The future of this area revolves around nature and eco-tourism. No one here wants careless development to damage a nearly pristine environment. Right now a number of local men are trying to make a transition from subsistence fishermen to nature guides; they have formed a cooperative and are working hard to provide high quality tours. But it will take the support of visitors for them to be successful.
Nature tours here are not slick— some of the guides have limited English, their boats are safe but very basic– but they grew up in nature and they have a deep indigenious knowledge. You will see amazing things. One word of caution. Organized whale watching is new here and whales are skittish animals. There are specific protocols for approaching them; too fast or too close will frighten them not just for your trip but for others. Some guides are too enthusicastic and want to give visitors the most dramatic views but end up spooking the whales. You should tell your guide in advance that you do not want to get too close or to frighten the whales.
You have to spend time in the lagoon. It is the largest in the region and is home to thousands of birds. The best time to go is at sunrise or sunset. It is magical. You can take a tour in a motorized panga or you can kayak on your own. Guides and kayak rental outfits are listed below. The lagoon is ringed by mangroves and you can approach to within a few yards of pelicans, frigates, egrets and others. The famous roseat spoonbill visits in the remote parts.
The second must-do tour is a panga ride to Los Moros, the iconic white rock formation about three miles off shore. It is a rookery for thousands of pelagic sea birds; boobies, frigates and the hard to see red billed tropic bird. Along the way, you are likely to see sea turtles, maybe whales, dolphins, bat rays and schooling fish. The scenery is fantastic. Again the local guides operating near the enramadas can take you. You can just walk down to the mouth of the lagoon and book a tour on the spot, or you can use the contact information below to make a reservation.
If you like to get up close and personal with nature, you can take a tour to La Manzanillo, a small coral reef at the north end of the bay and snorkel with tropical fish in a protected area.
Arturo who is listed among the guides below has started a horseback tour along the edge of the mangroves, through coco plantations to Turtle beach, an endless primordial beach to the south. It is rich in birds and nature.
If you are a serious birder, you probably will want to get a copy of the foldout guide to birds in the area. Copies are available at the B&B Hacienda de la Rusa in the village and at the enramada La Condesa. Araceli is one of the most knowledgeable bird guides in the community. In addition to the boat-based tours of the lagoon and Los Moros, She provides early morning and evening sunset bird tours in a small pangita. She has good knowledge of where the birds are and what they are too. She speaks more than adequate English.
Humpback whales breed and give birth off-shore during the winter months and it is very common to see them blowing and breaching from the beach. In 2014 the first scientific project to study the population was started. If you are here during the winter, you may be able to arrange to spend a day on a boat with the scientists observing the whales. There are more details at Whales in Mexico. While you are out looking for flukes, you also are likely to see sea turtles, rays, dolphins and schooling fish.
We know of four different types of dolphins in the region and there is a strong likelihood of seeing them year round if you get out on the water. The local species include spotted pan tropical dolphins, bottle nose dolphins, rough toothed dolphins and long-beaked common dolphins. We know that the area is a nursery for spotted pan tropical dolphins. Rough toothed and long-beaked are listed as ‘data deficient’ according to the IUCN since little is known about them because they are rarely seen near shore, but they come in close to Last Best Beach.
Last Best Beach is a major destination for birders. This link takes you to a list of birds seen here. The tours outlined above will take you to see many of them. Laguna Potosi alone hosts over 100 bird species including the prized roseate spoonbill. An early morning kayak paddle into the mangroves is simply magical. A boat ride to Los Moros will yield boobies, pelicans, frigate birds and red-billed tropic birds. For birders who want to explore land-based birds, there are several special eco-systems here that are home to a large variety of endemic and migratory birds. One guide who knows those birds well is Avi who is listed below. Playa Blanca is one of a handful of places in Mexico that participates in the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. This link takes you to a listing of the species sighted during those one day counts: Playa Blanca CBC.
Playa Blanca beach is a major nesting area for three varieties of sea turtles. A turtle camp on the beach, run by volunteers, releases over 20,000 hatchlings a year. The chances are good you can participate in a release either at the camp or, for a modest donation, volunteers may come to where you are staying and have a release with you and your friends as the sun sets. The name is Campamento Tortuguero Ayotcalli and you can contact the head volunteer Allen at 755 121 1021 and find out when they think they will have a hatch and make arrangements.
71 Things To See At Playa Blanca
This link takes you to a simple online nature guide centered on Playa Blanca. It will give you an introduction to the birds, fish, butterflies and plants you likely will see on a visit.
This is a partial list of local guides who are members of the eco-tourism coop and provide tours in the area. In addition to listing their contact information, we describe their specialties in tours. Most of the guides who take visitors to Los Moros also offer sport fishing trips. The cost of tours is generally the same for all the guides and depends on the length of time and the amount of gas burned. Ask the price in advance. A 10% tip would be very appreciated.
- Orlando (Zoe Kayaks). Located on the lagoon side of enramada Las Gaviotas, he rents kayaks by the hour that you can paddle in the lagoon or in the ocean. He also has a tour boat that will take you on a lagoon tour, to Los Moros or to snorkel at La Manzania. His phone is 755-100-1642.
- Francisco Angel runs a panga out of Enramada Margarita. He provides fishing, snorkel and kayak tours. He is an awesome paddler and has won the local regatta. 755-101-7754
- Victor Manuel has been the head of the local ecotourism coop of guides and mayor of Barra. His specialty is inshore and Los Moros fishing trips. 755-1298717
- Arturo was the boat operator on the whale research project. He offers those tours in season and also has a new horseback tour to Turtle Beach to the south. 755-115-4333 or Enramada Leticia.
- Omar is the local wild and crazy guy who has good English and provides great fishing trips and Los Moros tours. Don’t panic if he jumps overboard to play with sea turtles. 755-111-5934
- Luis Antonio operates the panga “My Three Loves” and offers sightseeing in both the lagoon and ocean. He also can take you snorkeling or fishing. Cels 755 124 9303 and 755 119-7362.
- Ernesto has “Lucky”. He does tours of the lagoon and Los Moros as well as snorkeling and sport fishing. Cel 755 113 6123.
- Jose Antonio has “Tania” and provides sightseeing and fishing both in the lagoon and ocean. 755 557 2201.
- The other Jose Antonio runs “Areli” and offers the full set of tours. Cell 755 559 3944.
- “Irlanda” with Adelaido Martínez can supply kayak and panga tours. They have a website- www.barradepotosi.jimdo.com. Cel is 755 121 7352.
- Araceli specializes in bird tours in the lagoon from small paddle boats. The cost is 200 pesos per person, two people minimum. The tour runs about two hours and provides an intimate look at the lovely Laguna Potosi. Contact her at Enramada Rosita along the back edge of the lagoon road or call: 755-130-6829