Introducing Parque Nacional Lagunas de Chacahua
Heading west toward Acapulco, Hwy 200 wends its way along a coast studded with lagoons, pristine beaches and prolific bird and plant life. Settlements in this region are home to many Afro-Mexicans, descendants of slaves who escaped from the Spanish.
The area around the coastal lagoons of Chacahua and La Pastoría forms the beautiful Parque Nacional Lagunas de Chacahua, which attracts migratory birds from Alaska and Canada in winter. Mangrove-fringed islands harbor roseate spoonbills, ibises, cormorants, wood storks, herons and egrets, as well as mahogany trees, crocodiles and turtles. El Corral, a mangrove-lined waterway filled with countless birds in winter, connects the two lagoons. The boat trip along the lagoons is fabulous, and at its end Chacahua village sits upon a gorgeous beach curving at least 20km eastward, inviting you to stop for a meal or a night in rustic cabañas. The website www.lagunasdechacahua.com gives a useful introduction to visiting the area.
The starting point for boat trips is the small fishing village of Zapotalito, at the eastern end of Laguna La Pastoría, 70km from Puerto Escondido. Two or three boat cooperatives here offer lancha service to Chacahua village, charging M$500/800 one way/return for up to eight people. The return option lasts about five hours, including halts at various islands and channels where a Spanish-speaking guide will point out the birds, and a couple of hours on the beach at Chacahua. When there is sufficient traffic, colectivo services are operated for M$60 to M$75 per person each way, or M$40 by the terrestre route, which means you take a short boat ride from Zapotalito to meet a camioneta that then makes a half-hour trip to Chacahua along the spit of land between the lagoons and the ocean. Check return times before you settle in at Chacahua.