With its long miles of powder-white sands hugged by turquoise waters and award-winning, epic hotels, Cancun could be the perfect year-round resort destination, were it not for the rising levels of sargassum it faces every year.

As the humid season starts, smelly brown algae proliferates and reaches the city’s typically pristine beaches, causing a major nuisance for beachgoers and, during particularly heavy landfalls, even leading to closures.

If you’re visiting Cancun between April and August, there’s not much you can do about it, as sargassum is a natural phenomenon, and it is only bound to get worse as sea temperatures rise: according to authorities, there is a shocking 600 tons of seaweed currently floating off the coast.

The beach at Playa del Carmen invaded by Sargassum seaweed

Their arrival is inevitable, and as prepared local forces may be, with cleaning squads on the ready and sargassum barriers already installed, if you want to minimize your chances of having your upcoming vacation ruined, you might want to give Cancun a miss in summer.

That does not mean the Mexican Caribbean is entirely off-limits. Instead, you could visit these 2 alternative tropical destinations that see very little seaweed, or even none at all:

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres Sign, Quintana Roo, Mexico

A tiny offshore gem lying only a few miles from the Cancun mainland, Isla Mujeres is best known for its laid-back atmosphere: while Downtown Cancun is all the pomp and glam you’d expect from a busy luxury resort hub, life on the neighboring island is slower-paced.

It is still dotted with resorts, and there are definitely bars and beach clubs around, but unlike Cancun, where tourism is catered towards entertainment first, people come to Mujeres to escape the crowds and, most importantly, appreciate the scenery.

Aerial View Of Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres, Mexican Caribbean, Mexico

At only 4.3 miles long and 2,130 feet wide, it is ideal for exploring by bike or even golf cart, which can be rented directly at resorts. All roads lead to paradisaical beaches, unspoiled nature preserves, and a Mayan temple or two to be discovered.

Playa Norte, on the island’s northern tip, is one of the most beautiful in the Mexican Caribbean, with the postcard-perfect, soft white sands and translucent waters to go with it, and the best thing is, it is not often affected by sargassum.

Playa Norte In Isla Mujeres Island, Quintana Roo, Mexican Caribbean, Riviera Maya, Mexico

That is due to the island’s unique location: the currents that surround it do not carry seaweed, so beaches are likely always to be impeccable, even if mainland destinations like Cancun or Tulum are experiencing a major increase in sargassum levels.

Additionally, there are fewer, smaller beaches to look after, and the local government is able to promptly remove any minimal amount of sargassum that does make it onto shore, so chances are your local beach will be perfectly clean by the time you go for your early afternoon sunbathing sesh.


Tourist Relaxing On A Hammock In Bacalar, The Mexican Caribbean, Mexico

A 4h30 drive south of Cancun, across the state of Quintana Roo, you’ll find Bacalar, a small town deeply entrenched in Mayan culture, and where a majority of the local business are still local-owned, unlike Cancun, where big developers have essentially taken over.

Bacalar is peculiar for two reasons:

  • It is not your traditional all-inclusive resort destination
  • It does not border the Caribbean Sea
Bacalar Town On The Shores Of Lake Bacalar, The Lake of Seven Colors, Mexico

Regarding the first, yes, it is a touristy town, and there are foreigner-friendly facilities, but instead of larger-than-life resorts and all the big names in hospitality that, well, make Cancun Cancun, the tourism scene in Bacalar is led by boutique hotels.

A majority of them favor stress-free experiences, also, so booking yourself a $200-per-night Double Standard Suite in the casual, adults-only Bacalari could be the relaxing getaway you’re craving, away from Northern Quintana Roo’s infamous jungle rave scene.

Young Woman In A Yellow Dress Walking A Pier Stretching Out Onto Lake Bacalar, Mexican Caribbean, Mexico

You may be wondering how exactly Bacalar could be an alternative to Cancun if we’ve already mentioned it’s not coastal: it may not offer access to the Caribbean, but it does sit on the shores of Lake Bacalar, which is just as crystal-clear and, needless to say, seaweed-free.

It extends for 37 miles and is effectively a ‘mini Caribbean,’ hosting boat and kayaking tours and offering plenty of swim-friendly ‘beaches,’ minus the salt water and the crashing waves—if it’s turquoise waters you’re after, whether fresh or salty, Lake Bacalar will suit you just fine.

Credit: Source link