A Plus for Puerto Escondido: Laguna de Manialtepec

The best reason to visit Puerto Escondido
The best reason to visit Puerto Escondido

“Can I ask you a question?” a young woman queried Karol, Gail and me in a shop we’d ducked into to get away from the afternoon heat, retail stalls and raucous cacophony on the dirt road outside main street in Puerto Escondido. “I’m thinking of bringing my mother here. Do you think she’d like it?”

“Hell no,” I was tempted to answer.

To be fair, we’d only been in the beach town a short while after flying from Oaxaca to Huatulco and then driving for two hours. Magellan was off trying to organize a tour of Laguna de Manialtepec for the afternoon (that I should have arranged before we arrived). We’d booked Casa Wabi, our main reason for coming here, for the next morning, the sushi restaurant Kakurega for Saturday night. Besides, there was no denying that our accommodation at Brisas de Zicatela was great, and the ceviche lunch at Chicama ocean fresh.

So, I’m glad our answer was vague, imprecise.

“It depends on what your mother likes to do,” Gail started off. 

We were still hot and a touch cranky after driving north of town for half an hour to Manglar BIrdwatching for our tour of the lagoon, Ana Maria waving us in and shushing our apologies for being late.

Joachim settled us in the lancha, the small boats they use to tour the coastal lagoon. As he headed out the narrow passage, the quiet and coolness of the water were so soothing we soon forgot the frenzy of the day.

Located between the foothills of the Sierra Madre del Sur and the Pacific Coast, Laguna de Manialtepec is large, six kilometres long and a kilometre wide in some spots. People come here to relax, to fish, for birdwatching and at night, for its bioluminescence.

Laguna de Manialtepec is home to more than 300 species of migrant and resident birds, three that I was hoping we’d see: roseate spoonbills, ibises and parrots. Although we were there in late January, the best time for birdwatching, we didn’t see ibises or spoonbills and had only a distant view of green parrots.

However, the surprise was getting many, many, many photos of Great White Egrets.

Great White Egrets were nearly wiped out in the 1800s because of people’s infatuation with their long, white feathers. Today, they’re on amber alert, the VU category (Vulnerable), a species of concern but not yet critically endangered. (The categories are EW (Extinct in the Wild), CR (Critically Endangered), EN (Endangered), VU (Vulnerable), NT (Near Threatened), LC (Least Concern), and DD (Data Deficient)).

Over the course of our two-and-a-half-hour tour, Joachim used Google Translate to tell us about the lagoon and answer our questions. It was most effective.

Taking an afternoon tour might mean you see fewer birds, but the sunset vistas more than make up for it.

Would your mom like a weekend in Puerto Escondido?

It’s a chill beach town, a surfers’ paradise, a rave every night, a sunset photographer’s dream.

Sounds more like a daughter’s/granddaughter’s place, doesn’t it?

Even after getting out of town to other places that we’ll tell you about in future blogs, our answer to jubilados who ask if they should go to Puerto Escondido is likely to start off with, “That depends…”


Brisas de Zicatela

Casa Wabi



Manglar Bird Watching

12 Responses

  1. Gloria, amazing pictuers . My mom no , but i would like to go . Majestic .
    Thank you like always

    1. About 18 years ago we travelled packed in a mini van with several locals from Oaxaca to Huatulco . We drove for about three or four hours over mountains but were never as organised as you so missed out on the lagoon etc .

      I hope you received my note of thanks for making our trip to Porto so fantastic Having yourrecommendations made it . Truly !

      1. First, my apologies for not responding to your lovely thank-you note–happy we could contribute to your Portugal holiday. Apparently that road from Oaxaca to the coast has now been upgraded, but when we were there 18 months ago, it was still much like what you experienced I’d guess. It’s been five years since Clare graduated from King’s, and we still have wonderful memories of your hospitality at The Pebble.

  2. Fantastic photos of birds, sunsets, etc, thanks! The Egret is especially splendid. I wonder what type of personality it has. How tricky was it to get those bird photos?
    The sunsets are almost as spectacular as ours.

    1. Getting the photos was easy as the Grebes stand silently in the water for quite a period of time, contemplating life or waiting for signs of fish in the area. Your comment about sunsets makes me think of Blue Rodeo’s “Western Skies.” Whenever I hear their refrain, “Oh, how I miss those western skies,” nostalgia for the prairies runs high.

  3. Majestic bird. Did you see the bioluminescence ? There was a school in Nanaimo (not Kam’s) displaying their bioluminescence art work …..electrified of course but it looked amazing.

    1. We didn’t stay for the night tour so missed the bioluminescence. What a great idea to have kids create art from this phenomena–must be a good school and/or a good art teacher, like our friend Pat who taught elementary and high school art in YYC.

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