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Sargassum Arrives On Cancun Beaches Early – Here’s What Travelers Need To Know

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Travelers want white sand and crystal clear blue waters when they visit the Mexican Caribbean, but that’s not always possible, especially during sargassum season. Sargassum is the annoying, smelly seaweed that washes up on these gorgeous shores for months. And, recent concerns regarding this seaweed showing up off-season have arisen.

According to recent information shared on Mexican news outlets and videos on social media channels, sargassum seaweed has been washing up on the shore in Cancun in the past few days. There are also multiple videos and images showing beaches in Playa del Carmen covered with this seaweed.

Aerial view of cancun beach with sargassum on it

The sargassum season usually starts in April and can last through October in Cancun—it was officially over by that time last year, and we all expected a sargassum-free winter, but its recent presence in January and February has been making experts, locals, and travelers wonder if the season has already started.

Sargassum Seaweed In Cancun 

Travelers already started showing on social media what beaches in Cancun look like covered with sargassum seaweed. A user, jbaymedia, shared a video during the weekend showing a mountain of sargassum piled up for cleaning. “There’s a lot of seaweed here, but they do a great job cleaning it,” they stated.

@jbaymedia #rivieramaya #seaweed #problem isn’t as bad as it seems on the resorts but if you don’t have someone scooping it up it can get messy #travellife #oceanlife #seaweeddance #cancun #playadelcarmen #traveltiktok ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

According to local reports, the beaches most affected in Cancun are Nizuc playa Coral, ChacMool, Del Niño, Delfines, Marlin, Ballenas, and Las Perlas. Local authorities are already taking action and have been cleaning with gondolas and dumping trucks. They expect that this strategy will be sufficient so that it won’t accumulate and people can enjoy a good time at the beach. 

The Oceanographic Institute of the Gulf and Caribbean Sea has announced that seaweed might continue to arrive. “It is expected that the presence of sargassum will continue to increase gradually during the month of February, with a tendency to increase the alert level,” the institute stated.

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@sofimguina Como el sargazo arruinó la playa en menos de una hora 😭 #sargazo #playadelcarmen #misahorros #mexico #cancun ♬ noo mis ahorros mi dinero – 😈toxi😈

What Travelers Visiting Cancun Must Know

It is still soon to declare that sargassum season has officially started, and the amount of sargassum isn’t worrying yet. Travelers visiting Cancun soon should note that local authorities are cleaning the beaches and that there are still great locations where the seaweed isn’t present. 

@angelicanalle Dejen de contaminar el mundo. Se supone que la temporada de sargazo es hasta abril 🥲 #xpuha #beach #playa #xpuharivieramaya ♬ Who Loves The Sun feat. Jo.Ke (Edit) – Nu & Jo.Ke

The Quintana Roo sargassum monitoring network publishes frequent updates on Facebook showing which beaches in Cancun have sargassum and the seaweed levels. According to their most recent update, there are sargassum-free beaches in Isla Mujeres and the north of Cancun. Other locations, such as the west coast of Cozumel island, have very low levels of sargassum, and beaches in the hotel zone, Holbox, Bacalar, and Costa Mujeres, have been cleaned.

Sargassum In The Caribbean Sea

Travelers must also bear in mind that even though this seaweed can be nasty looking and have an unpleasant smell — similar to rotten eggs — it is usually harmless to humans. There might be certain animals and sea creatures traveling in it, and it is not recommended to touch it to avoid allergies, but it shouldn’t hurt swimmers and beachgoers.

Person Walking At The Beach Over Sargassum Algae

Local Authorities And Hotels Getting Ready

Tourism in Cancun is part of Mexico’s economic core, so private and public entities are doing their best to solve the current and unexpected sargassum situation. Hotels and resorts are already cleaning and getting organized, and the government is also taking action.

Sargassum seaweed in Tulum beaches

The Director of the Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone (Zofemat), Lourdes Várguez Ocampo, said: “Next week, we should already have the containers at each sargassum collection point.” And added: “The sargassum boats should arrive in April, which is when the landfall is much more intense”.

Tractor cleaning sargassum in Miami Beach

It is uncertain whether this natural phenomenon will get much worse in Cancun this year, but experts have warned about an increasing presence of sargassum seaweed during the past few years. According to the Optical Oceanography Laboratory at the University of South Florida (USF), a major sargassum bloom will be impacting the Caribbean in 2023, and Cancun is on the radar.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Friday 10th of February 2023

Further about Tulum, I'd tell travelers to avoid. Crowded, very very touristy, super expensive, and now the sargassum. Run


Sunday 5th of November 2023

@Kai, yes, ruined several years ago; and ruin completing in Bacalar.


Tuesday 7th of March 2023


Agree. We took a day trip to Tulum during our trip just after Christmas. Total waste of time. No sargassum, but too much traffic, too many people.


Friday 10th of February 2023

Here in Tulum and I can say the sargassum is everywhere. It's very unpleasant. Go elsewhere if you can.