Santuario Maruata y Colola
GPS Location: 18.30359 North -103.42464 West
We highly recommend you put this in your GPS and visit this amazing place.
We stopped in Colola on our way up the coast again because we had seen signs of turtles on the beach when we briefly stopped there a few days ago. After making a deal with the owners of the Bungalows to spend the night, they told us that the turtles come up out of the water between 8 and 9 p.m. They said for 35 pesos each one of the workers would come show us. We weren't really sure what he meant, but figured we would find out.
We went out onto the beach at 8:00 p.m., with our flashlights and a Lucas came by in a four wheel drive. He told us to hop on. We figured, ok, he is going to drive us up and down the beach until we see a turtle. WOW!!! He drove us about 1 kilometer down the beach, on the way we saw at least a dozen turtles digging holes in the sand.
We had no idea he was taking us to a Turtle Sanctuary for a tour. The beach is patrolled 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by 40 full time vounteers, and a couple of dozen transient volunteers. The transient volunteers come from all over the world, but mostly from other areas of Mexico. There were Germans, Americans, Canadians and Mexicans there last night. The transients stay in these barracks. They pay 35 pesos a day to participate, and work for about 2 hours every night from 10:00 p.m., to midnight. Their job? Finding the turtles as they lay their eggs. The eggs are removed and reburied in a safe place. 40 days later they hatch and are released into the ocean.
You can learn more about the program here: http://www.charityvillage.com/cvnet/viewlisting.aspx?id=229785&eng=True&fs=True&fa=False
If you are travelling in an RV, just stop in and you can volunteer any night you want. 50 pesos to boondock on their property and an additional 35 pesos if you want to participate in egg collection and releasing the young into the ocean. If you don't want to stay at the Sanctuary, you are welcome to boondock less than a kilometer south down the road at Cabanas de Colola...you can't miss them.
They need volunteers. There are huge sections of the beach that they do not collect eggs from because they don't have enough volunteers.
They took for a walk around the beach so we could see the turtles laying their eggs. Every night hundred of turtles come up onto this beach. I can't express what a treat it was to see these magnificent creatures making their way out of the ocean. It takes up to two hours for a turtle to dig her hole, lay the eggs, then cover them up and head back to the sea.
After walking the beach for about an hour we went back to the Sanctuary to see if any eggs were going to hatch tonight. They hatch at night after the sand cools down. We were in luck. They dig their way up out the sand, there is one....oh wait...two.....nope three, four, five, six, seven.....woah....better put a cage around these little fellows before they get out of hand!
We were pretty tired, and didn't have the stamina to stay up and volunteer with them, so they gave us each one turtle to release into the ocean. We walked out closer to the water and set them down. The silly little creatures were flip flopping here and there, sometimes heading toward the ocean, sometimes heading away from the ocean. We got so tied up in watching them, we weren't watching what the ocean was up to!!! Suddenly, woooooshhhhh, up comes the tide and washes them away as we make a run for shore! lmao...what fun.
We will be back. We would have stayed a few days longer, but there is no wireless internet on this stretch of the beach as of yet, and our familes and friends would have started to worry if they didn't hear from us.
There is very little to do in Colola. The volunteers take turns going into town to get groceries and take their turn at kitchen duty...other than that they enjoy this pristine beach, read, play volley ball etc.