The Riviera Maya is brimming with spectacular natural wonders and the Yalku Lagoon is one of the most spectacular ones.
A few miles away from the busier Akumal Beach Yalku lagoon is one of the few places that have conserved its natural beauty despite exploitation. Probably it’s because not many people know about it as there is no sign on the Federal Highway.
In this post, we will tell you all about it, including how to get there and the best way to enjoy it.
Before talking about the Yalku lagoon let’s explain briefly what cenotes are, in case you haven’t seen one before.
What are the cenotes?
A cenote is a freshwater sinkhole formed by the collapsing of limestone soil, the type of stone that the Yucatan Peninsula is mainly made of. The cenotes allow us access to the water table. These holes are produced naturally by the collapse of the roof.
Sacred to the Mayan civilization they are now some of the main tourist attractions in the Yucatan Peninsula. Read more about the Mexico cenotes.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT YALKU LAGOON
The Yalku lagoon is a cenote enclosed in a natural bay carved between rock formations and mangroves along the Mayan Riviera. It’s located halfway between Playa del Carmen and Tulum very close to Akumal Beach, and yet less crowded.
There are two entrances to the Yalku Lagoon managed by two different companies, one of which is Xcaret.
But we prefer to get through the original one because it’s situated right at the beginning of the lagoon where there is more marine life and it’s much nicer.
In fact, the combination of fresh and saltwater where the cenote and the sea meet creates a special marine environment rich in a nutrient that attracts all sorts of colorful fishes nesting between rock formations, and mangrove roots.
Where is Yalku Lagoon Located?
Yalku Lagoon is located at only 30 minutes drive from Tulum and 45 minutes from Playa del Carmen.
HOW TO GET TO THE YALKU LAGOON
How to get to Yalku Lagoon by organized tour
Although we usually recommend visiting the cenotes and the spectacular attractions of the Yucatan peninsula on your own, we understand that during our precious vacation, time is limited.
In fact, we want to squeeze a lot of things into a week or two but we also want to have some time to relax on the beach and bask in the sun with a margarita in our hand.
Enter the organized guided tours!
These tours, if chosen wisely, are perfect for that. In only one day you cover two or three of the most interesting attractions in the area and you will be taken by a knowledgeable guide and you don’t have to think about anything else other than enjoying your time and taking pictures!
So we have selected these tours for you to choose from!
How to get to Yalku Lagoon by Car
Getting to the Yalku lagoon by car is the easiest and most convenient way.
There is no sign on the Federal Highway, so you need to follow the sign for Akumal beach and then continue driving.
You will find a security guard before the residential area after the Akumal parking lot. You just need to tell him that you are going to Yalku Lagoon and he will let you in.
Just keep driving until you find the Yalku sign and follow it.
Then keep the left, as there are two entrances. We recommend going to the one of the left, which is the original one. They have a small parking lot where you can leave the car.
➣ When renting a car in Mexico we recommend Discover Cars because on their website you can compare different companies and their prices and you can choose between their car insurance or the ones offered by the car rental directly, or both.
How to get to Yalku Lagoon by local bus
Going by local bus is basically impossible unless you love to walk in the heat for 3 km (2 miles).
In fact, the local busses (colectivo) either from Playa del Carmen or Tulum will leave you on the Federal Highway.
From there you will need to walk toward Akumal Beach and continue walking through the residential area for a total of 3 km. I don’t know you, but I wouldn’t really be looking forward to it in the tropical heat.
If you do so, though, make sure you stay hydrated.
Or you can get there by colectivo and catch a taxi from Akumal beach to the Yalku Lagoon.
How to get to Yalku Lagoon by taxi
Getting to the Yalku Lagoon by taxi either from Playa del Carmen or Tulum can get pricy but it’s definitely the most comfortable way to travel if you don’t feel like renting a car.
We cannot say how much it could cost, but we would suggest you ask for recommendations from your hotel concierge or Airbnb host.
Also, make sure you agree on the rate before confirming the service, and make sure you tell the driver to pick you up at a certain time. You should also get his number for any emergencies.
THINGS TO DO IN YALKU LAGOON
✅ relaxing on the natural rocky platforms
✅ take a guided snorkeling tour
You don’t really need a guide to snorkel in the Lagoon. You can go all the way from the lagoon up to where the cenote meets the sea on your own and spend all the time that you want observing the wealth of marine life.
YALKU LAGOON PRACTICAL INFORMATION
we are sharing the information about the Yalku original entrance ( the one on your left) because it’s the one we recommend as it’s cheaper and nicer.
Yalku Lagoon Facilities
✔ Mask – 110 MXN
✔ Fins – 110 MXN
✔ Life Vest (not mandatory) 110 MXN
✔ SET ( mask+fins+Life Vest) 260 MXN
✔ Lockers – 110 MXN
✔ Snorkel – 110
✔ Guided tour – 650 MXN ( 1-2 pax)
✔ Soft Drinks – 30 MXN
Free of charge facilities:
✔ Changing rooms
✔ Free on-site parking
Yalku Lagoon entrance fees
Adults – 300 MXN per person (Locals – and those with permanent residency 200)
Kids – 215 MXN (Locals – and those with permanent residency 130)
Yalku Lagoon Opening Hours
The Yalku Lagoon is open from 9 am to 5 pm – last admission at 4 pm.
HOW TO VISIT YALKU LAGOON AND RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT
✅ Taking a shower before entering Yalku Lagoon is mandatory.
✅ Don’t use any kinds of cream spray or protectors on your skin as it would contaminate the environment (even the so-called – eco friendly)
✅ Keep the place clean and if you see something that is out of place, pick it up. Don’t trash.
✅ Sometimes the wind move around trash or previous visitors were not respectful. You can help keep the place clean by picking it up yourself and taking it home.
✅ Don’t be loud, other people may want to enjoy the place in peace and tranquility. Respect them.
✅ Don’t hang on to any roots
✅ Just avoid any silly act that can damage the environment
💚 If we appreciate the earth we will learn to respect it.💚
WHAT TO BRING TO YALKU LAGOON
✔ Ecological Sunscreen and mosquito spray to wear ONLY AFTER you swim
✔ A rush guard to wear while swimming to protect you from sunburn
✔ Your own snorkeling gear if you have it
✔ Swim suite
✔ Some Mexican pesos in cash
✔ Water ( better if you have a water bottle)
✔ Wet suit if you are usually cold in the water, especially in the winter
✔ An extra swimsuit to change from the wet one.
THE BEST OF YALKU LAGOON
The incredible marine life that you can see while snorkeling
The lack of crowds if you happen to be there when there are no groups.
INSIDER TIP – try to avoid weekends and be there in the early morning when they open if you want to avoid crowds.
Also, it’s recommendable to visit the Yalku Lagoon when you have a lot of time because if you happen to be there during a big group you can wait for them to leave so that you have the lagoon all for yourself.
Big groups normally are from cruises and they rush through different stops so they won’t stay long.
THE WORST OF YALKU LAGOON
Even if it’s not one of the crowdiest places in the area, it can get busy from time to time, follow our advice above mentioned and you will be able to enjoy it in solitude or with fewer people.
TIPS TO PHOTOGRAPH YALKU LAGOON
They will let you photograph the Lagoon with a professional camera without a problem. The best time of the day for photography is during the afternoon when you have the sun on your back.
I didn’t ask if they allow photos with drones because I was afraid of a negative answer.
So I went to the opposite beach only a few mt away and I launched the drone to photograph the lagoon. It’s spectacular, as you can see from the pictures in the post.
WHAT YOU CAN VISIT NEARBY
There are so many incredible spots that you can visit near the Yalku Lagoon. Here are some of our favorites.
➡️ Akumal Beach – 2.5 km / 5.2 miles
➡️ Xelha ruins – 13 km / 6.2 miles
➡️ Cenote Yax-kin – 16 km / 4.2 miles
➡️ Tulum Ruins – 27 km / 4.9 miles
➡️ Cenote Azul – 16 km / 13 miles