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Seaweed Piles Up On Cancun Beaches – What Visitors Need To Know

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The battle with seaweed (sargassum) is on for Cancun hotels and city workers. The Cancun Sun was on the ground in the famous hotel zone of Cancun this week to observe the seaweed accumulations over the course of the day. Here is exactly what to expect as visitors to Cancun during seaweed season.

Seaweed Piles Up On Cancun Hotel Zone Beaches - What Visitors Need To Know

Can you Still Swim In The Ocean During Seaweed Season?

Although the seaweed season runs from May until August, swimming is still permitted on all Cancun beaches. Visitors should be aware to swim in areas that the water is very blue. Avoid areas where the water has become dark green due to seaweed floating in high concentrations. It can get tangled around your legs making it harder to swim.

From the beach you'll be able to see exactly the best swimming areas as they will be a brilliant blue. Lifeguards in some areas also blow whistles to direct swimmers away from rip currents and large patches of sargassum.

Cancun beach busy with tourists
Avoid swimming in areas with dark water as shown above on the left

Is The Seaweed Dangerous To People?

In my experience over the course of four days, I did not encounter anyone who had a reaction to the seaweed. Those with very sensitive skin or open cuts and wounds should avoid all contact with the ocean and the seaweed. I went swimming multiple times coming in direct contact with sargassum over multiple occasions and it did not cause any rashes or reactions. Visitors should keep their mouths closed at all times while swimming in the ocean to avoid ingesting sea water. Stepping on the seaweed did not cause any issues and it's quite soft.

According to Florida Health Authorities ‘the seaweed itself cannot harm your health, tiny sea creatures that live in Sargassum can cause skin rashes and blisters.'


The Seaweed Smells As It Decomposes But Is Harmless Outdoors

As the seaweed decomposes on the beach it creates Hydrogen sulfide. According to health authorities in Florida, Hydrogen sulfide is not known to cause cancer in humans. If you are exposed to hydrogen sulfide for a long time in an enclosed space with little air flow, it can affect your health. However, hydrogen sulfide levels in an area like the beach is not expected to harm health.


Will The Seaweed Ruin My Vacation To Cancun?

For most people the answer is no. Many tourists on the beach went about their vacation like any other day. There are still beautiful areas of the water free from the floating seaweed that are great for swimming. The seaweed only accumulates in large piles at the water line. A quick hop over them and you'll forget they exist. As for the smell I honestly didn't notice it but it can be stronger in areas with less wind or calmer waters.

City authorities and hotel workers try to clear the beaches of seaweed every morning but it does tend to accumulate as the day progresses and beaches become busy.

In terms of grabbing the perfect photo just angle your camera a little and you can still get that perfect shot of the brilliant blue waters and the beach.

Some Areas Are Worse Than Others

If you find yourself in an area with large piles of accumulating seaweed and large patches floating in the water just walk a few hundred feet. There might just be a perfect spot just down the beach. Currents trap it in certain locations making some areas worse than others.

Sargassum building on beach during the day
Sargassum building on beach during the day
Same beach as above half mile away
Same beach as above half mile away

Don't let the seaweed ruin your vacation. Yes it would be ideal to have none but for me it wasn't a deal breaker. Enjoy the white sand beaches, gorgeous aqua blue waters and relax. Stressing over the seaweed won't make it go away.

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