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Why Beaches On This Popular Island Near Cancun Are Disappearing

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According to several media reports, beaches on the stunning tropical island of Holbox are slowly beginning to disappear due to growing erosion rates. 

a white sand beach in holbox with palm trees

Rising sea levels and powerful tropical storms are two of the main factors behind the recent phenomenon, prompting concern among travelers seeking to enjoy the location’s pristine white-sand beaches.

As tropical storms intensify and the risk of flooding remains high, businesses in Holbox are calling for officials to take a stronger stance on the issue.

With that in mind, here’s the latest on beach erosion in Holbox and how it’s affecting travel on the beautiful island.

erosion on a sand in the mexican caribbean

Holbox Businesses Set Up Fences To Protect Beaches Amid Erosion Concerns

Even though beaches can be found across the Mexican Caribbean state of Quintana Roo, few locations can compete with Holbox’s white-sand shores. 

The quaint tropical island, situated just several hours north of Cancun, is widely regarded as one of the best destinations for travelers seeking remote nature, white-sand beaches, and crystal-clear waters.

Wooden hut in the water on the beach of the paradisiacal island of Holbox in Mexico

But this year, beaches on the tiny island are facing a new type of obstacle: erosion. Comprised of fine sand particles, Holbox beaches are gradually shrinking as sea levels rise, leaving less and less space for travelers to enjoy one of the island’s most popular attractions. 

To make matters worse, dozens of businesses, from modest street vendors to beach clubs & boutique hotels, also operate on Holbox beaches, leaving a significantly smaller section of beach for use. 

a sunny day on a beach in holbox

Fortunately, erosion is reportedly mainly affecting beaches in northern Holbox, close to the island’s small but compact downtown area. The location is also home to the vast majority of services & businesses on the tropical island. 

Intrepid travelers can still find countless beaches across the island, many of which can only be reached via boat, such as Punta Mosquito. 

As a response to growing levels of erosion, a number of businesses – including hotels & beach clubs – have illegally begun to set up fences to prevent the general public from gaining access to certain sections of Holbox’s beaches to prevent further erosion. 

a white sand beach and clear water in holbox

While the move may temporarily help protect local beaches, it has caused outrage among travelers, many of whom come to the tropical island to enjoy its stunning nature.

Moreover, it contravenes regional environmental regulations, which state that beaches on Holbox are public protected areas and must thus remain open to all travelers. 

Officials are currently said to be reviewing the situation in light of multiple traveler complaints, although no concrete action has been taken thus far to oblige businesses to reopen access to certain sections of local beaches.

Flood Cancun Downtown

Erosion has been a major issue across several Mexican Caribbean hotspots this year, affecting hotspots like Isla Mujeres & Playa del Carmen. 

According to environmental experts, climate change is likely to make coastal erosion worse, as more wind, waves, and floods gradually wash away sand in beaches throughout the Mexican Caribbean. 

Despite a general worsening of the situation, officials remain committed to protecting the region’s white-sand beaches, bringing in more sand when needed and improving vegetation levels. 

Tourists Standing in Sargassum On a Beach in Cancun, Mexico

Due to its small size and thin coastline, Holbox is particularly vulnerable to erosion.

With visitor numbers expected to increase this summer, travelers may have to seek out beaches outside of the island’s dense downtown.

This year, officials on the popular island have invested heavily in improving the destination’s infrastructure to help it cope with flooding, an issue that has plagued Holbox travelers over the past several months.

As a result, Holbox is better prepared to deal with environmental catastrophes.

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Alex Jones

Wednesday 3rd of April 2024

I was in HolBox in February some street where flooded from sea surge, some say also with sewage. In any event I have seen some rudimental barriers. My front beach hotel had few , really ugly and not sure would do much to protect anything. May be to built those bungalows on stilts like have seen in the Philippines.