Colola Mexico, Black Turtle Capitol of the World

Colola Beach is one of the most extraordinary sea turtle nesting beaches in the world. From a low of 500 nests in 1999, these black turtles (a sub-species of green turtles) have recovered to have 35,000 nests in 2018 with nearly 2 million hatchlings. The beach is protected by the native Nahua community with support from biologists at the University of Michoacan and is one of the most successful wildlife conservation programs in the world.

On this exploratory trip, you’ll help study these turtles, measuring them, moving their nests, and releasing hatchlings. In between the nesting and hatchlings, we will do a hike, organize a handicraft workshop with local artisans, get a lesson in Mexican cooking, and explore this beautiful stretch of coast. This trip will be personally led by SEE Turtles President Brad Nahill. Proceeds from this trip will help save at least 1,000 hatchlings at this beach per person.

Dates: Dec 6 - 13, 2020

Price: $1,495 per person, double occupancy. $300 deposit to register.

Includes: In-country transport, meals, lodging, activities, guides, and a donation to turtle conservation.

Excludes: Airfare to Mexico, personal items, and tips.


  • Colola Beach is located in the Michoacan Province, which currently has a US State Department travel warning due to violence in the state. However, the coastal part of the state is safe is not an area of concern. We will be staying in the coastal area accompanied by local residents and a professional driver.

  • The pricing is for double occupancy. There are 4 double rooms with private bathrooms that are first-come, first serve. There are another four rooms with a shared bathroom. We may be able to offer single rooms but cannot guarantee that they will be available. Individuals will be paired with others of the same gender.

  • Rooms are equipped with fans and wifi is available in the eating area.

  • Minimum recommended age is 12 years old.

  • Group size is limited to 14 people maximum and a minimum of 6 people are needed to confirm the trip.

  • Monthly payments are available until 3 months before departure.


  • Register by mail

  • Ask a question

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  • All profits support conservation efforts

  • Work directly with local researchers

  • Unique experiences

  • Personalized service


DAY 1: Arrive to Manzanillo

Fly into Manzanillo airport (ZLO), arriving anytime of the day. We will arrange a shuttle to the hotel and dinner will be with the group in town. We will stay at one of the city’s mid-range hotels (specific one to be determined). We will meet with the group and have an orientation meeting and then a free night to sleep or explore the town. Meals: D.

DAY 2: Turtles, Turtles, Turtles

After breakfast, we will meet our bus for the 3 hour drive to Colola. Settle into the cabins and meet for an orientation to the research station and a slide show presentation about sea turtles and the work in Colola. In the afternoon, we will visit the turtle hatchery to see if there are hatchlings and learn how this project is integrated with the local community.

Next we will scale a large rock at the end of the beach to observe the dozens of turtles in the water that are mating. Bring your telephoto lens for this extraordinary photographic opportunity. (Note: you need to be in strong physical condition to climb the rock.) After lunch we will have some downtime to rest or relax, followed by a hatchling release at dusk. That evening, we out to the beach to work with as many turtles as we can after dinner. Meals: B, L, D

DAY 3: Ixtapilla & El Faro

This morning, we’ll wake up with a traditional Mexican breakfast. We start with a visit to Ixtapilla Beach, an arribada nesting beach a short drive away. We will be not be in this area around the time the arribada normally happens though this beach has many nesting turtles even outside the arribada and the olive ridleys often nest during the day, offering great photographic opportunities. Afterwards, we head to nearby El Faro beach for lunch and an opportunity to swim with turtles in the water. Take a rest in the late afternoon and then meet at dusk to release more hatchlings and then visit the beach again after dinner. Meals: B, L, D

DAY 4: Maruata & Artisan Workshop

After breakfast, we will make the short drive to the nearby town of Maruata. There we will visit the spectacular geologic formation on the coast known as “Dedo de Dios” (Finger of God) and explore the gorgeous coastal scenery. That will be followed by a workshop with local artisans to teach us how they make their various crafts and an opportunity to take home some unique souvenirs. Crafts include painted textiles, ceramics, turtle figurines, water jugs, and more. We will have lunch in town and then head back to the research station for a free afternoon to relax or explore. Finish the day with our daily hatchling release and nighttime beach work. Meals: B, L, D

DAY 5: Hike & Swim

Today will be an active day, starting with a 3 hour guided hike to learn about the fascinating coastal forests of Mexico. Then cool off after lunch with a swim at El Faro and then head back to camp for a siesta before the evening’s turtle activities. Meals: B, L, D

DAY 6: Open Day

No planned activities today other than the hatchling release and night beach work. Join our hosts late afternoon for a lesson on Mexican cooking and help prepare the group’s dinner. Brad will give a sea turtle presentation in the evening after dinner. The bus will be available to take people to souvenir shop in Maruata or swim in El Faro. Meals: B, L, D

DAY 7: Manzanillo

After breakfast, we head back to Manzanillo (3 hour drive). We will have lunch in one of the great local restaurants and then free time in the afternoon to hang out on the beach, swim, walk the malecon, or go souvenir shopping. The hotel also has a great oceanside pool. Meet up for one last celebratory dinner on the town and head out for a drink afterwards or get a good nights sleep for the journey home. Meals: B, L, D

DAY 8: Depart

Have breakfast at the hotel and then head to the airport in plenty of time to catch your flight home or feel free to explore more of this beautiful part of Mexico! Meals: B

Is This Trip Right For Me?
Colola Beach is located in the Michoacan Province, which currently has a US State Department travel warning due to violence in the state. However, the coastal part of the state is safe is not an area of concern. We will be staying in the coastal area accompanied by local residents and a professional driver. The research station is simple but clean and comfortable, with a mix of rooms with private and shared bathrooms. Meals will be simple Mexican staples and dietary restrictions can be accommodated.

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