It is sargasso time! All the way from San Pedro up to Cancun, and everything in between Mahahual, Tulum, Puerto Aventuras, Playacar, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos and Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel. the beaches are once a year plagued by enormous amounts of orange-brown seaweed floating in from the Sargasso sea.
Every year between April and November more or less, the gorgeous white Riviera Maya beaches get covered by tons of sargasso. It is smelly, it turns the water in a brownish slush and both hotels and government work around the clock to remove and recycle the seaweed that floats in and spoils the holiday feel for many tourists.
Previous years it was terrible, truckloads of sargasso were transported off the beaches per day and workers worked long hours to wheel it off. Sea barriers, sargasso harvesters at sea, and a monitoring system all are implemented to prevent the endless matrasses of seaweed to reach the beaches, and yet, some days the stuff is up to your shins when you walk the beach.
At the moment, for 2020 the influx of Sargasso is less. The beaches are still pretty clean and although the ever so emerald and turquoise waters do have that brownish look, there are actually places where the water looks almost clear.
Yet this year we have another plague: Covid -19, that prevent the people from enjoying the beaches. Beaches in the Riviera Maya are off-limits unless they are part of your hotel and the local restrictions for tourism are lifted by the government.
So make sure when you book a vacation in Playa del Carmen, Cancun or Tulum or any other location along the coasts of Quintana Roo that your hotel has either a swimming pool or beach access that is open.
When you book an Airbnb you will not be able to visit the beaches. At least until August 15, but the predictions are that they will stay closed until September.
So when your hotel has beach access it will be limited to the hotel area only, you will not be allowed to go for a walk, and strict sanitary rules apply.
When you Click the Tag Covid-19 on this website you will find more information on the rules and regulations for locals and vacationers in several cities along the coast of Quintana Roo, including links to the government website to keep informed.
Here are some of the photos of the beaches taken in August 2020 at several places in Playa del Carmen.
The water has lost its amazing Turquoise colour due to particles of old sargasso floating around. This muddy stuff that looks like ground coffee will stick to your body and swimsuit and is hard te remove.
Some beaches are cleaner than others, here in the area of Hilton and Panama Jack, the beaches are nearly gone due to a storm and the seaweed is much more than in other parts of Playa, going up to Punta Esmeralda, where there is no sea barrier, it will be even worse.
It all depends on the wind, waves and current how much sargasso will reach the beaches. So the situation might change per day, per location.
This is how the water looks when sargasso stays int he water too long and does not reach the shore, it gets black in the sun, dies and becomes extremely smelly and difficult to swim through.