Hidden Yal Ku, beautiful snorkeling in Akumal

Yal Ku is an inlet (also called lagoon) in the town of Akumal here in the Riviera Maya. This inlet is great for snorkeling and swimming. This place is unique because it has the fresh water of the peninsula mixing with the ocean water. You can see many tropical fish here as you will later see in our video. Yal Ku can be visited by tour or by yourself. Below are all the details you need to visit this beautiful area. 

Yal Ku Inlet

Yal Ku is a very special place. Here are some of the things that make it a great place to visit. The water in this inlet is actually a mix of fresh water and salt water. This is because the ground water of the peninsula flows into this inlet and then mixes with the ocean water. This allows some species to coexist because of the mixing of the waters. 

Important note: Yal Ku is filled with rocks. This is not an area of coral. 

Yal Ku is also a great place to snorkel because there are no waves. Some of the locations in the Riviera Maya are in open water of the ocean. This can mean taking a boat there and also swimming in the rolling waves. To most, this is just part of the experience, to some though, it can be distracting or to the point feeling a little seasick. When you are in this inlet you have no waves and also very little seaweed enters the inlet. 

Yal Ku

What can you see while snorkeling at Yal Ku?

We spent the day here to show you what you can see while snorkeling. To many people this is one of the first times seeing tropical fish in a natural setting. This can be a very satisfying place to spend a day or visiting for a tour. We hope you enjoy the video and if you have any questions, let us know below in the comments. 


Two entrances to Yal Ku

Yal Ku has been managed by different groups since 2010. To this day there are two sides of Yal Ku with each entrance belonging one of the management companies. We prefer the second entrance to Yal Ku. This side has recently changed management and now is being taken care of by Xcaret. This does not mean it will become a park of Xcaret and not much has changed from previous times. 

Tip: We prefer the second entrance because:

  • It has a nicer setting. 
  • The access to the water is more central. 
  • Less tour groups use the second entrance. 

To go to the second entrance, just follow the orange signs. These are new and fairly easy to find. The entrance is at the very end of the road where you will find a traffic circle with statue in the center. 

What services are there at Yal Ku?

Let’s start with the things that are available when you arrive. Both sides of Yal Ku offer similar services, we will be commenting on the 

  • Parking. There is limited parking. Space is a at a premium here, so try to arrive early for a spot. 
  • 3 types of admission tickets. Each includes some of the things below. 
  • Lifejackets, these are mandatory here and included in all ticket entrances. 
  • Rental of fins, mask, lockers, and towels. 
  • Basic showers (no soap) and changing rooms. 
  • Bathrooms. 
  • A restaurant. An important note: no outside food or beverages are allowed at Yal Ku. 
  • Cabin rental. There are a few cabins with views over the inlet. These are great for enjoying the day, plus having some shade. These are about $40 USD a day. 
  • Limited free parking. There are about 14 spots on the second side of Yal Ku. 
Cabins at Yal Ku
These are the types of cabins you can rent for the day at Yal Ku.

What to Bring to Yal Ku for Your Day

What you will need to bring depends on what entrance ticket you want. For those of you that want only the general admission, you will need to bring things like snorkel, fins, towel, change of clothes, money for food and drink. 

For all types of tickets, it is good to bring aqua socks or sandals. The trails are all gravel, and the edges of the water are rocky. Aqua socks work great because you can put them in your fins and swim and then have your shoes ready when you get out of the water. 

Tips for snorkeling at Yal Ku

  1. From the parking lot/entrance to the water’s edge, the trails are small gravel. You will need something to walk with. We recommend aqua socks. This can slip in your fins, and you can have your shoes ready when you exit the water. You can wear other footwear and leave it near the entrance of the water. It is a public area so keep that in mind. 
  2. Having fins really helps you see more and swim with the fish. You will have a life vest, but remember it can be some distances and you can get tired if you are not a strong swimmer 
  3. There are some parts near the ocean that are roped off. Respect these boundaries. Currents can get stronger in these areas. 
  4. Life jackets are required here. 
  5. Where there are mangroves, make sure you look under the water at the roots growing down, there will be fish hiding out there and it is nice to see.
  6. Some places the water is shallow and there are rocks where you can stand and rest. Most of the lagoon is 5-15 feet deep (1 1/2 meters-3 meters). watch when you are snorkeling for rocks just below the surface. 
  7. Tour groups do come here but since the inlet is large you can always swim in another direction and enjoy the nature here. Also, most tour groups do not stay long compared to you visiting independently for the day. 

Hours you can visit Yal Ku

Yal Ku is open daily from 9:00am- 5:00pm. 

Yal Ku Lagoon
Some of the types of fish you can see while snorkeling here.

Tours to Yal Ku 

Since it can be hard to get to Yal Ku without a car, you might want to visit here with a tour. There are some tours that come here and also visit another location so you can have a full day of adventures away from your hotel. Below are some tours that do visit Yal Ku. We list a little bit of a description, and you can click the RESERVE NOW button to read more and book if you like the tour.

Tour option #1

Tulum ruins, cenote swim and Yal Ku. This is a full day tour leaving from the Playa Del Carmen area that includes lunch. If you want to see the ruins, a cenote and this beautiful area, this tour can be a good option. It is the most recommended tour that includes Yal Ku. 

Yal Ku Lagoon tour

Tour option #2

This is a half day tour. You will visit a cenote and Yal Ku. All transportation to and from your hotel are included. 

Tour option #3

We know that many have heard of the turtles in Akumal, and many people like to swim with them. This tour combines Yal Ku and Akumal Bay where you can swim with the turtles. 

Yal Ku
Some tour groups do come to Yal Ku, but the place is large enough to handle the number of people.

Entrance tickets to Yal Ku

There are three types of entrance tickets available to Yal Ku. 

  1. General Admission. This is entrance to the lagoon; life vest and shower is included. 
  2. Yal Ku Experience. This includes your entrance, life vest, fins and snorkeling equipment, locker and showers. 
  3. Yal Ku Plus. This entrance ticket includes everything as the second option but also includes a fixed menu and soda included. 

If you want to plan ahead you can save 10% if you buy 7/20 days in advance. If you want to save 15% off the entrance, you can buy your tickets 21 days or more in advance. You can do this at the official website of Yal Ku

Directions to Yal Ku Lagoon

Driving directions

If you are driving here, you will enter the main entrance to Akumal. You will pass through the main entrance arch and then follow the road to the left as it parallels the beach. It is about two miles from the entrance of the highway to Yal Ku. You will see orange signs for Yal Ku that direct you.

Note: The first turn the left at the end of the road is the first company for Yal Ku Lagoon. This is the smaller of the two. If you want to go to the larger one, driver just a little farther to the end.

Tip: Parking can fill up especially on the weekends by 11:00 am. Arrive early or visit during the week for better parking. 

Public transport to Yal Ku Lagoon

If you take the colectivo from Playa Del Carmen or Tulum, you will get off by the main entrance and walk into Akumal. You will need to take a taxi to Yal Ku because it is a long walk, about 23 minutes and usually it is sunny and hot. There are taxis from the highway to Yal Ku. These should be about 200 pesos each way. Taxis are not metered, so ask prices first.  For more on how to take the colectivos to Akumal, check out our article here.

Walkway at Yal Ku
A walkway to the water from the entrance of Yal Ku.

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