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Sargassum In Playa Del Carmen Will Exceed 2022 Levels, With Season Beginning In March

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The shores of Cancun and the surrounding region may be practically sargassum-free at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that sargassum season isn’t approaching. In a local report this week, it was announced that the sargassum levels in parts of the Mexican Caribbean will exceed last year’s levels. The update was released by the University of South Florida, and this is not the best news for travelers looking to enjoy a beach getaway. We’ve got all you need to know about the latest report and more in this post below. 

Tropical mexican beach landscape panorama with clear turquoise blue water and seaweed sargazo in Playa del Carmen Mexico.

How Much Sargassum Is Expected In 2023?

In the news article, it was highlighted that the nearby beach getaway destination of Playa del Carmen will be hit the hardest by the smelly brown seaweed this year. According to the report, over 37,000 tons of sargassum arrived on the shores of Playa del Carmen in 2022. The amounts of sargassum were so vast, and we even reported back in September that authorities had done more cleaning up of the seaweed all year than they had at any point over the past six years.

Massive Arrival of Sargassum on Playa del Carmen Beach.

“The numbers up to December 31st of last year are quite strong because we had a total of 37,500 tons of sargassum. This year we are preparing for an arrival that is just as intense or higher,” stated Lourdes Varguez Campo, the director of Zofemat. Translated, Zofemat is an acrocym which stands for Land Maritime Federal Zone, whose offices are in Cancun.

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man on beach with sargassum

Authorities Preparing For Sargassum Clean Up With A Big Budget

There’s a budget set to deal with the sargassum once it inevitably washes up on the shores of the Riviera Maya, and this includes a clean up plan. Director Varguez explained in the report that they have already budgeted 40 million pesos for the collection and clean up of the sargassum for the upcoming season. 

If you’re traveling in Playa del Carmen at the moment, you may notice some reddish-colored type of sargassum along the beach. Over the first two days of the new year, almost 5 tonnes of this red algae was collected by local authorities.

Workers Cleaning Sargassum from Playa del Carmen Beach wit wheelbarrows and shovels.

So, it’s safe to say that this clean up project will continue to be a huge endeavor in the years to come. It was even reported last month that new equipment will also be used to deal with the influx of sargassum in Playa del Carmen and the surrounding region this year.

If you’re traveling soon to the region and want the latest updates on the quality of the Playa del Carmen beaches, the sargassum levels can be checked at any time via the Quintana Roo Sargassum Monitoring Network. 

Sargassum on beach

Avoiding Sargassum: The Best Travel Season In The Mexican Caribbean

The high travel season for Cancun and Playa del Carmen is typically from December to February, and one of the main reasons for this is the ideal climate during this time (not scorching hot as in the summer), and this includes the absence of sargassum. Because the substance – especially large amounts of it -makes the water practically un-swimmable, traveling when the beaches are free (as can be) of sargassum is becoming more of a priority for tourists. 

tourists standing in the clear waters in Cancun in the hotel zone on a very sunny day.

Taking this into account, Cancun and the Riviera Maya’s busy season seems to come earlier every year, with tourists swarming the pristine beaches as early as October once the hurricane season dies down.

Whether you’re visiting the Mexican Caribbean for solely the amazing views and vibes, or if you are an aquaphile and want to dive right in (literally) and enjoy all of the water sports and activities that the region provides, sargassum can truly interrupt your plans for a perfect vacation. 


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Thursday 23rd of March 2023

I was just here (Feb 2023) and it was not nearly as bad as May 2022 when the smell was just ridiculous and overwhelming, even far from the beach. Granted, I was pregnant at the time but everyone agreed it was BAD. I know the hotels do everything they can to remove it, but it absolutely destroys the option of the true beach vacation. I remember going here when I was young and you could swim in the ocean and wade in without a care, in pristine, clear blue water much like you do on the Gulf of Florida. Now, however, you really would not want to enter the ocean with the amount of seaweed that is present. It is not the same, aesthetically speaking, as it once was. It is now a resort vacation in my mind where my family spends 95% of our time at the pool whereas, when I was growing up with my family and we would come here for Spring Break we spent 95% of our time on the beach and in the ocean.


Wednesday 15th of March 2023

can you feed animals the sargassum?? it is a commodity


Tuesday 10th of January 2023

Just head to Isla Mujeres. Problem solved.