2020 The Best Year for the Beaches of the Riviera Maya in Recent Times

Playa Del Carmen beach
The year 2020 has been the best year in the past 5 for seaweed amounts.

Beautiful water and the least amount of seaweed in 5 years

Many of you know that the past few years we have been getting sargassum (seaweed) washing ashore on our beaches. We first wrote about the seaweed issue in 2015 when it had become evident that it was not just a random event. The first year, everyone was wondering if it would go away the next season, and then when it did not, people started to worry. For the past 5 years in the Caribbean, nations have had tons of seaweed washing ashore. 

The situation started to affect tourism as people were turned off of the idea of less than perfect beaches.  People would check conditions before booking a trip, even changing locations of where they would visit. It has kept each of the past few years from being blockbuster years, but still a lot of people came to visit. We even wrote a guide to what local beaches tend to have less seaweed so people could visit or book hotels near them. 

What has been done for the seaweed in the past?

The main thing people could do in the Riviera Maya was to continually rake the beaches and remove the seaweed. Ideas for the containment and removal ranged from boats that would collect it offshore to floating barriers. Barriers were tried in many locations along the Rivera Maya but these did not work well. When the waves got a little larger, it washed the seaweed over the barriers. Other times the barriers came un anchored and washed ashore, letting all the seaweed to pass to the beach. 

Below you can see a partial area of beach sectioned off with a barrier. The one side is included in a sectioned off area and the other side of the barrier is open water. There is not much difference between the two sides. But thankfully we have not had to worry much about seaweed lately. 

seaweed barrier
This photo shows an end of the seaweed barrier coming to shore. On one side you can see a little less seaweed in the water.

Improving conditions since October 2019

Around October of 2019 the beaches of the Riviera Maya started to improve. Was this temporary or would it equate into a better situation? Well, we are pleased to say that for the most part, since October 2019 we have had the best year yet! Shortly before the beaches opened to the public again after the quarantine, we did have a bit of seaweed. Overall, though, we are having the best year out of the past 5 for clear beaches. This is just one of the reasons why the Riviera Maya is going to benefit this year for tourism. 

Why are the beaches so nice now?

Even though the Caribbean waters remain very warm, (which help produce more sargassum) we are seeing clearer conditions. Some say that tropical storm and hurricane activity has changed currents, allowing for clearer seas. Whatever the cause, better beaches with less seaweed, we consider it very good luck. 

We hope this trend continues. We will however keep you updated on beach conditions and everything else here in Playa Del Carmen and the Riviera Maya. Below are some stunning photos taken this year of the beaches. They were both taken in September 2020 and show how nice some of the beaches are now. 

beaches Playa Del Carmen
Just check out this beautiful beach in front of Playa Del Carmen in September 2020!


Tulum beach
This is a beach in Tulum in September 2020.


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  1. Any plans in PDC for another beach reclamation project?
    The beaches from Playacar all the way through downtown are almost gone.

    • There was word a few months ago but the budget got cut for that. Most beach replenishment projects only last a short while and have negative impacts that have to be balance out. The recent piers that were built have changed some of the currents and this has damaged the beaches, but added to the beach in other areas.

  2. Do you know where I can rent a stationary bike here in Playa Del Carmen? I have to have knee surgery and need to ride a bike a few times a day for about two months. Don’t want to go to the Gym. Thank you for any help you can give me. Carolyn

    • We don’t know if any place that rents them. One option, if you can find one, is the under the desk just pedals and gear for the motion. They sell them on infomercials. There is a medical supply store next to the imms hospital on 30th Avenue and 4th where they might have something.

  3. This is my favourite website on any and all things Playa del Carmen. It’s our “go-to”. We learned to take the “Collectivos” from this website. Our first adventure was to Tulum. I’ve got it pinned on my bookmarks. Thanks so much for all you do for us PDC lovers. All the best!

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