Surfing a Shipwreck – Manzanillo and Santiago Bay

Manzanillo is Mexico’s largest port city, handling all of the cargo for Mexico City. It is also known as the sailfish capital of the world and one of Mexico’s top sport fishing destinations. With 350 days of sun a year, it’s a great vacation destination offering two beautiful bays, Bahia Santiago and Bahia Manzanillo, with warm water, surfing, snorkeling, delicious food and seaside resorts.

We arrived in Bahia Santiago with Carly still onboard and we enjoyed the next few days surfing off the Western point. Unfortunately with the waves I also caught some urchin spines.

Dance party in between sets.
Digging out urchin spines.

Right in front of the surf beak is the wreck of the San Luciano. A 300′ steel cargo ship that was damaged and sunk in the 1959 Category 5 hurricane.

Carly Shredding with the wreck of San Luciano in the background.

One day while out walking around town and eating some of the best tacos we’ve ever had, we stumbled upon Iguanario Archundia, and iguana sanctuary that began over forty years ago when Señor Ramon Medina Archundia rescued a pair of iguanas. Since then, Ramon has dedicated his life to the preservation of Mexico’s endangered iguanas. The sanctuary is located in the center of Manzanillo and is home to over 600 iguanas, as well as several other species of rescued wild animals.

FRESH TORTILLAS!!! Manzanillo had some of the best tacos we’ve ever had.

Ramon and his father set up this small enclosure in a marshy space in downtown Manzanillo, where two huamúchil trees offered the perfect place for his sunbathing iguanas. Before he knew it, word got out about the sanctuary and locals from all over town and eventually the state began bringing in rescued iguanas and animals.

Ramon Senior feeding his beloved iguanas.

Iguanas have been hunted nearly to the point of extinction here in Mexico, either for their hides, or to be sold as pets. Although it’s not an ideal home, the Iguanario Archundia is a safe place for the iguanas and other animals to live. Entrance is free and they receive no governmental support, so any donates are welcomed.

Taking care of over 600 iguanas is no small task, considering that they consume about 400 pounds of food a day, but Ramon has managed to do it for many years. Every day, he visits the local markets in Manzanillo to collect hundreds of pounds of fruits and vegetables from like-minded animal lovers who are more than happy to contribute to his cause.

Ramon Junior and one of his raccoons.
Josh holding a beautiful boa.

While we were visiting, Señor Ramon was out, but his son also named Ramon was there and showed us around the sanctuary. Most of the other animals that live there were brought in as babies and were not able to be released back out into the wild. Since these animals have known Ramon their whole lives, they literally start shaking with excitement as he approaches, the huge boars would wiggle head to tail and jump up on the walls to greet him, and the coati would squeak and squeal as he rubbed their bellies. We normally hate seeing animals kept in cages but seeing these animals so in love with their caretaker made us realize how much care went into taking care of these amazing animals.

While chatting with Ramon, we mentioned that we were anchored over in Santiago Bay, where it turns out is his favorite fishing spot that he visits on the weekends. We made plans to meet up the next morning and to go out fishing with him and his friends. He kayaked out to our boat just as the sun was rising the next morning and we motored around the corner in our dingy to some near by rock formations. His two friends were spearfishing, so Weston and I jumped in with them, while Ramon and Rachel cast from the dingy.  Ramon also was kind enough to look through our tackle and let us know what worked best in the area, what we didn’t have he gave us. We offered to pay him for the lures, but he was almost offended and he made it clear they were a gift. He was so stoked to check out Agape, and we were thankful for a new friend.

If you are ever in the state of Colima, definitely try to make it out to Iguanario Archundia!

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