What is seaweed? Is there still seaweed in Cancun?

The paradise resort of Cancun has been hitting the news lately, reporting that the beautiful beaches are full of Sargazo (seaweed) and as such, the destination is no longer the spectacular resort that is in the hearts of its millions of yearly visitors. This is not true! In this blog, we are not going to post false information, we are going to speak the truth about this phenomenon which has invaded our beautiful beaches. Also we will provide some recommendations about what you can do if the seaweed is present during your Cancun vacations.

* Check out our winter 2019 update for the latest information on the current seaweed conditions in Cancun!

First, in order to continue with this topic, we should understand what seaweed is and what is causing this outbreak?

What is seaweed?

Seaweed is the group name given to many different species of floating marine plants and algae, which due to climate change, over fishing and all the dangerous residue which finds its way to the sea, has affected the Mexican Caribbean coasts. This species of algae involves an oxidation process, the main consequences are; a bad, fetid smell and a significant color change of the clear turquiose waters of the Caribbean.
The seaweed also contains tiny micro-organisms, similar to those of jelly fish, which can cause skin irritations. Interesting and worrying, don’t you think?

Where does seaweed come from?

This seaweed is also known as ‘Sargazo’ or ‘Sargassum’, it supposedly comes from the Sargazo Sea in the Atlantic Ocean. The sargazo is dragged along with the ocean current, to the coasts of some Caribbean countries, including our state of Quintana Roo.
On occasions, the same currents have helped the seaweed to keep moving and drift off the coasts again, along with rainfall and tropical storms which are also important factors which assist in getting rid of the seaweed.

What is being done about the seaweed in Cancun?

The Secretary of Tourism in Quintana Roo and Semarnat are working with businesses, hotels and the locals in general, to avoid the arrival of this phenomenon and particularly so that it doesn’t become an economical issue to the destination and its visitors.

The following main actions are being taken:

1. Cleaning the beaches manually. (volunteers and workers). They remove the seaweed from the shore lines.

2. Machine cleaning. Mass loads of sargazo is removed using specialized machinery.

3. Floating barricades have recently been put into place. They retain the seaweed before it reaches the coasts and also prevent it from affecting our reef areas.

4. There is also a group of small boats in charge of collecting seaweed from the ocean. 

5. A new Project has just been announced involving the production of 4 barges which will be used to haul the sargazo from our waters. This is great news for us and could be the long term solution for this issue

Hopefully the ongoing investigation into the real cause and affect of this outbreak, will help us with various alternatives to beat it.

What’s the real situation with the Cancun Seaweed? 

The seaweed is present in different locations throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. We share the affected areas with you as per the lastest report.

  • Tulum
  • Akumal
  • Puerto Aventuras
  • Playa Del Carmen
  • Puerto Morelos
  • Moon Palace
  • Riviera Cancún
  • Cozumel (East & South)

This is an example forcast of how accurate their social media updates are and how they measure the movement of the sargasso.
The technical director of the ‘Sargazo Monitoring Network Cancun’ headed by ‘SIG Hydroligist Esteban Amaro M’ mentioned..

“With prevailing winds from the Southeast (SE), at a speed of 14-18 knots, the marine currents move in a Southeast to Northeast direction with a variable speed of 56 to 120 cm/s and secondary currents run parallel to the coast in a South to North direction with variable speeds of between 18-36 cm/s.”

There is no a presence of atmospheric phenomenons which significantly affect the distribution and movement of sargasso.

In this report, Amaro was able to predict that the conditions will continue to distribute sargassum in moderate to high intensity, especially towards the central and southern coast of Quintana Roo, for at least the next 48 hours (published May 2019)

It’s really important to understand that, because the seaweed is brought in by the currents, it’s not present on the same beaches all the time. The condition of the beaches can change daily.
As of today, 1st June 2019, there are beaches in Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Cozumel and Holbox that are Sargazo free.

The Cancun seaweed situation can be a little frustrating when you come to enjoy a place so paradisiacal. Without a doubt, this type of phenomenon should not affect your vacation. We have provided some recomendations on what you can do during your vacation if you come across this situation.

Activities to enjoy in Cancun and the Riviera Maya

Visit the clean beaches

You mustn’t worry if you find seaweed on the main beaches in Cancun, as one of the most beautiful beaches that we can recommend is ‘Playa Norte’ on Isla Mujeres. You can visit the island with our friends at Ultramar Ferry at a cost of $21usd round trip from the Hotel Zone.

Or you could take an amazing trip to the Island which includes a snorkel tour to the local reefs. Don’t forget the Cancun Underwater Museum is located in the waters off the coast of Isla Mujeres, so this is also a ‘must do’.

Other beaches with a low amount of seaweed are:

  • Holbox-Punta Cocos
  • Isla Contoy
  • Costa Mujeres
  • Playa Mujeres
  • Isla Blanca
  • Cancún North of the Hotel Zone
  • Cozumel (North)
  • Cozumel Chankaanab
  • Cozumel Palancar
  • Cozumel Playa Mia
  • Laguna de Bacalar

Archaeological Sites in the Yucatan

If you’re looking for a non-beach activity you could vist some of the World’s most famous archaeological sites. Remember, the Yucatan State is close to Quintana Roo and it’s lucky enough to be home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Without a doubt, it’s worth a visit if you’re a history fan and would like to learn about our ancestors.

Take part in a speed boat tour in Cancun

One of our favourite activities is the Jungle Tour, you can drive a speed boat through the Nichupte Lagoon and that’s not all, the tour includes snorkeling at Punta Nizuc where as well as the natural reef, you can see some of the MUSA statues. Another fab activity in Cancun is the SkyRider; during which you can appreciate all of Cancun from the air, sargazo and all!

If you’re not a fan of the salt water, you will probably love this extreme sport. We invite you to participate in our Flowrider activity. A few minutes with our guides and you will soon become a pro.

Surfing is considered an extreme sport in Cancun, it requires some practise and concentration in order to dominate the waves. If you’re not sure about trying it out in the ocean, we have the solution for you; a wave simulator called the ‘Flowrider’. This activity helps you practise and gain the confidence required to surf. Our staff are highly trained and will provide intruction and assistance where needed.

Explore Cozumel

If you’re in Playa Del Carmen, Riviera Maya or Cozumel, we invite you to take our SubSee Tour. It’s a semi-submerged boat that will take you on an underwater journey to the Cozumel reefs. Apart from being part of the Mesoamerican Reef it’s also considered the second largest barrier reef in the World.

Purchase our day pass and obtain an incredible discount to take up to 10 activities in Cancun.

The bottom line is please do not let the Sargazo Scare affect the planning or enjoyment of your vacations. These are valuable links which will allow you to see the beaches via a live webcam and covers different points of the hotelzone.

As you can see, today there is seaweed present around Punta Cancun (km 9) but a very light amount around the hotel Live Aqua (km 12.5).

Happy Vacations!!