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Adventures in Akumal, Part I

- Justine

Have you ever spent your winter break in a place so warm and sunny you started to forget what season it was? Five years ago, my whole mom’s side of the family vacationed in Akumal, Mexico at the end of December. When I came back (skin four shades darker, hair braided, and mouth occasionally spouting things like “Gracias!” and “Ola Señor!”) I couldn’t figure out why all of a sudden I had to wear a scarf and gloves.

But let’s backtrack a little. We all arrived at Oasis Akumal on December 27th in a post-Christmas hype and found a beautiful beachside resort sprawled out in front of us. It wasn’t one of those huge hotels with deluxe suites and indoor entertainment. The buildings were small with Mayan-influenced architecture, and just a skip-through-the-sand away would be a pool or a burger bar or the beach! The beach was actually perfect– the sand was warm and white, while the water was bright blue and completely transparent. We spent many hours of the day playing beach volleyball, swimming, snorkeling, or just lying on the sand. The wildlife we saw while snorkeling was Discovery Channel-worthy. Just a few yards from the shore, there were fish of all shapes and colors, coral and rock formations, stingrays… and the water was invariably warm. The Jersey Shore has nothing on Akumal Bay.

A usual day at the resort included swimming and snacking on burgers and delicious strawberry daiquiris or participating in some planned activity. We all took dancing lessons with the enthusiastic and energetic Carlos and and an equally peppy staff member who called himself Chocolat. Spanish lessons, scuba-diving lessons, and tennis courts were also available. The activities weren’t always so serious though– one of my favorites was the Coca Cola-chugging contest at the burger bar.

Our evenings consisted of dancing, participating in staff-run game shows, and listening to concerts while sipping a Shirley Temple or daiquiri at the bar. Sometimes my teen cousins and I would wander around the place (because there was always something new to be discovered) or just lie on the beach and watch the stars. The resort was more of a community, and we actually made a lot of friends. The kids were allowed to roam because it was so safe. When my toddler cousin escaped from her room, some Italian tour guides took care of her for a good two hours until my aunt and uncle found her. The whole place was just so relaxed and fun.

As if staying at such a perfect resort wasn’t good enough, we actually took several day trips to see ancient Mayan pyramids in Tulum and Coba, to go shopping in Playa del Carmen, and to snorkel in the lagoons of Xelha. Stay tuned!

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