We asked our hotel about tours in the Tulum area because we were interested in seeing the cenotes, and they referred us to a tour guide that they work closely with. We decided to do a tour that would involve visiting the cenotes and snorkeling with sea turtles and they arranged everything for us.
Our guide picked us up bright and early on Saturday morning and took us to Akumal Bay, where he handed us off to another guide who took us snorkeling with sea turtles. Akumal Bay, which the guide said will soon introduce a daily limit for tourists, was quite crowded. The snorkeling was not the best (I will say that we are a bit spoiled having seen some amazing tropical fish in the Maldives!) but it was incredible to be so close to such majestic animals. They were much larger than we imagined and very chill. It was an amazing experience to be swimming with animals that could be four times our age!
After we snorkeled with the turtles (and fish) for about an hour, we went on to the cenote. There are MANY cenotes to visit in Quintana Roo, some more popular than others. We visited Yaxmuul cenote, one that our tour guide knew very well. It was gorgeous. The water was chilly but refreshing and we were the only people in the entire cave. We swam through the cave while he told us all about it and we hung out for a while swimming in the mineral water and taking it all in. It was filled with bats who were flying around constantly - this was my first time seeing bats up close and personal. It was eerie yet awe-inspiring to see these animals in their natural, mostly undisturbed habitat, and an experience I will never forget.
After we left the cenote, we ate in the nearby jungle. Our tour guide brought sandwiches and chips, and Mayan tamales. He gave us the choice to have either and we chose the tamales. They were SO good! We had both chicken and veggie tamales and we were grateful to be able to try some authentic local cuisine.
All in all, it was a great day. You don't have to go with any specific tour guide to visit Akumal Bay or the cenotes - anyone can take you. You can even visit the cenotes on your own if you'd like. I think with Akumal Bay you may need to have a guide, but I could be wrong. It was nice to have someone take us because he knew where the turtles would be. Both the cenotes and Akumal Bay can be incredibly crowded with tourists, so mentally prepare for that! Even with all the other tourists, they are unforgettable experiences you must try when you visit Tulum!