Tulum Seaweed in 2023: Sargassum - When, Where and How to Avoid it
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The Tulum seaweed issue, otherwise known as ‘Sargassum’ in Spanish, has been spiraling into an overwhelming problem for Vacationers looking to visit all of the gorgeous beaches on Mexican Caribbean Coast and Riviera Maya.
Every summer season coinciding with hurricane season brings more and more Sargassum seaweed – causing a nuisance for locals and vacationers alike who wish to enjoy the stunning white sandy Caribbean beaches that Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and especially Tulum are so well-known for!
With its amazing nightlife, beach resorts, and breathtakingly unique coastline – it’s no wonder why this destination is increasingly making its way to become one of Mexico’s most sought after destinations.
If you’re planning to visit Tulum, then it’s likely that you want to know the best time of year to go and how you can dodge any excess seaweed in the area.
The presence of excessive amounts of seaweed can be an eyesore and even make it difficult for visitors to take a dip in the ocean. To ensure your trip is enjoyable, plan accordingly by using resources such as online forums or travel guides so that you can avoid unpleasant surprises like this example photo here.
The Sargassum, otherwise known as seaweed in Spanish, is a species of macroalgae that flourishes and propagates around the balmy waters of the Caribbean Sea. Every year it coats several beaches such as Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen with its presence before finally receding back out to sea.
Derived from the Sargasso Sea, miles away from the Caribbean in the Atlantic Ocean, Saraggsum’s namesake is none other than its vast collection of seaweed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states that a floating island is home to various creatures such as fish, sea turtles, marine birds, crabs, shrimp, and other marine life.
The warm waters of this destination are ideal for replicating these brownish-bronze algae with buoyant ‘bladders’, allowing them to float on top and resist sinking. Eventually making their way all over Mexico and your favorite beach – you can thank Saraggsum for inspiring what makes it so serene!
Certain resorts attempt to clear off the seaweed with plows, gathering them into large heaps on one side of the beach so that holidaymakers may still enjoy it.
Unfortunately, this process can cause a murky bronze-brown shade which is both unpleasant and unpalatable. The putrid smell associated with the seaweed will reach for miles around, making it impossible to ignore!
When is the seaweed season in Tulum?
From May until October, the seaweed season blesses us with its bounty. Traditionally associated with hurricane season in the Caribbean, plentiful amounts of seaweed can be found from June to August. Nonetheless, increasingly more beaches – such as Tulum, Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Mahahual – have been experiencing year-round occurrences of this incredible gift from nature!
Every year, Tulum’s beaches are invaded by unsightly seaweed beginning in May. However recently the plant has been appearing as early as February. This unexpected development is causing chaos for local beachfront hotels who now have to spend time and resources clearing this marine debris from their shores.
Last September, local authorities tried to tackle the issue of sargassum seeweed covered Tulum beaches by installing seaweed barriers. Unfortunately, these were eventually removed and only provided temporary respite from the problem.
Seaweed is a trivial issue when it’s present in small quantities, however once it begins to accumulate excessively, that’s when considerable problems arise. In the summer of 2022, many beaches in Tulum were strewed with seaweed; some accounts even claimed this was the worst season for seaweed since 2018!
The stench of decaying seaweed can be quite unpleasant and overpowering, making it difficult to even approach the beach or swim in the water. Not only that, but this wretched smell also masks Tulum’s classic turquoise hue – something tourists flock to admire.
Tulum Seaweed 2023
As predicted by local government, Tulum is expected to face much greater prevalence of seaweed beginning in 2023. Algae will begin washing ashore between August and September, with Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos already facing the impacts within the first week of January 2021.
Tulum Seaweed May 2023: the most recent update
From January to August 2023, Tulum will grapple with an abundance of sargassum seaweed. Mexican authorities predict that the situation is likely to worsen from what it was in 2022 and may remain until early September. The entire Caribbean Coast of Mexico should anticipate similar levels or higher than those observed last year.
Best Time to Avoid Tulum Seaweed?
Steer clear of the unwanted sargassum seaweed in Tulum and on the Yucatan Peninsula altogether by visiting between November to January. If planning a trip to this beautiful locale, it’s important to stay mindful for when the Tulum seaweed season is at its peak. Seaweed can be observed along Caribbean coasts all year long yet becomes increasingly noticeable from May onwards, occasionally spiking up as early as March or April.
The Yucatan region is particularly sweltering from April to October, with June and July being the hottest months. This heat stimulates seaweed growth so that it can reproduce more quickly, thus making June, July, and August its most abundant period – for this reason it’s probably wise to avoid a Caribbean beach getaway during these months
Where to Avoid Tulum Seaweed?
Looking to enjoy Tulum beach and Riviera Maya this summer without the added hassle of sargassum seaweed? You’re in luck! Although it can be difficult to find sargassum seaweed free vacation spots on the Caribbean side, Isla Mujeres is an excellent choice. This island rarely collects much seaweed year round as it lies far enough away from shore that most of the debris doesn’t reach its shores. Enjoy your Mexican getaway with peace of mind knowing you won’t have unwelcome visitors spoiling your fun at Isla Mujeres!
Escape to the serene island of Cozumel off Playa Del Carmen and find yourself in a paradise! The western shore and west facing beaches are largely sargassum free beaches, while its eastern counterpart may face major concerns with it.
For your upcoming getaway, you can also explore the breathtaking Pacific Coast of Mexico? Puerto Escondido is a scenic beach town on the Oaxacan coast that offers numerous exciting activities and virtually no seaweed throughout the year. If you’re looking for similar spots with clean beaches, don’t miss out on Puerto Vallarta, Cabo, and La Paz – all home to lush shorelines free from pesky seaweed!
Traveling to 🇲🇽 Mexico soon?
I recommend these travel resources for Mexico that I personally use:
🏨 Hotels: I have found that Expedia and Booking.com 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.
🚙 CancunAirport 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.
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