Escape to Gecko Rock Resort, in Mexico’s sea turtle country
Just because I live in a beach destination doesn’t mean I don’t dream of a weekend getaway once in awhile. Somewhere super secluded where the only footprints I’ll see in the sand are my own. When I get to dreaming about seclusion, it’s time to hit the road. This past week, I headed southeast to Santa Elena, a tiny village southeast of Puerto Escondido. My destination was Gecko Rock Resort, a new boutique inn that also happens to be in the heart of sea turtle country.
But how to get to Santa Elena? I was travelling with my usual suitcase packed with file folders, media kits and computer gear so wasn’t really very mobile. And Santa Elena doesn’t appear on most maps. Fortunately, Sur Bus line knows where it is – Santa Elena is the first official stop on their bus route to Huatulco. For 25 pesos (much less than a taxi for 250 pesos), I had bus ticket in hand and in less than a 45 minute air-conditioned bus ride had arrived at the crucero, Highway 200 and Santa Elena’s main street.
My hosts Mike and Aileen ( who rescued their adorable terrier Primetime from near death on the streets of Puerto Escondido) picked me up in their truck and we bounced our way along a dirt road towards the ocean and Gecko Rock Resort.
I’m writing a review of Gecko Rock Resort for a guidebook, so can’t really disclose much about this lovely hotel except that my bungalow La Tortuga was decked out with a rooftop palapa featuring a hammock and lounger with 360 degree views. There was an inviting swimming pool just steps from my porch PLUS a communal fridge filled with icy cold beer and Aileen was busy preparing dinner. In short, there wasn’t much more for me to do than follow the sign marked PLAYA to the beach.
After a few minutes of walking down a meandering trail through a mix of mangroves, gurgling streams and cactus, I arrived at a vast expanse of sun, sea and sand.
All along the beach, rocky outcroppings created tidal pools perfect for splashing about in. And, as I walked a bit further I recognized Agua Blanca beach ( Aileen had tipped me off on this earlier so it wasn’t a complete surprise), a favourite spot for people in Puerto to go for the day, lounge in a hammock and eat raw oysters fresh from the sea.
But on my stretch of the beach, the only company was a school of tiny minnows in a tidal pool and a scurrying red crab that looked as surprised to see me as I was to see him.
Further along the beach I began to notice several unusual impressions in the sand. It didn’t take long to figure out that they had been created by sea turtles that had come in the night to nest and lay their eggs in the sand. In about 45 days, the tiny sea turtles would emerge from the nest and scurry their way into the ocean to begin their own life cycle.
As I walked along the coast it began to seem to me that some of the nests were empty. Poachers of all types steal the turtle eggs, selling the eggs to people who believe the eggs have aphrodisiac powers. Read more in my article about Saving Sea Turtles in Mexico . Unlike the nearby protected sea turtle nesting beach La Escobilla further along the coast, where 5,000 or more Olive Ridley turtles can arrive nightly in mass nestings known as arribadas, it’s impossible for officials to patrol the entire coast.
Watch this incredible aerial video footage of an arribada,
Gecko Rock Resort is a short drive from this amazing beach, one of the most important Olive Ridley turtle nesting beaches in the world.
I used my best sleuthing skills to examine the markings around the nest but couldn’t tell if the nest had been tampered with by sea birds, dogs or people.
Following a trail of turtle impressions, I wandered further along the beach until the sun began to drop low in the sky. Although it would be another two weeks before the next arribada of thousands of sea turtles, it was easy to imagine the turtles drifting on the surface of the ocean on the nearby horizon, waiting for sunset to return to the beach of their birth and the beginning of a new nesting cycle.
Gecko Rock Resort: A bungalow at this adults-only resort costs $199 a night and includes a delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner for two people. Inquire about excursions to La Escobilla for turtle nesting and hatching events.