Akumal is a small vacation resort and residential community on the Mayan Riviera in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. It is about thirty miles south of Playa del Carmen, ten miles north of Tulum and just over an hour south of Cancun. It’s a very pleasant and relaxing place to arrive at after the hustle and bustle of larger destinations. Akumal is small enough that pretty much everything is on the beach, which boasts the signature white sand and aquamarine waters of the Caribbean. Given its tiny permanent population, it is surprising that Akumal (‘place of turtles’ in Mayan) has such a good infrastructure for all kinds of Riviera Maya vacation rentals, beach front hotels and activities. There is a lovely coral reef here, so it figures that snorkeling and scuba diving are very popular, as are sailing, fishing, and kayaking. There is also a beautiful lagoon, the Yal-Ku, formed from underground freshwater channels that mix with salt water where the lagoon meets the sea.
The lagoon is also great for swimming, diving, and snorkeling. Akumal comprises three very attractive bays: Akumal Bay, Aventuras Akumal Bay, and Half Moon Bay. Initially, we were a little concerned that in such a small place we wouldn’t find anywhere decent to eat. After ‘roughing it’ a bit around the Mayan archeological sites inland we were looking for a bit of pampering, and fortunately discovered that Akumal also has a nice range of shops, restaurants, and beach bars. We asked around and decided on Lol-Ha on Akumal Beach.
We were looking for something a little posher than the average place (for the food and the pampering) and somewhere with ocean views (seems a shame to look out onto a street when you’re in a small beach town), and we found both at Lol-Ha (is it just coincidence that the name Lol-Ha comprises the two best known expressions for laughter in the English language or could the ancient Mayans really predict the future?). Marvelous views, excellent service, and top-class cuisine. The eclectic menu offers a range of Mexican, international, and seafood dishes.
The steaks are excellent and my filet mignon was particularly succulent, while the prime rib special and tuna steak are also excellent. The banana flambé fired up at your table is an impressive sight. Lol-Ha is actually two restaurants in one; during the day the more casual outdoor beach restaurant is for lunch and serves excellent coconut shrimp, a tasty chipotle chicken wrap, chicken flautas and burritos. It’s great food in a tropical beach setting, but doesn’t match the evening dining in the more formal restaurant, which, though undoubtedly more expensive than most other restaurants in Akumal, is well worth it.
You could say the same of La Lunita in Half Moon Bay in North Akumal; it’s on the beach, has wonderful ocean views, friendly service, delicious creative food, and is a bit more expensive than most other restaurants in town. We started with the stuffed pepper and coconut shrimp and moved onto braised octopus and duck carnitas, all delicious, though apparently the paella is excellent too. If you’re on a budget there are plenty of good restaurants in town which work out a bit cheaper, but we were very happy with the beautiful setting on the beach and the quality cuisine.
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