Lol-Ha (Hotel Akumal Caribe, tel. 984/875-9014, www.hotelakumalcaribe.com, 7:30–11 a.m. and 6:30–10 p.m. daily, closed Oct.–mid-Nov., US$12–35) is Akumal’s finest restaurant, with a beautiful wood and stucco dining room topped with a high palapa roof that opens onto a pleasant veranda. Expect excellent seafood and Mexican and American specialties, including prime USDA steaks, grilled ahi tuna, and flambé specials prepared tableside. During high season, enjoy flamenco performances on Wednesday, and a Latin strings and percussion trio on Thursday; additional events are posted at the restaurant, and a small per-person cover charge is usually added to the bill. Reservations are highly recommended.
Next door, Snack Bar Lol-Ha (7:30 a.m.–8 p.m. daily, US$8–14) serves the best hamburgers on the beach, and tasty tacos, too (the tacos de cochinita are particularly good). Three 32-inch TVs always have a sporting event on, whether Monday Night Football, March Madness, or the Kentucky Derby; hundreds of people turn out for the annual Super Bowl and Academy Awards parties (proceeds of which go to local community groups). Kids will love the adjacent game room with air hockey and foosball.
For a fresh, healthy meal, try Imelda Ecococina (no phone, 8 a.m.–9 p.m. daily, US$3–6), next to Centro Ecológico Akumal. Breakfast options include eggs, omelets, pancakes, and French toast. For lunch, the comida corrida comes with a choice of main plate and a side dish or two. On Monday and Friday the restaurant hosts a popular Maya buffet (US$20, 7 p.m.) followed by cumbia tunes and dancing.
In Plaza Ukana, Turtle Bay Café & Bakery (tel. 984/875-9138, 7 a.m.–3 p.m. and 6–9 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 7 a.m.–3 p.m. Sun.–Mon., US$5–18) offers scrumptious creations such as crispy Parmesan fish sandwiches, vegetable lentil burgers, and summer burritos. For breakfast, think French toast, eggs Benedict, or a fruit plate with yogurt and granola. Enjoy your meal surrounded by palm trees, either in the outdoor palapa-roofed dining room or on the porch of the main building.
For fresh seafood, check out La Cueva del Pescador (Plaza Ukana, tel. 984/875-9205, noon–9 p.m.daily, US$5–25). Sink your teeth into fish kabobs, shrimp prepared nine different ways (e.g., grilled, à la tequila, with curry salsa, and so on), and lobster—most caught the day you order it. The bar is especially popular on weekends.
For groceries, the best prices are across from the Akumal turnoff on Highway 307 in Super Express Mar Caribe (7 a.m.–11 p.m. daily); look for the store about 100 meters (328 feet) west of the highway. Otherwise, just outside the arch, Super Chomak and Supermercado El Pueblito (both 7:30 a.m.–9 p.m. daily) charge an arm and a leg for canned and dried food, soups and pastas, fresh and packaged meat, booze, and basics like sunscreen and film. All the markets also sell fresh fruit and veggies, but you may find a better selection at the farmers market held Wednesday and Saturday in Plaza Ukana.
Half Moon Bay
A fantastic flying serpent skeleton greets diners at La Buena Vida (Vista del Mar, tel. 984/875-9061, http://akumalinfo.com/la-buena-vida-restaurant-2, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, US$6–27), where clients enjoy the varied menu—from hamburgers to shrimp ceviche—under palapa-shaded tables on the beach. If you’ve already had lunch, consider just stopping in for a drink at the swing-lined bar; happy hour typically runs 5–7 p.m.
La Lunita (Hacienda de la Tortuga, tel. 984/875-9070, www.lalunita-akumal.com, 8 a.m.–10:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat., US$8–25) is an intimate bistro serving gourmet Mexican and Maya specialties. Seafood is king here, though there are plenty of options for vegetarians and serious meat eaters. With only a handful of tables, some overlooking the Caribbean, La Lunita is a perfect place for a romantic dinner—just be sure to make reservations.
If you’re in the mood for Italian, try the open-air restaurant at the hotel Que Onda (tel. 984/875-9102, 7:30–11 a.m., 1–4 p.m., and 5:30–10 p.m. daily except Tues., US$7–18). The homemade linguine is divine and comes with a wide choice of sauces, from Gorgonzola to curry shrimp. The lasagna is also popular, though a bit pricey. For dessert, try the chocolate mousse.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition