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How Much Seaweed To Expect On Cancun Beaches This Winter

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When we think about beach trips to Cancun, most of us picture gently breaking waves, shade-providing palm trees, and pristine, white-sanded beaches. Unfortunately, as most travelers realized this year, the presence of the stinky seaweed sargassum on the beaches of Cancun became a problem that many found hard to avoid. Its pungent stench and unsightly nature ruined the vacations of thousands of travelers and led local authorities to worry about potential negative effects on the perception of Cancun amongst travelers around the world. 

mexican worker seaweed sargassum beach

As we head into a busy winter season of travel, with record numbers heading to the beaches, shores, and coves of Cancun and its surrounding areas over the coming months, concerns about sargassum are once more at the forefront of the minds of travelers, keen to know whether the stinky seaweed will be an uninvited guest to their much sought-after winter vacations. Here’s a look at how much seaweed is expected on the beaches of Cancun this winter.

person collecting sargassum

What Is Sargassum? Information For Travelers

Sargassum is a type of brown algae that is not just prevalent in Cancun but throughout the wider Caribbean region. Unsightly and stinky, sargassum is known for its pungent, sulfur-like stench that becomes present as it rots and decays – which, unfortunately for travelers, usually takes place on beaches, ruining the enjoyment for all in its vicinity. Whilst it may not be harmful to humans, it harbors tiny sea creatures that can irritate the skin should a person come into contact with it. 

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Sargassum Cancun Hotel Zone

It’s a major problem for many top destinations, which invest significant amounts of money towards keeping it at bay. Whole teams of workers are drafted in to help keep the beaches spotless, whilst armed forces have also been used in the past to ensure that the battle against the smelly seaweed isn’t lost. On top of this, other tactics – such as the use of long nets or barriers out in the sea – have also been deployed, as local authorities go to extreme lengths to keep the tourists happy.

men clearing sargassum

How Much Seaweed This Winter? What Travelers Should Know

It’s hard to predict exactly what levels of sargassum Cancun will face this winter, particularly as storms and other irregular weather phenomena can knock it out of its natural course and send it in other directions. However, the good news is that sargassum season is pretty much over in the Mexican Caribbean, with no significant collections of the stinky seaweed reported on the main beaches in Cancun for several weeks now – meaning it’s one less thing travelers have to worry about this winter. 

man collecting sargassum in cancun

Sargassum is particularly prevalent between the months of May and October, when the region is experiencing its hotter months of the year. In November and December, as the climate “cools” to a still-pleasant average temperature of between 75-84°F, the presence of the seaweed is far lower – with most beaches free of the noxious nuisance completely. During these months, the city also begins to get busier once more, meaning more clean-up crews are on hand to tackle any unusual flare-ups of sargassum. 

Small Cancun Hotel Zone

According to the Sargassum Monitoring Network, the last three weeks have seen “a very significant decrease in the amount of sargassum arriving in Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean, which is due to the change in the predominant oceanographic and climatological conditions, primarily due to the autumn changes in the marine currents”. Sargassum was only detected on three beaches in the regions, one of which was Holbox Island. The absence of sargassum is great news for travelers – but other concerns have also recently been raised. 

clear pristine beach cancun

Last month, concerns were raised about the high levels of garbage present on beaches in Cancun and surrounding areas. Whilst not a new phenomenon, the presence of plastic and glass on the beach is arguably more unsightly and unattractive than sargassum, posing a threat to the environment and a health threat to travelers. Thankfully, however, with a committee formed to address the issue, it is hoped the situation will be brought under control in the coming weeks.

Busy Cancun Beach

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