Coinciding almost with the hurricane season in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, Tulum seaweed, or “Sargassum” in Spanish is becoming an increasingly annoying problem amongst all towns and beaches on the Mexican Caribbean coast.
Tulum is one of the most popular destinations in Mexico, with unbelievable beaches, amazing nightlife, and beach resorts. It’s no wonder that if you’re thinking of visiting you’ve most likely heard of the Tulum seaweed problem that has been plaguing the Caribbean coast in recent years, including Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Because of this you probably want to know when the best time to visit Tulum is and when and how to avoid the Tulum seaweed, as it’s clearly not appealing and can sometimes make it even difficult to enter the water and swim.
What is Tulum Seaweed?
The seaweed, also called Sargassum in Spanish, is a type of macroalgae that grows and spreads in the warm water of the Caribbean, eventually ending up on the coasts of Mexico. It lines the beaches and overtakes the waters of Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Cancun.
The name “Saraggsum” actually comes from the Sargasso Sea, many miles away from the Caribbean in the Atlantic. The seaweed breeds and replicates here in warm waters, eventually making its way to Mexico and your favorite beach. The brownish-bronze algae have buoyant ‘bladders’ that keep them floating on the surface, allowing them not to sink.
You will see certain resorts try to clear out the seaweed with plows, placing it in massive piles off to the side so guests can still enjoy the beach. The water will become a bronze color or even a much darker brown color that is certainly unappealing. There’s also an awful stench associated with the seaweed that you can smell from kilometers away.
How Bad is the Tulum Seaweed right now?
Current Condition: Average
Currently, it is the end of January, so there is very little seaweed in Tulum.
The seaweed is the worst in the summer due to the hot and humid conditions, allowing the seaweed to grow and replicate more easily in the ocean. After a while the seaweed builds up on the coast and beaches, making it almost impossible to swim, no matter how much workers try to clear it.
Reports say this Tulum seaweed season in 2022 was the worst since 2018. Earlier in the spring from March onwards the seaweed situation was very bad, the worst in recent years due to an increase in warmer weather and warmer water.
Best Time to Avoid Tulum Seaweed?
The best months to avoid the seaweed in Tulum and Yucatan Peninsula as a whole are November, December, and January.
If you’re planning on visiting Tulum then you’ll definitely want to be aware of when the Tulum seaweed season starts and when it’s the worst. While you will find seaweed all year around along the Caribbean coast, it really doesn’t start getting noticeable until May, it can start before that in March or April.
The months from April to October are the hottest in the Yucatan, especially during June and July, so with hot weather comes more seaweed as it can more easily reproduce. So the worst months for seaweed are definitely June, July, and August – best to avoid the Caribbean coast during this time of year.
Where to Avoid Tulum Seaweed?
If you still want to enjoy the beach in Mexico during the summer but want to avoid the seaweed then there are a few options for you. If you still want to stay on the Caribbean side it’s going to be difficult to avoid the seaweed. Isla Mujeres is an option and typically doesn’t collect much seaweed throughout the year as it is an island the seaweed normally collects closer to the coast.
The island of Cozumel off the coast of Playa Del Carmen is also another spot to escape to with the west coast having almost no seaweed whatsoever, but the east coast has been known to have major problems with seaweed.
The most popular option for this time of year is of course the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Puerto Escondido is a beautiful beach town on the Oaxacan coast with so many fun and unique things to do. There is almost no seaweed here year-round.
Other beach towns on the Pacific such as Puerto Vallarta, Cabo, and La Paz also feature little to no seaweed whatsoever.