PV: Paradise Village – The Lap of Luxury

Two of Carlos Slim's three megayachts, "Tulley" and "Ostar," at Marina de La Paz.

Mariachis cap a perfect evening.

Waiting out a Norther in Bahía Falsa.

Clipped in while crossing the Sea of Cortez.

Coconut palms!

Banana trees!

Wendy grinds his yummy

French Roast.

Welcome to Paradise.

One of the swimming pools.

Eggs Benedict or Huevos Rancheros?

Grady the Cockatoo says "¡Hola!"

Tiger mom.

The Welcome Event was a colorful spectacle.

Future Flamenco dancers.

Baja Ha-Ha mothership Profligate

Crocodile Zone!

Iguana sunning himself.

Wild coatimundi in the grass near a bus stop.

Beach chairs at Paradise Village.

Paradise Village.

Playing in the surf.

Cartwheels: the essence of

little girlhood on the beach.

A snowy egret high-steps it out of

the waves.

Vallarta Yacht Club.

Bougainvillea on the docks.

This place gets a grip on you.

Paradise Village

Late November/Early December, 2011 - We returned to La Paz from

the nearby anchorages to find ourselves suddenly caught up in the

lives of the rich and famous.  Two megayachts were parked at Marina

de La Paz: the 140' Tulley and the 182' Ostar. Both belong to the

world's richest man, Carlos Slim (his other 200+ foot megayacht is in

the Caribbean!).  Excitement filled the air the day Carlos arrived.

"Which one is he?" I asked as the entourage appeared.  "The one with

the sunglasses." "But they all have sunglasses!"

A friend of ours is the captain of a neighboring megayacht, and he

invited us to his birthday party along with his buddy, the captain of

Ostar and his wife (who is also a captain but is currently enjoying the

high life on Ostar instead).  Wow.  How often do you get to peak in the

door of the world of the ultra rich?  The stories these captains could

tell -- but can't due to contracts they've signed!  The wine flowed, the

food was divine and above it all the music of the mariachi singers soared.

Out in Bahía Falsa a few days later, Mark played mellower tunes on his

guitar as we waited out a series of Northers that were blasting down the

Sea of Cortez.  This was the ideal location to sit out these vicious storms.

We had tolerable winds and flat seas in our safe little nook, but the radio

crackled with chatter as one unattended boat dragged into another back in

the main La Paz anchorage.  Helpful cruisers around the anchorage

located the owner of one of the boats in the US and relayed messages

from him to get the combination to the padlock, the location of the ignition

key, and the location of the battery switch for the anchor windlass.

It pays to wait for

a good weather

window when

crossing the Sea

of Cortez, and

we got the perfect slot.  We romped along close-hauled for 15 hours

at a blistering 7.5 knots and we motor-sailed the rest of the way,

zipping from Los Frailes to La Cruz five hours faster than we'd

planned.  The seas were calm and the wind was warm on our faces,

and when we weren't on watch we each slept well.  What an

incredible contrast to last year's roller coaster ride from hell on these

same waters where the teapot took a nosedive right off the stove and

the waves bore down on us like frothing beasts hissing at us from

above.  Now we realize we crossed during a Norther last year.

The downside to our lickety-split speed was that it put us in port in the

wee hours of the morning in the pitch black.  Fortunately, we knew the

La Cruz anchorage from last spring, but the twelve mile approach was

littered with small fishing pangas.  Mark kept his eyes glued to what he

could see of the horizon through the binoculars while mine were glued to

the radar.  The pangas kept materializing out of nowhere.  They would

flash their flashlights at us frantically as we drew near and we'd flash

ours back to let them know we'd seen them.

We got the anchor down without a hitch,

43 hours after leaving Los Frailes, and

fell asleep almost before our heads hit

the pillow.  Next morning as we

wandered around La Cruz it slowly sank

in that we were no longer in desert of

Baja California any more.  We were in the lush, verdant, moist

tropics.  The palm trees sported coconuts and the bananas

were thick on the trees.

The most important stop for us in La Cruz was at Garleria

Huichol in Octopus's Garden where a Frenchman named

Wendy roasts the most delicious French Roast coffee.  We

stocked up and enjoyed a cup under the shade of a

cuastecomate tree.

The real reason we crossed the Sea to Banderas Bay (home of Puerto Vallarta) was to treat

ourselves to an early Christmas present with a stay at the incomparable Paradise Village

Marina.  It is just a few miles from La Cruz, and we waited until we were fully rested from our

crossing before we headed over so we could make the most of every minute of our stay.  As we

tied up at the dock a neighbor came over to greet us.  "Are you here for good?"  He asked.  I

hesitated, puzzled.  "Um, no, just five days… Are you here for good?"  "Oh yeah!"  Then we

discovered another neighbor had just signed up for his fifth year.  As soon as we started walking

around the resort we began to understand why these guys weren't leaving.  It's that nice.

Paradise Village is a huge complex of hotels, shops, villas, condos,

marina, golf course, beach, pools, spa and hot tubs located in Nuevo

Vallarta some 10 miles from downtown Puerto Vallarta.

The grounds are lavish, and lush, the dining areas are elegant, the

pools have a view of the expansive beach, and the spa can deliver

every possible body treatment you could dream of.

To keep the kids happy there is a building where vacationing

parents can drop them off for a day of supervised activities, and to

keep everyone happy there is a mall with all the favorite fast food

eateries from McDonalds to Starbucks.

After two months of living on the hook in a salty,

rolling home, I was dumbstruck when I went into the

women's showers in the spa and discovered a

candle-lit hot tub waiting for me.  And boy, was I

ever clean when I finally emerged!

In the mornings the eager joggers ran around the

extensive grounds and up and down the miles long

beach.  In the evenings couples strolled the paths hand in hand under the

stars.  A small flock of macaws and a cockatoo added a tropical note to the air

with their raucous cries, and a pair of tigers in the middle of it all nursed a pair

of month-old cubs, the latest two of 76 that have been raised at the resort.

When we checked into the marina we were told

there was a "Welcome Event" that night with free

food and drinks at the amphitheater.  What a

surprise to find rows of margaritas, piña coladas

and rum punches next to endless platters of finger

food and a huge crowd of vacationers taking seats

in front of an outdoor stage!

An emcee appeared and the colorful

show burst into action with all kinds

of dancing, audience participation

games and laughter.

We were treated to a special show

right in front of our seats as a little

girl and boy did their own dance


The marina has a cool layout

where all the boats are lined up

against the shoreline as it curves

along an estuary.

We took the kayak out one day

to explore the estuary a little

further, and were shocked to find

that our friends on Ostar had

followed us from La Paz and

parked at the end of the dock.

They must have liked our Groovy

travel plans.

Another boat in residence was

Profligate, the catamaran

mothership of the Baja Ha-Ha

cruising rally that takes boaters from

San Diego to Cabo San Lucas each fall.

Unfortunately its owners had returned

to the US and it was closed up tight.

Paddling down the estuary we passed many beautiful boats sitting out

in front of equally beautiful homes.  Eventually we passed under a

bridge and turned away from civilization into the crocodile zone.

We didn't see any crocodiles but there were lots of exotic birds in the

trees and quite a few iguanas sunning themselves.

Unusual animals seemed to be the theme at

Paradise Village.  Even when we took the city bus

to go provision at the supermarket we passed a

group of coatimundi scavenging in the grass.

So far we had explored only the

back side of the resort where the

boats and the estuary are.  Out

front is an enormous beach that

stretches to the horizon and

seems to go on forever.  Resorts

line the beach as far as the eye

can see, and each resort has a

collection of beach chairs and

thatch shade ramadas out front.

We took some wonderful, quiet

early morning walks along the sand.  Later each day the beach would

be hopping with vacationers catching rays and playing in the surf.

Canadians and

Americans weren't the

only snowbirds enjoying

the warm air and warm

water.  Several snowy

egrets were fishing along

the water's edge too.

The Vallarta Yacht Club

is an active social club

for all kinds of winter

residents, both boaters

and non-boaters alike.  Visitors to the marina can enjoy the

yacht club's amenities too, and one afternoon we strolled down

for a beer and some free wifi.  After an hour or so we noticed

the place was getting very busy.  A woman came over and

asked, "Are you new members?"

We explained we were

"temporary" members through the

marina.  She welcomed us warmly

and headed over to a large table

of delicious looking hors

d'oeuvres that had magically

appeared.  We followed her

example and loaded up a plate

full of delicious goodies.

The crowd kept getting bigger,

and then another woman

asked us if we were new

members.  "We must really

stand out!"  Mark chuckled.

Just then a fellow with a microphone stood up right next to our table and said to the crowd,

"I want to welcome all our new members to New Member Night!"  Suddenly we were in the

middle of a round of introductions and a microphone was thrust in my hand so I could

introduce Mark and myself to the group.  "Gosh,"  I said to all the grinning faces, "We just

came down here for a beer and to get our email -- and then the party showed up!"

Another day we ended up on a timeshare tour of the nearby

Villa del Palmar resort.  The freebies on offer were 1,300

pesos in cash ($100), a certificate for a week's stay at one

of their resorts for $249 when redeemed, and a one-week

pass to enjoy all the amenities of the resort here.   It's not

that we couldn't find enough to do at the resort we were

already staying at, but we'd seen the

sister resort of Villa del Palmar in

Ensenada Blanca in the Sea of Cortez and

we were intrigued.  A delicious gourmet

breakfast with a salesman, a resort tour

and an hour on the hot seat was all it took

to pocket our cool cash.  This cruising life

is paying off.

It was really hard to tear ourselves away from Paradise Village, and we

envied the cruisers who had tied their boats up there semi-permanently.

But the warm air that had blown us across the Sea of Cortez had turned

cool in the evenings and the water that had been 80 degrees at the

beginning of the week had suddenly dropped to 69.  It was time to go

south to Manzanillo Bay.

Find La Cruz, Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay on Mexico Maps.