Playa del Carmen’s beaches are sargassum-free for the first time in over six months as the Atlantic hurricane season is helping keep the brown seaweed at bay. The resort town has struggled to contain vast quantities of sargassum seaweed over the summer, with authorities this year cleaning up more sargassum than at any point in the past 6 years.
Tourists and locals in Playa del Carmen have met an unusual sight this week: clean beaches with minimal amounts of sargassum seaweed. The news comes at a time when sargassum levels are diminishing across the Mexican Caribbean.
However, for Playa del Carmen, the development is even more positive since the resort location has been plagued by intrusive seaweed during the busy summer season. Despite hiring more workers to clean up sargassum around the clock, Playa del Carmen has struggled to contain constant seaweed waves, which wash up on its shores, leading tourists to seek cleaner alternatives.
For now, meteorological conditions such as the formation of powerful hurricanes in the Atlantic are keeping sargassum from reaching the Mexican Caribbean, including Playa del Carmen. Hurricane Fiona, the most recent one to hit the Caribbean, is credited for offering a respite to beaches across the region. Tropical storms and hurricanes affect the currents, which then carry away macroalgae out towards the Atlantic and away from local beaches.
During the summer months, Playa del Carmen is vulnerable to sargassum build-up, which originates deep in the Atlantic waters before making its way to beaches across the Caribbean. With the end of the sargassum season fast approaching, it is unlikely that more algae will reach Playa del Carmen’s beaches, at least for the remainder of the month.
According to the Quintana Roo Sargassum Monitoring Network’s latest bulletin, all of Playa del Carmen’s main beaches reported low levels of sargassum. The same cannot be said for all of the beaches in the Riviera Maya area, such as Tulum, where moderate levels of algae were reported. Meanwhile, the eastern coast of Cozumel continued to see excessive sargassum levels, whereas Cancun beaches contained mostly moderate to low levels.
Overall, the amount of sargassum washing up on Quintana Roo’s beaches has decreased by more than 48% this week compared to the beginning of the month. The gradually diminishing levels of macroalgae are especially visible in Playa del Carmen, which implemented a range of measures over the summer to contain the algae. Although largely effective, they only provide temporary relief as more and more sargassum found its way onto Playa del Carmen beaches.
Among other measures, the city installed barriers out in the sea with the help of the Navy, which prevented the algae from reaching the shores. Local authorities also partnered up with hotels and resorts, who have dedicated cleaners that help to keep the pesky seaweed at bay.
Although harmless, sargassum can be an eyesore and is notorious for the foul odor it emits while decomposing. Sargassum levels this year have been especially troublesome for Playa del Carmen, and it is thought that global warming is helping more macroalgae form in the ocean.
These Are The Top Beaches To Enjoy In Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is renowned for its excellent food scene, varied cultural landscape, and, most of all, its tropical beaches. For the best beach experience, visitors can head to Playa del Carmen beach, the city’s main beach. Adjacent to the downtown area, this white-sand beach is bustling with life, and travelers can find bars and restaurants dotted along the nearly 1-kilometer-long beach.
For a more laid-back ambiance, visitors can head north to nearby Playa Esmeralda, where lush nature abounds. The beach is lined with tropical palm trees, and a freshwater cenote lays in the northern corner of the beach.
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