What’s the news on Seaweed in Cancun?
Despite the investment, seaweed is, and will continue to be, a problem for beach-goers in many locations…..it’s not a “Mexico” problem, it’s a “tropical climate” problem, occurring in many places around the equator, where beaches and shorelines tend to be tourism magnets.
Why is the seaweed so bad in the Caribbean?
With an ever-growing global population, much of the world is increasing agricultural acreage and output, the result of which is that for a number of years the oceans have seen increasing amounts of agricultural run-off, particularly fertilizers and other nutrient-rich waste, that together with warmer ocean temps results in an overgrowth or “bloom” of algae. The size and depth of these blooms ebbs and flows based on weather conditions and currents, but is seen by most experts as a problem that will only continue to worsen.
If you’re interested in a fuller explanation of the seaweed problem in Cancun, here’s a terrific article from science.Org:
What all that means is that some years will be very bad for washed-ashore seaweed, other years won’t be so bad. And since weather conditions can change overnight, predicting how bad it will be is very difficult for anyone to forecast.
“The issue is that we never know what it’s going to be like – we can have a week or two weeks where it’s very clear and then all of a sudden overnight it washes in,” says Larry Basham of Elite Island Resorts, which runs St James’s Club.
How Bad Is Seaweed in Cancun?
It’s bad. It’s bad all over the Gulf of Mexico, including southeastern US beaches as well as numerous other Caribbean countries, but when folks head to Mexico for a beach getaway, they don’t want to have to wade through piles of stinky rotting seaweed to get to the water. And it’s having a negative effect on tourism wherever it’s making landfall.
SO, Q-Roo (the state’s rapper name) is stepping up it’s game and has contracted with a company to use a plastic barriers (made out of canvas, with buoys to float) to block most of the seaweed in the Caribbean from reaching the shore.
Officials don’t expect it to solve the problem (because it depends on the currents, ocean temps, and the wind), but claim that it can reduce the quantity of seaweed that arrives at the beaches.
And for you fish-huggers, don’t worry about the fauna, because the Ecology and Environment Secretary swears that they can just “swim right under it”.(Map courtesy @RedSargazo on Facebook)
Our most popular FAQ on this topic:
That’s a great question! As the ocean temperature changes so does the seaweed problem, some years there is little to no seaweed (also called “sargassum”), in other years there is an over-abundance of the stinky stuff. Weather — sometimes far offshore — also has an effect. These factors can be hard to predict, and sometimes last for weeks or months, often changing overnight.
Your friends might have a perfect seaweed-free vacation just the week before your trip to the same destination, when you might encounter a daily pile-up of seaweed.
What that means is that it’s hard for anyone, expert or not, to tell you exactly when or where to go to avoid seaweed, but you do have SOME options.
- Consider an all-inclusive in Playa Mujeres or Costa Mujeres (north of Cancun), where they get *some* protection from the seaweed from Isla Mujeres (which also blocks some of the ocean’s larger waves, resulting in calmer water).
- There are several great all-inclusive resorts in Isla Mujeres where there is no seaweed at all on the west-facing (inward aka leeward) coast of the island. We’re really looking forward to a stay at the brand-new Check PricesSecrets Impression Isla Mujeres when it opens!
- A few resorts – such as the Check PricesHotel Xcaret and the Check PricesHard Rock Riviera Maya – have a “lagoon”-style beach area featuring either natural or man-made off-shore reefs that block most waves, and most of the seaweed, but still let you wade and snorkel amongst the fishies.
- On the opposite coast, the all-inclusives in Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, and Riviera Nayarit, rarely suffer from seaweed problems that can sometimes plague the Caribbean side of Mexico.
It’s also important to know that the government of popular Caribbean tourist destinations including Mexico, along with many in the tourism industry, are now spending millions of dollars to combat the problem. One solution being implemented is off-shore nets that will keep the stuff from hitting the beach.
Want to know more about when/where/why seaweed is more of a problem than it used to be?
Mexico Seaweed Report
Follow the latest seaweed updates with the Riviera Maya News’ Sargassum Report.