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2023 To Be A Record Year For Sargassum In Cancun And The Mexican Caribbean

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If you are planning a trip to Cancun or the Mexican Caribbean over the next few months, this news may not be the most welcome. While predictions by environmental agencies can be wrong from time to time, this week, even more evidence has been found which suggests that this year could well be a record when it comes to sargassum levels in the region.

Sargassum along the beach in playa del carmen

This means those who are dreaming of reclining on a pristine, white-sanded beach or frolicking in crystal-clear seas might just have to find alternative activities to do on their vacations. 

Fortunately for travelers, Cancun and the wider Mexican Caribbean are much more than just beach destinations, with plenty of things to see and do if the stinky seaweed proves too much to bear.

Here’s a look at the latest findings that suggest colossal amounts of sargassum are set to cover the beaches of the Mexican Caribbean this year, plus a run-through of some of the best activities for travelers to get up to that are sure to take your mind far away from the unwanted algae. 

bird in sargassum beach

Brace For Sargassum – Information For Travelers

Sargassum might not be particularly harmful – unless you’re one of the Mexican Caribbean’s precious sea turtles – but there’s no denying that it’s a massive nuisance to travelers.

The macroalgae, which washes up on the beaches in huge quantities all over the Caribbean, not only takes up sunbathing space on the usually-pristine beaches of Cancun, but its pungent stench as it rots away is quite unpleasant.

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beach with sargassum

Frustratingly for travelers, it’s hard to predict exactly when sargassum with show up and in what sort of quantities. The stinky seaweed’s arrival is dependent on factors such as ocean currents, wind, and inclement weather, which can either take it far away from Cancun or send it all in its direction.

Unfortunately for travelers, the most recent indications suggest that not only is sargassum heading to Cancun, but it will do so in potentially record-breaking quantities. 

sargassum on beach

According to the Sargassum Monitoring Network, which constantly surveys and assesses the presence of sargassum in the seas in the region, this year’s arrival of sargassum could be unlike any seen before. Speaking about the impending arrival of the stinky seaweed, Esteban Amaro, the director of the network, said:

“In addition to the fact that it was anticipated and according to what we have seen in the satellite images and what the University of South Florida indicates, this 2023, the amount of sargassum will be extraordinary.”

sargassum in sea ocean

While the start of the year suggested we could be in for minimal amounts of the macroalgae in the Mexican Caribbean, this week’s announcement corroborates a similar one made last month, which suggested there could be twice as much sargassum on the beaches compared to previous years.

This news is likely to worry travelers, but hotels are used to such situations and will have prepared accordingly. 

A local cleaner removing sargassum from a beach in Cancun

Hotels throughout the region have teams dedicated to beach clean-up operations, with the aim of minimizing the stinky seaweed’s effect on a traveler’s vacation. In addition to this, solutions such as barriers have been installed out at sea to try and prevent the seaweed from making land at all.

This solution was also highlighted by Amaro as an effective tool to battle sargassum, though it is one that will need significant investment in order to be truly effective. 

A cleaner at a Cancun beach dealing with sargassum

Keeping all of the record-breaking volumes of sargassum away is a tall task, but the good news is that there’s plenty to do if it does end up rendering the beaches unusable. Whether it’s visiting top-class resort pools or stunning natural cenotes, having a day at the spa, or visiting one of the region’s stunning temples, Cancun is far more than just a collection of beautiful beaches – and visiting during sargassum season might just be the best time to discover that. 

The Sun Shining Through to Ik Kil Cenote Near Cancun

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Morgan Skarin

Thursday 9th of March 2023

Sargassum is a MACROalgae... 😉