Snorkeling Yal-Ku Lagoon, Cenote Abierto and Actun Koh

See my YouTube video of this trip!

Yal-Ku is a lagoon near Akumal where salt water meets fresh water. An ecosystem with mangroves, haloclines and salt water tropical fish. The water is shallow, with no waves and good visibility which makes this an ideal snorkeling spot. The fish think so too!

Aventuras Maya picked me up in their van in Playa Del Carmen at 8am. I made a decision to use a day tour group for simplicity of transport to multiple locations plus a lunch included.
We had two other families for pick-up from Playacar.

Arriving at Yal-Ku we are provided with lockers and snorkeling gear (included with the trip). I have my own speedo fins and free-diving mask (no snorkel) to use for travel to avoid snorkel gear charges and look for free snorkeling sites. These fit into my travel bag and I found that I don’t really need the snorkel and just hold my breath and enjoy the silence of not breathing.

You enter through one of several wood platforms with steps. Towards the inner side of the lagoon I found the haloclines made it difficult to focus underwater. That is where you lose visibility in clear water. I decided to drift snorkel the other way and found some clear viewing. I’m taking videos with my GoPro Hero 10.

The sculpted rock formations are a pleasure to drift through. There’s some strong currents. If you snorkel between the rock formation the current is mild. Plus this is where the fishes hang out!
I have snorkeled Xel-Ha a few years back and I think Yal-ku is better.
You have about 45 min at the lagoon for snorkeling.

Our guide Ivan calls us back in and we head for a cenote called Abierto via the van. This is a change of venue as we are now snorkeling in fresh water. The water here is a bit cooler than the lagoon.

The fresh water fish in the cenote are these gorgeous ciclids with irridescent dots that sparkle in the clear water. There’s a lot if greenery underwater with roots and dead tree branches. It looked just like an arranged store aquarium except it’s natural and you’re in the aquarium. I watched one fish doing a little mating dance with his fins flared…cute.

There’s a couple short ziplines from the top of the cenote to ‘zip’ down into the water. You need to let go before you hit the wood entry platform. There were a few too many people in this cenote but I was able to find sections with no one around and enjoy the underwater scenery. We are here about 25min.

Next stop was Actun Koh which in Maya means cave of the puma. It’s a small cavern that has been set up for tourism with underwater lighting. It was a short walk to this cave from the cenote.

The cave doesn’t has a natural rawness to it given the built in lighting but it did make it more visible and I did not have my underwater flashlight with me. We spend only 20 min here as it is a small cavern. I still enjoyed the cave and my pictures didn’t do it enough justice. There were the standard cave formations, stalactites and stalagmites. The water is even cooler here but you get the transition temperature with the cenote to adapt.

There was one highlight of the cave which was a very strong light beam penetrating through a small hole in the cave ceiling. This beam would dance and shine with laser-like intensity.

After the cave we have lunch just a few steps outside the cave in a covered structure with picnic tables. Lunch was buffet style with chicken as the main course. It was decent.

Overall the trip was a decent value for the money ($85 usd) and the pacing was fine for our various locations. Our guide Ivan had the right amount of attentiveness and guidance. I did not have a watch to keep track of the time but I got back to my airbnb at 2pm.

Photos by GoPro Hero 10.

I welcome your inputs!