora and fauna. The jungle is full of palm trees, bromeliads, and orchids, supporting animal life and providing the local population with many resources. The Mayans have long utilized these plants for food, medicine, and building materials. Examples of local architecture can be seen in the “palapa” style thatched roofs that are still used today.
Flora and Fauna
The abundance of plant life supports an amazing variety of animal species. Many mammals live in the jungle including spider and howler monkeys, coatimundis or tejons (a furry brown mammal with a long nose and a striped tail), foxes, opossums, raccoons, tapirs, anteaters, porcupines, armadillos, deer, jaguars and tepescuincle (a strange nocturnal animal with the body of a small pig, a face like a rabbit, and the teeth of a beaver). Most of these animals re found deep in the jungle. There are occasional sightings of foxes, tejons, opossums, raccoons, and tepescuincle on the road to the lagoon. The best time to see wildlife activity is after dusk or at sunrise.
Many species of native birds depend on both ocean and jungle life for food, making Akumal an amazing place for bird watching. Some of the birds commonly seen in the jungle are the grackle, Yucatan flycatcher, Yucatan whippoorwill, orange oriole, the beautiful quetzal, parakeets and rare sightings of toucans. The ocean views from Vista del Mar offer great opportunities to watch seabirds including pelicans, frigate birds, plovers, gulls, sooty terns, and egrets.
Tarantulas, lizards, snakes, and crocodiles also call the jungle home. Fortunately these creatures tend to stay away from the beach and populated areas. However, you will see plenty of rock iguanas sunning themselves around Akumal. At night you might hear a chorus of geckos. These are harmless, transparent lizards that are usually found in pairs. Besides bats, geckos are one of the biggest consumers of mosquitoes and other small insects.
The Caribbean supports a wide variety of sea life including lobster, octopus, stingrays, colorful reef fish and sea turtles. Keep your eyes on the ocean in front of Vista del Mar, as sightings of parrot fish, turtles, and rays are a daily occurrence. Perhaps the area’s most famous inhabitants, turtles, give Akumal its name. In Mayan, Akumal means “the place of the turtle.” You are likely to encounter green sea turtles if you snorkel in the turtle grass, their favorite hang-out. Every year between May and October, loggerheads and green sea turtles emerge from the ocean to lay their eggs on the beaches of Half Moon Bay and surrounding areas. These turtles lay approximately 70,000 eggs every year. This is an area of primary importance for the turtles, and the people of Akumal take great pride in making sure the turtles’ nesting sites and beaches are preserved. The best time to view these turtles laying eggs or nests hatching are at night during the full moon. The shy hawksbill turtle also calls this region home, favoring areas near the reef. Turtles are beautiful serene animals that should be enjoyed from a distance and never touched.