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As Sargassum Plagues Cancun Coast, These Beaches Remain At Low Levels

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Multiple beaches in Cancun and the northern part of the Mexican Caribbean state are seeing unusually high levels of sargassum as officials lay out new plans to deal with the smelly seaweed.

A cleaner in Cancun cleaning sargassum from beach

While Cancun and other popular destinations are grappling with an earlier-than-expected start to the sargassum season, travelers can enjoy several stunning Mexican Caribbean beaches with low seaweed levels. 

What Is Sargassum?

Sargassum seaweed is a type of macroalgae that forms over the Atlantic Ocean each year in large quantities. The foul-smelling but harmless seaweed is a perennial issue for Caribbean destinations like Cancun, which see huge quantities of the macroalgae wash up on their shores yearly. The sargassum season typically begins in late February to early March, although this year, it seems to have begun earlier, leading many tourists to seek beaches that are clear of the unpleasant seaweed.

A patch of sargassum floating in the Caribbean Sea

This Is The Sargassum Situation In Cancun This Week

Reports have flooded the local media concerning the alarmingly high levels of sargassum on some Cancun beaches unusually early this year. Although the hotel zone’s main beaches are currently spared from high sargassum levels, other Cancun beaches are dealing with unprecedented quantities for this time of the year.

According to the latest update by the Quintana Roo Sargassum Monitoring Network, published two days ago, Cancun’s Playa Ballenas and Playa Delfines currently have abundant sargassum levels, although the situation is more favorable in Chac Mool and Gaviota. 

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cancun busy beach hotel zone

Despite attempts by local authorities and resorts to implement new high-tech measures to clean sargassum, it appears the region has yet to devise a fully effective approach to keeping beaches in tip-top shape. That being said, officials have announced new investments this year to prepare for the looming sargassum season, which may see significantly higher seaweed levels compared to last year.

Sargassum and Cleaning Equipment on a Beach in Isla Mujeres

These Beaches Currently Have The Lowest Sargassum Levels

Millions of travelers are expected to visit Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean for their much-awaited winter vacation. Being one of the top international destinations, Cancun’s beaches are a lasting draw for countless travelers, who might have to consider heading to other destinations if they want to experience pristine tropical beaches clear of sargassum.

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Fortunately, there are several popular and easy-to-reach beach destinations that have low sargassum levels, at least for now. Isla Mujeres, just 15 minutes away from Cancun by ferry, currently has the least sargassum seaweed in the entire Mexican Caribbean. Its stunning beaches – including Playa Centro and Playa Garrafon – are shielded from large sargassum patches that typically plague the other side of the small island.

Other beaches just north of Cancun’s hotel zone are also reporting manageable sargassum levels, including Playa las Perlas and Playa Langosta. Travelers planning on spending some time in Holbox, one of the region’s trendiest island destinations, can also expect low to non-existent sargassum levels, according to the latest forecast. 

Massive wave of sargassum washing on a Cancun beach

How Much Sargassum Will There Be In 2023?

The sargassum situation can evolve rapidly based on manifold factors, including water temperature, wind, and currents. Over the past weeks, reports have surfaced which seem to suggest 2023 might be even worse for sargassum than last year when record quantities of the seaweed tarnished Mexican Caribbean beaches. Other long-term forecasts are predicting the opposite, arguing 2023 could see one of the lowest levels in quite some time.

A tractor clearing up sargassum from a popular beach

Regardless of the long-term forecasts, local and state authorities, led by governor Mara Lezaman, are implementing new measures to prepare popular beaches for the impending sargassum season. Playa del Carmen, a city that usually sees some of the highest sargassum levels, will introduce new containers to store the pesky seaweed, and Cancun alone has employed over 150 cleaners to keep beaches in great condition. 

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zippity do dah

Friday 17th of February 2023

isla mujeres is a complete $hit show with how many people coming over from cancun for day trip from all inclusive hotels and boat tours to this tiny island with very limited beaches. Beaches are jammed already, chairs and beds everywhere, we also counted 80 boats moored out along the main beach with music blaring, and there is seaweed coming up in isla just like other beaches on the mainland . the island traffic is nuts with too many golf carts ripping around, so thanks for just screwing up a once peaceful place. Stay where you are its already too busy.

Boy Blue

Sunday 26th of February 2023

@zippity do dah,

Sent you pleasant.