Essentials for a Riviera Maya Adventure: Akumal and Tulum

Back to Blogs

Planning a trip to the Riviera Maya, specifically Akumal and Tulum? If you’re like me, traveling from another country, you’ll want to be prepared to make the most of your adventure while staying comfortable. Here’s what I found essential for my visit, and I’m sure it’ll help you too.

A vista of a beach in Tulum, Mx from inside the jungle.

The Riviera Maya is known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear (and often cool/cold) cenotes, vibrant marine life, ruins, and jungle. To enjoy your time, picking up the right gear before and upon arrival is crucial.

One of my top recommendations is a hooded rash guard with a high SPF rating. I am the type of person that burns and never tans; I also have a shaved head. The sun can be intense, and while sunscreen helps, a rash guard provides an extra layer of protection without the need to reapply. This is one of my favorites that I picked up from Amazon. It’s so soft and dried quickly.

Speaking of sunscreen, make sure to bring reef-friendly sunscreen. The coral reefs and cents in this area are delicate ecosystems, and using a sunscreen that doesn’t harm marine life or natural water systems is a simple way to not be an awful traveler. You can pick some up at any major grocer for the best deal.

Noise can sometimes be an issue, especially if there’s construction nearby. Packing ear plugs ensures that you can sleep soundly without interruptions. These are easy to pack so pick some up before your travels.

For exploring cenotes or rocky beaches, water shoes are indispensable. They provide protection and comfort, allowing you to navigate the terrain with ease. I took water shoes I picked up locally and water-friendly Tevas.

A good, water-resistant sling-bag like this came in handy for keeping phones, documents, and essentials dry and safe.

Now, let’s talk about some personal comfort tips. If your thighs tend to rub, pick up some Vaseline. The fine sand in this area can stick to your wet skin like glue, and one quick walk with sandy thighs could lead to painful chafing. Not fun.

Similarly, if you plan to ride bikes, bring tight shorts to avoid the same chafing issue. Because the area is always warm and humid (much like where I live), I was prepared with some athletic, quick dry underwear or compression shorts specifically with this in mind. If you’re that person, you know.

Food in this region is delicious, but it can be a bit heavy on the spices and fiber. It was not an issue for me since I’m on a pretty high-fiber diet, but picking up some Pepto Bismol, antacid, and Tylenol can save you from any unexpected stomach troubles. Pick up some travel sizes before you travel or head to a local grocer like Super Aki or Chedraui and pick up these essentials.

Lastly, don’t forget reusable water bottles. If you’re staying at an Airbnb, ask the host to hook you up with some 5-gallon water jugs. Even if you have to pay them back, it’s cheaper for you in the end and helps reduce single-use plastic bottles. You can also grab on at most groceries. Most beaches and attractions won’t allow single-use plastic.

Here’s a quick summary checklist for your Riviera Maya trip:

  • Hooded rash guard with high SPF rating
  • Reef-friendly sunscreen
  • Travel-size salt and pepper mills
  • Ear plugs
  • Shower glove/mitt
  • Water shoes
  • Vaseline for thigh chafing
  • Tight shorts for bike riding and walking in general
  • Pepto Bismol, antacid, and Tylenol
  • Reusable water bottles

With these essentials, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy everything Akumal and Tulum have to offer.