The future of this area revolves around nature and ecotourism. No one here wants careless development to damage a nearly pristine environment. Right now a number of local people are trying to make a transition from subsistence fishermen to nature guides; they have formed cooperatives 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, they participate in training programs from visiting naturalists and biologists and they have a deep appreciation for their environment. You will see amazing things.
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 roseate spoonbill visits in the remote parts. A number of local guides have completed an intensive birding course to offer guests an in-depth experience.
Los Morros (the White Rocks)
The second must-do tour is a panga ride to Los Morros, the iconic white rock formation about three miles offshore. 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, 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.
The guides of Barra de Potosi are starting to offer dedicated salt flats (Salinas) visits and walking tours through the jungle and coconut plantations. On these combination boat and walking trips, you can visit the nearby salt flats to learn how salt gets made and bring home a bag of the most locally sourced salt you can find (perfect for rimming your margarita when you want to remember your time in Mexico). Guided walking tours give you a unique opportunity to explore along the edge of the mangroves, see the reforestation efforts our community is making to restore the mangroves and travel through the jungle and coconut plantations to visit Turtle beach, an endless primordial beach to the south. This is a unique and fascinating way to experience the richness and biodiversity of local birds and nature. Contact any of the guides in the list below to explore options.
Whales and Dolphins
With some luck, you may get to see whales and dolphins on a boat tour. Humpback whales breed and give birth in our region during the winter months and it is very common to see them blowing and breaching even 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 of Guerrero and on this site under Activities/Whales. While you are out looking for flukes, you also are likely to see sea turtles, rays, dolphins and schooling fish.
One word of caution. Organized whale watching is new here and whales are vulnerable in their calving and breeding grounds. There are specific protocols for approaching them; too fast or too close will frighten them not just for your trip but for others and it will put the whales in danger. The Whales of Guerrero group and governmental authorities have provided training and now a number of guides are certified in the proper protocols. Still some guides are occasionally too enthusiastic 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.
The fixed Barra de Potosi whale watch price is 3200-6300 pesos ($160 USD-$315 USD) per boat depending on number of guests, boat and captain. (Occupancy is normally 8 guests max. Occupancy is limited to 6 people max during the pandemic, including captain and naturalist or assistant). A limited number of guides who have taken an annual certification training course, with registered boats that have passed safety inspections are legally allowed to take people whale watching. This is to limit the impact of too many boats and untrained captains around the humpback whales in this sensitive and important habitat. Many of the trained guides in this group bring a hydrophone aboard so you can hear the whales sing during your tour and have field guides and information to share. It can also be arranged for a bilingual Whales of Guerrero scientist to join your group, if you want to play marine biologist for a day and take a deep dive into whale science. Whale watch guide contact information and boat names can be found on the Whales of Guerrero. How do you know which boats are certified? Look for the flag with the whale on it – that’s a boat run by a trained, certified whale watch captain. (Flag colors change each year.)
We also know of nine 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 most frequently spotted local species are pantropical spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and rough toothed dolphins.
If you like to get up close and personal with nature, you can take a tour to Playa Manzanillo, a small coral reef at the north end of the bay and snorkel with tropical fish in a protected area. A 15-minute boat ride can take you to Playa Manzanillo. Its shallow protected coral reef is perfect for snorkeling. The water is warm and clear, the fish are amazing. Almost all the boat guides have masks and fins and will be happy to take you there.
Boat Tour Guides
This is a list of local guides who provide boat tours in the area. Almost all the tours start and end near the mouth of the lagoon near the enramadas. Typically they go in the laguna to see birds or go out towards Los Morros (the White Rocks) for birds and various sea life. From mid-December until March, they also can go looking for ballenas/whales. (It is federally prohibited to be within 240 meters of a humpback whale outside of official whale watch season in our region and only authorized guides, whose boats wield a flag indicating their certification may take guests whale watching between mid-December – March 20). There is better visibility and generally less wind chop in the mornings. The easiest way to connect with your guide is to ask the name of the panga/boat and look for it on the beach. The cost of tours generally depends on the number of people, the length of time and the amount of gas burned. The certified whale watch guide group has established fixed pricing agreements to prevent price wars and allow guides to earn a living wage in a precarious and vulnerable economy. A 10% tip would be very appreciated.
|Name||Boat Name||Contact Number||Facebook page/Email||Rents Kayaks||Provides Snorkel Equipment Upon Request||Morros/ Playa Manzanillo Ecotours and Snorkeling||Sportfishing||Laguna||Trained bird guide||Certified whale watch guide||Scuba Diving||English Spoken|
|Abraham Bañuelos||Ariel||7551365246||Servicios turisticos Ariel||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||30%|
|Adelaido Martínez||Irlanda||7551203976||Ecotours Irlanda||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||N|
|Araceli Oregon (Bird tour specialist; Provides professional binoculars and bird count list||Areli||7551306829||ecotourchelioregon @gmail.com||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||80%|
|Arturo Mellin||Briseyda, Esmerelda||7551047178||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||15%|
|Francisco Angel Perez||Whimbrel||7551497724||y||y||y||y||y||y||15%|
|Orlando Bañuelos||Dany||7551001642||Servicios turisticos Dany||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||25%|
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.