By Izabela Zagorski
While Mexico is considered the go to place for warm, beach vacations, many of these alluring spots are heavily populated by tourists. People just like you, looking for the exact same experience in the exact same place. Just like that, those once pristine beaches are over-populated and lacking the relaxing getaway you were daydreaming about.
So where’s the answer? What beach remains undiscovered and unpopulated? Yelapa, Mexico.
The only way to get there is by boat. Travelers must fly into Puerto Vallarta and then book a 40 minute taxi-boat ride to Yelapa’s remote, fishing village. One of the best things about this town is there are no motorized vehicles to be found. If you want to travel faster than on foot, you can rent a horse or donkey for your jungle exploring!
The last time I visited Yelapa was 8 years ago, so when I started researching it again, I immediately looked up flight costs. I found round trip tickets to Puerto Vallarta, in every month of the year, priced anywhere from $420-$600. Once you’ve arrived in Puerto Vallarta (it’s touristy), you can take the 11am taxi-boat to Yelapa so that you arrive with enough time to check in, unpack, and still have time to take a dip in the pristine water! You can find everything from beautiful cabanas to an entire beachfront apartments with ocean views for $50-$100 per night.
The first few nights after arriving, I stayed in a little cabana on the beach, and promptly fell asleep to the sound of waves and the chirps of geckos. In the morning, I headed for the beach for some sunbathing. As the day wore on, one of my favorite people I met during the trip stopped by. “You like pie, senorita?” A lady with pies balanced atop her head asked me in broken english. For only $2 she served up a large slice of delicious, homemade pie…some of the best I’ve ever had, I might add. I guess that was breakfast! I spent the rest of the day soaking in the sun, reading a book, and playing in the surf.
Exploring the Town
After the initial few days spent in the cabana, priced around $70-$100, I looked for a more longterm, affordable option that had more amenities. I ended up being approached by a couple of locals who had a 2 bedroom, ocean view apartment for around $50 a night. The deck of the apartment overlooked the water and one morning I spied four stingrays playing around in the water below. They drifted in, and after 10 minutes of swimming around, they headed back out to sea.
That afternoon, per the owner’s recommendation, I went waterfall hunting. The village is built on a hill, so the walk involved some elevation gain, but I almost didn’t notice it due to the beautiful, brightly colored houses along the way. Little children ran through the streets and there was this tiny ice-cream shop about half way there. Fun fact, this waterfall provides most of the fresh water to the village below!
The next day, my adventures continued. I decided to go snorkeling! The water is perfect for it. On the way to the snorkel spot, a little island about 30 minutes from Yelapa, we saw several dolphins jump through the air and we also noticed a stingray the size of a living room rug swim by us. While snorkeling, we saw beautiful coral reefs, colorful fish, and even caught an octopus.
Our tour guide stored the octopus in his boat cooler, recommended we take it to the Hotel Lagunita, and ask them to cook it for us when we got back. They did! Then, after it had been thoroughly boiled, the owner of our apartment taught us how to make ceviche with it. It was my first time trying this dish fresh and homemade! Absolutely delicious.
There were countless other adventures to be had. One day we spent the afternoon hiking through the jungle and the next we went wakeboarding. In the mornings, sometimes the owner would drop by and teach us how to fish from the beach. However, there were still a vast majority of afternoons lazily spent on the beach with a margarita in one hand and a good book in the other.
Food & Drink
Sometimes the best food you can find in foreign countries comes from the tiny little stalls by the side of the road. They don’t look like much from the outside, but the food is unforgettable. Many times, along the streets of Yelapa, I would come across a tiny little stall selling authentic Mexican food. I would strike up a rather stunted conversation (my Spanish is rough) with the stall owner while he made my food. Then I would be on my way exploring again.
But there are also, some wonderful restaurants sprinkled along the beach. Hotel Lagunita offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and friendly servers. Another top recommendation would be Pollo Bollo. Every time I went there, I received large portions of freshly grilled seafood, chicken and vegetables! Considering this is a small, fishing village, you will always receive fresh, local catches for a decent price.
And lastly, the drinks are huge. Need a refreshing beverage to quench your sun-induced thirst? There are so many yummy options to choose from and they all pair nicely with a large sunhat, a good book, and a comfy lounge chair.
All in all, this trip was an experience I will never forget. The friendly locals, the inviting scenery, and the remote location provided the beach getaway I’d been needing for a while. You should check it out. I promise you won’t regret it!