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Important Safety Tips Cancun Travelers Need To Know When Visiting The Beach

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A string of drownings in Cancun and the Riviera Maya this year has brought the issue of water safety to the limelight. Although the Mexican Caribbean is a safe beach destination for travelers, there are several risks that travelers need to keep in mind when visiting the region’s plentiful white-sand beaches. Strong currents, waves, and even petty theft are just a few of the hidden dangers that might affect your next sun-soaked holiday. Last week’s incident in Playa del Carmen is the most recent case of a foreign tourist drowning due to powerful currents. 

Cancun beach lifeguard shack with beach tourists in the background

There are countless white-sand beaches across the Mexican Caribbean. From Cancun’s packed Blue-Flag beaches to more remote island beaches, travelers have plenty of choices. Regardless of where you’re headed on your next vacation, it’s important to be prepared before and during a day out on the beach. In this article, we’ll go over some of the essential safety tips travelers need to be aware of.

Aerial bird's eye drone view of a beautiful tropical vacation beach with crystal clear blue water, white sand, palm trees, and a kayak and lifeguard tower in Riviera Maya, Mexico near Cancun.

Opt For Beaches With Lifeguards

One of the most important things travelers can do to improve their safety is to choose popular beaches that have lifeguards that look after swimmers. Resort hotspots like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Isla Mujeres are all great beach destinations with plenty of popular beaches that come equipped with life-saving features.

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A rescue floatation device in a Cancun beach

Cancun’s Blue-Flag-certified beaches are renowned for their excellent safety standards. Not only are they clean and well-maintained, but most of them also have lifeguards on duty from the morning until the evening. While everyone is ultimately responsible for their own safety, lifeguards can jump into action and rescue drowning victims and help deter pickpockets.

Don’t Swim After Consuming Alcohol 

Travelers are often tempted to consume alcoholic beverages while enjoying a day out under the warm tropical sun. Even though it may feel refreshing, travelers should refrain from jumping into the sea after drinking alcohol. According to Aquileo Cervantes, a coordinator from the Benito Juárez municipality, alcohol intake was one of the main causes of tourist drownings in 2022.

Waiter walking a tray of drinks out to the beach in cancun

“We had several cases of travelers that drowned in 2022 after drinking alcohol before going for a swim,” he added in an interview. Excessive alcohol intake can cause dizziness and risky behavior, increasing the likelihood of getting swept away by currents or even losing consciousness. 

Understand Cancun’s Color-Coded Safety System

Beaches in Cancun and other popular Mexican Caribbean locations use a color-coded warning system to inform travelers about swimming conditions. When heading to a beach, look for a green flag close to the main entry point, which indicates ideal and risk-free weather conditions. On the other hand, a yellow flag means that swimmers should exercise increased caution due to wind or waves. A red flag points to dangerous conditions, and swimming should be avoided.

A red flag on display in a Cancun beach with sun chairs

Although the weather may look nice and the water inviting, strong currents and riptides can sweep away swimmers and are one of the main culprits in recent cases of drownings and other close calls. 

A beautiful day in a Cancun beach with warm weather

Avoid Swimming With A Full Stomach

According to an old wives tale, people shouldn’t swim after eating because doing so can affect blood circulation. While that myth may lack scientific backing, experts say it’s a good idea to avoid swimming after enjoying a hefty meal. Ingesting large amounts of food shortly before hopping in the water may increase the likelihood of vomiting, especially among children and the elderly. 

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Together with alcohol, swimming with a full stomach is one of the main risk factors associated with drownings, and with plenty of snacks available on Cancun’s beaches, travelers are urged to wait at least half an hour before swimming. 

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