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If you’ve read the news about the effects of climate change in the Caribbean, or done any bit of research into a vacation in Mexico, you’ve probably heard of sargassum – in one way or another. Chances are, you are wondering…
What is Sargassum?
Why Do Resorts Need Sargassum Barriers?
What Resorts Have A Sargassum Barrier?
Great questions! Let’s start with explaining what Sargassum, or Sargasso, actually is.
What is Sargassum?
Sargassum is a type of seaweed that floats in massive mats on the ocean’s surface. In recent years, these mats have grown to unprecedented sizes and have started to wash up on the shores of Cancun and the Riviera Maya, a stretch of coastline in Mexico that is famous for its white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. While sargassum is a natural phenomenon that is an essential habitat for marine life, the excessive amount that is washing up on the shores is causing significant problems for tourism and the local economy.
The Riviera Maya relies heavily on tourism, and the sargassum invasion has caused a drop in visitors, affecting the local economy. To address this issue, local authorities have implemented various measures to deal with sargassum. One of the most common methods is to use machines to collect the seaweed from the beaches. The collected sargassum is then transported to designated areas for processing, which usually involves composting or incineration.
What is A Sargassum Barrier?
Sargassum barriers are another method that some all-inclusive resorts along the Riviera Maya have implemented to deal with the sargassum invasion. These barriers are usually made of mesh or as natural stone reefs and are placed offshore to intercept the floating sargassum mats before they reach the beach. The barriers are designed to allow water to flow through while trapping the seaweed, which can then be collected and removed.
However, collecting sargassum is a time-consuming and costly process, and it is not a long-term solution to the problem. To address the root cause of the issue, scientists are working to understand the causes of the sargassum blooms and how they can be prevented. One theory is that the blooms are fueled by excess nutrients in the water, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which are released into the ocean from fertilizers and sewage systems. To tackle this issue, authorities are exploring ways to reduce the amount of nutrients entering the ocean, such as improving sewage systems and reducing fertilizer use.
Overall, the sargassum invasion remains a complex and challenging issue for Cancun and the Riviera Maya, and all-inclusive resorts are exploring various solutions to mitigate its impact on tourism and the local economy.
In this article we’re going to take a look at a few of the all-inclusive resorts that have sargassum barriers and other action plans, including daily beach cleanup with large crews or machines.
How Does A Sargassum Barrier Work?
Just in case you’re new to the world of ocean studies, you may be wondering what exactly a sargassum barrier is. Essentially, it is a long barrier that lines up with much of the shoreline. However, it’s set far back in the ocean so that people are still able to enjoy the water without feeling like their resort ocean is diminished in any way. The idea is that the sargassum will all be collected back at the barrier and ultimately will not wash up to the shore and on the sand. This allows beachgoers to enjoy the beach without the unmistakable stench and unpleasant view of brown seaweed for miles. If you were to look at a beach with a sargassum barrier from an aerial view, you would see a long, massive cloud of brown seaweed floating in the sea with a blue ocean from the barrier to the sandy shore. (But, that’s good, because, it would mean that the barrier is working!)
All-Inclusive Resorts in Riviera Maya With Sargassum Barriers
First up on our list is the Secrets Akumal resort in Quintana Roo. This resort is luxurious with its dazzling, blue seas and white, sandy beaches. This resort is adult-only and offers an outstanding spa. Past guests of the Secrets Akumal resort have shared that the beaches here are actually cleaner than many others, thanks to the resort crews who work tirelessly to clean up the sargassum, plus the sargassum barrier that this all-inclusive resort has installed. You can just make it out in the photo below. Guests should still be able to enjoy a pleasant tropical getaway that won’t be too overshadowed by heavy amounts of sargassum.
Dreams Aventuras resort is just that – a dream. This family-friendly all-inclusive resort offers a spa, incredible dining, rooms with stunning views of the glassy sea, and even a swim-up bar at the adult pool. In addition to the fact that there is a sargassum barrier at Dreams Aventuras, guests who have stayed at Dreams Aventuras have reported that there is little, if any, visible sargassum on a daily basis. The beaches are cleaned every day, so you have a better chance at a cleaner beach overall when staying here. In the photo below, you can see the sargassum barrier made out of rocks encompassing the Dreams Aventuras beach.
Secrets Moxche just recently opened in 2022. A fully brand-new all-inclusive resort, Secrets Moxche has multiple pools and swim-up bars for guests to enjoy. At Secrets, there is a sargassum barrier to help manage and maintain the amount of seaweed. You can see it out in the distance in the photo below. Additionally, even if the seaweed is the enemy one day on your trip, you can always swim in the rooftop infinity pool or even the zero-entry pool for tanning and lounging under the sun!
Grand Velas is one of the top and most highly-rated all-inclusive resorts in Riviera Maya. Expect opportunities for adventure and relaxation available for the whole family. Outstanding dining, snorkeling, an infinity pool, and an incredibly luxurious spa can be found at Grand Velas. The views from the rooms are unforgettable and the sunsets on the beach at Grand Velas will take your breath away. There is certainly a significant amount of sargassum in the ocean at times, but the hotel staff really does make a concerted effort to keep the beaches clean. Additionally, there’s a sargassum barrier to maintain the intensity of algae floating up to the shore. If you look closely, you can just make it out in the photo below.
Rooted in Quintana Roo, Dreams Natura Resort & Spa is home to a world-class spa where you can melt your troubles away. Indulge in a facial, manicure, massage, or body scrub and relax on the beach afterward. Dreams Natura is an all-inclusive paradise with exquisite dining. You’ll find a fabulous French restaurant called Bordeaux, a delicious Mexican spot called El Patio, or even Himitsu, offering incredible Pan-Asian flavors. There are even more dining options at the resort, this is just a few of them. There are also plenty of bars both indoors and by the pool. Dreams Natura has a significant amount of sargassum, which truly cannot always be avoided. Unfortunately, it’s just whatever the algae wants to do. The sargassum does appear in large groups on the shore, but exactly how much appears, is up to nature. However, Dreams Natura is still aiming to do its part, and the resort does have a barrier in place!
Hard Rock Riviera Maya
Hard Rock Riviera Maya is your all-inclusive getaway haven. Prepare to be pampered, relaxed, and entertained. Look forward to beautiful rooms, waterslides for the kids, an amazing spa experience, fabulous cuisine, and plenty of water sports to partake in! Perhaps water sports aren’t your thing? No problem. Hard Rock Riviera Maya also has a golf course and plenty of opportunities for events and cool experiences. Just contact their concierge on their website for more information. While a little sargassum is almost unavoidable, there is sargassum in larger amounts depending on when in the season you visit. Guests have said that the staff at Hard Rock really does work very hard to remove the sargassum and to keep their beaches as clean as possible. By the following day, guests can always enjoy cleaner and clearer beaches. The sargassum barrier here isn’t fully enclosed, to allow some water to naturally filter through. You can see it in the aerial photo below.
The Fives Oceanfront
Peaceful paradise awaits anyone who stays at The Fives Oceanfront. Look forward to absolutely phenomenal cuisine and cocktails. Anticipate the joy of a gym, relaxing spa, and glistening waters. Let the sunshine shower you with its rays while you sit by the pool. Reports of thick sargassum on the Oceanfront’s beaches have already been sighted this year. The resort has a sargassum barrier and the staff makes a strong effort to keep the algae off the beach. This means, it may not be as thick, depending on when you visit. Despite this, The Fives Oceanfront is a dreamy experience worth waiting for. You can clearly see the sargassum barrier in the photo below.
The Mayakoba Complex is an impressively large luxury resort complex and golf resort. The four all-inclusive resorts that sit on the beach of the Caribbean coastline are: Andaz Mayakoba, Rosewood, Fairmont, and Banyan Tree. Mayakoba has one sargassum barrier that runs the entire length of the Mayakoba Complex beach, helping to divert the seawood towards specific collection areas. Furthermore the Mayakoba Complex runs a special boat to help them collect that seaweed before it reaches their beautiful sandy beach! Check out a video showcasing the Mayakoba sargassum barrier:
Andaz Mayakoba is a 5-star all-inclusive resort, and part of the Mayakoba Complex. Enjoy a delightful bicycle ride or a daily cruise. Sign up for a sunrise yoga class or dine at one of the fabulous restaurants on site. Andaz is really doing a lot for its guests; Because sargassum isn’t totally avoidable for any location, the resort’s staff clean the beach on a daily basis for the beautification of the beach. They also take care of as much of the seaweed as possible in the deeper part of the waters.
Stay in a glorious lagoon studio suite at Rosewood with a private plunge pool. Play a round on the golf course, take part in water sports, venture out on a private yacht, or try your hand at the archery range. If you like tennis, Rosewood has you covered. Delight in treating yourself to some impeccable gastronomy and relax on the beach with the glistening turquoise water. Naturally, it does change depending on weather, climate, and overall currents. However, Rosewood has been said to have highly minimal sargassum, primarily due to its beach cleanup staff. The staff is committed to cleaning the sargassum up each morning, resulting in the best possible beaches guests could hope to have.
Fairmont is heavenly. It’s also known for being an AAA-5 Diamond all-inclusive resort. Go snorkeling with your family, paddleboarding, kayaking, or spend the afternoon on a Catamaran. Drop the kids off at the Kids Club and book yourself a spa day. Although Andaz and Rosewood have less sargassum, it is still unpredictable. Fairmont has been said to have more sargassum, depending on the time of year. That being said, Fairmont has made some conscious efforts to keep the beach clean, which you can find on their website. They post a report of the beach every day on its official Instagram account, and they clean the beach often. They also, of course, have a strong sargassum barrier that is environmentally friendly.
Banyan Tree Mayakoba Resort and Spa
Banyan Tree is a family-friendly all-inclusive resort and part of the larger Mayakoba Complex in Riviera Maya. Breathe in the salty air of the breeze. Enjoy elaborate, organic fine dining. Experience an evening out by the campfire or try some exceptional Thai food at Saffron. Don’t forget to book a massage during your stay. With the sargassum barrier in place, and an on-site crew that maintains the beach and cleans the sargassum daily, Banyan Tree is working hard to ensure that its guests’ experience is not affected by the effects of the natural coast.
Monitoring The Sargassum Situation
We know that you may not know when exactly your next upcoming visit to the Caribbean will be! So, how can you keep an eye on the Sargassum in the meantime and for planning purposes? The easiest thing would be to just ask us! Between our own visits, and our clients trips, we’re always monitoring and staying updated on the current sargassum situation in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
We’ve also got two great websites for you to check when you need to.
https://sargassummonitoring.com – Sargassum Monitoring keeps up-to-date maps and even photos and videos of the sargassum reports. This is a great, reliable source!
https://sargassotracker.com – Sargasso Tracker – Also, keep an eye on Sargasso Tracker. This site is unique. In addition to the map, you can easily select a specific beach location to view their latest report on that specific beach.
The wind and the currents can leave sargassum in huge amounts on the Riviera Maya beaches, but it’s hard to know when and where this will happen. 2023 will be an interesting year for resorts as the sargassum season has started earlier than usual, and as resorts work to respond in the best way that they can to the sargassum phenomenon. Because the results are all relatively unpredictable, the best things vacationers can do is to keep an eye out for seaweed maps and reports, pay attention to the weather, and at the very least, recognize that climate change really is…changing things!
Our hope for 2023 is that the beaches are manageable for the sargassum clean-up crews. Currently proposed sargassum forecasts for spring and summer sound as though there will be a significant amount, (if not more!) than last year, washing up on the beaches. Only time will tell, and that’s why all-inclusive, luxury resorts are doing their part to manage it all.
We know that the sargassum barriers are a definitive sargassum deterrent, but like any solution to a large climate issue, they do not solve the sargassum problem as a whole. The resorts we’ve talked about today do actively clean the beaches throughout the entire season, and are actively maintaining their sargassum barriers to help minimize the impact that seaweed may have on your vacation.
Need Help Planning Your Mexico Vacation?
If sargassum is troubling your plans for an upcoming Mexico vacation – get in touch with us! We’re happy to work with you to help select some resorts that will minimize how much sargassum you have to deal with! A great option can be to stay somewhere that has an awesome water-park! Or some simply stunning pools! Either way, we know that planning a trip can be overwhelming, so we’re here to guide you and answer all your questions!
With over 150 different all-inclusive resorts across the Riviera Maya alone, it can get overwhelming trying to plan your vacation. Lucky for you, we’ve spent the past 14+ years visiting and booking this wonderful country. Our team is available to answer all your questions about booking your next Mexico vacation or to find the perfect resort for you and your family. Contact us today for more information about working with our team on your upcoming all-inclusive vacation. We can’t wait for you to go to Mexico and experience the beauty for yourself.