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Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum Being Overrun By Seaweed

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Multiple beaches in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and the rest of the Riviera Maya continue to see the foul smelling seaweed known as sargassum piling up on their shores. The situation has gotten so severe that authorities have launched a special service to inform tourists about the levels of sargassum on local beaches on any given day. This, is meant to help folks plan their day at the beach.  

Reader Submitted Photo Credit: Rick Campbell

Sargassum is reddish coloured seaweed or algae, to be more specific, that has formed naturally in the sea for ages. Up until about a decade or so it didn’t end up on the shore as it does now. According to experts there are several factors that have caused sargassum seaweed to end up on local beaches, with global warming, and the destruction of coral reefs being two of the main culprits. 

Cat In Piles of Sargassum

In the case of Cancun, plenty of acres of coral reefs were destroyed in the creation of the man made beach that the main Cancun hotel zone currently sits on. This has caused tons of seaweed to ultimately wash up on Cancun shores. 

cancun hotel zone

Finding Beaches That Are Not Overrun By Seaweed

Inclement weather has plagued beaches in and around Cancun over the last few days. The strong winds typically make the sargassum situation worse. Many of Playa del Carmen’s main beaches are currently experiencing the arrival of excessive amounts of sargassum. Playa Fundadores, and Playa “El Recodo” two of the main public beaches are currently on high alert to the point where people may be barred from entering the beaches due to the overwhelming amount of sargassum that has ended up on those shores. 

Aerial View of Sargassum Coming Into A Beach

Nearby Mamitas beach, home of the famous Mamitas Beach Club is on a yellow warning level. Allowing the beach and the facilities within it to operate more or less as normal.In the Cancun main hotel zone things are actually not as bad as they could be. Playa Gaviota Azul, and Playa Chac-Mool two popular beach fronts on the Cancun main hotel zone remain at a green warning level. Indicating that the presence of the foul smelling seaweed is meant to be minimal over the next week or so. 

Empty Beach Club

Conditions could vary in the coming days particularly if the direction in which the wind continues to blow changes. Currently, for example the entire east side of the island of Cozumel is fully covered in sargassum. This is seemingly great news for the west side of the island though, which is seeing clear sand on its beaches.       

conzumel coast where barrier will be placed

The Tulum Beach That Has Been Devoured By Sargassum Seaweed             

Arguably the main issue with sargassum on top of the fact that it may cause different types of skin lesions to people who come in contact with it, is that it has to be collected and removed from the beach. You can’t expect it to flow naturally back into the ocean. Locals in one of Tulum’s formerly most popular beaches, “Playa Paraiso” have found this out the hard way. Folks that provided all sorts of services on the beach front report that sargassum collection duties have not been performed on the beach for the better part of two months. 

This has caused more and more algae to pile up on the beach. At this point the entire area is covered in layers upon layers of sargassum. This has caused overall sales in the region to drop by 80% as tourists are understandably not willing to stick around and sun bathe amongst so much sargassum. The containers that were formerly used to collect sargassum from the beach are also filled to the brim, and yet local authorities have not come by to empty them out to at least give locals a chance to take matters into their own hands to clean the beach. 

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Lou Scrivner

Monday 30th of May 2022

That’s what happens when money dictates over the natural environment, a situation that will only worsen with climate change. How much money will the greedy hotel industry make then when it is too late…


Sunday 29th of May 2022

We were there last week and could not enjoy the beach at Valentin Imperial Maya. The beach was over run with seaweed. The funny thing it was not shown on Instagram and they even blocked me for saying the truth. We would have spent money to go somewhere else