Several readers have been writing me lately to ask if the rumors are true that they can no longer swim with the turtles in Akumal Bay. Since I always try to be responsive to the needs of the readers, I headed down to the beach in Akumal this morning to get some clear answers.
Well, the truth is that I didn’t head to the beach with that intention – and come to think of it, it really wasn’t that immediate.
What really happened was that we were eating breakfast at our favorite restaurant on Akumal Bay when we saw an employee from PROFEPA walk by with four marines from the Mexican military. They were there to enforce the new environmental restrictions.
Linda turned to me and said, “You should go and ask them about the restrictions and then write an article about it.”
So I did.
That was an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the intense planning and preparation that goes into articles like this one.
Akumal Bay Restrictions
After finishing breakfast, I spoke with a very friendly representative from PROFEPA who explained that the government imposed certain restrictions on the area to protect both the turtles and their environment.
For those readers unfamiliar with PROFEPA, it is the government agency tasked with protecting the environment in Mexico. PROFEPA is short for the Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente.
She advised me of the following restrictions:
* No organized tours
* No fins can be used in the bay
* If a turtle comes close to you, maintain your distance
* Swimming / snorkeling is only permitted within the areas designated by buoys and ropes. If there are no buoys present, swimmers / snorkelers must stay within 30 meters of the shoreline.
In the section of the bay where turtles are normally found, there are buoys to designate the swim area.
I was surprised to learn that the 30-meter swim restriction actually extends south down the beach to a point well beyond the Akumal Bay Beach and Wellness Resort.
She said that employees from PROFEPA patrol the beaches and the water to enforce the restrictions and the violators can face administrative fines. When I asked how much the fine would be, she said that she didn’t know.
When I asked how long the restrictions would be in place, she didn’t know that either.
Let’s Wrap This Up
Tourists are still permitted to snorkel inside the swim area and several that I spoke to reported being able to see turtles just beyond the buoys. That’s good news if you have your heart set on seeing these magnificent creatures while visiting the area.