Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Hotel Mexico | Photos and Guide | LukeTravels.com

Akumal Photos
Akumal Photos
Akumal Photos
Akumal Photos
Akumal Photos
Akumal Photos
Akumal Photos
Akumal Photos
Akumal Photos
Akumal Photos

     

Akumal, Riviera Maya, Mexico Travel Guide by LukeTravels.com

Akumal: How to Get There

Before you can get to Akumal, you will need to fly to Cancun, Mexico. Cancun International Airport has numerous non-stop flights from around-the-world. Majority of those flights originate in North America, then Europe and South and Central America respectively.

North American air carriers include: American Airlines with non-stop fights from Chicago, New York, Miami, Dallas, Boston; United Airlines with flights from Chicago, Washington Dulles, Los Angeles, Newark, Cleveland, and Houston; Delta with non-stop flights from Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, Detroit, Minneapolis, Memphis, Indianapolis, Orlando, Nashville, Hartford, Washington-Dulles, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee; US Airways with flights from Philadelphia, and Phoenix; JetBlue with flights from New York and Boston; Frontier Airlines with flights from Denver and Kansas City; Alaska Airlines with a non-stop flight from Seattle; Air Canada with flights from Toronto and Montreal; Air Transat with flights from Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto; AeroMexico with flight from within Mexico as well as USA cities; as well as many charter and low cost carriers. Most flights from Europe and South America are operated by charter carriers. [Contact LukeTravels.com if you feel this section needs an update]

Akumal: Hotels: Grand Sirenis Hotel Akumal Review

The Grand Sirenis Hotel is absolutely spectacular. After five stays at this Riviera Maya resort, this is one of my favorites.

I love the modern and simplistic architecture of the Sirenis. Expect lots of concrete. Lots of glass. Lots of exposed metal. Lots of pure-white colors. Expect enormous buildings shaped in non-conventional style throughout the property. Expect modern fixture, furniture and art. Anyone looking for that traditional Mexican-resort style architecture with warm pastel colors, this is not the place for you. The only somewhat traditional feel about the Sirenis is that most of the buildings somewhat resemble the shape of Mayan pyramids, with a modern twist.

The lobby itself is probably the biggest in the Yucatan.  In fact, there are two lobbies connected with a wing -- both identical, but layout is reversed. Some people may find the lobby cold and dark.  The lobby can be compared to the interior of a modern museum.   

The Sirenis property is enormous in size. The hotel itself was built around a lush jungle. There is endless walking to do. Depending on where you'll stay on the property, you can expect to walk ten minutes or more before you arrive at your destination. Though, that is a great feature for any all-inclusive property -- you'll want to walk off that breakfast, lunch and dinner. This place is great for runners, as well.  Though, you'll want to head out early in the morning before outside temperature gets too hot for your comfort. [Click here for a complete review of the Grand Sirenis Hotel]

Akumal: How to Get Around

By shuttle or private transfer service: Shuttles can be booked in advance, through your hotel or on the transfer service´s website, or you can wait until arrival and book one directly at the airport terminal after you pass customs and immigrations. There are several booths set up. This is the fastest and most direct way to arrive to Akumal from the Cancun airport.

Most travel companies, such as Orbitz, Expedia, American Airlines Vacations, MLT / Delta Vacations include transportation to and from your hotel. Check with your travel provider for this option as this will save you a lot of money if you were to pay for your own transportation.  In most cases, a single passenger will pay approximately $30-50 USD each way to either Akumal or Playa del Carmen hotel or resort.  However, a return taxi ride from either Akumal or Playa del Carmen to Cancun Airport will cost approximately $60-75 USD per car.

By rental car: To drive to Akumal from the Cancún airport, take the highway 307 south until you see a sign that reads Akumal Playa. Approximate drive time is 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on traffic.  Highway 307 connecting Cancun and Riviera Maya resorts was recently given a complete facelift and an upgrade.  This two-lane concrete highway has a smooth surface and clear signage, however, driving at night can be difficult as the highway does not have night lighting.  Don't speed as there are many police squad cars roaming the highway.  Also, you will need to keep your eyes open for speed-bumps each time you pass a village along the highway. Larger villages have traffic lights which will delay your travel time.  

By bus: If you prefer a more economical method of traveling south from the airport to Tulum, you can take a bus to Playa del Carmen directly from the Cancún International Airport! The Riviera bus line leaves the airport for Playa about every hour, daily from morning to evening (about $6.50 usd. per person, 45 minutes). From Playa del Carmen, you can take one of three options: a second-class bus heading to Tulum and stop at Akumal, a colectivo that will also stop on the main highway at Akumal, or a taxi (this is the best option to get you straight to your hotel or condo).

Colectivos: The easiest (and least expensive) way to get around between Akumal and other areas is by colectivo. These are white vans that go up and down the highway between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum every 10 minutes or so. The fares range depending on how far you want to go, but the most you should pay is 25 pesos (about $2.50 USD), most of the time you pay $15 pesos.

To flag down a colectivo, stand on the edge of the highway in the direction you would like to go, and if there is room in the van the driver will flash the lights. Wave, and they will pull over. Tell the driver where you would like to go, and he will drop you off at that point on the highway. You pay as you exit. You don’t have to worry about having exact change, as they usually do, but big bills are not a good idea.

Colectivos are primarily used by locals. Also be aware, they drop you off only along the highway, so for some places that are a long ways off the road like the Tulum Ruins and Aktun Chen, you may want to consider a taxi. They are more expensive than a colectivo, but are a good option for certain destinations as they take you directly where you want to go. Be sure to clarify how much the taxi driver will charge before you get in. They are usually set fares, so negotiating the price is not an option.

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Akumal: Weddings

Destination weddings have become a huge trend. A destination wedding can actually end up costing much less than a hometown ceremony: the obvious fact that not everyone is willing to travel will slim down the guest list. Guests are generally expected to pay for their travel and lodging.

When planning a beachside wedding in the Caribbean, think about whether you want an informal wedding ceremony, or whether you want your marriage to be legally recognized.

In Mexico, religious figures do not have the power to legally marry couples, so keep that in mind if you want a legal ceremony. The only person who can perform a legal wedding ceremony is the local justice of the peace, who can come out to the beach to perform a simple legal ceremony that can be combined with a religious or spiritual ceremony before or afterward.

Akumal: Safety

Akumal is a pretty safe destination, but travelers need to exercise the same common sense that they would at home. If you don´t feel safe in an area (walking alone on the beach after dark, for example), then head to an area where there are more people. 

Most resorts in Akumal are secluded and are located away from towns and villages.  Therefore, beaches seem like they are private and only accessible to guests and staff of a particular resort.  Also, most resorts have security guards patrolling the property day and night.  Only possible danger is walking on the beach at night and slipping or cutting your feet on coral reef or sharp rocks. 

Akumal: Taxis and Car Rentals

Taxis: If you need a taxi to get somewhere from your hotel or condo, you can either ask your hotel´s receptionist, who can call a taxi, or you can walk out to the main entrance to the taxi stop at the arches. It is possible to flag one down as you are walking down the main road in Akumal, but taxis going by often have passengers already in them (you can also flag one down and ask the driver to send another car to pick you up).

Rental cars: If you are planning on having an active vacation, consider renting a car at the Cancun airport so you can have the rental for your entire stay. This saves you, of course, the shuttle transportation to and from the airport, which can run about $145 USD roundtrip.

If you plan on taking it easy while in Akumal, you might consider renting a car in Akumal for just a day or two to make your longer day trips (Coba, Muyil, Tulum, or cenotes if you are planning on seeing several) a little easier.

Akumal: Tipping

Most travelers recommend bringing about $125 USD in singles for tipping during their one-week stay. Others have suggested bringing $2 USD for tipping as a novelty.  It is my observation that European travelers generally do not tip, while North American/Canadian travelers do. And in all honesty, hotel staff do appreciate the tip, but give the same level of service to tippers and non-tippers.

General guidelines for an AI (All Inclusive)

Housekeepers: $1-3 USD/CAD per day - tip extra if you want your room's minibar fully replenished
Waiters: $1-2 USD/CAD breakfast-lunch, $2-5 USD/CAD for dinner or for excellent service during other meals - this applies to buffet-style restaurants, as well as a-la-carte.
Bartenders: $1 USD/CAD for drinks

I recommend tipping your host/hostess as they will give you the best seat in the house.


General guidelines for an EP (European plan) hotel (not AI)

Housekeepers: $2-3 USD per day
Waiters: 10-15% of the bill, depending on service
Bartenders: 10-15% of the bill, depending on service

There has been a lot of discussion online regarding bringing gifts for staff in addition to tipping. The general consensus has been that if the gifts don´t take away from the cash tip amount, then they are fine, but that most staff prefer cash tips to gifts. The Riviera Maya differs from Cuba and the Dominican Republic in the general standard of living and the products available to local workers. With WalMart conveniently located in Playa del Carmen, local hotel staff have access to American products at a low price.

Akumal: Weather

Akumal is a great destination any time of the year, but you need to know what to expect before you go.

The weather is pretty much summery all year long (it cools off in the evenings in winter), so the seasons are divided into rainy and dry.

The rainy or wet season usually begins in June or July and lasts until November, with the heaviest rains usually being in July-August. This can mean rain all night, every night, with sunny days, or it can mean rain during the day as well.

Rain is usually seen during this time of the year, as the summer months are pretty hot and the rain cools things off. The rainy season does not scare away visitors, though.

The dry season is, of course, for the remaining half of the year. There can be very short downpours or light rains during the dry season as well.

Generally, the coolest months of the year are December-January, and the warmest are June-July.

 

Do not believe the weather reports you see either before you leave for your vacation or during it. They may be accurate as far as temperature is concerned, but totally inaccurate when it comes to rain predictions. A five-day forecast may show rain for each and every day, but as days go by, you won't see a drop of rain. In most cases, a drizzle or rain downpour may last for a very short time, and when its all over, you won't even see a cloud in the sky. This, of course, will vary during the wet season or during a hurricane.

Akumal: Things to Do

If you plan to visit the Mayan Riviera, be sure to plan on spending an afternoon in Akumal. Akumal is around 60 miles from Cancun. If you want to try snorkeling you could go on a paid tour--or you could head to Akumal and plan your own adventure at a fraction of the cost. Akumal is a great place to snorkle or shop.

Akumal is easily accessible from Merida to Chetumal by simply walking to the road and hailing a colectivo. These white vans will pull over and pick up passengers whenever they have room. If one colectivo passes you by, another will quickly come along. For less than $2.00 US a colectivo will take you to your destination and drop you off at the side of the road. Head through the arches and explore all Akumal has to offer.

Wear your bathing suit under your short and tshirt and bring along your towel. You can bring your own snorkeling gear or rent it for a very reasonable rate at the Akumal Dive Shop. Akumal Bay is a public beach and one of the most beautiful in the area.

Snorkeling

It has beautiful sandy beaches and is a snorkelers delight. You can swim amoung submerged cannons, see coral, eel, barracuda, and large turtles. For those who want a personal guide, look no further than the beach. Ask any of the local fishermen sitting on their boats to point out a guide. We used Alejandro, who was born and raised in Akumal. He swims the bay each morning and knows just where to take you for the best views. Each day he chains his bike to a tree, which he jokingly refers to as his "office". For $10 US each we got a great history and ecology lesson and saw some great sea life up close and personal. There are public lockers available for a small fee so you can lock up any valuables while you explore the bay.

Shopping

Once you've had your fill of the beautiful bay, you can explore the local market Super Chomak and Minisuper El Pueblo (right across from each other at the main entrance to Akumal, before the arches). These are great places to buy some local products to take home. You'll find a good selection of products that the locals buy. Try some Mexican gum and candies, snacks, or pick up other local favorites. It's a fun to explore and see what's available. On Saturdays there is a farmers market. You'll find shops with handmade crafts and souvenirs. You'll see some examples of beautiful local craftmanship that you may not find anywhere else. Browse through the art galleries as well. You can get some great deals on original paintings and sculptures. Most shops are fixed price and don't barter. If there´s a price tag on it, it´s generally not bargainable.

Turtle walks

Akumal (the place of the turtle, in Mayan) is well known for sea turtles nesting on its beaches. During sea turtle nesting season (May through October), these walks start at the CEA Center (Centro Ecologico de Akumal) at 9 PM, Monday through Friday. They start with a short and informative presentation. After that participants are taken to the beach for turtle sightings. The donation is $10 USD per person. Participants are recommended to wear sneakers or sturdy walking shoes (no sandals), and refrain from using mosquito repellent, perfume, or cologne. Participants are asked to bring a water bottle, and a bag to collect any trash they see on the beach.

Muyil Archaeological Site

The Mayan ruins of Muyil (also known as Chunyaxche) are located about 10 miles south of Tulum pueblo on the main highway. The best way to get there is by rental car or taxi. It´s best to arrange a rate with the taxi driver so s/he can wait for you while you walk through the site. Muyil is located in the northern region of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve and is the largest Mayan site within the reserve. The site is open seven days a week. There are no services at the site, so be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks. This is actually a large site, but only a small area is open to the public. This is a great site to visit, very few people actually make it to these ruins.

Akumal: Attractions Nearby

Snorkeling: You are so close to Hidden Worlds & Dos Ojos, great caves & cenotes for snorkelling. Same for Aktun Chen, which also has a monkey preserve. Other great cenotes include: Gran Cenote, Cenote Carwash, and Cenote Calaveras on the road toward Coba (but very close to Tulum) and Cenote Escondido and Cenote Cristal just south of Tulum pueblo on the highway toward Carrillo Puerto (again, just outside the pueblo, very close to Tulum).

Xel-Ha is close-by, about halfway between Akumal and Tulum. You can get there by taxi or colectivo. You can do it all here: Snorkel, tube down the lazy river, jump off a cliff, swing on a rope, hang with the iguanas, swim with the dolphins. You can choose to pay the simple entrance fee, or the all inclusive fee that includes meals and gear.

 

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Akumal: Archaeological Sites

You may also want to check out the ruins at Coba, which is about an hour and 15 minutes from Akumal. There are a variety of companies that will take you, some combined with other activities like visiting a Mayan Village, Zip-Lines, Rapelling, Kayaking, Cenotes, etc. Or you can hire a taxi to take you there independently.

The ruins at Muyil are much less visited than the ones at Coba and Tulum. They are hidden in the jungle and really magical. This is a great half-day trip. The easiest way to get there is by rental car or taxi (you can arrange for the driver to wait for you).

Special thanks to contributors and authors of TripAdvisor. Last updated on Thursday October 03, 2013.

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