Popular beaches in Mexico unsafe for swimming after discovery of dangerous bacteria

People walk on Manzanillo beach in Mexico.
People walk on Manzanillo beach in Mexico. Copyright Pixabay
Copyright Pixabay
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
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Three beaches in Acapulco have dangerously high levels of bacteria in the water.


Three popular tourist beaches in Mexico have been deemed unsafe for swimming after they failed cleanliness tests.

The beaches were found to have levels of bacteria considered dangerous to humans by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The area affected is one of Mexico’s most popular holiday destinations and the swimming ban may disrupt travel plans.

The news comes as Mexico continues to battle an invasion of smelly seaweed on its shores.

Which Mexican beaches are unsafe for swimming?

The three beaches where swimming has been banned are all located in Acapulco, a beach resort town on Mexico's Pacific coast.

The water in this area failed to pass the WHO’s cleanliness tests, which involve measuring the levels of bacteria present including E. coli, faecal matter and enterococci.

According to the guidelines, every 100 millilitres of beach water must have fewer than 200 enterococcus faecalis - a bacteria living in the gastrointestinal tracts of humans that can cause a variety of infections.

Alexandre Meneghini/AP 2011
A vendor walks by a red warning flag on Playa de Oro, or Gold beach in the Pacific resort city of Manzanillo.Alexandre Meneghini/AP 2011

The investigation found three of Acapulco’s beaches exceeded these limits. Manzanillo was found to have 373 enterococci, Hornos 292 and Suave 241.

As a result, all three beaches are off-limits for swimming.

The news may come as a blow to many travellers who have booked to visit the town. Acapulco has recently received more tourist arrivals than hotspots Cancun and Mexico City.

Mexico’s Caribbean coastline has also been marred by an influx of sargassum, a harmless but odorous seaweed. The popular holiday destination Quintana Roo has been particularly badly affected.

Where to swim safely in Mexico

Although travellers now need to avoid three of Acapulco’s beaches, there’s still plenty of coastline to enjoy around the county.

98.96 per cent of the beaches tested passed the inspections. Some of the cleanest include Yutucan and Tamaulipas.

Despite the seaweed invasion, beaches in Quintana Roo, including favourites Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, had particularly low levels of enterococci.

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