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Forecast: No Sargassum Season in Cancún This Year—but Other Beaches Not as Lucky | Frommer's Fabian Montano Hernandez / Shutterstock

Forecast: No Sargassum Season in Cancún This Year—but Other Beaches Not as Lucky

In recent years, summer has been peak sargassum season, with large, unsightly accumulations of the stinky brown seaweed piling up on beaches in Florida, the Caribbean, and Mexico's Riviera Maya. 

For the last few months, ocean researchers have been tracking a huge blob of the stuff floating in the Atlantic Ocean and headed westward in time to ruin summer vacation photos in places like Cancún, the Dominican Republic, and South Florida. 

In addition to marring a beach's appearance, the macroalgae is expensive to remove and tends to smell like rotten eggs when it starts decomposing on shore. That's because as it rots it produces hydrogen sulfide gas, the Florida Department of Health explains, potentially irritating the eyes, nose, and throat when inhaled, especially if you have asthma or other breathing issues. 

Touching sargassum itself doesn't cause skin problems such as stinging or rashes, experts say, though tiny organisms living in the seaweed might. 

For beachgoers with upcoming vacation plans this summer and into the early fall, a new sargassum forecast has good news and bad news, depending on where you're headed. 

Beaches Without Sargassum in 2024

Based on an analysis of satellite images and oceanographic conditions, hydrobiologist Esteban Amaro of Mexico's Sargassum Monitoring Network is projecting that the Mexican Caribbean—which includes Cancún and Riviera Maya resort towns such as Playa del Carmen and Tulum—will remain virtually sargassum-free from now to September, and possibly through the rest of the year. 

Though a small amount of the seaweed washed up in coastal areas in June, according to Seaweed Watch, no more sargassum should arrive after the first week of July.

Changing currents in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico appear to be pushing the big seaweed clump that was headed for Mexico to the north, per Amaro's forecast. 

So yay for Yucatán. But what about beaches to the north?

Beaches That Could Get a Lot of Sargassum in 2024

The updated forecast predicts that ocean currents are now dragging large amounts of sargassum toward the islands of the Caribbean's Lesser and Greater Antilles, especially Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, and Jamaica.

Dominican coasts could receive up to 10 million tons of sargassum by the end of summer, the forecast warns. The sargassum pileup is already well underway in Dominican resort areas such as Punta Cana, judging from social media feeds showing beaches clogged with macroalgae and cleanup crews.   

What About Sargassum in Florida This Year?

The sargassum trackers at the University of South Florida's Optical Oceanography Laboratory are fairly optimistic about Florida's chances for dodging a severe inundation in 2024. 

The researchers' most recent bulletin, released at the end of June, found that small amounts of sargassum were found in the Florida Keys last month, and those islands as well as beaches on the state's southeast coast (home of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach) could see additional amounts before the summer is over—but "not to an alarming level by any means."

Still, if you don't want to lay eyes on even a speck of sargassum during your Florida beach vacay, your best bet is reportedly to stick to the state's southwest coast along the Gulf of Mexico. Fort Myers Beach, Naples, and Sanibel are among the destinations that fit that particular bill. 

To keep tabs on the sargassum situation in your chosen destination in Florida, the Caribbean, or Mexico, consult the forecast maps available at

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