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Where is the beach? Beach erosion hits Playa Del Carmen hard

Playa Del Carmen beach erosion

Playa Del Carmen Beach Erosion Hits Hard

Beach erosion in Playa Del Carmen is always a topic since the shore line is always changing naturally. Beaches change with the season and storms. Some storms change the current and push the ocean more aggressively toward the beach in Playa Del Carmen. Lately though we have seen some of the worst beach erosion in Playa Del Carmen. The photos below will show you what the current condition of the beaches are.

“We are going to have to soon change the name to Del Carmen because the “playa” has practically disappeared.”

The bad beach erosion is a second hit to the beaches in Playa Del Carmen. If you remember back in late 2014 and 2015 there was a massive amount of seaweed that washed ashore. This made many of the beaches unsuitable for swimming and it caused an unknown amount of damage to the tourism industry as people canceled trips to the area. This also had an impact in 2016 as some people still considered other areas for vacation as the image of beautiful beaches was tarnished by the natural phenomena.

Tourism impact and the quality of the beaches in Playa Del Carmen

The beach is the single most important aspect of Playa Del Carmen for tourism. It is the number one reason why people come to Playa and people expect there actually to be a beach. Without a good beach tourist will soon be migrating north and south of Playa Del Carmen to other towns or even to other destinations in the Caribbean. This is what happened because of the seaweed problem of  2014-2015. An unknown amount of damage to the tourism industry was caused because people canceled trips to the area. This also had an impact in 2016 as some people still considered other areas for vacation as the image of beautiful beaches was tarnished by the natural phenomena.

Locally the impact of beach erosion in Playa Del Carmen hits hard at beachfront restaurants, beach clubs, and hotels that promise that stay in paradise by the beach. This also filters into the whole economy of Playa Del Carmen as a slow done in business takes on a ripple effect.

Where is the worst beach erosion taking place?

There are two main areas of beach where the erosion is the worst. The first area is from 4th Street to Constituyentes Avenue and from about 42nd Street to Canibal Royal Beach Club which is about 48th Street. The map below highlights these areas.

Map of the erosion taking place in Playa Del Carmen

Photos of the beach erosion in Playa Del Carmen

Here are some shocking phots of how much of the beach in Playa Del Camren is gone!  These photos we taken by us on January 10th, 2017. We will keep you up-to-date on the situation. In the short term we think things will get somewhat better but in the long term we hope a more overall fix will be in place to restore the beaches of Playa Del Carmen.

We will start with photos on the south end and work up the beach to show you the photos.

The beach near 4th Street is so bad that they had to put sand bags around the palm trees to protect them from falling over.

Playa Del Carmen beach erosion

Sand bags protect palm trees near 4th Street.

The poor palm trees have hard the roots exposed by the crashing waves.

Playa Del Carmen beach erosion

The roots of a palm tree are exposed by the waves taking all the sand.

A father and son try to navigate the rocky beach since all the sand is gone. This photo is looking north from near 4th Street.

Playa Del Carmen beach erosion

Careful where you walk, the beach is gone.

Looking north from about half way between 4th Street and 6th Street you can see the rocky shores of Playa Del Carmen. Most of the beach from 4th Street to 10th Street is rocky now.

Playa Del Carmen beach erosion

Looking north towards El Faro.

What used to be covered by sand is now exposed rock. This is just north of 6th Street by the old Fusion Bar. So much for running into the ocean for a swim. As you see, no one is in the water swimming here.

Playa Del Carmen beach erosion

Large rocks are exposed on the beach.

A narrow beach indeed! This is just by the lighthouse in the middle of Playa Del Carmen. Zenzi Beach Club is just ahead where chairs and people walking fight for the remaining space on the beach.

Playa Del Carmen beach erosion

The narrow beach at 10th Street.

In front of 12th Street they have resorted to adding rocks to protect the remaining palm trees and their buildings from getting washed under.

Playa Del Carmen beach erosion

Stones are piled up to protect the palm trees  at 12th Street.

Coco Maya has almost no beach now and looking north, Indigo Beach Club is suffering a lot of loss of beach.

Playa Del Carmen beach erosion

Coco Maya’s beach is gone and palm trees have exposed roots.

Has the water really taken away this much beach? Well the whole story with this pier is, it was built but not maintained. The first section has already fallen off, but that only accounts for about 15 feet (3 meters). The rest of the beach is all gone here which is near 16th Street. So you can imagine what this area looked like before when the beach reached the pier.

Playa Del Carmen beach erosion

A pier is a long walk through water to get to it.

The Gran Porto Hotel has been fighting for a long time to save this beach. There are both visible smaller white sand bags imbedded in the beach and also larger black bags that were places to slow the water.

Playa Del Carmen beach erosion

The beach next to the Gran Porto Hotel.

On the north end of Playa Del Carmen near 48th Street, you can find the Canibal Royal. The beach has been all washed away and men work on installing large black bags to prevent beach erosion. You can also see in the foreground one palm tree that succumb to the waves.

Playa Del Carmen beach erosion

In front of Canibal Royal Beach Club.

What is your opinion? What is the best way to protect the beach and the environment? How should this be done to protect the beaches of Playa Del Carmen? Let us know in the comments below.

23 Comments on Where is the beach? Beach erosion hits Playa Del Carmen hard

  1. I was at Indigo Beach Club May 2016 and then again a day after the storms on Nov 1, 2016, the loss of beach just in those 6 months was startling. I have read that there has been a little bit of progress on the ocean receding right there, but obviously this is a long term issue that the area is going to have to deal with or there will no longer be a beach to visit. As stated the tourists will go elsewhere. Not only are the beaches in danger, but so are the buildings right on the edge of the ocean, the more erosion the closer the water is to the hotels and restaurants.

    • Cynthia James // February 26, 2017 at 10:58 AM // Reply

      I have lived near the Mayan Riviera for 20 years. The erosion has happened due to the over development of the coast. Too many hotels have been built on top of the wetlands which are a natural buffer against erosion.
      The storms wash in but have no where to be absorbed by the land that has been filled with concrete. The waves just wash up and pull the sand away from the shore.
      Global warming is increasing the water level as well. This erosion is happening in California as well.
      Stop building! You are killing the goose that laid the golden egg!

  2. Robert Rangel // January 13, 2017 at 8:14 AM // Reply

    More rock and concrete are needed to use as a stronger foundation to keep sand from being washed away by the tide. Like they did for Cancun’s beach. Maybe even an artificial reef or barrier to be built 400-500 yards off the beach to slow the tides ebb and flow. We love Playa Del Carmen more than any other part of the Riviera Maya and hope it’s restored again.

  3. Wow, hate to see this again. I remember when it happened a few years back and they pumped in a new beach. I was there in July and it did not look like this…then back in November and was amazed. It happens so fast. Hopefully they will pump in new beach again.

  4. This explains a lot. We walked this stretch several times recently and wondered why the pier was way out in the water…

  5. I am assuming this is an issue that occurs over the “winter” months however it looks to be extreme this year. What month does the beach usually start to come back?

    • It is rougher seas in the winter and it really depends on the wind and weather. When the wind blows from the sea and the waves lash the beach, the erosions starts. Usually by the end of March is when it is more calm.

  6. Reinier van Dantzig // January 13, 2017 at 11:15 AM // Reply

    I am a condo owner in playa palms
    The beach is disappearing ,in Curaçao in the Dutch caribian, they had a similar problem
    At The Mambo Beach, Sea Aquarium area, beach they made an artificial reef en put sand for a new beach.
    The Dutch firm Fugro is specialist in this ,they can solve the problem.
    The Dutch are specialist in protecting land against the water.

  7. That’s bad news indeed.

    What about the areas north and south of Mamita’s Beach Club and north of Arrecife Playa del Carmen?

  8. Is anything being done by the government or city officials to come up with a solution to the eroding beaches? Or will they just let the sea take what has been built? So so sad. I love Playa Del Carmen, but seeing these pictures of the erosion are not appealing to not only myself, but I’d imagine tons of other tourists that visit the area. Here’s to hoping there is a plan in place to fix the problems…erosion, and open sewer drain that was discovered in the sea close to cannibal royal.

  9. What about the Fonden, the fund that is responsible for refilling the sand periodically in Playacar? They pay a Dutch engineering company to dredge sand from a sand bank near Cozumel and dump it in Playacar. My opinion is if what you are selling is beach, then you better spend some money and get some sand. This area totally depends economically on tourism looking for beautiful beaches, and there is plenty of competition, so, wake up Playenses, and smell the coffee!!

  10. Thomas mccormick // January 15, 2017 at 9:22 PM // Reply

    I am sure destruction of the mangroves play a part. The government and the beach condos and resorts should all contribute to rectify this problem.

  11. We stayed close to Coco Beach this April. The beach was awful from there, all they way Senior Frogs in the Main Plaza area. Between the erosion and the Seaweed, it was crazy. Hopefully they can get a handle on it. I won’t go back until they do.

    • Mr.Yucatan // May 21, 2017 at 7:41 PM // Reply

      Thank you for your comments Jackie. The beaches are very important to Playa and everyone involved need to have a part in keeping them in good shape for both tourist and locals.

  12. How is the beach erosion now in Playa Del Carmen? Is it better? We are looking to book a hotel in the center and want to be able to have a beach to visit.

    • Mr.Yucatan // May 30, 2017 at 12:03 PM // Reply

      Hello Cynthia

      Since we took the photos for this article, it has improved a lot. It is not as perfect as it was a few years ago and there are still issues. We would not book a hotel in the area of 12th street to Constituyentes because the beach is bad there right now. Other areas will be fine.

  13. They need to build a Breakwater wall. Way out, this will slow the surf and it will totally protect the beach. I’ve seen them before they work.

  14. Susanne Oberst // October 28, 2017 at 8:01 PM // Reply

    How is the beach around 38th St? Want to take my folks to Mexico for their first time, and would like there to be a nice beach. =)

    • Hello Susanne
      The beach is normal width now. Just north toward 40th-46th Street it can smell a little sulfur like. So the area at the end of 38th is good but if you walk a couple of blocks south you hit Mamitas with lots of people. You might like going to the beach south of the Cozumel Ferry Pier. It is nicer to walk south and you can walk further.

  15. How is the beach errosion in front of Residence El faro, taking first timers and want to pick a location that will make great lasting impressions.

    • The beach is in fairly good shape with not much erosion. It is about 30 feet from the building to waters edge. North of here the beach is not as nice until you get past Constituyentes. Playacar has the best beach now in Playa but that is all large all inclusive hotels only.

  16. Just came back from PDC. Been going there many years. But this time the beach was terrible. And there is a large quantity of sand in the surf along with seaweed. Even in our swim suits we were covered in sand and weeds. Which leaf to itch and rashes. Never a problem before. We had to teach the kids to try to remove all that before leaving the ocean. The atmosphere is less fun as often only room for 3 rows of chairs. It’s sad but I had to google today to ask “what happened”. It may be eating up the beach but the sand is still in the water.

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