Cancun SEAWEED Problem (2022): Everything You Need To Know!

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Cancun is undoubtedly the most popular tourist destination in Mexico. With its beautiful powdery white sand beaches, turquoise water, wild nightlife, affordable all-inclusive packages, and great shopping scene, Cancun attracts millions of tourists every year.

However, Sargassum has been a major problem for Cancun for the past few years along with other popular tourist destinations like Tulum and Playa del Carmen.

Unfortunately, since 2015, the amount of sargassum seaweed washing up on the coastline of Cancun is increasing year after year.

Even in the year 2021, about 44 thousand tons of seaweed were collected along the coastline of Cancun and other destinations on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

Sargassum is a type of algae that, when it lands on beaches, destroys its aesthetic appeal and makes swimming for visitors nearly impossible due to its foul odor. That is why, if you are planning a trip to Cancun in 2022, you should first check the sargassum conditions of the beach you intend to visit.

So, let’s have a look at the current sargassum conditions in Cancun and the forecast for the next few months.

Cancun SEAWEED Problem (2022): Everything You Need To Know!!
Cancun SEAWEED Problem (2022): Ever...

Does Cancun have a Seaweed Problem in 2022?

Does Punta Cana have Seaweed problem

If you’re planning a trip to Cancun, you’re probably wondering is there still a sargassum problem in Cancun in 2022. Unfortunately, the answer is a “Big Yes”.

Recent reports confirm that Cancun and other parts of Mexico’s Caribbean coast will encounter a serious sargassum problem in 2022. Cancun is expected to face the worst sargassum season in the past five years. In fact, the authorities in Cancun are getting ready to deal with the highest levels of sargassum that have been observed on the city’s beaches since 2018.

Until now, a whopping 18 thousand tons of sargassum have been collected on the beaches of Quintana Roo. Since the beginning of 2022, sargassum from the Gulf of Mexico has been continuously washing up on the beaches of Cancun and other parts of Mexico’s Caribbean coastline.

At the time I am writing this article (May 26, 2022), the beaches of Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen are seriously impacted by the arrival of enormous sargassum piles, and the situation is expected to worsen in the coming weeks.

Even though hoteliers, locals, and the Mexican government are working tirelessly day and night to clean sargassum from beaches, their efforts are insufficient to stop the continuous flow of an unprecedented influx of sargassum washing up on their beaches.

Furthermore, the amount of sargassum is predicted to increase significantly further in the next months (April to October) due to rising water temperatures, which stimulates sargassum reproduction.

Sargassum is a type of seaweed that ruins the beauty of beaches by forming brownish, thick layers over their azure waters and making swimming for tourists nearly impossible by releasing a very unpleasant odor.

Therefore, neither tourists nor hoteliers desire the presence of sargassum on their beaches. Unfortunately, according to a recent report from the Sargassum monitoring network, around 41 beaches in Quintana Roo have been identified as having a high concentration of seaweed, while just four beaches have been identified as seaweed-free.

In fact, in April 2022, some of Playa del Carmen’s major beaches were closed down due to huge sargassum piles on the beaches.

Cancun Seaweed Forecast 2022

The current sargassum outbreak on Mexico’s Caribbean coast in 2022 has been deemed “alarming” by Mexican authorities. Many experts have expressed concern that in 2022, Mexico’s Caribbean coast may face the worst sargassum outbreak since 2018.

According to a report published in April 2022 by the University of South Florida’s Optical Oceanography Lab, 6.2 million tons of sargassum were detected in March 2022 in all regions combined, which rises to a whopping 14 million tons in April 2022.

Unfortunately, the concentration of seaweed is expected to increase significantly in the coming months, as about 32,000 tons of sargassum are expected to land on Mexico’s Caribbean coastline in the month of May, according to recent reports.

In other words, the amount of sargassum seaweed washing up on the shores of Cancun is expected to increase significantly in the coming months with the increase in sea temperatures.

However, you must know that Sargassum is a natural occurrence. Therefore, it is unpredictable and very difficult to track. The sargassum level on every beach varies from day to day and season to season.

On some days, you may find large piles of sargassum on the beach, on other days you may find very little sargassum on the same beach, and on other days you may not find any sargassum at all.

In other words, you can’t know for certain what the sargassum conditions will be like on a specific beach the next day.

Cancun Seaweed Season 2022

The sargassum season in Mexico usually runs from April to October. Sargassum is a type of algae that reproduces continually throughout the year thousands of miles off the coast of Mexico in the Sargasso sea. However, it reproduces quickly when the sea temperature is higher.

Unfortunately, due to a rise in sea temperature from April to October, seaweed reproduction accelerates, and massive piles of seaweed land on the beaches of Cancun and other coastal regions.

However, as the temperature begins to decrease in October, seaweed reproduction slows substantially until February.

Best Seaweed free Beaches on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast

Sargassum is a tough to track and unpredictable weed. Sargassum concentration varies from beach to beach, day to day, and location to location. In other words, you never know what the sargassum situation will be on any given beach tomorrow.

However, it is true that most of the beaches on Mexico’s Caribbean coast including Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del carmen are affected by sargassum. In fact, in April 2022, some of the major beaches in Playa del carmen were closed due to massive piles of sargassum on the beaches.

However, there are still places on Mexico’s Caribbean coast where you can enjoy Mexico’s pristine Caribbean beaches without worrying about sargassum. So, let’s find out what are the best places on Mexico’s Caribbean coast where you can enjoy sargassum-free beaches.

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres receives the least amount of sargassum compared to other tourist destinations on Mexico’s Caribbean coastline. Like Cozumel, Isla Mujeres has west-facing beaches that due to their location receive little to no sargassum at all.

Isla Mujeres Playa Norte beach
Image by Marrovi on Wikimedia Commons

Playa Norte which is the most famous beach on the Isla Mujeres and is considered the most beautiful beach in Mexico is also the best beach to visit on the island if you want to enjoy sargassum free beach vacation.

If you want to go to the Isla Mujeres, you will first have to come to Cancun and take a ferry there.

However, we recommend first checking the current sargassum conditions on Playa Norte beach before planning your trip to Isla Mujeres. Here is the link to the live webcam on Playa Norte beach to check current sargassum conditions on Playa Norte beach of Isla Mujeres.

Cozumel

Playa del Carmen, Cozumel
Playa del Carmen, Cozumel

Cozumel, apart from Isla Mujeres, is another place to go if you are looking for sargassum-free beaches. Cozumel’s western shore, due to its geographical conditions, is mostly free of sargassum.

Fortunately, the western shore of Cozumel is its primary tourist zone and the majority of Cozumel’s major beaches and best swimming, and snorkeling sites are also on the western shore. In fact, the number of tourists choosing Cozumel over Cancun is due to Cozumel’s sargassum-free and less congested beaches.

Now, where to stay on cozumel for sargassum free beaches:

If you are looking for a sargassum-free beach vacation, we recommend you to visit the beaches on the southwestern side of Cozumel like Playa Palancar beach and Playa El Cielo beach. Both of these beaches are are the most reliable beaches on the island for a sargassum-free beach experience.

If you want detailed information about current seaweed conditions in Cozumel, you can read this post.

Holbox

Holbox island- Cancun seaweed problem 2022
Image by RODRIGO Rodrigo from Pixabay

Holbox is a small island that is situated on the northern side of the Yucatan peninsula. It is known for its crystal clear blue water, pristine beaches, and relaxed atmosphere.

More crucially, sargassum-free beaches can be found on Holbox throughout the summer season (April to October), when famous tourist locations such as Cancun and Tulum confront severe sargassum problems. Holbox, on the other hand, receives sargassum from October to January.

👉🏻 Related post: Punta Cana SEAWEED Problem (2022): Everything You Need To Know!!

Things to Do if there is Sargassum in Cancun

Sargassum is, unfortunately, would be a big concern in the coming months for anyone visiting Cancun.

However, remember that even if you come across sargassum while vacationing in Cancun, there are innumerable other things to do in Cancun besides visiting its gorgeous beaches.

Cancun did not become the most popular vacation destination in Central America solely because of its beautiful beaches.

Apart from its magnificent beaches, there are endless things to do and explore in Cancun, from its upscale shopping malls to its rowdy nightlife to its mystical Mayan jungles that can easily keep you busy for the duration of your vacation.

Lively Nightlife

If you are a party animal, there is no doubt that Cancun is one of the best places to go for you. Cancun is undoubtedly one of the top nightlife destinations in the world.

As the sun sets over the horizon, Cancun transforms into a hive of buzzing nightclubs. You will find numerous nightclubs and pubs in Cancun where you can spend the entire night dancing and drinking.

World-class Shopping Destination

In addition to its wild nightlife, Cancun is renowned for its world-class shopping malls. Cancun’s upscale shopping malls, plazas, and marketplaces make it the perfect vacation for shopaholics.

These shopping malls have everything from cheap souvenirs to contemporary jewelry, cosmetics, and perfumes, as well as traditional Mexican crafts.

Especially, we recommend, La Isla shopping mall and Mercado 28, which are one of the most popular shopping spots in Cancun.

Adventure Activities

Explore endless adventure activities in Cancun. From ATV tours to Ziplining to Jungle boat tours, there are endless things to do and explore in Cancun for adventure enthusiasts.

Day trip to Isla Mujeres and Cozumel

If you’re a beach lover who happened to be on vacation in Cancun when sargassum arrives, don’t worry. Take a day trip to Isla Mujeres or Cozumel from Cancun. By ferry, you can reach Isla Mujeres in 30 minutes and Cozumel in 40 minutes from Cancun.

Both Isla Mujeres and Cozumel are Mexico’s hidden beach paradises that are renowned for their pristine beaches and world-class snorkeling locations. Cozumel’s and Isla Mujeres’ west-facing beaches are often free of sargassum due to their geographical locations.

Furthermore, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel provide better beach experiences than Cancun since they are less crowded and less commercialized than Cancun.

Magical Cenotes

Cenotes are natural swimming pools that can be found in Mayan jungles and are quite famous among tourists due to their natural refreshing properties.

In fact, cenotes were very important to Mayan people, who believed that cenotes had natural healing properties. So, even if you are unable to access Cancun’s beaches due to sargassum, you can still enjoy these magically refreshing cenotes.

Visit Mystical Chichen Itza

If you love history, you should visit this mystical Mayan city which is located approximately an hour from Cancun. Chichen Itza was once an important religious center and home to over 30,000 Mayans.

It is now home to a number of ancient Mayan monuments, such as temples, pyramids, and cemeteries, that provide glimpses into its mystical and spectacular history.

Explore Cancun’s Underwater Museum

MUSA, or Cancun Underwater Museum, is located near Cancun about 30 feet below the water and features over 500 life-size sculptures. This museum and its various life-sized sculptures can be explored by diving or snorkeling.

It was built to conserve Cancun’s beautiful coral reef by providing divers with an alternate location. This museum has now become one of Cancun’s most popular attractions.

Is Sargassum harmful to Humans?

Sargassum seaweed is generally not harmful to humans while floating on ocean currents. When sargassum lands on the beach, the problem begins. Sargassum starts to decompose on the beach and releases hydrogen sulfide gas.

Even at low levels, inhaling this gas can cause eye irritation and breathing issues. Apart from that, hydrogen sulfide gas has an unpleasant odor similar to rotten eggs, making swimming and other water activities almost impossible for visitors.

How to check current sargassum conditions before planning a vacation

Live Cameras

The best way to check the current state of beaches in Cancun (or any destination on Mexico’s Caribbean coast) is via live cams. Many hotels or resorts in Cancun have live cameras facing the beaches. These live cams allow you to easily track the current sargassum conditions on the beaches of Cancun.

Check this website

Sargassummonitering.com is a website that shows the map where you can check the present sargassum conditions on different destinations on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. You can visit this website to find out which destinations on the Mexican Caribbean coast are currently facing the sargassum problem.

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About the author
Chetan Patil
Hello there, wanderlust. I've been traveling around the world with my friend Aditya for the last three years since finally quitting my job, and life has been a thrilling roller coaster ride so far. Traveling is a spiritual experience for me, not just something I do for fun. Traveling has taught me that "the only certain thing about life is uncertainty." So, embrace uncertainty and make the most out of every moment.

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