Barra Zacapulco

Barra Zacapulco is a small community on a barra (low strip of sand) that lies between the sea and an inland lagoon. It has a quite extensive beach and a tourist center that’s a good place to start a trip to Reserva Natural La Encrucijada. You may even be able to catch one of the tours to the reserve that were instituted recently! Most tourists come here to visit the reserve but if you want a relaxing beach getaway, stay a few days.

Barra Zacapulco takes some effort to get to but it is well worth the trip. You can reach this charming seaside community only by boat from the Marina Embarcadero de las Garzas. Community boat transport begins around 7AM and ends at roughly 5:30PM. It will cost about $2.50 per person in U.S. dollars and the trip takes a very pleasant 20 minutes. Be sure to take a sun hat and sunscreen so you don’t get burned! The ride itself is very nice and relaxing.

If you know when you’ll be returning, let the driver know so he can come back and pick you up! Otherwise you’ll have to wait on the dock until a community boat sees your and might come pick you up. If all else fails you can hire one of the local fishermen to take you back but it will cost you much more than your trip over!

The big attraction to Barra Zacapulco lies 600 feet south of the town’s beach. Campamento Tortuguero de Barra de Zacapulco is one of four state sponsored sea turtle protection programs in the southern part of Mexico. Two marine biologists live there and work there, helping the turtle population survive and thrive. Most nights you can see at least one of them patrolling the beach, looking for nests where the female has laid her eggs. Once they find one, usually a nest of olive Ridley turtles, they take it to a protected part of the beach where the eggs can incubate. When the babies are hatched they will run into the ocean. If they are lucky, one of their human protectors will be there to make sure their mad dash to the ocean doesn’t end in the jaws of a seagull or other bird of prey.

You are welcome to volunteer here at any time of year. The most eggs are found between July and December. Hatchlings are released in the highest numbers in September through November. You can help protect the hatchlings, move eggs to safer nests or any of a variety of chores to help the biologists have more time for the endangered species they are trying to protect.

In the small outdoor museum you will see turtle and crocodile tanks and incubation corals, whale bones, turtle shells and dolphin’s skeletons which were found on the shore.

You’ll find that you can camp here if you’d like to stay awhile to explore the village and the surrounding fishing cooperatives and other research facilities. Bring some gear for some great snorkeling or scuba diving!


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Chiapas is an archeologist’s dream come true; ruins from the Mayan civilization are scattered throughout the country. Ecotourism is another big attraction with sinkholes inhabited by colorful parrots, turtle habitats, wildlife sanctuaries and much, much more.