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Planning a couples getaway, family vacation or honeymoon in 2020 and looking for Caribbean beaches without seaweed? If you’ve been reading about sargassum seaweed problems in Mexico, Florida and the Caribbean, you might be wondering which Caribbean islands are not affected by seaweed and brown algae.
In order to help you decide where to travel, we’ve created a list of Caribbean beaches not affected by sargassum seaweed in the past.
We also consulted several expert resources for forecasts on sargassum seaweed in 2020. While there’s never a guarantee you won’t find sargassum seaweed, these beaches should be a good starting point for planning a Caribbean beach vacation in seaweed season.
The Sargassum Seaweed 2020 Forecast
The world’s largest sargassum seaweed bloom — known as the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt — now stretches 8850-kilometres long from West Africa to the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, says Science magazine.
And while there used to be an identifiable seaweed season of May to December, sargassum seaweed is arriving earlier, staying longer and the mats of seaweed are larger in size. This increases the likelihood of encountering the unpleasant brown algae on your Caribbean vacation.
But there is potentially some good news on the horizon for 2020.
According to the University of South Florida’s Outlook of Sargassum blooms in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, the level of sargassum seaweed in December 2019 was lower than it was in November 2018. This suggests that the seaweed season in 2020 may not be as extreme as it was in 2019. It’s likely to be similar to 2017, a moderate year.
The Caribbean islands most affected by sargassum seaweed in the past include Barbados, Tobago, Guadeloupe, Dominican Republic and Martinique. In 2020 some of these islands are already experiencing seaweed on their beaches. However, even on islands affected by an influx of sargassum algae often had beaches that were totally clear nearby.
While there’s no guarantee, if you’re planning a beach vacation and looking for Caribbean islands not affected by seaweed and Caribbean beaches without seaweed, here are some destinations to consider:
1. Grand Anse in St. Georges, Grenada – A Caribbean Beach Without Seaweed
With its organic bean-to-bar chocolate, artisanal rum plantations and mountainous interior dotted with waterfalls, there’s lots to love about the Caribbean island of Grenada without even considering its idyllic beaches. The hub for tourism on the island, Grand Anse regularly tops the list of the world’s best beaches due to its crystal clear waters and its 2 kilometre long stretch of white sand dotted with palm trees.
Grand Anse is also blessedly free of sargassum seaweed. Even at the height of seaweed season, you’ll rarely see anything except a star fish or two in the water. There are lots of resorts to choose from on Grand Anse Beach, but here are a few of my favourites:
Check prices at Silversands Grenada, the newest luxury hotel on Grand Anse Beach, Grenada.
Check availability and prices at Radisson Grenada Beach Resort, the best mid-range hotel on Grand Anse Beach, Grenada.
Check prices at the Siesta Hotel, a safe and clean budget hotel near Grand Anse Beach, Grenada.
Disclaimer: Sargassum seaweed conditions can change quickly due to prevailing winds, ocean currents, tides and other factors. It’s impossible to predict with any accuracy where seaweed with land. We take no responsibility for decisions made based on probabilities. Please confirm with your destination before booking.
2. Morne Rouge Beach on Grenada
This beautiful beach with turquoise blue waters is also on the island of Grenada. Morne Rouge also known as BBC Beach is less well known than Grand Anse Beach but is also rarely affected by sargassum seaweed.
It’s especially popular with families as the waters are very calm for swimming. Morne Rouge is a great option if you’re looking for a Caribbean beach without seaweed that’s family-friendly.
3. Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Another of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Grace Bay Beach features clear waters and powder soft sand. This long beach is protected by a barrier reef so is especially calm. The ocean bottom at Grace Bay Beach is smooth and clean.
Grace Bay in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos is definitely a destination to consider if you’re looking for Caribbean beach without seaweed for a family, couples or group vacation.
Note that although the Turks & Caicos participates in the Caribbean Development Bank, it’s technically situated north of the Caribbean and in the tropical Atlantic. However, the waters are as blue as the Caribbean!
On the opposite coast, Long Bay Beach is known to receive some seaweed on its shores. It’s more of a windswept beach with dramatic wave action and has its own unique beauty. If you love horseback-riding, Long Bay Beach also happens to be the beach where Provo Ponies takes riders to swim with their horses in the ocean – a truly unforgettable experience.
Check prices at The Somerset on Grace Bay, set on a perfect stretch of Grace Bay Beach.
4. Palm Beach on Aruba, Dutch Caribbean
The Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba is best known for its white sand beaches, luxury resorts and cooling trade winds. In addition to being located outside the hurricane belt, its famous beaches such as Eagle Beach, Palm Beach and Baby Beach also have the good fortune of being outside the sargassum seaweed belt.
So, if you’ve been spending the winter imagining yourself kicking back on a lounger, sipping a tropical cocktail at a beach bar and floating in idyllic Caribbean waters without any brown smelly seaweed to spoil the fantasy, then consider Aruba, one of the most reliable Caribbean islands without sargassum.
While there are several small, boutique-sized hotels in Aruba, here are two of our favourite large resorts on Palm Beach.
Check prices on the Holiday Inn Beach Resort & Casino, Palm Beach
Check prices on the Barcelo Aruba set on a prime stretch of beach with easy access to the beachfront walking path, swimming and water sports.
5. Playa Porto Mari on Curacao, Dutch Caribbean
One of the most beautiful beaches in Curacao also happens to be seaweed-free. Located on the west coast of the island of Curacao, Playa Porto Mari is a private beach which means there is an entrance fee ($3 USD) but along with the fee comes several amenities. Clean washrooms, an outdoor shower, parking, a lookout for photo ops, a floating dock, a restaurant/bar, lounge chairs for rent ($3.50 USD) and more, this is a beach that delivers the full tropical beach fantasy but with all the conveniences.
Although there are some rocks at the entry to the water, family-friendly Porto Mari has a sandy ocean bottom, gentle waves and no under currents as it’s protected by a double off-shore reef. It’s one of the beast beaches for snorkeling in Curacao and is also popular among scuba divers. There’s also the unique attraction of wild pigs that roam freely – you might spot them swimming or ambling by at the end of the day. Also nearby is Playa Daaiboo, a public beach with free admission
Check out our post on Free Things to Do in Curacao to learn about the wild flamingoes and other attractions on your way to PortoMari.
6. Bloody Bay and Long Bay Beaches in Negril, Jamaica
One of the largest Caribbean islands, Jamaica offers several coastlines and beaches to choose from. Although there have been some issues with foul smelling sargassum seaweed in Fort Clarence Beach near Kingston (and a few other areas), the beaches in Negril have generally been free of sargassum seaweed.
Note: There is a difference between seagrass (which grows on the ocean bottom) and Sargassum seaweed, a free-floating mass of seaweed that accumulates on the ocean’s surface. Learn more in the Sargassum Resource Guide published by the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST).
Check prices on Couples Swept Away Negril, an adults-only resort set on a beautiful stretch of beach in Negril.
7. Southern Tip of Antigua, Antigua & Barbuda
Although the luxurious St. James Club in Antigua in the Caribbean’s Leeward Islands had to shut down for three months in 2019 due to a massive influx of sargassum, there are other beaches on the island of Antigua that often escape waves of sargassum seaweed.
Located on the southern tip of Antigua, Curtain Bluff Resort is set on two beaches in a private setting that receives very little seaweed. The boutique resort features 72 rooms, all-inclusive gourmet dining as well as plenty of diversions including tennis, squash, sailing, guided snorkelling and sea kayaking.
For updates on other beaches such as Dickenson Beach home to Sandals Grande Antigua, browse the reports and photos of sargassum seaweed conditions in Antigua on the Antigua Sargassum Seaweed Observations Facebook group.
8. Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres and Other Beaches Without Seaweed in Mexico
If you have your heart set on visiting Mexico’s Caribbean coast, it’s still possible to find beaches with no sargassum seaweed along this vast coastline. While exposed eastern shores are most likely to get hit by surges of sargassum, some beaches such as Playa Norte on the island of Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo are generally seaweed-free. However, much depends on winds and ocean currents.
It’s also worth considering the beaches on Mexico’s Pacific Coast if you’re looking for beaches without seaweed. While the water along Mexico’s Pacific beaches is generally a darker blue and not as warm as the water along its Caribbean beaches, Pacific beaches aren’t affected by sargassum seaweed in the Atlantic.
Sargassum seaweed originates in the Atlantic so it doesn’t migrate to the Pacific.
Note: Red tide is a different phenomenon than sargasso seaweed and all beaches can temporarily be affected by red tide algae.
Some of the prettiest Mexican beaches are located on the the country’s Pacific Coast. Top beaches in Mexico without seaweed and worth considering for a beach vacation include Carrizalillo Beach (Puerto Escondido), Punta Mita, Mismaloya and Bucerias (near Puerto Vallarta) and Santa Cruz beach and San Agustin beach (Huatulco).
Check availability and prices on Zoetry Villa Rolandi Resort & Spa on Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo.
Sargassum Seaweed in the Caribbean in 2020
While Sargassum seaweed is not affecting all beaches and islands throughout the Caribbean, it is presenting a challenge in some regions and communities. Here are some resources to help you plan a Caribbean vacation.
Resources on Sargassum Seaweed
Get information on sargassum seaweed, its impact and uses, and best practice mitigation and management in the Sargassum Resources Guide prepared by the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism.
How to Predict Sargassum Seaweed-Free Beaches in the Caribbean
Even at the peak of the seaweed problem in Cancun, it was possible to find seaweed-free beaches to enjoy. For example, while there was sargassum seaweed on Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic other sections of the beach had no seaweed at all.
While there are several ways to try to predict the probability of whether the Caribbean destination you’re considering will be hit by waves of sargassum — from scrolling through satellite images on maps or scrolling through TripAdviser reports — there are several reasons that this isn’t a successful approach.
First, Global News reports that 25 per cent of Canadians book their Christmas travel more than three months in advance. So, if you’re planning to travel during prime holiday season or need to book your vacation time in advance, waiting for the sargassum forecast and booking a last minute trip might not be practical.
Secondly, seaweed predictions are based on a complex number of factors (historical levels, patterns, ocean temperatures and currents and more). They are probabilities only. So, you can’t count on them to be 100% accurate.
Websites for up-to-date Caribbean Sargassum Forecasts
Here are two resources worth consulting:
- Check the SEAS Program for updated information about when and where sargassum is going to be. Click to access the Seas Forecast. ere to see the seaweed forecast.
- Check the probability of a Caribbean seaweed bloom on the University of South Florida’s satellite-based Sargassum Watch System ( SaWS) to track seaweed in real time.
- For the Caribbean coast of Mexico from Cancun to Tulum, visit the Red de Monitoreo del Sargazo Cancun Facebook page for weekly updates on seaweed conditions.
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