‘Hola’, and welcome to our complete guide to Yal Ku Lagoon in Akumal. It’s one of the most relaxing and awakening places you’ll visit during your stay in this quiet beach town. We spent a full morning at this wonderful above-ground cenote and have assembled a complete guide to Yal-Ku to help you make the most of your visit.
Read on for tips on getting there, prices, advice for exploring and much more.
What is Yal-ku Lagoon?
Yal-Ku Lagoon is a vast freshwater lagoon that connects to the ocean. The unique clash of fresh and saltwater creates a warm pool of water that attracts an abundance of sea life. This natural estuary is home to some stunning tropical and freshwater fish, and you’ll have the opportunity to get up close to them as you venture through their underwater habit. Yal-Ku Lagoon is a shallow body of water, with a max depth of 4 meters. Therefore, it’s a safe place to snorkel and is great for beginners. We personally see it as a much safer place to see the local Akumal sea life, compared to swimming in the ocean.
In addition to the actual lagoon, the surrounding tropical scenery is a great place to relax. You can gaze down at the fish from above or have a picnic with a view.
How to get to Yal-Ku Lagoon
Yal-Ku Lagoon is located just a 5-minute taxi drive from Akumal Beach, which is a huge attraction in itself. Akumal is a small but popular town in Mexico’s Riviera Maya that’s famous for its sea turtles. It sits a 30-minute drive south of Playa Del Carmen, and 25-minute drive north of Tulum.
Whether you’re staying in Akumal or need to get there from another destination in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, we recommend first heading to Akumal Beach. From there, you then have the following options:
- Walk 25-minutes across the backstreets of Half Moon Bay, from Akumal Beach to Yal-Ku
- Jump in a taxi and drive 5-minutes from Akumal Beach to Yal-Ku. It should cost a couple of hundred pesos.
- Rent a golf cart from the Akumal Beach area and drive around 8 minutes to the lagoon.
Find travel directions for getting to Akumal on our website here.
Where can I buy tickets to enter the lagoon?
You can purchase tickets directly on their website. Alternatively, pay upon arrival when you get there. The main entrance of the lagoon has a small desk where you can buy tickets, rent equipment and buy snacks. We thoroughly recommend booking ahead of time to guarantee a spot, as it can get quite busy, especially during peak times.
Be sure to check back on their website as they often offer discounts!
How much do tickets cost?
For adults, the tickets will cost 300 pesos and will grant you access to the lagoon and the facilities for the entire day. Please do note that an extra charge will be added for the life jackets (100 pesos), and any other snorkelling gear you rent from the lagoon.
Arriving at Yal-ku lagoon
When you arrive at the Yal-Ku Lagoon, you’ll need to check in at reception to confirm your booking and/ or pay the entrance fee. You can also rent snorkelling gear (snorkel, mask, life jacket, fins) if you haven’t brought along your own. Note: life jackets are mandatory and must be worn whilst swimming in the lagoons.
We personally recommend renting a life jacket, snorkel and mask, only renting short fins if you plan on swimming further up the lagoon, near the mouth of the river. The current is stronger here so the fins will help you swim. The cost for each item of equipment is 100 pesos, so costs can soon add up. Therefore, we definitely recommend that you bring your own snorkeling gear if you have it.
You can also rent lockers at reception to keep your belongings safely stored while you swim.
Once you’re changed and are all sorted, you’ll need to walk through the park for a couple of minutes until you reach the lagoon.
What will I see at the lagoon?
There is a huge variety of tropical fish that you’ll certainly see whilst at Yal-ku Lagoon. It isn’t a case of ‘if’ you’ll see the fish, but ‘how many’! And for those of you who venture out towards the ocean, you may be lucky enough to see a sea turtle! It’s a good idea to keep dipping in and out of the lagoon. Consequently, you may find some different species each time you go in.
Top tip: there’s a sign next to the reception area that features the different species of fish you could see in the lagoon. Have a look at this before you venture out snorkelling to familiarise yourself with the sea life.
Can I go on an organised tour at the lagoon?
The park and local tour agencies offer organised group tours for exploring Yal-Ku. Personally, we didn’t feel the need to go on a group tour, as we enjoy exploring at our own pace and we found that there was more fish away from the groups. However, if you, or someone else in your group are a weak swimmer, or are an adventurous bunch, then tour guides are a great option. They’ll take you to the best spots of the lagoon and will explain everything to you in detail.
What are the facilities at the Yal-ku lagoon?
The park is relatively small but they do have a few facilities available onsite, which include:
- Changing rooms
- Lockers * additional charge of 100 pesos
- Free on-site parking
- A small restaurant
- A small selection of snacks and drinks
There are also a few benches and loungers around the park, so you can chill out after exploring the lagoon and enjoy a well deserve rest! It’s a good idea to bring a beach towel if you plan on chilling out whilst visiting the lagoon!
What’s the best time to arrive at Yal-ku lagoon?
The best time to arrive at Yal-ku Lagoon, in our opinion, is early morning. If you’re looking to spend time in the lagoon, alone with family or your partner and without big groups of people, then it’s the best option. The water is also clearer earlier in the day. A higher amount of swimmers means that silt is kicked up, making the water cloudier. Nevertheless, once you’ve swam past the entrance to the lagoon, it won’t seem as busy, as everyone snorkels at their own pace.
Our top tips for visiting Yal-Ku Lagoon
- Don’t forget to bring your water shoes for a more comfortable experience. Whilst there won’t be a great deal of walking around, water shoes protect your feet. They’ll also prevent you from slipping over on those rocks and slippery surfaces. Those steps to get into the lagoon can be quite slippery!
- Bring a clean change of clothes for when you head home (especially for those that are on organised bus tours or are opting for a taxi).
- If you have your own snorkelling gear, then we highly recommend bringing it along with you. The park will charge you 100 pesos for each piece of gear. So, if you want to keep costs to a minimum, don’t forget to bring them!
- If you head into the lagoon at the main entrance, you’ll see most of the fish swimming around near the steps and to the left of the steps too.
- Bring a waterproof pouch for your phone (we use this one from Amazon), or a Go Pro camera. You’ll capture some amazing shots of the sea life.
- Be sure to arrive as early as possible. The park can get relatively busy during weekends and peak times of the year, so beat the crowds and arrive first thing!
- As with many natural parks, you can’t wear any type of chemical sunscreen or bug spray. Bring along biodegradable sun protection so you don’t get burnt in the hot Mexican sun.
- Don’t forget to bring anti-fog spray for your snorkel mask. The masks steam up very easily and you sure don’t want to miss out on seeing the amazing fish!
Frequently asked questions
We hope you enjoyed reading through our ultimate guide to the Yal-ku lagoon. You’re bound to have an incredible time, so be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below! 😊
Staying in Akumal longer? Check out our other guides below:
By SusieAuthor bio:
I’m a passionate traveller that loves a sunny beach holiday, but also appreciate the cultural side to a trip and checking out undiscovered destinations. I’m the go-to Toucan Traveller for great holiday stories, cool photos and foodie recommendations.