Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Guerrero Part 3: The laid-back lagoon and beach of Barra de Potosí

Kayaks rest on a sandy beach at Barra de Potosí's lagoon. In the upper right of the photo, a line of surf shows where the freshwater lagoon meets the Pacific Ocean. This was our second visit to Barra de Potosí. On our first visit, during the winter of 2013, we walked north up the beach for a fair distance. The long arc of sand stretches for 16 km (approx. 10 miles), from the lagoon to where it meets the mountains just south of Zihuatanejo.  For most of its length, the beach is almost entirely empty. The small fishing village of Barra de Potosí is located on the lagoon at the south end of the beach. For a Google map showing the area, click here.

The Beach

View up the beach toward the mountains. As you can see, there is very little activity on this beach. A few houses and some small, family hotels are set back among the palm groves. After experiencing the throngs on the beaches of Zihua and Ixtapa, the serenity here was welcome. Although we like people-watching, sometimes it's nice to hear nothing but the surf, the palms rustling in the breeze, and the cries of sea birds.

A Brown Pelican glides along the surf line, looking for lunch. These guys are always entertaining. They not only fly very gracefully, but their method of fishing is quite dramatic. After gliding along just above the water for a distance, a pelican will spot a fish.  He then goes through a complicated series of swoops to gain some altitude before finally dropping suddenly, beak first, into the water. A moment later the bird pops up, usually with a fish. Throwing back his head, he swallows it down and the hunting cycle begins again.

The water temperature was perfect for swimming. We only waded in the shallows, but this girl headed out to paddle around in the gentle surf. She was one of only a handful of people we encountered that day, other than the locals.

Some small rocky islands lie not far off the shore. They are uninhabited, except for the sea birds. The islands are about 2500 m (1.5 mi) away in this shot. They could easily be reached with a small boat or a kayak.

A point of land, surmounted by a scrub-covered hill, marks the southern end of the bay. The point is separated from the little pueblo by the channel leading into the lagoon. On the other side of the point, another long beach begins that is almost twice as long as the one between Barra and Zihua. That beach is even less developed than this one.

The Lagoon

The mouth of the lagoon. The lagoon is fairly shallow here and I imagine it would not be difficult to wade across to the point. To get an idea of the lagoon area, click here.

An idyllic dwelling sits on the shore across the lagoon. The rustic home appears to be made entirely of rough-cut tree trunks and thatched palm fronds. Given the usual balmy weather, you wouldn't need much more shelter than this. However, in a hurricane or a tsunami, a structure like this, set this close to the water, might be destroyed in a flash. On the other hand, assuming you survived or were not in residence at the time, it could be rebuilt relatively cheaply.

A boat is anchored in the shallows of the lagoon, ready for fishermen or tourists. From here, the boatmen can head out into the bay to fish or give tours to visitors. In addition to touring the bay, it is also possible to explore the wildlife-filled lagoon. We didn't have time for such a venture, but I imagine it would be easy to arrange and probably quite inexpensive.

The restaurant scene

Rustic restaurants line the lagoon's beach. The pueblo of Barra de Potosí sits on a point of land surrounded on three sides by the lagoon, the channel, and the ocean. The boat in the middle of the group above has a canopy, clearly intended for tourists.

We chose this restaurant for our lunch. It is typical of the many that stretch around the point, some oriented to the lagoon, some to the ocean. The turquoise-painted supports are made from the trunks of small trees, while the roof is made from thatched palm fronds. The plastic tables and chairs sit on the bare sand. The kitchen is located in the back of the open-sided structure. Menu choices include various kinds of seafood, Mexican dishes, and cheeseburgers with fries. Soft drinks, Mexican beer, and endless varieties of tequila were also available. As you can see, a reservation is generally not necessary.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is venerated all over Mexico. We found this little shrine in a kiosk near the parking lot. The Virgin is the patron of Mexico in general, but the country's poor and indigenous people feel a special connection to her.

The most industrious figure on the whole beach was this small dog. Something about soft sand drives dogs like this into frenzies of excavation. I don't think he was actually looking for, or trying to bury, anything. He was just having a good time.

Wasted away again in Margaritaville. When hanging out at a beach like this, a Margarita is almost obligatory. There are various stories about how the drink got its name. One of the earliest versions holds that it was invented in 1938 by a Tijuana restauranteur named Carlos "Danny" Herrera. A visiting Hollywood starlet named Marjorie King was allergic to all forms of alcohol but tequila. The enterprising Danny came up with a special drink just for her. He named it the "Margarita" after his actress customer.  Jimmy Buffet, eat your heart out!

The author, feeling somewhat less industrious than the dog. On a warm afternoon, in the cool shade of a palapa, amply supplied with large goblets of Margaritas, I felt about as ambitious as a banana slug. I wonder if they have any Jimmy Buffet on the juke box?

This completes both Part 3 and the Guerrero Coast series itself. I hope you have enjoyed it, particularly those of you trapped in the cold and snowy north country. If you would like, you can leave any thoughts in the Comments section below, or email me directly.

If you leave a question in the Comments section, PLEASE leave your email address so I can respond.

Hasta luego, Jim


  1. I am not sure that you guys live in Ajijic, for you're always elsewhere it seems! Barra de Potosi is a great birding destination. I help with their Christmas Bird Count, organized by Laurel Patrick. It happens every Dec 14 or 15 in case anyone wants to help/participate. Hopefully you will get a chance to visit her El Refugio and take panoramic photos from the look out tower. And maybe you'll be inclined to stock up on sea salt and enjoy many shrimp dishes at the palapa restaurants.

  2. Digging out of snow drifts and anticipating bitter wind chills this weekend here in upstate NY. Why am I here? No idea. I know where I should be - on this beach!

  3. Love your pictures and details. A balanced approach of good and bad, pros and cons is extremely useful to us considering retiring to Mexico.

    Show us the bad and the good. The why should I and the maybe you should nots as well so we can make an informed decision.

    Appreciate it. My blog on researching Retirement in Mexico is located at:



If your comment involves a question, please leave your email address so I can answer you. Thanks, Jim