Puerto Aventuras is an odd conglomeration of condos, summer homes, and hotels, organized around a large marina, including a swim-with-dolphins area. It’s more than a resort but not really a town.
Whatever you call it, Puerto Aventuras’s huge signs and gated entrance are impossible to miss, located a few minutes north of Akumal on Highway 307.
Museo Sub-Acuático CEDAM
Short for Conservation, Ecology, Diving, Archaeology, and Museums, CEDAM runs this very worthwhile museum (Bldg. F, no phone, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. and 2:30–5:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat., donation requested), displaying a wide variety of items: Maya offerings that were dredged from the peninsula’s cenotes, artifacts recovered from nearby colonial shipwrecks, early diving equipment, and photos of open-water and cenote explorations, some from the halcyon days of diving when jeans were the preferred get-up.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Some 25 dive sites lie within a 10-minute boat ride from the marina, each boasting rich coral, abundant sealife, and interesting features, like pillars and swim-throughs, found up and down the coast.
Aquanauts (Bldg. A, tel. 984/873-5041, toll-free U.S. tel. 877/623-2491, www.aquanauts-online.com, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. daily) is a safe full-service shop that enjoys lots of repeat guests. Divers can count on personal details (such as storing dry gear) and guest-first practices (such as staying under as long as your air permits, not just the standard 45 minutes).
The shop offers the full range of dives and courses, including reef dives (US$45/one tank, US$85/two tanks), cenote dives (US$125/two tanks) and certification courses, including open water (US$510 private, US$445 pp group). Multidive packages are available; equipment rental is included in courses but not fun dives (US$20/day). The shop also offers snorkel tours to the reef, cenotes, or a combination of both, or even a stop at Tulum ruins (US$45–90, including equipment, snacks, and drinks). Reservations are recommended in high season for all tours and courses.
Swimming with Dolphins
Dolphin Discovery (Marina, tel. 984/873-5078, toll-free Mex. tel. 800/727-5391, toll-free U.S. tel. 866/393-5158, www.dolphindiscovery.com, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily) offers several dolphin-encounter activities, ranging in price based on the amount and type of interaction you have. For the most contact, the Royal Swim program (US$129, 30-minute orientation, 30 minutes in water) includes two dolphins per group of 10 people, with a chance to do a “dorsal tow,” “foot push,” and “kiss,” plus some open swim time. The Swim Adventure (US$99) and Dolphin Encounter (US$79) have somewhat less direct contact. The center also has manatee and sea-lion programs that can be taken in combo with dolphins. Programs start at 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. daily; free shuttle service is available to and from area hotels.
Capt. Rick’s Sportfishing Center (past Omni Puerto Aventuras hotel, tel. 984/873-5195, toll-free U.S. tel. 888/449-3562, www.fishyucatan.com, office 8 a.m.–7 p.m. daily) offers customized fishing trips for groups and individuals. Trolling is the most popular, going for dorado, tuna, barracuda, sailfish, and even marlin. Bottom/drift fishing is also fun and targets “dinner fish” such as grouper, snapper, and yellowtail. You can also arrange time for visiting a deserted beach or Maya ruin, snorkeling on the reef, or just cruising by upscale homes and hotels. Choose from 10 different boats, ranging in length from 23 to 46 feet, with capacity for 2–12 anglers.
Rates are for half day (US$275–575), three-quarter day (US$375–775), and full day (US$475–950). For a special outing, ask about Last Flight Out, a 56-foot ocean yacht with room for 15 anglers that costs US$940–1,875 for half-day and full-day trips. Shared trips are US$95 per person for half day and US$190 for full day, and typically utilize a 31-foot boat for up to six anglers. All prices include equipment, bait, soft drinks, and water; full-day trips also include lunch. There’s good fishing year-round, but April–July are best for hooking into a billfish.
Fat Cat (Bldg. E, tel. 984/873-5899, toll-free Mex. tel. 800/724-5464, www.fatcatsail.com, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) offers a spacious custom-designed catamaran used for half-day excursions (US$95/59 adult/child ages 5–12) that include sailing north toward Bahia Ihna, or south toward Xpu-Há—both with good snorkeling in shallow and protected waters. You also can try “boom netting,” in which you are pulled through the water behind the boat on a thick boom net. Excursions include snorkel gear, boxed lunch, as well as pick-up/drop-off at area hotels.
Puerto Aventuras Club de Golf (across from Bldg. B, tel. 984/873-5109, www.puertoaventuras.com/golf.html, 7:30 a.m.–dusk daily) offers a nine-hole, par-36 golf course right in town. The course, designed in 1991 by Tom Leman, is flat but has two par 5s over a total 2,961 yards (3,255 championship). Greens fees are US$88 including a golf cart and 18 holes; US$79 after 1 p.m., US$58 at 3 p.m. (nine holes only). Golf club rentals cost US$27; tennis racquets run US$5. Reservations are not usually required, though they are recommended for parties of four or more.
The road into town bumps right into Omni Puerto Aventuras (tel. 984/875-1950, www.omnihotels.com, US$180–300 s/d with a/c), a small upscale resort with the marina on one side and a fine, palm-shaded beach on the other. There are just 30 rooms, all reasonably spacious and attractive, with colorful regional decor and modern amenities. Best of all, every room has a private patio and hot tub; those with ocean views are especially lovely, though they cost more. The resort’s small size and low-key atmosphere make it easy to meet other guests, and nighttime typically finds everyone around the main hot tub/beach bar overlooking the ocean. Wi-Fi is available for free in the common areas, but access in your room runs an unseemly US$15/day. Significant discounts on rooms are available in the low season.
Casa del Agua (Punta Matzoma 21, tel. 984/873-5184, www.casadelagua.com, US$1,500–2,100 1–8 people for three nights, US$2,800–4,750 1–8 people per week) is a beacon of class and charm amid the plastic commercialism of Puerto Aventuras. More a large rental property than a hotel, it is rented out to individual groups; whether you occupy one room or all four, you’ll have the whole place to yourself. (There are seven-person, seven-night minimums during holidays, however.)
The suites are huge—the bathrooms alone are bigger than some hotel rooms—and all have king-size beds, air-conditioning and fan, and daily maid service. There is a small sunny pool, and the beach is quiet and private, although rather steeply sloped; guests can make use of the hotel’s kayaks and snorkeling gear, too. Rates include a private chef—you just pay the cost of the food itself—and the hotel staff can even do your shopping for a small fee. Twelve and older only.
Stroll around Puerto Aventuras’s marina, and you’ll pass pretty much every restaurant in town—it’s a veritable open-air food court with views of jumping dolphins. Restaurants offer Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean, and American classics—take a look at the specials and see what appeals to you most. If you can’t decide, Café Olé International (Bldg. A, tel. 984/873-5125, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. daily, US$5–25) has an extensive menu with something for just about everyone. It’s best known, though, for its filet mignon and homemade desserts.
If you’re cooking for yourself or just want some fresh fruit, check out the outdoor fruit and vegetable market (8:30 a.m.–3 p.m.), which is held every Saturday next to the town’s kiosk.
Located conveniently across from the Omni hotel, Super Akumal (7 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 7 a.m.–8 p.m. Sun.) is the local market. Be aware that you can’t buy alcohol before 10 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Monday–Saturday, nor after 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Getting to Puerto Aventuras
Arriving by public transportation, you can take a combi from Cancún, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum. Let the driver know where you’re going, and he’ll drop you off on the side of the highway. From there, it’s 500 meters (0.3 mile) into town. Arriving by car, you’ll pass through a large control gate, but no one who looks like a tourist is stopped.
In Puerto Aventuras, you can walk just about everywhere, as virtually all shops and services are centered around the marina. If you want to explore the town a bit further, though, Roll & Bike (Bldg. F, tel. 984/873-5029, US$4.25/$10 per hour/day) rents bikes by the hour and day, with discounts for rentals of three days or more. Look for it by the CEDAM museum.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition