Yal-ku inlet is best reached via Akumal, a major development 105 km south of Cancun along the Cancun-Tulum Highway. Akumal's community is small but strongly committed to the environment. They charge a small fee (which they use to preserve the lagoon) to enter the inlet. It is not permitted to use sun block or to bring any food or drinks and visits are limited to a number of people at a time.
Nothing comes close to the fantastic experience of snorkeling at Yal-ku Lagoon. It is a hidden, yet enchanting place of legend. You can go on a tour arranged by a tour desk at your hotel. If you get a good map and rent a car, however, you can go by yourself. Rental equipment is not available on site, so you'll have to bring your own. If you opt to join a tour group to Akumal, equipment will be provided for you.
When arriving at Yal-ku Lagoon, walk down a short, winding path to the lagoon entrance. It contains a mix of salt and fresh water, which is so calm and clear that you feel like plunging in.
Once in the water, you are immediately met by hundreds of colorful fish. Wonders can be observed in depths no greater than six feet and there are little or no waves at all. Submerged rock formations create a fascinating underwater terrain and the ideal habitat for the exotic marine creatures which you can see perfectly while snorkeling, whether you simply float on the surface or dive underwater to see them.
Several species of tropical fish spend some time here before they reach the proper size and maturity. After which, they move out into the immensity of the ocean and start their survival of the fittest. Watch for starfish and urchins, damselfish, sergeant majors, hamlets, parrotfish, blue tangs and queen triggerfish, among other Caribbean species.
Damselfish and sergeant majors are small but pugnacious so don't be surprised if they charge: they do that if they feel threatened. But remember, they are normally no longer than seven inches in length so there is nothing to worry about.
Bird watchers will be delighted with the area, which is abundant with various tropical species. Herons are especially prevalent but other water and shore birds are routinely sighted, such as cranes, pelicans, seagulls and egrets.
Yal-ku is certainly a jewel of an inlet and one of the best-kept secrets on the Riviera Maya (Cancun-Tulum Corridor).
- Janine Dávila Madrid