No, it’s not an illusion. Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres is indeed getting smaller.
Almost half of the white sand on the popular tourist beach has disappeared over the past couple of weeks because of the intense currents whipped up by the strong storms that have hit the coast of the popular beach resort destination island.
The bad news is there are still two months to go in the winter “Nortes” weather season.
Erosion Taking Playa Norte Sand
This year, the erosion of the popular tourist beach in Isla Mujeres is nearly as bad as last year’s record-breaking event.
In 2022, the waves took most of the sand nearly all the way to the watchtower in what was a shocking event for both locals and travelers. It was initially blamed on high tidal levels and intense wave activity.
Today, visitors to Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres can see between five and ten meters of breakwater, which was installed to prevent a repeat of last year’s erosion event.
Winter Travelers Adapt
With less beach to enjoy on the popular Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres, peak winter holiday season travelers have had to be a little creative to find space to enjoy their time lounging in the sun, sand, and surf.
The first to relocate were the beach lounge chairs and umbrellas available for travelers at the popular vacation getaway. But the shifting of the furniture has left little sand available for visitors who prefer simply laying a towel down in the sand.
Unfortunately, the situation is only going to be more complicated once the really heavy peak winter holiday travel season gets into gear this week and next.
Plans to Protect the Sand
The easiest way for local officials to prevent the erosion of the sand is to install plants which provide natural protection to reduce the amount of erosion.
Some of the plants that are often used for this purpose include grasses, coconut trees and even plants normally found in local mangroves. Development of sand dunes also can help protect the beach.
However, that is more of a long-term solution which could also act as a way to beautify the beach for future visitors.
Another solution would be to create more breakwaters along the beach. However, that type of activity has actually led to cause erosion on other beaches due to the unnatural diversion of the natural water processes and waves.
For now, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources instead will investigate installing a geotube to contain the sand which then can be redeposited on Playa Norte. They are also considering moving sand from other locations to backfill the beach in the area.
The officials on Isla Mujeres should announce what action will be taken as both short-term and long-term solutions shortly after the end of the peak winter holiday travel season.
Tips for Travelers
For now, travelers will have to work around the lack of “beach” on the popular tourist beach of Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres.
There is still plenty of space available for sunbathers to enjoy their winter vacation on Playa Norte. Travelers will have to arrive early to secure a lounging spot on the very popular beach and expect to share the sand in close proximity to other vacation travelers in the area.
Visitors will have to definitely be creative to enjoy their day in the sun at the popular tourist hotspot.
It may not make for the best vacation getaway enjoying the sun, surf and sand on this individual beach, but hopefully, a solution to protect the beach will improve the situation for future travelers.
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