Costalegre: Cuastecomate – Exploring a “Secret Anchorage”

Cuastecomate Anchorage  Costalegre Mexico

Groovy rests at anchor in “secret” Playa Cuastecomates

Mid-March, 2013 – We left Manzanillo’s Santiago Bay and its daily morning show of brilliant sunrises, and made the short 25 mile hop north to the tiny anchorage, Cuastecomate, between Barra de Navidad, Melaque and Tenacatita.

Cuastecomates beach Costalegre Mexico

The surf was up during our stay.







Playa Cuastecomate Costalegre Mexico

Royal blue skies and jade seas at Cuastecomate.

Groovy had gotten quite dirty in Manzanillo, and our passage north was on a day with little wind, so we gave the boat a nice bath. It was a great way to pass the time, and splashing around in cool water on the hot deck was lots of fun!

Mexico’s coast between Manzanillo and the outer edge of Puerto Vallarta’s Banderas Bay is known to cruisers as the “Gold Coast.” I’m not sure how it got this name — perhaps from the popular Mexico Boating Guide by Pat Rains — but that term does not seem to be well known outside cruising circles.
Wondering where this is? See Mexico Maps!

Cuastecomates Costalegre Mexico

There are lots of beach palapa bars at Cuastecomate

To most Mexican vacation travelers this is the “Costa Alegre” (sometimes shortened to “Costalegre”), which literally means “the cheerful coast.”

The Costalegre is a 100-mile stretch that includes ten or so anchorages for boats. A few of these anchorages are very popular and frequently visited. A few, however, are quite small and not very well protected from the wind and swell coming in from the Pacific.

Cuastecomate pangas on the beach mexico 405

Pangas on the beach at Cuastecomate

Playa Cuastecomates Costalegre palm trees

The village is tiny with lots of palms.

Always happiest getting off the beaten path, we decided our trek north this year would hit each of these smaller spots.

Before we left San Diego for Mexico three years ago, a cruiser told us to be sure we visited the “Secret Anchorage” on this coast.

Cuastecomate Costalegre beach view

Looking down towards the beach.




He gave us the waypoints to find it. “When I was there, I kept emailing my friends in neighboring anchorages and they had no idea where I was,” he said. “They kept writing me back saying, “where the heck ARE you??…”

bougainvillea flowers cuastecomate mexico

Bougainvillea flowers.

Cuastecomate beach hotel costalegre mexico

We had gotten a good chuckle out of that, and we had looked forward to getting in on his secret.











Playa Cuastecomate beach surf costalegre mexico

View of the bay.

However, the publication of Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer’s” Pacific Mexico: A Cruiser’s Guidebook not only made the waypoints to this hideaway public, but revealed its true name: Cuastecomate.

Cuastecomates Costalegre Jalisco anchorage costalegre mexico

We stopped here two years ago, but hadn’t gone ashore because the big surf made it too difficult to land the dinghy.

Unfortunately, the surf was scary this time too.  After a dramatic splash dinghy landing on the beach, we wandered around the tiny community of dirt streets and were charmed with what we saw.

Cuastecomate shrine mexico

A little shrine was on a corner…

Shrine at Playa Cuastecomate beach costalegre mexico

Inside the shrine








We noticed a tiny shrine at a crossroads with a man working on a light fixture inside. We asked him if the shrine belonged to a family nearby, and he said it was for everyone in the community. What an intriguing idea.

Cuastecomate Jalisco beach hotel costalegre mexico 550

There’s a pretty hotel at one end of the beach

When we stopped in this bay two years ago, I posted some pics and notes about our stay, explaining the sudden emergence of this tiny anchorage in Mexico cruising circles because of the new cruising guide.

Cuastecomate Flowers

…great shot!!!

A few weeks later I received an email from a Cuastecomates resident who had read my post.  She said she now understood why there were suddenly so many sailboats decorating the view from her living room window.

Flower Photography

Mark gets pics of the flowers…








flowers Cuastecomate Jalisco Costalegre

I remember growing up on Sandy Bay, north of Boston, and how the arrival of a sailboat in the bay was happy cause for me to dash out in a rowboat to say hello (and secretly hope to be invited aboard…which sometimes happened!).

Cuastecomate Jalisco anchorage costalgre mexico

A little frame around Groovy.

Fruits for sale Cuastecomate beach palapas costalgre mexico










regina flower

Cuastecomate Jalisco hotel costalgre mexico

So I completely understood our Cuastecomate email pal’s eagerness to connect with the boats anchored just beyond her living room window. When we arrived in Cuastecomate this year, we wanted to hook up with her, but unfortunately she was in Guadalajara at the time.

Playa Cuastecomate beach palapas costalgre mexico

Cuastecomate Jalisco Costalegre Mexico

Oh well, at least we saw her village, including the very pretty hotel at the end of the beach. And all those colorful flowers – they were everywhere!

The wind was blowing pretty hard, and the seas were building steadily all afternoon. Suddenly the sun disappeared from the sky, and we hurried back to Groovy, as the sky began to turn black.

Just as we clambered into the cockpit, the heavens opened up in a torrential rainstorm.

fishing kayak

A fisherman gets caught in the downpour.




Now, doesn’t that figure? We had just washed the entire boat, and now it was pouring pitchforks. Lordy me. It doesn’t seem to matter if we wash our trailer or wash the boat, the mere act of filling a bucket with soapy water is the opening steps to a Rain Dance wherever we are!!

This was only the second time we had seen rain this season, and it came down so hard it bounced back up off the water around us. A fisherman in a kayak wasn’t quite as lucky as we were, and he got stuck in the worst of it, paddling as fast as he could to shore.

Cuastecomate Tree Devil Branches

The devil cursed the Cuastecomate tree with an ugly web of branches & hard fruit…

Once the rain cleared, we watched a gorgeous sunset.



Cuastecomate Leaf like a cross

…so God blessed the tree with cross-shaped leaves.

It is oddly fitting for God and the devil to bicker over this cove with conflicting weather patterns. Afterall, long ago, they had a big argument over its namesake, the Cuastecomate tree.

Legend says the devil designed this tree with a nasty tangle of branches and big hard ugly fruit. Unhappy with the devil’s creation, God gave the tree a divinely inspired flourish, and blessed it with leaves that are shaped like crosses!

Sunset at Cuastecomate Costalegre

After the downpour, we were given a glorious sunset at the mouth of the bay.

After several days in this pretty cove, we decided to move a few more miles up the coast where, to our complete surprise, we discovered a mini tropical paradise with gorgeous, calm, turquoise water in a cove that was aptly name “Paraiso.”

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