Information about Akumal

When Pablo Bush Romero first visited Akumal in 1959, there was one family living there taking care of a coconut plantation. Pablo Bush Romero purchased all the land between Yalku and Xelha in the early ’60s.

He had all of it expropriated later in the ’60s but not before he made it a condition that Xelha become a National Park to avoid any mass development there and he was allowed to keep Akumal. Cancun and the surrounding development did not exist.

Akumal Bay in the 80s

Akumal Bay in the ’80s

With the land Pablo Bush Romero kept, he had a vision to open it to tourism on a small scale, starting out with a Yacht Club and approximately 80 members. He eventually built housing for the workers of his small hotel consisting of a restaurant and 8 bungalows.

Over the years, other families started to move here from all over the Yucatan looking for work, as other businesses opened up and Don Pablo built his hotel consisting of 40 bungalows.

The workers settled in a swampy mangrove area behind what is now Las Casitas, in the jungle. These families worked for the various businesses opening up that had nowhere to provide housing for them.
Eventually, the Hotel Association of Akumal was instrumental in the opening of the town of Chemuyil for government support housing for all those workers moving to Akumal.

Akumal Beach Bar in the 80's

Akumal Beach Bar in the ’80s

Some families resisted the move and the government opened up the town of Akumal across the highway so they could have decent housing with schools, markets, churches, sanitary conditions and solid homes that could withstand hurricanes, instead of the shanty town in the swampy jungle they were living in.

The two dive shops had opened up and began the nautical services for the bay that included sport fishing and diving. At that time, there was very little seagrass and thus few green sea turtles foraging in the bay, so there were no snorkel tours.

By General Assembly Decree, the Akumal Yacht Club was turned into an Ecological Association in 1993, and all income generated from the property after upkeep expenses is used to support the various programs, education and research.

Centro Ecológico Akumal founding members do not, and have never, profited from this property or organization. Their only interest is to maintain the health of Akumal’s ecosystems and flora and fauna, through research, education, and outreach programs. Sometime in the ’80s, one independent fishing boat was allowed to provide fishing services in the bay and from that point on, more fishing boats started fishing charters in the bay, independent from the dive shops. No snorkel tours were offered. At that time, mass tourism had not arrived in Akumal and the private properties in the bay did not feel a need to control access in any way. Akumal was a quiet place and all properties were wide open for access to the federal zone of the beach.

By law, all ocean-front properties must provide access across the 20-meter federal zone all along the coast of Mexico. Also, each subdivision must provide access to the federal zone and this was always allowed in Akumal. Access is still allowed to this day and will be in perpetuity. There is also a law that all private properties can define where they allow access to the federal zone.

The federal zone law does not say each property must allow access to the federal zone. But, each development must define access points.

The federal access issue is misunderstood by so many people: Access is a right on all 20 meters of Mexico’s coast, so no one can deny access to anyone moving along the 20-meter space. But it does not say that all citizens have access to cross all private property to get to the 20 meters.