Sylvan, mangrove-fringed Laguna Manialtepec, about 10 miles west of Puerto Escondido , is a repository for Pacific Mexico wildlife. Unlike Lagunas de Chacahua , Laguna Manialtepec is relatively deep and fresh most of the year, except occasionally during the rainy season when its main source, the Río Manialtepec, breaks through its sandbar and the lagoon becomes a tidal estuary. Consequently lacking a continuous supply of ocean fry for sustained fishing, Laguna Manialtepec has been left to local people, a few Sunday visitors, and its wildlife.
Laguna Manialtepec abounds with birds. Of the hundreds of species frequenting the lagoon, 40 or 50 are often spotted in a morning outing. Among the more common are the olivaceous cormorant and its relative the anhinga, and herons, including the tricolored, green-backed, little blue, and the black-crowned night heron.
Other common species include ibis, parrots, egrets, and ducks, such as the Muscovy and the black-bellied whistling duck. Among the most spectacular are the huge great blue herons, while the most entertaining are the northern jacanas, or lily walkers, who scoot across lily pads as if they were the kitchen floor.
Manialtepec tours are conveniently arranged through travel agencies in Puerto Escondido . Although most of these advertise so-called “ecotours,” a pair of genuine very worthwhile ecotours are led, respectively, by Canadian ornithologist Michael Malone and his equally professional student, known simply as “Lalo.” (For details see Tours .)
If, however, you prefer to organize your own Manialtepec excursion by bus or car, you might find yourself tempted to linger—Manialtepec is ripe for kayaking, boating, and RV and tent camping along its mangrove- and palm-decorated shoreline. A handful of shady restaurant and lodging compounds  along the shore offer the essentials for a week of Sundays in paradise.