Cancun Seaweed (Sargassum)

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Cancun Seaweed Season - 2023 Cancun Sargassum Guide

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If you’re searching for an inexpensive and breathtaking vacation spot, Cancun and the Riviera Maya should be at the top of your list! Boasting some of the world’s finest beaches and a plethora of great activities to enjoy, it is no surprise that this dreamy destination has become one of the most desirable places for travelers these days. 

Cancun is a stunning tourist destination due to its cost-effective all-inclusive packages and mesmerizing white sand beaches. However, for the last few years, Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen have been struggling with Sargassum Seaweed- an issue of paramount importance for travelers visiting the Riviera Maya.


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Sargassum is a type of seaweed that typically comes ashore on the Mexican Caribbean coastlines in the summertime as a result of ocean currents. Regrettably, when it washes up against Cancun’s shoreline, it tarnishes the beauty of these paradisiacal shores and renders water activities such as swimming or snorkeling almost impossible. 


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Cancun Seaweed - Sargassum on beach
Cancun Sargassum Seaweed Season on a beach in the Riviera Maya

Sadly, Cancun beaches and other primed travel spots on the Mexican Caribbean (Tulum, Playa del Carmen and others) shoreline are yet contending with this issue in 2023. That is why, if you’re planning to visit Cancun, Tulum or Playa del Carmen it would be sensible to first get a good understanding of the seaweed situation in the area. Through this article we have provided thorough information regarding current sargassum seaweed settings in Cancun beaches, its seasonal presence and our outlooks for Sargassum activity there during 2023.

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Cancun Seaweed Season 2023

Regrettably, the Cancun Seaweed Forecast for 2023 is predicting a repetition of this year’s sargassum seaweed inundation, signifying an impending problem. As customary in years past, April through October marks the seaweed season – a regrettable 6-month duration that forces locals to face this aquatic onslaught.

Sargassum Seaweed in Playa del Carmen
Sargassum Seaweed – Current Cancun Seaweed Conditions

Scientists issued a warning that Sargassum seaweed, an invasive alga, has arrived three months earlier this seaweed season and is expected to be more severe than ever before. This phenomenon will affect tourism in the Mexican Caribbean coast, particularly the coasts of Quintana Roo (Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen), home to the popular destination of Cancun. The problem has been growing steadily since 2013, with the situation becoming more acute between March and April.

Hydrobiologist Esteban Amaro, director of the Sargasso Monitoring Network, has determined that 2023 will be an especially active year for sargassum seaweed collection. Last year’s accomplishment of 54,500 tons collected is expected to nearly double this coming year–reports suggest upwards of 90,000 tons! This forecast comes from research conducted by the University of South Florida and marks a significant increase in activity.

Barriers will be set up in Mahahual – one of the regions hit hardest by seaweed build-up – to help deter its influx onto beaches. Governor Mara Lezama announced during a Quintana Roo cleaning event that these anti-seaweed barricades would extend 1,400 meters overall, with 1,100 running along the northern part and 300 along the south. This endeavor is sure to make a significant impact on protecting our coastlines!

What is Sargassum Seaweed?

For the past decade, an influx of Sargassum has been washing up on the Mexican Caribbean shore due to alterations in ocean temperature, waves, and currents. Often referred to as Gulf weed or sea sargassum, this seaweed is native to the Atlantic Ocean‘s “sea of sargassum” habitat and provides a home for many species of wildlife.

Image of sargassum seaweed at beach
Canun Seaweed – Sargassum Seaweed at Cancun beaches

Will Sargassum be a problem for Cancun in 2023?

Cancun beaches and the other Mexican Caribbean coasts have had a tenacious sargassum issue since 2015, but in 2022 they faced their biggest challenge to date when an astonishing 37,000 tons of seaweed arrived. Sadly, 2023 is not anticipated to be any different as Cancun, alongside popular tourist spots such as Playa del Carmen and Tulum, is expected to suffer from an immense sargassum seaweed crisis this year.

According to the most recent research and satellite images, specialists have cautioned that 2023 may be as catastrophic for Sargassum – or even more so – than 2022.

Nonetheless, Cancun is predicted to be free of the seaweed plague from January through March of 2023. Nevertheless, starting in April, it will likely become much more challenging once again, just like any other year before it.

To put it plainly, the sargassum levels on Cancun’s beaches will see a sharp rise starting March 2023. Therefore, if you’re scheduling a trip to Cancun anytime soon, then make sure to inspect the sargassum conditions of your desired beach or location beforehand in order to ensure an enjoyable experience!

Nevertheless, it’s critical to acknowledge that this issue is not limited merely to Cancun beaches; many Caribbean nations and other popular travel destinations along the Mexican Caribbean coast, like Tulum and Playa del Carmen, are presently encountering this big dilemma.

Both hoteliers and tourists want to keep the beaches clean from pesky Sargassum. Fortunately, both the Mexican government and local hotels are putting forth great effort in making sure that visitors of Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen can enjoy their beach holiday without worry for 2023 – a feat that was not achieved in 2022! This is great news indeed.

Government officials and hoteliers have funneled millions of dollars into technologies such as the sargassum barrier to ensure that tourists can enjoy the Mexican beaches in pristine condition. This cutting-edge technology will help tackle this problem, keeping Mexico’s coasts clean for visitors to bask in its beauty!

Cancun Sargassum Forecast 2023

Are you ready to experience Cancun’s unparalleled beauty in the first three months of 2023? Lucky for you, January-March offers crystal clear waters and gorgeous beaches free from any sargassum, thanks to strong northern winds that keep it away. So take advantage of this opportunity and enjoy your beach vacation with turquoise blue water, perfect weather conditions, and an unforgettable atmosphere!

Sargassum Forecast
Cancun Seaweed Season – Sargassum seaweed pilling up at beach

Nevertheless, the seaweed conditions will rapidly shift starting in March 2023. Given the predicted rise of ocean temperatures, Sargassum might become more severe than it was in 2022, according to Zofemat’s (Zona Federal Maritimo Terrestre) latest report! Consequently, we could see a repetition or even an increase of Sargassum as compared with last year.


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In short, the year 2023 is anticipated to be just as bad or even more severe than 2022 when it comes to Sargassum Cancun Seaweed season. Cancun will suffer a huge crisis brought on by this influx of seaweed in March, and then the amount deposited on its beaches will gradually build until October before beginning to subside with lower temperatures from November onwards into 2024.

This Cancun Seaweed season, July and August are forecasted to see the highest influx of Sargassum. That being said, you must keep in mind that Sargassum is a natural phenomenon with no guaranteed level of predictability or consistency; thus, it can be extremely difficult to track. On certain days when visiting a beach, one may find large clumps of seaweed, whereas on other occasions, little-to-none may exist – such variability makes this occurrence an unpredictable one!

To put it simply, there is no way to guarantee what the sargassum situation on a certain beach will be tomorrow.

When will Cancun Sargassum Season start for 2023

Each year, Cancun is typically flooded with Sargassum between April and October. Yet in 2022, due to the massive amount of seaweed accumulating in the Atlantic Ocean, this seaweed season extended through December! This can largely be attributed to unseasonably high sea temperatures spurring accelerated reproduction during this period – resulting in huge amounts washing up on Mexico’s Caribbean coastline annually.

However, from October to February, the temperature drops, and consequently, sargassum concentration is significantly reduced. Additionally, powerful northerly winds between January and March work together to keep Cancun’s coastline free of seaweed. 

It you want to know more about when the best time to visit Cancun is make sure you read our guide.

Best Beaches near Cancun to avoid Sargassum in 2023

Sargassum is an elusive and unpredictable occurrence, as its concentration may differ from beach to beach or change unpredictably day by day. Unknown to many travelers, though, the sargassum problem will affect several beaches on Mexico’s Caribbean coast – including Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen – in 2023. Last April 2022 even saw a number of major Playa del Carmen beaches closed due to excessive piles of Sargassum blocking access!


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Don’t worry, if you’re looking for a Caribbean beach in Mexico without all the Sargassum, then look no further! Let’s explore the best beaches on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, which are sargassum free beaches. You can also read our guide on the Best Beaches in Cancun.

Isla Mujeres - El Garrafon Park free of sargassum seaweed
Isla Mujeres – El Garrafon Park – Popular Beach destinations with sargassum free beaches

1. Isla Mujeres – West Coast

Want to avoid Sargassum on your beach vacation? Isla Mujeres is the perfect destination for you! It’s located along Mexico’s Caribbean coastline. However, it possesses considerably less Sargassum than its counterparts. With its west facing beaches, even lesser amounts of this seaweed are visible here. Of course, suppose a sargassum free setting is what you seek. In that case, Playa Norte must be part of your itinerary – it’s widely considered one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Mexico and will ensure that nothing mars your perfect holiday getaway!

If you dream of a getaway to Isla Mujeres, you’ll need to fly into Cancun and take the ferry. Before your trip, however, we suggest checking out the live webcam link for Playa Norte beach on Isla Mujeres, which will provide current sargassum conditions – so that your journey is as comfortable and enjoyable as possible!

Beautiful turquoise waters in San Miguel, Cozumel, Mexico
Beautiful turquoise waters in San Miguel, Cozumel

2. Cozumel – West Coast

If you’re looking for a beach that’s free of Sargassum Seaweed, Cozumel is your destination. Thanks to its geography, the island’s western coast has remained mostly exempt from the nuisance of seaweed. Since this area is also where tourists flock, it offers more peaceful beaches with excellent swimming and snorkeling sites than Cancun can provide. So why not choose Cozumel over Cancun? It provides an ideal escape without sacrificing any fun!

Isla Holbox is another sargassum free destination near Cancun
Isla Holbox is another sargassum free destination near Cancun

3. Holbox Island

Holbox, a small island located on the northern side of the Yucatan peninsula, is renowned for its picturesque blue waters, serene beaches, and laid-back lifestyle. Furthermore, between April to October -unlike other well-known tourist spots such as Cancun and Tulum that are affected by colossal sargassum accumulation during this period – Holbox boasts of having clear beaches devoid of seaweed. However, it should be noted that from October until January, there may be traces of Sargassum in certain parts of Holbox Island.

Beach with dead seaweed
Beach with dead seaweed

Is Sargassum dangerous for humans?

Floating offshore, Sargassum seaweed poses little danger to humans. However, when it washes up onto the beaches, a new problem arises. As Sargassum decomposes on land and releases hydrogen sulfide gas – an odiferous compound similar in smell to rotten eggs- even at small doses can cause eye and breathing issues for beachgoers. Not only that, but these gases also make swimming or other water activities almost impossible for any visitors looking forward to having fun splashing around!

How to check Cancun Seaweed Conditions?

Planning a beach vacation in the Mexican Caribbean coast? Visit for an up-to-date map of the current sargassum conditions on different destinations! This website can provide you with invaluable insight into which areas are affected drastically by this problem, allowing you to make the best decision for your dream trip.

Live Cameras

If you want to get a glimpse of what the beaches in Cancun (or anywhere on Mexico’s Caribbean coast) look like, don’t worry. You can easily stay up-to-date through live beach cams! Many hotels or resorts in Cancun have cameras that are strategically placed facing the ocean and its surroundings so that you can see real-time sargassum conditions at any given moment – allowing for a stress-free planning experience when visiting these exotic locations.

Things to do if there is Seaweed in Cancun?

Sadly, Sargassum is likely to be an issue in the near future for visitors to Cancun. But don’t forget that Cancun has plenty of other activities and attractions besides its stunning beaches! After all, it’s not just the incredible coasts that make this Central American destination so popular with tourists.

In addition to its amazing beaches, there’s no shortage of activities and sites for you to explore in Cancun. From luxurious shopping malls and thrilling nightlife spots to the mysterious Mayan jungles – your vacation will be filled with countless unique experiences that are sure not to disappoint!

Visit the stunning Chichen Itza

If you’re a fan of history, Chichen Itza is the place for you! Located a mere hour from Cancun, this Mayan metropolitan was once home to 30,000 people and was an important spiritual hub. Nowadays, it stands as an incredible reminder of its past with countless temples, pyramids, and cemeteries that provide awe-inspiring glimpses into the secrets behind its beautiful culture.

Swim in a majestic Cenote

For tourists looking for an alternative to Cancun’s beaches due to the prevalence of Sargassum, cenotes are a natural swimming pools found in Mayan jungles that offers undeniable refreshment and rejuvenation. Not only were these serene oases important to the local Mayans who believed they held healing properties, but those same properties remain today – making it easy for travelers seeking solace away from other holidaymakers. These are the Best Cenotes near Cancun

Cancun Underwater Musuem
Cancun Underwater Musuem (courtesy of Luis Javier Sandoval)

Visit Cancun’s Underwater Museum

MUSA, aka Cancun Underwater Museum, is located in the waters just off of Cancun at a depth of 30 feet. This museum houses an astonishing 500 life-size sculptures for visitors to explore via snorkeling or diving! MUSA was constructed with preservation and conservation as its primary purpose—to safeguard the stunning coral reef near Cancun from overuse by providing divers an alternative destination that has now become one of Mexico’s most popular attractions.

Take a trip to the beautiful islands of Isla Mujeres and Cozumel

If you consider yourself a beach enthusiast who is visiting Cancun and Sargassum appears, never fear! You can still experience the beauty of Mexico’s hidden paradise by taking day trips to Isla Mujeres or Cozumel.

Both destinations are renowned for their stunning beaches and snorkeling sites that are easily accessible from Cancun — simply take a ferry, which will get you to either island in 30-40 minutes. Best of all, Cozumel’s and Isla Mujeres’ west-facing shorelines often remain free of the dreaded Sargassum due to its unique geography.

Not to mention, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel are the ideal beach destinations if you’re looking for an escape from Cancun’s hustle and bustle. Not only is there less congestion, but they also haven’t been overtaken by commercialism like their more famous neighbor.

Coco Bongo Nightclub
Coco Bongo Nightclub

Experience Cancun’s Vibrant Nightlife

For nightlife enthusiasts, Cancun is undoubtedly one of the greatest places to visit. When the sun dips below the horizon, this city transforms into a vibrant haven of clubs and pubs that buzz with excitement until sunrise. Whether you love to dance or simply want to enjoy some drinks, there are plenty of options in Cancun for an unforgettable late-night experience!

Do some Shopping in Cancun

Cancun’s vibrant nightlife is just one of the many attractions that draw tourists to this region. Shopping enthusiasts will also find their paradise here, as Cancun boasts a variety of upscale shopping malls with an extensive selection–from inexpensive souvenirs and traditional Mexican crafts to contemporary jewelry, cosmetics, and perfumes. In particular, La Isla shopping mall and Mercado 28 are amongst some of the most popular spots for holiday shoppers!

Take a day trip to one of the Adventure Parks

Embark on an exciting journey in Cancun with countless thrills to be had! Whether you’re looking for ATV tours, Ziplining, or Jungle boat adventures- there is no shortage of adventure activities here. Discover the hidden gems and create unforgettable memories by exploring all this destination has to offer. Adventure parks can be found near Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen 

Traveling to 🇲🇽 Mexico soon?

I recommend these travel resources for Mexico that I personally use:

🏨 Hotels: I have found that Expedia and consistently have the best deals on hotels and resorts in Mexico. If you prefer to stay at a vacation rental, check VRBO that is usually cheaper than AirBnB’s added fees!

✈️ Flights: To find the best flight deals to Mexico, I always use Kayak. Remember to subscribe to their price alerts for the travel dates you want. Another great alternative for flight deals is Expedia.

🚗 Rental Cars: I always use and highly recommend Discover Cars because it allows me to compare several car rental companies and view ratings on various factors such as overall value, pick-up procedure, agent efficiency, car condition, and total time taken.

🚙 Cancun Airport Transportation: For the fastest and easiest way to travel, I suggest arranging a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportation. Honestly, no better way to travel from the airport to your hotel or resort.

🤿 Tours & Activities: For tours and activities in Mexico, I highly recommend using either Viator or GetYourGuide. These websites offer a full refund if you cancel your booking 24 hours before the start of the tour, and they also provide excellent customer service in case of any issues.

🚨 Travel Insurance: I always suggest purchasing travel insurance as a precaution before traveling, especially after a recent accident in a taxi in Mexico. For short trips, I recommend Travel Insurance Master, whereas for digital nomads, Safety Wing is a better option.

📷 Best Camera for your trip: I always carry with me a GoPro, It’s light, compact, takes great video and pictures, and most importantly, it’s waterproof! You just can’t go wrong with one. If you are interested in higher quality video and photography, I always carry with me on my trips and highly recommend the Sony A7IV which I think is the best travel DSLR Camera out there.

☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Remember to include a good sunscreen to protect yourself from the summer sun. I always use and suggest Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is vegan, reef-friendly, and cruelty-free.