If you travel to the Yucatan in Mexico, there is a good chance you can expect to see large amounts of seaweed along the Caribbean coast during parts of the year. Unfortunately, this can make your travels difficult if you included visiting the beach in your plans.
What is sargassum seaweed?
Sargassum is a type of brown seaweed algae that is common to this area. While it has been common in this area for a long time, it has recently become an issue because it has grown to large proportions in the past 5 or so years.
The sargassum now fills beaches, making it impossible to enjoy those areas. The seaweed washes up in piles, covering the beach in smelly piles.
Most resorts attempt to remove the seaweed for their guests, but employees are often tirelessly working all day to no avail, as the seaweed washes up faster than it can be removed.
This picture is from the resort we stayed at in Akumal:
What areas have sargassum?
Areas such as Cancun down to Tulum have been hit hard by the sargassum. There are daily seaweed forecasts you can find online to track where the seaweed is worst.
We started visiting areas outside the seaweed zone to enjoy seaweed-free beaches, such as Isla Holbox. As the seaweed grows and spreads, there is no guarantee what areas will be safe from seaweed, so always check into it before you travel.
My feet on the beach in Isla Holbox:
Some beaches experience little to no seaweed in Isla Holbox! Here is the view from a beach palapa on our last trip in 2022:
How to avoid sargassum
There are ways to avoid the sargassum. You can time your trip so that it is not during seaweed season, or also come up with ideas besides the beach.
If you do happen to visit the area and have a hotel booked where there is seaweed on the beach – not to worry, there is still plenty to do.
You can travel to beaches that are free of seaweed. Some places like parts of Cozumel are good bets, or you can travel further to spots like Isla Holbox or Progreso. Keep an eye on the Sargassum maps, which you can do with an easy Google search or checking Facebook pages that monitor the seaweed. You can usually tell which areas are prone to seaweed.
Find Alternate Activities
If the area you are visiting has a lot of seaweed on the beach, don’t panic! There is plenty to do in Mexico and especially on the Yucatan. Check and see what kinds of amenities your hotel or resort has, from pools to tours. Aside from time spent at your accommodations, here are some ideas!
Cenotes – cenotes are beautiful swimming holes that are wonderful to explore. Some of these are open air, others are in caves. These are the perfect places to visit on a hot day, or in any weather.
This picture is from our trip to Cenote Samula, Valladolid.
Mayan Ruins – There are many Mayan Ruins to choose from throughout Mexico. These places are fascinating to explore. learn, and enjoy the scenery.
Take a road trip – renting a car allows you to have the freedom to travel where you want and when you want. We rented a car from Avant Car Rental in Cancun and drove almost a thousand miles on our last trip. This way you can go wherever you like. There are lots of great cities in the Yucatan, including Valladolid, Izamal “The Yellow City”, and Merida.
SCUBA diving – You can learn how to SCUBA dive or use your certification to go for a dive. Tours will take you where there is no seaweed in the ocean, or there are cenotes that allow diving as well.
Xcaret – Xcaret has many properties, from Xcaret Park to Xel-Ha and Xenses.
Parks – There are many parks around the Yucatan where you can enjoy seeing nature, like Aktun Chen, places in the jungle where you can see wildlife, the Sian Kaʼan Biosphere Reserve, and much more.
While it can be a damper on your vacation to have to deal with seaweed, there are lots of great alternatives. You can enjoy Mexico regardless!
Check out our other Mexico blog posts for ideas for things to do.