Playa Caracol

Playa Cacacol, Tampico, MAdero, Altamira, Tamaulipas, Mexico

Plasya Caracol, Tampico, Madero, Altamira, Mexico

Area Overview.

   Playa Caracol lies just north of Playa Miramar and extends 12.5 miles north the the mouth of Puerto de Altamira. A beautiful beach front with only a modest amount of residential development and a couple of developments in their initial development stage. There are no stores or commercial facilities of any kind. After the first three miles north, there is nothing built. 

Census shows an area population of 820,000 people.  This is the first main stop south of the United States, being 250 miles south of Brownsville, Texas.

The area was originally developed as a port city of Tampico at the mouth of the Rio Panuco. At some time in the recent past, it was deemed wise to dig a new port, el Puerto de Altamira.

The shallow area of Laguna las Marismas and northward are hyper saline. There is minimum flow of fresh water from the west. To the north, Puerto de Altamira was dug from salt flats, and just north of that are numerous salt evaporators.

Geologically the land area is building eastward. The beach is bounded by sand dunes up to 85 feet high. To the west of the dunes is a low lying area occupied by Laguna las Marismas and a marshland area. To the west of that is another dune of ancient origin paralleling the beach dune with a high point of about 175 feet elevation, then another line of smaller lakes demonstrating the undulating pattern of dunes.

The currents of the Gulf of Mexico are moving from the South to the North.

The primary weather pattern is dry warm airs from the south west, with cool surface breezes from the southeast over the Gulf most of the year. Winter brings winds from the north.

Building southwest of the port and west of Laguna las Marismas is a growing industrial area.

There is some development on the beach north of Playa Miramar, but the rest of the area is undeveloped.

The second dune is currently being mined for sand, cutting it down. Highest point now is about 175 feet elevation.


Here is the present state of development of the south part of Playa Caracol.             It is a very wide picture.  Click on it to expand it for more detail.

330 Degree Photo, Development on Playa Caracol

As you can see, some of the area has been divided into lots. A few houses have been built but the majority of the properties are vacant and underdeveloped.

After a Summer of heavy rains and surface winds from the South East, the driftwood is everywhere.

The basics for beach side barbecues and clam bakes!

After a Summer of heavy rains and with the surface wind and currents (check the CURRENTS PAGE) from the South East in the summer, all the driftwood that was washed down the Panuco River from the mountains ended up here. The beach has expanded this year by about the amount of distance the driftwood covers. While this may seen unsightly, it is a treasure trove for wood carvers, shellers and artists. Fish in the afternoon while your fire burns down to some good hot coals, then add some damp seaweed, and put your catch on top of that. The coals and seaweed will steam your catch to perfection and you will have one of the best days out you have had in a long time.

Tiny shells with beautiful shapes and colors

Some of the collectibles on the beach are bigger, some smaller. These tiny shells lived right at the surfs edge, or a little beyond.

Visit the SHELLS PAGE to see what we have collected so far.

Day hike on Playa Caracol, Tampico, Mexico

Coming to the Beach for a day hike. Good Friends, Beautiful Weather, Miles of Beach.

Lizard, Playa Caracol, Altamira Mexico

 Lizard Camouflage on the Sand.

Beach Panarama, Playa Caracol, Tampico, Mexico

An extended view of Playa Caracol. New construction here is mainly of private houses.

Click Here for a short movie of the beach in January

Days like this stay with you for a life time.

Fishing Playa Caraclo, Tampico, Mexico

Playa Caracol, Tampico,Madero,Mexico, shells on the beach

Sometimes the shells wash up in piles, they are so plentiful. The colors I have seen are black, white, yellow, red and some blue. I am not sure what causes the color changes. I guess it is the various minerals in the waters. This year there are more blacks.

A close up of the sand on the beach.  It is generally fine enough for easy walking with patches of course sand that you sink in to which can  make walking harder.Close up of the Sand, Playa Caracol, Tampico, Altamira, Mexico

One time we sifted the sand to different sizes and this is what we got.    Now what do you think about that?

Sand, Playa Caracol, Sorted by size, Tampico, Altamira, Mexico

Grass covered dunes of Playa Caracol, Tampico, Mexico

The dunes and the High rise at Velamar, the last development north. On the horizon you can just see the white tower of the lighthouse at Puerto de Altamira.

Fishing on Playa Caracol, Altamira, Mexico

Some of the people you might meet here.

Sometimes you meet the happiest people here.

After the last of the residential properties,  a deserted beach goes on for miles.

The Concrete Dunes, Playa Caracol, Altamira, Mexico

The first thing we found was the Concrete Dunes.

 Concrete Dunes, Altamira, Mexico Playa Caracol

How the beach was built. 

With each shifting wind the sand is blown into a new layer as described by the wind. When the wind changes, a new layer forms going in a new direction.

The sand here had been cemented by some process. Something in these sands caused them to cement together similar to concrete.

This is similar to what we found on the road cut to Playa Tesoro (photo below). This road cut is across the second dune ridge inland.

The blown sand strata are loosely cemented, but workable.

Playa Tersero, Altamira, Road Cut on road to the Beach

Concrete Dunes, Playa CAracol, Altamira, Mexico

These are the beach sands cemented together. 

Concrete Dunes, close up of the Rock and sand, Altamira, Mexico

What kind of seagull and what kind of other bird?

Beach birds

Building cannot be done here within 20 meters of the highest water mark. However the area behind the dunes should make for excellent foundations.                    

Concrete Dunes, Altamira, Mexico Playa Caracol

White Pelicans, Laguna Las Marismas, Altamira, Mexico.

White Pelicans on Laguna las Marismas.

This is the kind of days that will stick in your mind for a long time. No stress, No problems. Just go out and enjoy!

Laguna Las Marismas, Altamira, Mexico Looking West.

         La Laguna las Marismas from the north end of Playa Caracol looking west. The Laguna at this point is separated from the Gulf of Mexico only by a slim bar of sand. 

At the time we were there, January 2009, the water level in la laguna was higher that the Gulf. The photo below looks north with La Laguna las Marismas on the left and the Gulf of Mexico on the right. It shows that a large pipe had been put in as a drain between the two.  The water was moving at such velocity that as it exited the pipe, it frothed up before subsiding to the Gulf.  Also, the pipe was not sufficient for the flow and the water cut a channel around the pipe.          

This is the only exit between the two.  

Thin Bar between Laguna las Marismas and the Gulf of Mexico.


Playa Caracol, Beach sand close up, south of Puerto de Altamira, Mexico

Cast Net Fishing in the surf

Cast Net fishing in the surf

You can just see the lighthouse at Puerto Altamira in the distance.   What a way to see the day!

Playa Caracol, four wheeling on the beach, Altamira, Mexico

The beach looking south.    The dunes are about 85 feet at the highest.   

Los Dunas Dorado, Laguna Las Marismas, Altamira, Mexico.

This is a large piece of coral that had washed up.  There are many pieces of coral on the beach in various sizes. This one was one of the largest.

Coral, Large piece washed in. Playa Caracol, Altamira, Mexico.

That dune from the other side.

Dunas Dorado, from Playa Caracol, Altamira, Mexico.

Playa Caracol. Tampico, Altamira, Mexico

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A group of fragments collected  demonstrating the various types of shell fish living not far off the beach. The Shells of Tampico

Playa Tesoro

Playa Miramar

Playa Hermosa

Cabo Rojo