Sargassum – a type of naturally occurring seaweed – is plaguing Cancun and Mexican Caribbean beaches earlier than usual this year. Officials are in a race against time as they activate cleaning protocols and set up sargassum collection points to deal with record seaweed levels.
The sargassum season began unusually early this year, in mid-February, despite usually making landfall in mid to late March. In this article, we’ll tell you how much sargassum seaweed travelers can expect this week in some of the most popular Mexican Caribbean destinations.
Sargassum levels are regularly monitored by authorities – both on land and from space. The seaweed situation looks rather bleak next week, according to the latest sargassum update published by the Quintana Roo Sargassum Monitoring Network. The environmental organization uses a ‘traffic light’ model to measure sargassum levels, with 5 categories ranging from ‘no sargassum’ to ‘excessive’.
Well over half of the several dozen beaches that are regularly monitored for sargassum levels currently present moderate or abundant seaweed levels, corresponding to yellow and orange on the five-level alert system. High levels of sargassum are currently washing up in several popular resort areas, including the southern portion of the Riviera Maya as well as the southern half of Cancun.
Cancun Travelers Brace For More Sargassum
This week’s sargassum forecast points to growing levels of the foul-smelling seaweed on several Cancun beaches. Fortunately, sargassum levels are currently very low in 6 popular Cancun beaches, including most of the hotel zone’s shores. Travelers planning on spending time on Playa Marlín, Playa Ballenas, Playa Delfines, and Chac-Mool can expect nearly sargassum-free beaches, at least for the start of the week.
Travelers staying just south of Cancun should brace themselves for increased sargassum levels, especially around the Moon Palace resort area, as well as the Royalton Riviera Cancun. Located just a bit more south, Puerto Morelos is forecast to fare well this week, with less sargassum than its Cancun counterparts.
Playa del Carmen Battles High Sargassum Levels
Playa del Carmen appears to be the worst-hit resort hotspot in terms of sargassum this week, with three of its most popular beaches seeing moderate to high sargassum levels. Sunday’s seaweed forecast suggests that sargassum levels are expected to remain manageable in only several locations, including Portal Maya and Mamitas.
The situation in most of Tulum’s popular beaches looks rather poor for the next week, as tourists shy away from the seaside resort destination in search of cleaner beaches. Some local beaches, including Punta Piedra, reported as few as 30 beachgoers due to moderate sargassum levels, which are forecast to remain elevated over the coming days.
These Mexican Caribbean Beaches Have The Lowest Sargassum Levels
Despite unusually high sargassum levels in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and especially Tulum, travelers can find plenty of spotless beaches to enjoy if they know where to look. Isla Mujeres is currently one of the cleanest beach destinations close to Cancun, and travelers can look forward to spotless beaches over the next week. Playa Centro and Punta Sur have reported sargassum-free beaches this week, a testament to Isla Mujeres’ excellent cleaning protocols and anti-seaweed policies.
Several regions north of Cancun are also seeing low to nonexistent sargassum levels, making them an ideal choice for a day trip or a longer stay. Costa Mujeres, just north of Cancun, currently has low sargassum levels thanks to special cleaning protocols activated by the municipality. Travelers can also enjoy some of the region’s cleanest beaches, Isla Blanca and Isla Contoy.
Situated on the northern tip of Quintana Roo, Holbox island’s beaches are in tip-top condition this week, and Chiquilá, a quaint village just south of the island, is also currently sargassum-free.
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