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Playa Palms Tested: Akumal Monkey Sanctuary

The Playa Palms Beach Hotel team recently had the chance to visit the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary. We had a lot of fun petting pet cute little monkeys, feed deer and even held a boa constrictor! Come and see how the local charity project does much more than rescuing monkeys.

Before you go

To go to the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary, you need 2 things: pack your mosquito spray and decide at what time you want to go, since a reservation is required. (For more information about schedules and prices see information box at the end of the article). We decided to go in the morning to have a chance to go to the gorgeous beach in Akumal afterward. The Akumal Monkey Sanctuary is easy to find. Once you arrive at Akumal head towards “Akumal pueblo” (as opposite to Akumal beach) and just follow the signs.

You probably never said Aawww! so often

If you expect to only see monkeys, you’re wrong. At the entrance, you’ll see zebras and ostriches, and our tour started feeding and petting deer and goats. The kids were already enthusiastic – how often do you get to pet Bambi?

We even got the chance to hold macaws and, my personal highlight, a real boa constrictor! Some of the animals call the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary their constant home. Others only stay for a while, until they are released again.

But of course, the primates are the main attraction. Akumal Monkey Sanctuary is in fact home to several species of monkeys. The guide not only explains the facts and interesting data about each of them but also what brought them to the sanctuary.

Hello, little monkey!

After a delicious snack, freshly made by a local Mayan woman, we finally got to the highlight of the tour. The 30 minutes interaction with monkeys! They are former pet monkeys, which is why they need a certain amount of human interaction every day. The tours are organized in a way that each animal gets the amount of attention and affection it needs.

The monkeys are very confiding and will sit on your lap, or even on your head. You can pet them while you feed them seeds. To be honest, the 30 minutes with these cute little creatures past by way too quick. It’s truly an experience we will never forget!

What we enjoyed most about the tour was to see, how much they care about the animals. All animals at the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary are rescued or donated from private persons who can’t or don’t want to keep them anymore, and the park closely works together with the Federal Environmental Protection (PROFEPA).

Experience of a lifetime

As a conclusion, we heartily recommend visiting the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary. Especially for kids, this is an experience that will last a lifetime. But no matter how old you are, if you’re an animal lover you will definitely enjoy every minute of the tour! Besides. with your entrance fee, you directly support the rescued animals and the sanctuary’s environmental education programs for local schools.

To schedule your tour, get in touch with our concierge at Playa Palms Beach Hotel or email us.

Tour schedules:  9 am, 10 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 3 pm or 4 pm
Tour duration: approx. 2 ½ hours
Entrance fee: adults $65 USD, kids (5 – 12 years old) $40 USD, Mexican citizens receive a 20% discount.

 

Playa Palms Tested: Mayan Jungle Adventure

Join the Playa Palms Beach Hotel team on a real Mayan adventure through the jungle and exploring an underground cenote.

We write a lot about things to do in and around Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya, and at Playa Palms Beach Hotel we help you find the tour that suits you best. To make sure we know what we talk about, we sometimes go on these tours ourselves. Last week, some of our staff went on a crazy jungle adventure with Amazing Caribbean Tours, to see if we can really recommend their tour to our guests. It was a lot of fun!

The friendly driver dropped us off at the ranch in the middle of the jungle somewhere between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Our guides, Rafael and Alex, were already waiting for us. After safety instructions, Rafael explained us the how-tos of ATV motorcycle driving. Not that there is much to explain, it has a thumb-accelerator and hand brakes, making them very easy to operate. You can drive them from the age of 16 up and don’t need a driver’s license. Then we finally started the engines and hit the rocky road.

Alex led our small group, with me behind him, since I’m the one with nearly no driving experience (having spent so much time playing Mario Kart turned out really useful at this point), and Rafael at the end. After starting slowly to allow us to practice, we then sped up a bit. Alex and Rafael would always make sure that we’re ok though – safety first. If driving an ATV is something you’ve never done before, you should definitely go for it. It was so much fun speeding through the jungle! You can ride the ATV motorcycles with up to 2 people, or you can choose a buggy instead, but only if you have the drivers license.

After about an hour of adrenaline rushing fun, we returned to the entrance, where a vehicle waited to bring us to the cenote “La Gloria”. This is a small but beautiful cenote, where you can cool off in its crystal clear waters, jump of a swing, snorkel, and swim. Make sure to bring bug spray though, there are many mosquitoes, and put it on as soon as you get out of the water.

Then we continued to the cenote Hilarios, a cenote in an underground cave. Climbing down the steep and narrow entrance, we already felt like true adventurers. Equipped with flashlights and life jackets, we started our tour through the cavern. Stalagmites and stalactites are everywhere, what makes this cenote a photographer’s dream. Rafael, while guiding us safely through what to us seemed a labyrinth, told us not only interesting facts but also Mayan legends and stories that made this a truly unforgettable and special experience. Let me remark here, that the cavern is certainly not for you if you’re claustrophobic (they ask you before). I would recommend bringing water shoes, since the ground is very rocky, and bug spray – at the entrance of the cave the mosquitoes are waiting.

In a resume, this for sure is one of the most fun ways to explore the amazing Riviera Maya’s nature. We especially liked that they take small groups or even private tours, which means you don’t have to waste time waiting and can truly enjoy every moment. You can either make all 3 activities or can choose 2 of them, and the tour takes about 4 hours.

Amazing Caribbean Tours also offers excursions to Sian Kaan, Holbox, and Isla Contoy. Just let us know if you’re interested in any of these tours at the best price.

How You Can Help Sustain the Riviera Maya’s Beauty

The Riviera Maya is one of the most beautiful destinations, with a unique and very diverse eco system and a rich cultural heritage. Just think of the many Mayan ruins, the cenotes or the fact that it’s home to the world’s second largest coral reef!

It is easy to just come a few days, have a good time and take photos without thinking of the impact we leave. Traveling is a great way to connect with people and to enrich our lives, but it’s also important to recognize that it can have negative effects on the places we travel.

If you want to travel more responsible, here are some very easy things you can do to help conserve the Riviera Maya’s environment and culture:

1 Use biodegradable sunscreen and bug spray

One of the easiest ways to help protect the natural ecosystem is to use biodegradable sunscreen and bug spray. Regular products contain harmful oils and chemicals that are toxic to coral reefs, marine plants, and animals in the cenotes. It’s a small change that makes a huge difference not only to the cenotes and the sea, but it’s also healthier for your skin. You can buy biodegradable sunscreen or repellent at any supermarket or pharmacy here in Playa del Carmen.

2 Reduce trash and recycle

At Playa Palms Beach Hotel we help you to recycle. All our rooms come with a drinking water dispenser for you to refill your water bottle rather than buying new ones.

3 Use less energy

At your hotel, you can take care of the environment by something as simple as turning off the air conditioning and the lights when you’re going out. At Playa Palms Beach Hotel we help saving water and energy by changing sheets and towels only when requested.

4 Know what you are supporting

Think critically when it comes to choosing your activities and excursions. Avoid local shows or parks that exploit animals, like swimming with captive dolphins. Rather enjoy and observe the animals in their natural habitat. For example, go swimming with whale sharks in Isla Mujeres or observe birds and marine animals in Sian Ka’an or Isla Contoy!

5 Shop smarter

Don’t buy souvenirs made of shells, starfish or endangered animals.

6 Stay at smaller, not all inclusive hotels

Staying at smaller hotels instead of big resorts gives you a chance to get around, eat at local restaurants, buy in local shops and thus support the local culture and economy.

7 Go local

Support locally owned businesses, restaurants, and other services whenever you can. Trying local food and drinks is fun, just think Tequila and Mezcal or tasty tacos!

8 Respect cultural differences and learn from it

So many countries, so many customs. Respect and value the culture you are visiting. Care for the archaeological sites you visit in the Riviera Maya and don’t pollute or damage them. Experience the place the way locals do, respect them and engage with the culture!