Published: July 9th 2012July 8th 2012
Well I have to say, HOLY SCHMOLIE what a glorious "Domingo" (Sunday) spent at Yal-Ku Lagoon today in Akumal. Yal-Ku is a beautiful tranquil serene environment where you can snorkel and swim with diverse marine life in a calm water environment. We arranged a van last minute and after a 45 minute drive we pulled into the small hidden lagoon by 11 am.
The true definition of a lagoon is a shallow body of water, especially one separated from a sea by sandbars or coral reefs. Yal Ku is the crown jewel of Akumal, as Half Moon Bay collects more tourists with its free snorkeling and beach bars etc. This is more off the beaten path and there is an entrance fee to enter the lagoon; as it should be to continue to presever this beautiful place and to also attract those that really want to immerse themselves in nature, tranquility and the beauty that the lagoon has to offer.
There are many beautiful jungle-like pathways that lead you to the lagoon so that was fun starting out. Which path do we choose?! We rented a private lagoon-front palapa (thatched roof) for $20 which we had the good sense
to do. We had shade, a hammock, entrance to the lagoon, table and chairs but a very welcoming maitre'd. A small iguana who was sunning himself, took a look at us, then retreated and came back later for a better look. (My impression after he saw us? Well he didn't look all that impressed! We're just a long list of admirers!)
It was a gorgeous day of snorkeling throughout this big lagoon which felt like we were within our own aquarium! It was very deep in some places, and shallow in others; reef, caves, rocks, and the fish were all sizes, colors and so abundant yet all the while made us feel like their guest. I was the first to spot a rather large stingray on the very bottom of the lagoon; when I spotted him I gave the wave to Lara but when she got there he was gone. The kids saw some huge parrot fish; perhaps 2 to 3 feet in length. That is huge if you picture running into a fish that size in a lake! Beautiful colors that made you think that some artist had a palette of every color known to man and took
his brush and painted these fish to his heart's desire!
There were mini islands you could scramble up on, and sandy beaches on the other side of the lagoon. And if you wanted to snorkel far enough, the lagoon feeds into the ocean which you could see far off with its big white crashing waves. It's hard to imagine this peaceful lagoon and iwithin swimming distance you could be bounced around in high waves in the ocean. After almost 2 weeks being at the ocean, the quietness of the lagoon was a welcome change almost like a sedative; we all felt lighter, calmer and invigorated for having had this visit today.
If I could sit down with pen in hand, and write out what would constitute a dream day for my family, this would be it. The kids were experiencing so much; right out of National Georgraphic. Frankly I would be selfish to ask for anything more...This place; the Riviera Maya is truly a magical place that you can never totally discover, with one adventure, cenote, lagoon, jungle, waterparks, animal (monkey) sanctuaries, ATV's, horseback riding, zipline, parasailing, deep sea fishing and swimming with whale sharks, dolphins and one
more exciting experience after another and another. Every adventure only whets your appetite for more. This jewel of the Yucatan, the Riviera Maya is a place for fun, adventure, R&R and can also heal and mend many ills in my humble opinion.
On another note, Al & I booked a tour tomorrow am (6 am Monday morning) for a guided tour with whale sharks. Lara really wants to go with her dad, so I may sit this one out as she's been fascinated by whales & sharks since she could point to one a book! Yes Lara and she's thrilled to pieces.
Al's diving instructor is one of many that lead these thrill-of-a-liletime eco-tours that happen only between June & September when whale sharks migrate to the Riviera Maya to feed on nutrient rich waters full of plankton. So to be clear first of all, whale sharks are as gentle as dolphins. Further, the whale shark isn’t a whale at all; in actuality it is the world's largest fish and also known as the "gentle giants" of the sea so don't let the term "shark" scare you. The name whale shark comes from the fact that this species
of shark can grow to be as large as many types of whales and it is a filter feeder just like the baleen whale.
Whale sharks are huge-fish like sharks that are NOT dangerous; they are extremely docile, gentle and move very slowly and funny enough they pay NO attention to boats, people, planes or what-not, nothing other than eating the smallest of organisms in the ocean. (Why would they worry about a boat when they are three times the size of one! They are huge; 12 metres and can grow to be 20 tons in weight. (I think it's much like the big old family dog that lets little kids crawl all over it and never reacts; because it knows its size and power!) There has never been a known attack on humans despite their rock star status with everyone clamoring to see them.
Whale sharks are phenomenons and the most elusive of marine life; scientists have a difficult time tracking them as they shed their tags very easily.
The tour is well organized with a pickup by private van outside our condo at 6 am with a 45 minute drive just a bit north of
Cancun. Then a light breakfast is provided with the rules of conduct for the tour. Then a powerboat ride out to the ocean after a charter plane has been sent out to see where the whale sharks are feeding on plankton. You can snorkel a distance from them or you can view them from the boats & take pictures. I expect there will be many boats there today to see this rare sight that won't happen any other time of the year. The guidelines are strict to protect and preserve these magnificent creatures.
After the whale shark tour you are given a tour of Isla Mujeres and enjoy a lagoon-side buffet lunch while you can can float your heart out or snooze under a palapa. What a fabulous opportunity that we are able to take advantage of being here this summer...
Well I'm off now to pack all the items needed for this tour tomorrow. Insulated bags for change of clothes, frozen water bottle, hats, sun T shirts, camera, etc etc etc...called MOMMY/Wife duties. Can't wait to hear about their adventures!
Please see the pics of our day at the lagoon below! (PS Zully...if you are reading
this; HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY TO A FABULOUS WOMAN! If I've learned any Spanish at all, it's from you my friend!) "If you were to make little fishes talk, they would talk like whales". ~
Stay tuned for tomorrow's update!
(PS I just walked by the guys we arranged the tour with; they took Al & Lara this morning to Cancun and they said "your husband and daughter are going to have THE most fabulous day and experience. It's hazy and humid; not too sunny so a perfect day for them to have a lifetime experience!).
There are more photos below