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This Tropical Island Near Cancun Is Your Best Bet For No Sargassum Seaweed

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Popular tourist destinations like Cancun and Tulum generally enjoy a sargassum-free winter, but the heavier humidity in March often results in recurrences. This year, the brown algae is expected at record levels, and if you'd like to completely avoid it while vacationing in the Mexican Caribbean, this tropical island is your best bet:

Aerial View Of Isla Mujeres In The Mexican Caribbean, Riviera Maya, Mexico, near cancun

Isla Mujeres To Remain Free Of Sargassum From March

Isla Mujeres is one of the trendiest destinations in Mexico, being close to selling out this season as wellness-driven travelers look to escape the crazy party scene on the Mayan Riviera coast. Additionally, it is where they will find the least amount of sargassum in Spring due to both geographical advantage and numerous prevention efforts.

First, a bit of context: sargassum is a type of algae that floats as opposed to attaching to the seabed. As a result of the build-up, it usually washes ashore: despite being a living organism, and its reproduction a natural phenomenon (fueled by rising temperatures), the mounting deposits give beaches a ‘dirty' look – not to mention they smell pretty bad.

Beach Cleaner Removing Sargassum Seaweed From A Beach, near cancun

As we have learned already, other than global warming, two of the main reasons behind sargassum making it to land are strong winds and rough seas. ‘Sargassum season' begins anywhere between March and May and lasts through October. Interestingly, the postcard-perfect Isla Mujeres is never impacted. This is why:

Isla Mujeres Has Geography On Its Side

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Playa Norte Seen From The Water In Isla Mujeres, Caribbean Sea, Mexico, near cancun

Although it is a stone's throw away from Cancun, with crossings taking on average 15 minutes, Mujeres is worlds apart from all the hustle and bustle. As an insular municipality with a distinct culture, it is known for its pre-Columbian heritage, as the ancient home of a Mayan goddess, relaxed atmosphere, family-friendly beaches, and more recluse resorts.

There is still an abundance of bars on the island, but it's clear vacationers choosing to spend most of their time in Mujeres have different expectations compared to youngsters heading straight to Tulum‘s next hippie-chic, jungle rave. There are basically two main reasons why Isla Mujeres is your safest pick for traveling to the Mexican Caribbean from March:

Tourists Taking Picture Of An Iguana Statue In A Tropical Setting Facing The Caribbean Sea In Isla Mujeres, The Mexican Caribbean, Mexico
  • As the winter crowds dissipate, the insular municipality will be a lot less crowded
  • There is a high probability its landmark Playa Norte beach will face very limited sargassum levels – if any at all

Playa Norte faces the West, where currents are not as powerful, and waters are extremely calm. This means they are not only unlikely to deliver seaweed to the shore but that conditions for swimming are perfect. As the Cancun Sun reports, the ‘North Beach' is almost always spared the phenomenon, responsible for tarnishing the pristine look of the mainland.

sargassum beach mexico

The Top Rated Beach On The Island

Playa Norte offers a wide range of activities suitable for all ages. Both children and adults can enjoy supervised aquatic activities, like scuba diving and snorkeling in a beautiful coral reef, where turtles and colorful fish can be spotted, and paddleboarding. On top of that, extroverts will find that the beach is lined with well-frequented clubs.

beach club dancing

Relaxing sunbathing spot by day and a lively social scene by night: the most famous beach club in the area, the Green Demon, is open daily from 10 am to 8 pm, though it starts to get busier after sunset. Similarly, Tarzan Beach Club serves drinks and local seafood from 9 to 9; chair rentals are also available for only $20 for the day (for two items).

All of this, again, without the pervading stench of brown seaweed, which many accurately compare to rotten eggs. Geography isn't the only factor working in favor of vacationers, though: preparing for the worst, especially after early predictions showed sargassum levels will surpass those of 2022, local authorities are ensuring the entire Mexican Caribbean is protected:

Sargassum In The Caribbean Sea

Quintana Roo Cordons Off Coast To Divert Sargassum

For 2023, the Quintana Roo Government is investing heavily in infrastructure and machinery to keep the issue at bay, such as:

  • Installing protective barriers off the coast
  • Using ‘sargaboats' to help divert the course of the algae
  • Hiring more cleaners to get rid of eventual deposits at beaches
Resort Guests Relaxing In A Pool Overlooking A Beautiful Pier Stretching Out Into The Caribbean Sea In Isla Mujeres, Mexican Caribbean, Mexico

Given that Isla Mujeres rarely sees a significant arrival of sargassum, even at its reproduction peak, when Playa Norte and other sandy banks surrounding the island remain an unblemished white and the sea retains its turquoise blue hue, major efforts are centered in Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Tulum and Puerto Morelos.

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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.


Thursday 23rd of March 2023

It’s caused by increased nutrients in the water. Not Climate change. Good grief.

Fertilizer, sewage, and phosphorus from burning in Africa, and other air born nutrients are causing this, not climate change. Several “real” studies show temperature change has almost nothing to do with it. Not exposing the real cause is ridiculous and a hidden agenda. Plus the oceans have never ever remained the same temperature over time.