Watch out Nuevo Vallarta, if you’re not careful you might find a croc or two on the side of the highway. Well, at least you will if you take the time to drive out to Cocodrilario, where crocodiles are protected in a sanctuary. The crocodile’s habitat has been affected by development and encroachment into their primary habitat, mangrove swamps. The Cocodrilario is a great cause, and a fun adventure especially for children of all ages. A real Off The Beaten Path Adventure if you live in the Puerto Vallarta area, our Cuponismo writer Justin Henderson took the time to investigate.
Croco-dialed In –
Cruising down speedy Hwy 200 between Bucerias and Mezcales, it’s easy to miss the dusty little dirt road turn-off with the Cocodrilario sign at the side of the highway. Don’t miss it, friends. The Cocodrilario is a great little adventure, well worth an hour or two of your time and 15 pesos a head, especially with kids.
The mile and a half of dirt road feels like a rollicking ride into real adventure, and at the end, you’ll find a sweet little collection of animals—goats, geese, rabbits, tejones–tucked into pens and cages amidst some ramshackle buildings and wooden walkways. The walkways are built over mangrove swamps which are the muddy homes of several crocodiles. The whole project, owned and operated by Jose Santos with permission from the federal environmental ministry, serves as a research center and sanctuary for the crocodiles, the mangrove swamp and estuary, and countless hundreds of sea and shore birds.
The tide was way out in the estuary and the mud-caked crocs were lazing in the hot afternoon sun, unmoving, the day we visited, but still, these dinosaur-like beasts are worth a look. And the ride in gives you a pretty good idea what the terrain along the shores of Bahia Banderas looked like before civilization got here. Restaurant Cora, a quiet, open air café, is on premises should you need sustenance after your croc walk.
Justin Henderson is the author of nine books on architecture and interior design, travel guides to Costa Rica, Los Angeles, and the Caribbean, and seven murder mysteries featuring amateur sleuth Lucy Ripken. His surfing style is much like his writing, playful, smooth and easy on the eyes.