At present (August 2018), the seaweed in situation in Playa del Carmen has been hitting our beaches pretty hard.
As a traveler coming to this part of paradise, we understand that’s the last thing you want to hear before you embark on your trip.
Our commitment to bringing you best honest and useful advice means that you can still have an unforgettable trip even when the beaches aren’t looking as you had expected.
Although Playa del Carmen is synonymous with beach days you’ll be pleased to know that it is home to a variety of other lush and fascainting eco systems for you to explore.
Mother nature is a force to be reckoned with and unfortunately, we can’t control the amount of seaweed she brings to our shores, however, what we can control is the quality of your trip despite this.
Why is There Seaweed in Playa del Carmen?
The whole of the Riviera Maya including some places in Cancun are currently suffering the stink of seaweed on their beaches.
Although the reasons aren’t always clear many researchers believe the increase in seaweed is in direct correlation with climate change.
In this region of the world, high temperatures couples with low winds affect the oceans currents dramatically.
The Sea of Sargasso
Located just beyond the Bermuda Triangle in the Atlantic Ocean there is vast area beneath the oceans surface home to tons of free-floating seaweed, AKA as Sargassum.
Although, this is the root of many travelers despair this area of seaweed is home to a vast number of vibrant marine life.
Because the sea of Sargasso isn’t defined by any land borders or coastline it’s dynamics are ultimately determined by the strength and direction of the sea currents.
Consequently stretches of seaweed are often released in huge chunks, measuring up to miles long, and even visible by aircraft.
Where the seaweed meets the shore is determined solely by sea currents.
What Time of Year is There Less Likely to Be Any Seaweed?
As you can imagine this is a question the region as a whole experiences a lot.
The truthful answer?
There is no wasy way to predict when there is going to be seaweed and when the beaches are going to look clear.
Sometimes only certain areas may be affected, but in the past week, the entire stretch of the Riviera Maya from Playa del Carmen down to Tulum is witnessing the effects.
How Can you Check and Plan for Seaweed Before Your Trip?
Of course, coming to the Mexican Caribbean you’re probably dreaming about idyllic beaches and it is more than likely you will get to see them in all their pride and glory!
But on the off-chance you are the victim of a seaweed invasion in your area or at your hotel, you can take comfort in the fact that there are lots of wonderful things for you to do instead.
The good news?
Some of them are even FREE and don’t worry we will make sure you still get your fair share of water activities.
2 Ways to Check for Seaweed Before Your Vacation
- Luckily for you, many of the hotels actually have live webcams that give you a real-time picture of what their beaches look like at that moment.
You can either Google the hotel you are staying at to see if they have their own or use this webcam.
2. Another option would be to consult the Sargassum Early Advisory System for a forecast. Check the Yucatan Passage 18 for a forecast of seaweed in this area.
Are There Any Efforts Made To Clean Up The Seaweed?
Of course, if you are staying at 5* all-inclusive you can expect that every effort will be made to clean up the beaches as best as possible.
Many of the larger hotels have invested in tractors to remove seaweed from the shorelines of their properties, however, we should note depending on the oceans currents it’s not always an easy job.
The Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen if The Beach Isn’t Great
Regardless of whether it’s raining or glorious sunshine in the region rest assured there is ALWAYS something to do.
From sublime cenotes to epic zip lining jungle adventures we’ve got you covered!
1. Visit a Cenote
In my opinion, cenotes are way better than the beach, especially if you have children because you don’t have to worry about strong currents or the salt water getting in their eyes.
Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya as a whole is home to hundreds of fascinating and stunning cenotes.
You can either go and see one as part of a guided tour or simply go off and explore one on your own.
In Playa del Carmen, there is a beautiful cenote called Cenote Azul just 20 minutes by taxi from the downtown area costing around 200 pesos = $16 USD.
This stunning freshwater area has different areas with various depth so whether you just want to sit and laze in the sun as you cool off, or dive in from a height there is something for everyone.
All you have to do is pay the entrance fee at the door which starts at $7-8 USD per adult.
TOP TIP: bring plenty of water and snacks as you won’t find much to purchase here.
When visiting Mexico, yes, it’s definitely easy to become mesmerized by the glistening beaches and impressive hotels, but the region is also encapsulated by lush, tropical jungle that houses many secrets and wonders of its own.
During any vacation, it’s absolutely essential that you squeeze in some adventure activities because they are what turn a great trip into an unforgettable one.
Selvatica has held on to it’s reigning title as TripAdvisor’s best ‘outdoor activity’ for many years now, amongst a whole host of other credible accolades.
At this attraction, you can soar like a bird down a variety of different thrilling zip lines, race through the jungle on a state-of-the-art offroad Polaris, traverse hanging aerial bridges, and even cap off the day with a swim in cenote Selvatica.
The best part is that they have a range of different tours to choose from depending on your budget and how long you want to spend at the attraction (half-day/full-day).
The reviews really do speak for themselves, but the highlights of Selvatica for many people are the wide variety of zip lines and service /enthusiasm of the people that work here.
At Selvatica you’ll get to experience not 1 but 5 different kinds of zip lines!
- Tarzania – think zip line meets rollercoaster.
- Superflight – fly like a superhero head first through the jungle.
- Glove Control – control your own speed with your hand.
- Upside Down – see the jungle from a completely new perspective.
- Cenote Splash – zoom into the cenote and expect to make a splash!
Pricing varies depending on the time of year you visit, the time slot you choose, and the size of your group.
For an immediate quote head to their website and talk to one of Selvatica’s live chat assistants.
3. Visit Cozumel
In Playa del Carmen
you will have direct an immediate access to the island of Cozumel thanks to the pier and the ferries that make regular crossings.
When the seaweed is bad in Playa del Carmen 9 times out of 10 the west side of the island of Cozumel is completely clear largely due to its geographical position.
The crossing takes around 45 minutes and the ferries run every day, hourly.
You can catch the first ferry at 6.45 am and the last one at 11.00 pm, for more information check out the up-to-date ferry schedules here.
Barcos Caribe is the cheapest provider of tickets. Adults pay just $8 and the child’s price is $4.
Here you can enjoy a whole host of exciting activities.
Relax at one of the many amazing beach clubs, do a spot of shopping, visit cultural ruins, go diving, head to Playa Mia, visit a turtle sanctuary, the options are endless.
Even if the seaweed situation isn’t bad in Playa it’s definitely worth spending a day of your vacation exploring this beautiful island!
Location of ferry pier.
4. Play Golf
Golfing fanatics, rejoice!
You will be pleased to know that this area of the world is home to many spectacular courses.
In fact, Playa del Carmen is home to the only official PGA course outside the USA and Canada!
Expect pristine courses, gorgeous weather, and world-class service.
In this region, you will find courses that have the ocean or beautiful waterways as their backdrop. Plus, plenty of foliage, jungle, and wildlife to add to the tropical ambiance.
You’re guaranteed great weather so indulge in a little healthy competition, it is always a great way to pass the time.
Many hotels have their own golf course but don’t worry if you’re not staying there it is always possible to book on and just use their services for the day.
Our top recommendations would be:
- Palace Resorts
- Mayakoba Resorts
- Hard Rock Hotels
5. Wander 5th Avenue
At the heart of downtown Playa del Carmen, you will find 5th Avenue!
This 5-mile strip runs through the heart of the city and is dedicated to all your touristic needs.
You’ll find everything here from world-class restaurants, cheap eats, shops, bars, nightclubs, museums and more!
Wandering through the cities heart is a great chance to enjoy a cocktail, do some souvenir shopping, and marvel at incredible art.
You will find all kinds of different shops, so don’t worry there is something for everyone.
Whether you’re looking for a new bikini or your husband would like to purchase some cigars 5th Avenue has got you covered.
You don’t even have to worry about getting lost, it’s virtually impossible, 5th Avenue runs in a direct straight line from north to south or vise verser!
Definitely worth paying a visit!
6. Rooftop Pools
Are the beaches a mess but you still want to sunbathe and top up your tan? Maybe enjoy a cold drink or two and listen to some music?
Sometimes being covered in sand, fighting your way back to shore, and dodging pesky seaweed or rocks can all just get a bit much.
Playa del Carmen is home to an abundance of amazing rooftop pools where you can enjoy views of the beach without all the fuss and stinky seaweed.
Whether you prefer a relaxed vibe, party pools, or an ultra modern space Playa has a rooftop pool for you.
Calle 12 & 5th Avenue
Regardless of whether you are staying at this fabulous hotel or not you will be able to utilize their fantastic rooftop pool. Just a word of warning this place boasts SPECTACULAR Views.
Every aspect of the Thompson is ultra-modern taking luxury to a whole new level.
The pool is shaped to look like a winding river, featuring state of the art sun beds and intimate alcoves.
It can get a little pricey for food and drink but it is totally worth it.
Definitely stay for the sunset, you don’t want to miss it.
Direction: Calle 26 & 10th Avenue
If you want to get a taste of the local vibe here in Playa and hang out with people who actually leave, expats included head over to BeRoof.
This place regularly hosts local and international DJs so if you’re a music lover be sure to check it out.
If there’s a must-go-to rooftop party going on in Playa, you know it will be here.
It is a much smaller pool compared to many of the others here in Playa.
Although it’s not the most ideal choice if you do really want to swim, you can cool off in between dancing, eating, and drinking!
3) The Palm
Direction: Calle 6 bis & 10th Avenue
At the Palm one rooftop pool simply wasn’t enough, they decided that they needed several.
Cool off in the sublime water, laze in the gorgeous hammocks, or rest on the luxuriously plush sun beds.
This option is definitely one of the lesser known rooftop pools and therefore offers a more quiet and relaxed experience.
Great for those days where you just want to chill out.
We hope you found this article useful!
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Do you think we missed anything off our list? Be sure to let us know in the comments section we would love to hear from you.