YELAPA: MEXICO’S HIDDEN GEM

Mexico’s East coast has been well publicized as the jewel in the nations crown, white sand beaches, turquoise sea... However when planning our Mexican fiesta we decided to throw caution to the wind and head to the West coast. Having heard very little we solely relied on Google images and good old Trip Advisor, it took a while to realize – but it was a risk worth taking. 
     
We flew into Puerto Vallarta airport having flown internally from Mexico City, in desperate need of a nice beach and a little tranquility. This, however, was not to be found in the theme park that is Puerto Vallarta. Needless to say this wasn’t the picturesque seaside town Google had so poetically lied to us about. It wasn’t all bad: Guillermo, the lovely man with whom we were staying, was a delight, greeting us with open arms and a cold and much needed beer. So as we meandered through the deluge of tourists, debating whether we probably should have followed the crowd and gone to the East coast, the only glimmer of hope was that we had a boat trip the next morning to a place called Yelapa.
   
As we hurriedly boarded the boat the next morning we had our fingers and toes crossed that we would finally find the oasis we’d set out to discover. The 40-minute journey drew to a close and we rounded the corner into a picturesque bay and everyone whooped as a whale’s tail was spotted in the distance: that’s when we knew our trip might take a turn for the better. It was everything and more than we could have wished for; with only about 20 people occupying one of the finest looking beaches I have ever seen. The surroundings made having to lug our bags across to the opposite side of the bay seemed a doddle.
   
We were amazed by the contrast of this peaceful and serene utopia against the hustle and bustle of the overpopulated tourist trap that was Puerto Vallarta; the tranquility could have been due to the remote jungle surroundings and the impossibility of reaching the beach by car. When researching places to stay the choices seemed limited but this breaks down all of them I believe - http://www.yelapa.info. We were fortunate enough to be able to book Casa Vortex for the entirety of our stay. Juan, our host, showed us our apartment – open to the balmy elements overlooking the beach to the left and jungle to the right and equipped with its own bar, hammocks and kitchenette. It really could not have been closer to perfection. No wonder Bob Dylan & Dennis Hopper used to come here to get high and write music.
   
Yelapa town offers all the conveniences you could wish for: two small supermarkets selling fresh coriander, avocados, nachos and tequila so you can tick every preconceived stereotype whilst still in paradise. Eating out is phenomenally cheap, and we visited Los Abuelos three times in 10 days with our most expensive meal there being £15 – starters, mains and cocktails for both of us, which had us waddling home much like the now forgotten denizens of Puerto Vellarta.
   
The beach is stunning, however at 11am the first boatload of tourists rolls in and the restaurants fill, as they need to be watered and fed. This is only on a small section of the beach and they don’t seem to venture further than lounger to table. There is a lady that wanders up and down the beach with pies on her head, which are delicious – but come with the expectation of haggling: her main clientele are the lounge dwellers, and her prices seem to fluctuate based on whether she sees you as a tourist or a traveller. Paragliding is well worth it, being dragged behind a boat and then released while scouring the horizon for any sign of whales is a unique experience… and if that’s not for you, the view down the coast into the dense jungle is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.  
   
We boarded the boat as reluctantly as we had hurriedly boarded it 10 days earlier. We certainly felt well rested. The driver shouted at everyone to tell all their friends about Yelapa as we disembarked and both of us couldn’t help but think ‘fuck that’… a big part of us wanted to keep this hidden gem our own little secret; but it would be a shame to not share with you all the unspoiled haven that lies just off the beaten track.
- Max Brown

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