Sargassum didn’t affect the beaches of Isla Holbox until recently. When these macroalgae hit the beaches of Cancun, many tourists got away from the smelly seaweed deposits on the mainland by escaping to the island’s beaches.
Unfortunately, in 2023 Isla Holbox does have a seaweed problem, and you need to know everything about it before you visit.
Isla Holbox Seaweed Problem – All The Facts About The 2023 Seaweed Problem
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The Sargassum situation on the beaches of Isla Holbox changes almost daily, but there is some information that is reliable and can be used to help you before you visit the island.
Let’s examine the situation in detail.
What Exactly Is the Seaweed Problem?
Sargassum seaweed is a type of algae that is rootless and buoyant and floats around the ocean.
In the open sea, sargassum is not a problem as it can soak up carbon dioxide and provides a vital habitat for fish, crabs, shrimp, and other marine fauna, as well as turtles and birds.
The sargassum belt stretches across the entire Atlantic Ocean from West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s thought that its growth is partly a result of the increased use of fertilizers and chemicals, which find their way from rivers into the sea, as well as climate change and the warming of the ocean.
While it’s essential in balancing the marine ecosystem, the mass of sargassum has grown to record levels this year, weighing a total of thirteen million tons and covering five thousand five hundred miles.
Once it reaches the islands, it can destroy the local marine habitat and drastically impact fishing operations. Sargassum begins to rot after 48 hours on the beaches, releasing foul-smelling hydrogen sulfide and choking (literally and figuratively) the local tourist industry.
Current Seaweed Conditions On Isla Holbox
Holbox is situated off the northern shores of the Yucatan peninsula, separating the Caribbean Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico.
The Gulf Stream sweeps sargassum into the island only at certain times when there is a change in the currents (usually resulting from a storm), and even then, only in relatively small quantities.
While there have been significant overall increases in the amount of seaweed deposited on its beaches, the current situation on Isla Holbox is that levels this year have begun to improve, following the pattern of previous years, when the beaches were sargassum-free from April through October.
The weather, though, as we have seen in the first few months of 2023, can be unpredictable, and the situation can change from day to day. It is thought that from the Easter weekend, Holbox beaches should be seaweed-free and the perfect place for a few days’ breakaway.
The hotels are very proactive in keeping their seafronts pristine and are a great source of information – I suggest you check with them for the latest updates.
Isla Holbox Forecast For 2023
There’s no doubt that the sargassum bloom is getting bigger every year because of changing weather patterns, climate change, and increased ocean pollution.
As a result, there is little likelihood of the problem diminishing any time soon. That’s the bad news – the positive aspect is that Isla Holbox is less likely to be affected than the beaches of Cancun, mainland Mexico, and other Caribbean resorts.
It has been reported that the seaweed hitting the beaches of Holbox differs from that affecting other Caribbean beaches, and no heavy machinery is required to clean them.
The sargassum is naturally removed by the prevailing south-easter winds, and the authorities on the island as well as the hotels themselves, not relying totally on nature but being proactive, have employed personnel to manually clear the beaches of seaweed.
In addition to these measures, proactive steps have been implemented on Isla Holbox to limit the impact of sargassum coming ashore by using dunes and other barriers to limit the spread of the seaweed.
It is also collected and, instead of being dumped, is used as a nutrition-rich compost, which is a positive side-effect of the seaweed influx.
Overall, the consensus is that, while the seaweed problem is serious, the rest of 2023 should allow visitors to enjoy the beaches of Isla Holbox until mid-October without it affecting their vacation.
As the weather begins to cool, the prevailing winds will bring the growing mass of sargassum closer to shore, and it may be a problem from mid-October through to the end of January.
After that, if the pattern is similar to that of past years, volumes of seaweed should decrease, and by March 2024, the beaches should once again be pristine.
Most Affected Beaches On Isla Holbox In 2023
In 2022 Isla Holbox was sargassum-free for almost the whole year, but in January 2023, there was an influx of smelly seaweed, which affected the beaches and led to some tourists being disappointed by their experience.
The beach of Playa Holbox has been most affected, but it’s always a temporary problem in Holbox and shouldn’t put you off visiting this beach or any other on the island.
Best Seaweed-free Isla Holbox Beaches in 2023
Punta Mosquito, on the northern tip of the island, is always unaffected and seaweed free, as are most of the other beaches.
With the Gulf Stream pushing most of the seaweed mass into Miami and the mainland Caribbean beaches in Cancun before it reaches the island, you can understand why tourists have flocked to Holbox in the last few years.
Playa Punta Cocos is another unspoiled beach with no commercial development, pristine white sands, and crystal clear waters – but beware of the mosquitos after sunset!
The Isla Holbox seaweed problem in 2023 is one to be aware of, but you shouldn’t put off visiting the island. For the period until October, whatever sargassum reaches the island beaches will be quickly cleared, and many of them will be unaffected.
It’s difficult to forecast the future and how the Sargassum belt will develop, but for the time being, check things out but don’t delay your visit.