Zapotalito, on the eastern shore of Laguna Pastoría, is the sole quick access point to the Lagunas de Chacahua . From the Zapotalito landings, the fishing cooperative, Sociedad Cooperativa Turística Escondida, enjoys a monopoly for transporting visitors on the lagoons. The boatmen used to make their livings fishing; now they mostly ferry tourists. Having specialized in hauling in fish, they are generally neither wildlife sensitive nor wildlife knowledgeable. Canopied powerboats, seating about 10, make long, full-day trips across the lagoon to lovely Playa Chacahua  and village, for about $70 per boat.
The more expensive, but quick, full-day private excursion to Playa Chacahua, about 14 miles (23 km) distant, unfortunately necessitates a fast trip across the lagoon. It’s difficult to get the boat operators to slow down. They roar across broad Laguna Pastoría, scattering flocks of birds ahead of them. They wind among the islands, with names such as Escorpión (Scorpion), Venados (Deer), and Pinuelas (Little Pines), sometimes slowing for viewing multitudes of nesting pelicans, herons, and cormorants. They pick up speed again in the narrow jungle channel between the lagoons, roaring past idyllic, somnolent El Corral village, and break into open water again on Laguna Chacahua.
Cheaper (about $30) half-day excursions take visitors to nearby Playa Cerro Hermosa at the mouth of Laguna Pastoría for a couple of hours’ beach play and snorkeling—if you bring your own snorkeling gear. On the other hand, you can save yourself $30 and drive, taxi, or walk the approximately two miles along the shoreline road from Zapotalito to Playa Cerro Hermosa. Here you’ll find a lovely open-ocean beach good for surf-fishing, beach sports, and camping, a wildlife-rich lagoon mangrove wetland, and several palapa restaurants.
A much cheaper option for crossing the lagoon to Playa Chacahua  is to go like the local people do: Take the colectivo boat (less than $2) that leaves every two hours. It drops you at the Chacahua island dock, from which you can ride a truck (also less than $2) to Chacahua village.
(Note: There are two Chacahua villages, on opposite, east and west, sides of Laguna Chacahua. To distinguish them, I label them east-Chacahua and west-Chacahua, respectively.)
Another cheap route to Playa Chacahua  is to drive, taxi, or ride a truck south from San José del Progreso, on Highway 200, about 15 miles west of the Zapotalito turnoff. The route, unpaved but passable even in rain, starts from the center of San José del Progreso the village and extends a total of about 14 miles (23 km). It leads south about five miles (eight km) to Charco Redondo village, where you jog right onto the elevated levee road.
Continue another five miles (eight km) to El Azufre, where you fork left and continue another four miles (six km) to west-Chacahua village (pop. 1,000), with a few stores, palapa restaurants, the crocodile hatchery, and a boat landing. Stores offer secure parking for about $2 per day. The boat crossing to Playa Chacahua  and the east-Chacahua village on the opposite side costs $1 per person.
The crocodile hatchery is at the west-Chacahua village, on the west side of the lagoon, home to a small community of costeño families, a run-down hotel, a few stores and some lagoonside palapa restaurants. Past the rickety crocodile caretaker’s quarters are a few enclosures housing about 100 crocodiles segregated according to size, from hatchlings to six-foot-long toothy green adults.
Get there from the Zapotalito turnoff at Kilometer 82, 51 miles (82 km) from Pinotepa  and 41 miles (65 km) from Puerto Escondido . (Taxis and local buses run from Río Grande  all the way to Zapotalito on the lagoon, while second-class buses from Puerto Escondido and Pinotepa Nacional will drop you on the highway.)