Perched at the top of the Caribbean, around 23 kilometers of white sand beaches are the home of 700,000 residents and attract a few million of tourists every year. Cancun beaches are actually made of crushed coral, this the sand will generally feel cool underneath bare feet – despite the weather.
These white beaches and turquoise crystal clear waters see thousands of turtles return to their original home to lay eggs around May. The turtles nests are located right in the middle of the Hotel Zone in Cancún. Fortunately, the eggs are protected and safe from harm as residents, hotel owners and tourists alike are encouraged to participate in this labour.
Cancun’s history has been eventful. The development of the resort area for tourism began in January 1970. Before then, it is said that only 3 residents called this island a home. Then, in 2005, Hurricane Wilma hit Cancun and wrecked almost half of the beaches. Over $70million was invested into a restoration project, which dug up gallons of sand from the sea bed to rebuild the white beaches of Cancun.
Additionally, Cancun has been battling with sargassum seaweed for the past several years; especially this past year was a very difficult year for the tourism sector. Sargassum is a naturally occurring phenomenon in the summer, but it has increased over the last several years. Its increment is an indication of pollution and increased damage caused by human activity.
This rapid intensification of sargassum represents a latent threat for the destruction of reefs, the erosion of beaches, the tourist contraction and an impact on an important income of the national Gross Domestic Product for Mexico. Despite the allegations of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador who does not consider the seaweed to be particularly problematic. Even after the government has contributed $2.6 million USD towards removal efforts.
It is not all gloom though. Sargassum has triggered research and experimentation for its uses and recycling. It recently has been used in the preparation of blocks or bricks to be used in construction, where it is ecologically more friendly and economically more profitable than its alternatives. Other uses for the sargassum are in the pharmaceutical and textile industries, or the seaweed has been converted into biofertilizer.
With all its ups and downs, for now, Cancun remains a favourite holiday destination. Though beware of the season for it will define the type of fellow tourists you share these white sandy beaches with.