The Mexican Caribbean beaches are facing, unlike any other time, an atypical arrival of seaweed called sargassum or sargasso. Although it was considered a natural phenomenon for years, today, it’s fair to say that we’re facing a natural disaster resulting from years of human pollution and global warming. The amount of waste dumped in the oceans makes the algae grow exponentially; on the other hand, the change in currents brings tons of seaweed to the Caribbean coasts during Summer. It creates discomfort among tourists, and it’s an inconvenience for the tourism industry. Not to mention the ecological impact, as it damages the reef and erodes the beach. Yes, sargasso looks terrible and smells horrible. However, the seaweed should not mess with your vacation plans in the Mexican Caribbean. While the beach is the crown’s biggest jewel, it’s still just a part of it. Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Tulum, and Cancun offer many alternative things to do; you can move around and visit a lot of fantastic places!
How to avoid seaweed?
The Riviera Maya and its main destinations, such as Playa del Carmen, Tulum, the nearby city of Cancun, and the neighboring island of Cozumel, are known for their stunning natural wonders and the impressive cultural inheritance. Also, while the sargasso is hitting the beaches, there’s still plenty of fun in the sea to enjoy! Here’s a list of activities available that will make you forget about the seaweed on the beaches.
Diving in Cozumel
The island is famous for being a divers’ paradise for decades. It’s located right where the Mesoamerican Reef – 2nd largest coral barrier in the world- so you can imagine the beauty found underwater. Cozumel is one of the must-visit diving destinations in the world, and guess what? There’s no smelly seaweed underwater! You can enjoy the fantastic experience of diving in the Caribbean, even if you’re not a certified diver. Don’t miss the opportunity of diving amongst thousands of colorful fish, turtles, starfish, living coral, rays, and more! The Caribbean Sea is full of life and beauty; exploring it will be one of the highlights of your visit to paradise.
Swim in a cenote
Cenotes are natural sinkholes created thousands of years ago when a meteorite crashed in the Yucatan Peninsula (the same that caused the extinction of dinosaurs), causing erosion on the limestone. The rains filled them with water for years, creating gorgeous ponds of crystalline waters. The Mayan civilization considered cenotes sources of life and the entrance to the underworld or spiritual sites to communicate with the gods. Today, they are one of the biggest attractions in Southeast Mexico. There’s no better way to cool down from the Caribbean Summer heat than taking a dip in the crystal clear waters of a cenote. And, yes, you guessed: no awful sargasso will mess with your plans! Swimming in a cenote is an experience that connects you immediately with nature, that somehow transports you to a different time, away from the modern and stressful world. Some of the best cenotes open for visitors can be found on the highway from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, and they’re worth exploring. You can get to Playa del Carmen from Cozumel by plane pretty fast and enjoy these natural wonders.
Explore the Mayan archaeological sites
The Yucatan Peninsula saw the Mayan Civilization prosper for years. Today, all that remains is their wisdom and knowledge and some of the most impressive vestiges of the ancient world. From The Chichen Itza Archaeological site – one of the New Seven Wonders of the World- to the Tulum Ruins, there’s an array of archaeological sites to be explored! Most of these sites are located close to the cities. For example, you can rent a car and get to the Tulum Ruins from Playa del Carmen in 45 minutes. We recommend arriving early in the morning so you’ll have time to drive from Tulum to Coba, a lost Mayan city in the jungle that houses one of the most impressive temples. Exploring Chichen Itzá is always a good idea when visiting the Riviera Maya or Cozumel. However, you’ll need a whole day to do this, or you can get to Chichen Itzá by plane and get there in only 30 minutes, explore the entire site before the crowds arrive, and be back for brunch!
You can also experience an aerial tour to visit four majestic Mayan sites on the same day. Contemplate the Temple of Kukulcan in Chichen Itza, the Castle at Tulum, the Nohoch Temple at Coba, and the Pyramid at Ek Balam from a unique perspective, in just two hours. Be sure to pack a camera since you’ll have the opportunity to take amazing photos. Visit at least one of the many Mayan vestiges available; we guarantee no seaweed will get in your way!
Visit a seaweed-free beach in Cozumel.
What? No seaweed? But you just said…
Yes! We know, but some areas haven’t been hit by the seaweed this Summer. As you can see in our previous post about the sargasso seaweed, the Westside in Cozumel can be considered seaweed-free. The East Side of Cozumel is getting hit by the seaweed arrival. It acts as a natural barrier for the rest of the island and the coasts of the Riviera Maya. So if you visit any of the westside beaches, you’ll find crystal turquoise waters and some of the most fantastic snorkeling and diving spots on the island. If you want to go straight to a gorgeous beach with no seaweed, don’t miss going to The Cabana Beach, a beach club located in Chankanaab Park offering fantastic food and drinks and no sargasso! One of our favorite spots on the island.
It’s fair to say that the “sargasso season” is on its downfall already. The sea looks healthier every time, and the crystal clear waters are getting back to the shore. The beach resorts have their staff cleaning the beach daily, so you may be able to enjoy the beauty of the Mexican Caribbean Beaches the way it’s supposed to. So don’t get frustrated, cheer up, and get ready for your Summer vacation! Cozumel and the Riviera Maya will mesmerize you, and you’ll live an incredible experience.