Experience Ridley turtles at luxury resort.
Mazatlan, a historic town of approximately one-half million people, is at a point in its maturity as a beach resort in the Mexico tourism world reminiscent of where Puerto Vallarta was in her glory days in the late 60s and 70s.
Mazatlan is historically and culturally unique in Mexico and draws her personality from strong and rich immigration from countries other than Spain—such as Germany. Best of all, for those of us in southeast Texas, Mazatlan is a short 2-1/2 hour flight from Houston on Continental/United Airlines.
A mere forty-five minutes south of Mazatlan’s romantic historic district and her vibrant Zona Dorado (Golden Zone) hotel district is the Estrella del Mar Turtle Sanctuary. Established in 1998, it was created with the goal of protecting and conserving the endangered Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea species). The sanctuary is part of a 3.5-mile stretch of beach habitat at the luxurious golf and beach resort Estrella del Mar, a development built to live in concert with its natural environment. More than merely a beautiful place to exist in harmony with the natural environment, its developers have made a substantial commitment to proactively lead efforts toward the preservation of the sea turtle.
Every year, July through November, the Olive Ridley sea turtles return to their native beaches to lay their eggs. Turtles venture from hundreds of miles away to return to the place of their birth to lay their eggs, a ritual that has occurred annually for thousands of years. Watching this phenomenon occur on my trips to Mazatlan over the years has been an amazing experience, as the turtles literally come up on the beach at night and lay their eggs within a few feet of the nest each was born in. By safeguarding the nests and hatchlings each year, Estrella del Mar’s protection program has dramatically increased the number of mother turtles and their resulting offspring. Turtles are the last living representatives of the "Jurassic Period" and scientists can trace these creatures to the days of the dinosaurs. Unfortunately, many of the world's beaches are now full of developments as man continues to encroach on the turtle's habitat. This has significantly reduced the reproductive success of turtles to such an extent that all sea turtles are in danger of becoming extinct.
Estrella del Mar enlists the help and support of local city, state and federal agencies, local media, local school children and even the resort’s owners, guests and staff. Together they have established a remarkable track record of results. When the program began 14 years ago fewer than 10,000 turtles were hatched and released. Last season this number reached 189,000. Estrella del Mar’s resident marine biologist works tirelessly to locate turtle nests as soon as the female lays her eggs (usually 100 to 125 eggs in each nest) in the sand on the beach. The only clue to the location of the nests is usually the tracks in the sand made by the female as she makes her way from the surf to the location of her own birthplace on the beach. Nests are carefully located and measured and the eggs are removed to be placed in the facility’s incubator room for the 45 days needed for hatching. After hatching, the young turtles are released at beach locations and times most advantageous for their protection from predators as well as scavenging humans.
For guests who would like to participate in this program, there is a release every afternoon. Wyndham Las Villas Resort at Estrella del Mar offers packages that allow visitors to participate in the turtle release/protection program beginning at $61.00 per day. The feeling you get when you release the turtles carefully on the beach and watch them with pride as they make their way toward the setting sun (and an uncertain future) is one you will never forget. I was also lucky enough to take a four-wheeler trip up and down the beach to harvest eggs from 9pm until long after midnight with Erndira Gonzalez Diego, Estrella del Mar's resident marine biologist. The love, care and delicate treatment of the eggs by the two-person crew that harvests them virtually every night during their season is inspiring and guests are assured that this is far more than a show for tourists—it’s a passion.
In addition to its eco-consciousness, Wyndham Las Villas at Estrella del Mar offers the level of luxury expected on a Mexico beach resort vacation, including a convenient spa and world-class dining.
It boasts an 816-acre gated community with lush tropical landscape, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. 18-hole championship golf course and pristine beaches. Seven holes on the course stretch along the beautiful white sands of the Pacific beach and golfers are sometimes unaware that humans and sea turtles share this paradise in a symbiotic relationship based on preservation and enjoyment of life. The resort hotel and spa offers luxury for vacation visitors, as well as home or condo ownership not seen elsewhere in the Mazatlan area.
Estrella del Mar Golf and Beach Resort
KM. 10 Camino Isla de la Peidra, Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico CP. 82267
Direct Line to Resort (US): 888-587-0609