The long-awaited sargassum barriers that were promised for Tulum are finally being installed after a considerable delay.
Originally the construction was promised to begin at the end of April 2023, and so far, no explanation has been given for the delay.
Less Than Promised
Around 650 feet (200 meters) of sargassum barriers are currently being installed along the beaches of Tulum National Park.
This area is home to the popular Playa Pescadores as well as the super popular Tulum ruins, which draw huge numbers of travelers here each year.
Although the news that this construction is finally underway is welcome, it is still only a fraction of the 1.5 miles (2.4 km) promised for Tulum, which is meant to stretch all the way from Plaza Mezzanine to the Tulum archaeological zone.
Furthermore, travelers will be frustrated to know that while sargassum has been washing up this past month all along the Tulum coast, a specialist sargassum removal ship has remained unused.
The reason given for this is that these specialized ships will be used in tandem with the barrier system and, on their own, aren’t capable of making a meaningful dent in the amount of sargassum affecting Tulum’s beachfront.
Divert, Not Catch
The information on the overall plan to fix Tulum’s sargassum problem isn’t widely communicated to the locals or travelers.
And the Mexican Navy, which is responsible for this issue, hasn’t released a roadmap saying when the full barrier installation will be completed.
But an official involved in one of the government organizations attached to the project did state that the plan for the barriers is no longer to catch sargassum as it gets close to the shore.
Instead, the plan now is to use the barriers to divert sargassum away from Tulum completely, where it will then be dragged further out to sea where the currents will naturally carry the sargassum away from the Riviera Maya.
The Clock Is Ticking
While issues of local infrastructure don’t normally factor too highly into a traveler’s vacation planning, the issue of sargassum has become a huge thorn in the side of both the tourism industry and tourists.
Sargassum has already heavily affected the whole of the Mexican Caribbean and Riviera Maya this year, but as summer rolls in so too does the high season for sargassum.
The clock is ticking for the authorities to enact the planned sargassum prevention actions and positively affect the situation.
How To Keep Informed
Travelers aren’t completely in the dark when it comes to the sargassum situation. There are several reliable sources that give regular updates on the situation wherever travelers are staying.
One of the most consistent is a Facebook group called Red de Monitoreo del Sargazo de Quintana Roo.
This group publishes a regular sargassum update with an easy-to-understand traffic light system covering every single destination in the Mexican Caribbean and Riviera Maya.
The colors represent the following:
- Blue – No sargassum
- Green – Low level of sargassum
- Yellow – Moderate level of sargassum
- Orange – An abundant level of sargassum
- Light Brown – Extremely high level of sargassum
Don’t Let Sargassum Ruin The Vacation
Sargassum isn’t constantly washing up. Instead, it mostly comes in waves on the back of sea currents and weather.
And what does wash up is usually cleared within a day or two. Although with extremely high amounts, this can take longer.
A beach vacation in Tulum isn’t a thing of the past, but the threat of sargassum does mean that for some days at least, travelers may need to find alternative things to do.
Thankfully, Tulum is more than just a beach destination.
The area has a fantastic mix of traditional Mayan culture, such as the Tulum ruins, and modern fun-filled bars and restaurants.
Whether travelers decide to spend a sargassum day at a lively beach hut with fresh cocktails and the company of people from all around the world or explore the numerous activities available here, a Tulum vacation is far from ruined because of sargassum.
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