This day we planned to get to Cancun downtown and make 2 stops on our way: Akumal and Playa del Carmen. Akumal is a small town 30 min drive from Tulum. It is famous for its unforgettable attraction - turtles! The best part of it is that it is possible to swim with them :) Once you get to the turtles beach, as always, there will be people showing you where to park for a small fee. There will be multiple people offering snorkeling tours that are quite expensive, however, you can snorkel on your own too. The beach is divided into 4 areas where snorkeling tours go. If you walk past them you can easily swim there on your own, turtles are everywhere and it totally depends on your luck whether you'll find them or not. We had our swimming goggles only and regretted not buying full snorkel set but we still had a lot of fun in the water. The water is not deep but you can't stand. We swam for approximately 40 min and during that time chased multiple fishes and saw 2 turtles.
Our second stop was in Playa del Carmen. It's quite a big active city. If Cancun hotel's zone consists of all-inclusive hotels mainly Playa del Carmen is a party city. The main street is full of shops, bars, and restaurants.
After we returned our rental car we went to Cancun downtown using ADO bus. During the holidays season it was much cheaper staying there compared to the Zona Hotelera. We had our dinner at a famous La Parilla restaurant.