Ventanilla, or La Ventanilla, is an estuary of the Tonameca River, and is an important ecological area on the Oaxacan coast. A small village is also located here, surrounded by mangroves and the birds and animals that call them home. La Ventanilla gets its name “the window” from a large rock formation on the beach. The huge rock juts out on the coast, featuring a small “window” that looks out to the sea.
Back in the 1990s La Ventanilla was just a stretch of undeveloped beach with a coconut plantation. Three families lived in the area, despite no electricity until nearly 2000. Today, there are approximately 25 Zapotec families that have settled in the area. These inhabitants have established crocodile farms, where they monitor and raise them, setting them free once the reptiles are able to survive on their own. The villagers also work on reforesting the mangroves, with over 30,000 mangroves already replanted.
Visitors to Ventanilla typically journey on a canoe through the mangroves, looking for crocodiles in their natural habitat, along with birds and other reptiles that call Ventanilla home. In addition to exploring Ventanilla via canoe, horseback rides along the beach are also popular. Depending on the time of year, look for sea turtles and dolphins that frequent the area to feed on crustaceans and microorganisms. They are more abundant during a rainy season phenomenon known as “broken bars,” when the sea meets the lagoon.
Ventanilla is about a 1.5-hour drive from Bahías de Huatulco, two miles west of Mazunte. If you are interested in seeing the turtles, they are usually spawning between July and December.