Cancún Beach Recovery

Beach takes two steps forward, one step back

June 29th, 2006 by Mel Zelniker filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún

This report concerns the beach front between Park Royal and the Cancún Palace. 

This morning, whether from neglect or design, the beaches were positively filthy. It was as though Fonatur [the Mexican tourism development agency] has given up on cleaning the beaches, which were clogged with huge bundles of seaweed and other detritus.

Looking south from Playa BallenasIt seemed as though the Park Royal had attempted a small cleanup, but it could also be the meter to meter and a half ‘shelf’ in front of the property keeping the seaborne garbage off the beach.

The beaches in front of Le Meridien and Ritz Carlton have lost their shelves and the sea has deposited what appears to be about five meters…

Cancún: the jewel in the crown

June 28th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún

Aerial photo of Cancun Hotel Zone courtesy of Cancún Visitors Bureau
This recent photo clearly shows Punta Cancún (foreground) and the restored beach heading south. View a (dazzling) larger version.

Photo courtesy of Cancún Visitors Bureau (Oficina de Visitantes y Convenciones de Cancún), with additional thanks to Manuel Cuevas and Sandra Ibarra of William H. Coleman Inc.

June beach update

June 13th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún, Photos

The ecology zone in front of the Golden Crown Paradise. Le Meridien can be seen in the backgroundAfter walking the beach and getting well crisped by the sun, Mel Zelniker took this photo of the beach in front of the Cancún Palace on June 4th.

While the hotel is being re-developed, an "Ecological Restoration Area" has been planted at the back of the beach. A ‘beautification’ project really.

View a larger version of  Mel’s photo of the beach.

Mel adds that it appears the beach cleaning is restricted to hotels that are open; the area in front of Le Meridien (the green-roofed building in the background) is pristine, while the area next door in front of the Ritz Carlton is laden with seaweed and junk.

Another photo of the ecological restoration area, and another.

The long goodbye

April 13th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún

Two weeks ahead of schedule, and a just a few days short of six months after Hurricane Wilma left her ugly footprint on Cancún, the resort now boasts miles of golden sand.

Gabriela Rodríguez Gálvez - photo courtesy Diario de Yucatan"Jan de Nul is getting ready to pack its bags" Gabriela Rodríguez Gálvez, Secretary of Tourism for Quintana Roo state (pictured) declared yesterday.

She added that the last recycled sand was being flushed onto a 70m stretch of beach in front of the hotel El Pueblito, the only section of the 11.7km (7-mile) strip which did not get its promised measure of 25m first time round.

While the two dredgers disappear over the horizon, Belgian maritime engineering company Jan de Nul may yet win…

In brief…

April 12th – Bloomberg journalist Thomas Black does a good job of pulling together the facts on the beach recovery in this article.

Back to the future

April 12th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún

Playa Delfines, April 11th - photo: Steve Just as some of us anticipated, it seems that Jan de Nul has returned to the spot where they began the beach recovery project on February 1st. Probably to sort out the issue of the sand "wall".

Many thanks to Steve Wright of CancunCare.com who took this image of the outfall pipe in position on Playa Delfines, ready (presumably) to start pumping sand today.

Here’s another photo… taken just north of El Pueblito and looking south towards the Westin and Punta Nizuc.

What a difference a day makes…

April 5th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún, Photos

Beach recovery, Le Blanc, April 5th - photo: Jim Wehrle24 hours later… Le Blanc now has a beach.

These guys sure work fast.

This stretch of the beach was wiped out by Hurricane Wilma. You can see what little remained in this photo taken just last week by Nancy McElroy, who is, alas, now back home in Michigan.

View a slideshow of Jim Wehrle’s before and after photos from April 4th and 5th.

Cancún beach recovery enters home straight

April 4th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún

Beach recovery in front of Le Blanc, April 4th - photo: Jim WehrleThe beach recovery operation has now reached the Le Blanc Spa Resort.

Approx. 1 – 1.5 km left to go (view a map).

Thanks to Jim Wehrle, who took this photo early this morning from the Royal Sunset. View a larger version.

A line in the sand

March 21st, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún

Beach at The Royal Sands, March 20th, 2006 - photo courtesy Royal Resorts Peter Grosser paced out the vast "re-loaded" beach (as Mel described it) at the Royal Sands at the weekend. He confirms that at this point the beach is upwards of 50m wide ("83 paces" to be exact).

I’m grateful to Peter for taking time out of his vacation (or was he avoiding the packing?) for settling this conundrum.

Read Peter’s full report here.

Photo taken at the Royal Sands, March 20th. With thanks to Royal Resorts. View a larger version

Meanwhile, at the southern end of the Hotel Zone, scene of the most alarming shrinkage to the already recovered beach, the "wall" has reduced in height a little. Most of the rocks…

Mother Nature’s way

March 17th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún

After a double helping of rumination over that "sand wall" (or ‘shelf’) on Tuesday and Wednesday, I thought I’d post this snippet from a recent email received from Mel Zelniker in Cancún.

"The ‘shelf’ you speak of is a not uncommon happening here. Last week we went to Playa Delfines, one of the first re-loaded beaches.

"On our first day there the shelf was an impressive 2 to 3 foot affair with lots of shells and bits to be excavated from the water side.

"When we returned the very next day, the shelf was gone.

"I don’t know if this was the result of sculpting by Fonatur [the Mexican tourism…

More sand at the Sands

March 16th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún, Photos

Kudos to Royal Resorts for their constantly updated photo galleries, which are a real treat. The information they provide is head and shoulders above their Hotel Zone neighbours.

Beach recovery at Royal Sands, March 15th, 2006 - photo courtesy Royal ResortsThis photo was taken yesterday (March 15th) in front of the Royal Sands, looking south.

View a larger version

It’s noteworthy, I think, because it’s the first image I’ve seen that clearly shows the vast width of the reclaimed beach.

We learned yesterday that up to 58m of sand is being pumped onto the Cancún’s beaches (not 30m), with the expectation that it will shrink naturally to approx. 25m.

The beach looked like this just five days ago.

With just under 8km of beach…

In brief…

March 16th – More polemics over the possible environmental effects of Cancún’s beach reclamation project.


A contrary view – and those overseeing the project claim to have evidence – is that Hurricane Wilma was responsible for the damage, and not the dredging company, Jan de Nul.

Digging deeper into the sand trap

March 15th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún, News

The recent wind swell has abated and the beach transplant operation pushes on towards Punta Cancún.

But everything in its wake has changed, and there’s a bit of a hoo-hah over the suddenness that 10-20 metres of recovered beach washed away, leaving a ‘wall’ several feet high in places.

An article (language: Spanish) in today’s La Jornada features another photo.

Was this anticipated and factored into the models, or has Cancún suffered a setback? Frankly, it’s hard to make a judgment.

I sense some unease however, even from my long-distance vantage point.

The dredgers, bulldozers and tractors kept us all mesmerized for weeks – I said as much last month –…

Big on bluster but short on sand

March 14th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún, News

First the good news… recycled sand began to be pumped onto what was left of the beach at the Royal Sands complex on Monday. [Photo courtesy Royal Resorts]

But a few kilometres further south, all is not well.

La Jornada frontpage March 14th, 2006 After six weeks of spectacular progress (and unstinting positivity on my part), sections of the reclaimed beach have haemorrhaged sand after a few days of pounding waves.

Compare this photo of the recently ‘nourished’ beach that fronts the Royal Solaris hotel taken by Jim Wehrle on March 3rd, with another photo Jim captured on March 11th. The erosion is glaringly self evident.

Hoteliers must be observing the deterioration with increasing alarm, while bemused…

Strong winds interrupt beach recovery

March 13th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún

Stiff coastal breezes and roily seas whipped the Mexican Caribbean over the weekend and temporarily suspended the beach recovery operation in Cancún.

The two dredgers, the Filippo Brunelleschi (pictured last week) and Barent Zanan (pictured on Saturday), remain anchored in the Bahía de Isla Mujeres until conditions calm a little.

Authorities in Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and Puerto Juárez all briefly closed their ports to small craft.

Rollin’ on to the Ritz

March 11th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún, Photos

Cancun beach recovery reaches Ritz Carlton - photo: Jim Wehrle Jan de Nul have all but completed their work in front of the Ritz Carlton.

Photo, right, taken this afternoon by Jim Wehrle.

After frenetic progress since February 1st, work on the Cancún beach recovery has visibly slowed after three days of windy conditions and choppy seas.

However, the equipment will shortly be assembled at the Royal Sands, which is next in line for a beach makeover.

The project is now 60 per cent complete and still on course to reach Punta Cancún before the April 30th contract deadline.

My unofficial beach recovery timeline