One of the local beaches we love spending time on is Playa Naranjo, located about 6 kilometers northwards, as the crow flies, up the coast from La Peñita. But, to reach it by vehicle one must access it via Lima de Abajo, a small village that is a quick 5-8 minute drive north of La Colonia via Highway 200.
You will first see a sign for Puerta de la Lima and Lima de Abajo on the right-hand side of the highway just past the Puente Huanacaxtle sign, then a quick moment after that is the actual roadway for Lima de Abajo on the left-hand side, so start to slow down after crossing the little bridge.
If you want to stock up fruit or treats before going to the beach, there is a large fruit stand on the right hand side of the highway across from the turn, and there are also a variety of abarrotes (convenience stores) in the village for buying cold beverages etc.
From Highway 200 and through the village to the beach parking area it is another 5.5 kms. Prepare yourself to spend at least 20 minutes to drive it because of how slow you must go. That being said, I can’t stress enough that at the time of this writing, you need to use a high clearance vehicle.
The road is currently passable but there are many washouts, bumps and rocks. Last year the road was not “fixed” until just before the Easter holiday. Then, even buses were able to navigate their way directly onto the beach! The “road” is rough… and that’s just through the village! After passing by the last of the village casas the road takes a meandering path towards the ocean – past groves of banana, guanabana, mango and mandarina trees.
Puddles of water were still laying in the low spots from the last rain – many mariposas (butterflies) fluttered about each of them, their variety in size and colour was incredible! Weeds, bushes and trees were all overgrown and clogged the shoulders of the road. We dodged ruts, rocks, tree branches and goats along the way.
There are absolutely no facilities whatsoever at this out of-the-way locale. In the past, before the Federal zone area was taken over and fenced off (that lasted long, I say tongue-in-cheek) there were restaurants and toilets available, that is no longer the case. Now all that is left is a straggly line of metal posts and the odd bit of chain-link fence, what hasn’t been destroyed by the salt air or people.
This year at the parking area there is only a palapa-roofed structure (even the pre-fab plastic hut is gone) and two guys who just waved to us as we unpacked our truck. No uniformed guards with guns, nor an ATV for patrolling the beach. They did not ask for us to sign in, nor did it appear that they wrote down our license plate number as has been done in the past.
Note: On our second visit a week later, there were uniformed guards who did write down our name and license plate info. But on our third visit, some other guys were sitting under the palapa, who just waved and said, “no” when we asked if we had to sign in. Go figure.
You must walk the last several hundred meters to the beach… on a downhill path over rough terrain. Good footwear is a must. We try to keep our necessities to a minimum as you have to carry them down… and back up! We usually include food and beverages, an umbrella, beach chairs and towels, and last but not least some dog water and their bowl (oh, and some tissues in case, well, you know). This is not somewhere you go for just a couple of minutes!
The path levels and widens out just before the coconut palms that line the beach. A fisherman kindly allowed me to cross first over a narrow walkway beside a large murky green puddle that had spread across the width of the path. He appeared to be returning from a successful morning of oyster hunting, by the looks of the full sack he was carrying.
The path opens up to the left and the right once you get to the beach. By taking the right-hand branch of the trail, you will find a stand of palm trees when the trail peters out. These palms have offered countless numbers of people (judging by the debris left behind by them) a place to camp, hang a hammock, build a fire or even just a place to sit in the shade. This beach has not benefited from the “Clean Beach” efforts as those nearer to Guayabitos have. So, please remember to pack out what you packed in.
One of the reasons we like going to this beach; there generally are no other people on it so we can take the dogs with us and they can run freely off-leash.
The dogs enjoy a good long run here, and only when our smaller dog Momz is tired from sprinting over the hot sand will she submit to a quick cooling rinse in the estero waters.
AC Bob jumps into and out of the waves with wild abandon, and behaves the same in the estero. Yes, we know about and have spotted crocodiles lounging in the estero waters and sunning themselves on the opposite shore. We are always on the lookout for them and as we haven’t seen any evidence of the large reptiles where the estero empties into the waves, this is where we tend to cross through the running estero waters (that’s if its running, sometimes the sand is piled up and blocks the waters from reaching the ocean) and continue strolling southwards along the beach.
One can spot the drag marks and foot prints of these scaled beasts further along the beach where they leave the calmer waters of the estero proper, heading towards the ocean and back.
We also enjoy the solitude of this beach. There are no vendors stopping by every couple of minutes. Occasionally we see fishermen climbing over the rocks with their catch of the day; fish or oysters, hanging in sacks over their backs. We like to do some exploring over and around the black lava rocks that tumble into the ocean at the north end of the beach, at the base of Punto Cocodrilo. In the past we have seen many oysters around these rocks at the low tide mark – both live ones attached onto and loose shells scattered about, but not seen by us on this trip. Perhaps indicative of overfishing habits? We also wander along the shore looking for other types of shells – sometimes there are many and other days there are none, just one of the little quirks of the ocean tides and currents.
I have photographed many varieties of birds in this area. Some of them are migrants and only here for short times, so when I see an “unfamiliar face” I try to get some photos of it for identification purposes upon my return home.
This trip, we saw the hoof-prints of two horses in the sand coming from the south and then traveling up the pathway to the “guard hut,” but at times one also sees people driving their personal ATVs on the beach as well. Perhaps they either don’t know or don’t care, that it is illegal to drive motorized vehicles on the beaches of Mexico?
Swimming here can at times be a bit tricky. Depending on any recent storms, the tide and how the currents have got the sandy bottom churned up, you should be prepared for large pounding waves and erratic riptides that vary in strength. Not a place for weak swimmers, but the wide sand shoulder offers a gentle ramp into the water and there is ample room for waders and youngsters to splash about in knee deep water. Once you get past the wave break, the waters are clear and we often see a variety of creatures; fish of various sizes, rays flipping themselves out of the water, turtles poking their heads up, and much farther out humpback whales doing breaches and pectoral fin slaps. We always have our binoculars on hand, and my camera is generally nearby as well.
I have taken my mask, snorkel and fins with me a couple of times and made a leisurely swim out to the rocks that appear at low tide about 300 meters offshore. Not a lot of sea life out there, but to a scuba diver who needs a fix (that’s definitely me) it’s better than nothing!
The walk back up the hill to the parking area is not something to look forward to, what is an incentive to get up there quickly is if you have air conditioning in your vehicle. The day we were there the truck’s thermometer was reading 35 Celsius, and that was in the shade!
To me, the adventure to this beach is well worth the minor hassles we have to deal with in order to get to it. People we take there agree with us!
About the Author: Tosia Archer spends her winter living near El Tonino (a 20 minute drive north from La Peñita) along with her husband David and their Mexican adopted pets: dogs Agua Chili Bob and Momz, and their cat Blanca. They all travel south together by truck from Fenelon Falls, Ontario, Canada each fall and return there to work each spring. She enjoys photographing local wildlife and flowers, and then rendering what she has seen into watercolour art. She volunteers with JBAR and J.E.E.P. and is a member of the Guayabitos Artists Collective and Writers Who Love Mexico.
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