Lake Granby Colorado RV Trip – A Summer Beach Vacation!

August 2023 – Lake Granby Colorado is ideal for an RV trip, and we met several RVers from hundreds of miles away who were enjoying a summer beach vacation there. Lake Granby is picturesque, great for boating and kayaking, and is lined with small beaches and quiet coves that are perfect for a day in the sun.

Lake Granby Colorado RV Trip - A Summer Beach Vacation!

Lake Granby is a great spot for a summertime visit!

We love it when our RV travels take us to places by the water. Although we had just come from a stay at Antero Reservoir and evenings alongside the Blue River, we soon fell in love with Lake Granby.

We often get our travel advice from fellow RVers who have just “been there and done that” at a cool place. And so it was with Lake Granby. I mentioned to an RVer back in Crested Butte that we were aiming for Rocky Mountain National Park, and her instant reaction was, “We always go to Lake Granby!”

Lake Granby Colorado with a kayak on the beach

Ready for an evening cruise on Lake Granby.

I made a mental note and was surprised when the next RVer I mentioned Rocky Mountain National Park to said the same thing: “Don’t miss Lake Granby!”

With two solid recommendations, I started studying the map. In no time, I met a third RVer whose response to “Rocky Mountain National Park?” was a simple, “Lake Granby!”

Lake Granby Colorado Speed boats and mountain scenery

Speeding past the mountain views on Lake Granby.

Lake Granby and Arapaho Bay (a long narrow tail of the lake at the east end) both have several USFS campgrounds on or near the shore. There are also two other similarly sized lakes nearby that have waterfront USFS campgrounds as well: Shadow Mountain Lake and Grand Lake. So, there are all kinds of shoreside RV camping options in the area.

Colorado National Parks Book

Traveling early in the week, and showing up before 10:00 a.m., we were able to snag a campsite. The name of the game at any of these lakes in the summertime is either to plan ahead and make reservations well in advance, or to show up early in the week AND early in the day for one of the few first-come-first-serve campsites, and start scouting!

Waterskiing on Lake Granby in Colorado

What a ride!

Lake Granby is a perfect spot for a summer beach vacation. Not only were there waterskiers flying by at top speed, sailboats tacking placidly in zig-zags and kayaks and paddle boards floating around near the water’s edge, there were fishermen catching dinner from the shore.

Fishing on Lake Granby Colorado

The fish were biting!

One evening, a fellow RVer and new friend knocked on our door holding out a plate full of delicious crappie (pronounced “croppy”). His day of fishing had been so successful, he and his wife couldn’t finish it all! We’d never had crappie before, and it was absolutely delicious!

Human fishermen aren’t the only people reeling in fish at Lake Granby, however. Some resident osprey who have set up housekeeping on top of human-erected nesting poles around the lake were out at dawn each morning catching breakfast for their broods. We heard their piercing calls all around the lake all day long!

Osprey at Lake Granby Colorado

Quite a few osprey were fishing at the lake.

Osprey flies over Lake Granby Colorado

“Maybe there are more fish over there!”

Early in the morning, Lake Granby is wonderfully calm. We walked along the thin strip of beach and breathed deeply. The water and air were perfectly still.

Then, a soft zephyr blew across the water’s surface, making ripples of sunlight dance on the sand in the depths.

Ripples in the water at Lake Granby Colorado

Sunlight plays with the sand and the water.

This reminded me so much of my childhood days spent playing on a very calm beach on Massachusetts’ north shore. The movement of the sun’s rays through the water always fascinated me. I was tickled to capture it with my camera here in Colorado!

Ripples in the water at Lake Granby Colorado


Sunlight in the water at Lake Granby Colorado


Our dear pup, Buddy, was busy making his own special memories on the beach. He trotted happily on the sand.

Lake Granby Colorado beach

Buddy LOVES the beach!

Faster than a speeding bullet…able to leap tall driftwood in a single bound, he dashed back and forth with sheer delight.

Flying puppy at Lake Granby Colorado

“Look at me – I’m flying.”

Dog at Lake Granby Colorado

“Did you see how fast I am?”

Dog Bowl with Kibble Storage

Lake Granby is a very big lake, and at one end we found a pretty sailboat bobbing at anchor in front of a mountainous backdrop. There’s also a marina that has a lot of sailboats lined up at the docks and many more moored out in the bay.

Sailboat for a summer beach vacation at Granby Colorado

Morning peace.

Late in the afternoon, the setting sun peeked through the trees on a trail down to the beach, casting light and shadow through the woods.

Sunset hiking trail at Lake Granby Colorado

Day’s end.

The sunsets at Lake Granby were wonderful. We went to a different part of the shore each afternoon, never knowing what kind of sunset might materialize.

Lake Granby Colorado sunset

Sunset at Lake Granby Colorado.

Sunset at Lake Granby Colorado

There were lots of interesting trees and driftwood at the water’s edge.

Sunset at Lake Granby Colorado

Mystical sky.

Sunset at a picnic table on Lake Granby Colorado

We visited different parts of the lake each afternoon.

Lake Granby Colorado sunset starburst

The last ray of sun before bedtime.

Buddy loved these outings and waited patiently while we fussed with our cameras.

Lake Granby Colorado sunset with a dog

“I’ll wait right here.”

What a beautiful lake this is!

Lake Granby Colorado summer sunset


Summer sunset at Lake Granby Colorado


I don’t know if it happens every year, but this summer the late afternoon monsoon activity was intense in this part of Colorado. Each afternoon the clouds would build until the sky grew dark. Then the wind would suddenly pick up, and it would pour!

Lake Granby Colorado clouds

The clouds built every afternoon during our stay.

This pattern of calm sunny mornings transforming into stormy wet afternoons was surprisingly consistent. Equally consistent, though, was the sunshine that pierced through the clouds after the rain ended, just before dusk. It often creating a dramatic sunset that began with shades of gold that faded to orange and finally deepened to a rich pink.

Lake Granby Colorado sunset

Gold reflections.

Sunset at Lake Granby Colorado

A few minutes later the gold became orange.

Lake Granby Colorado sunset

And then it deepened to pink.

Nights along the shores of Lake Granby were magical too. Lights from the homes on the far shore shone across the water, and stars filled the sky above.

We were fortunate to be there during the new moon, and I was determined to see the Milky Way tumbling into the lake. So, I snuck out of the trailer very late one night. Mark wished me well in a muffled voice as he pulled the covers over his head!

When I got to the beach, the scene was ideal. The Milky Way filled the sky and the lake was smooth and calm below it.

Lake Granby Colorado Milky Way

Milky Way above Lake Granby.

I stayed out on the beach for quite a while, and the Milky Way slowly walked across the sky, moving from left to right as it always does.

It was eerie being out on the beach by myself in the pitch dark. Suddenly, the wind began to blow and waves noisily lapped the shore by my feet. A few steps away, a swimming dock creaked and groaned in the growing swell.

I tried to ignore the noises and focus on my photos, telling myself there was nothing to fear. But suddenly I heard a loud bark right behind me! I jumped and felt a shiver of goose bumps ran up my spine. Fumbling for my flashlight, I swung it in the direction of the noise, but there was nothing there. Of course!

I told myself it was okay and turned back to the task at hand even though my hands were shaking.

Photographing the Night Sky

When I got back to the trailer, I dove under the covers, safe and sound.

Astrophotography always has its thrills and chills and funny stories that come from tromping around in the pitch dark on moonless nights. However, those little frights are always worth it.

My favorite photos of the stars reveal the calmness and certainty of the infinite, something most easily seen in the night sky. It is the true backdrop of our lives.

Lake Granby Colorado Milky Way

The stars are ever present.

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McCall, Idaho – Summer Beach Fun on Pretty Payette Lake

July-August 2016 – McCall, Idaho, is perched right on the edge of beautiful Payette Lake, and in the summertime it is a wonderful waterfront beach town if there ever was one. What a great destination for an RV trip!

Payette Lake shore near Legacy Park McCall Idaho

McCall, Idaho, is a fantastic beach town!!

Even though McCall sits at an elevation of 5,000 feet, the temps in August were toasty warm and everyone was enjoying cooling off at the waterfront beach parks. What a beautiful setting!

Jet skis on the beach McCall Idaho

A rainbow of jet skis ready for action.

Beach umbrellas McCall Idaho Payette Lake

A nice spot to unwind for a while!

Kids were everywhere, and they were just loving the town beach. Two little boys were standing in the water blowing bubbles and two little girls up on the beach were trying to catch them.

Beach at Legacy Park McCall Idaho Payette Lake

Kids blow bubbles on the beach.

A little ways down the beach a little girl was playing with a wagon.

Playing on the beach McCall Idaho


Boats were lined up at the docks, and there was a steady stream of boaters heading out onto the lake.

Payette Lake Sports and Marina McCall Idaho

Bikes and boats – what could be more fun?!

The main street of McCall is very cute with historic buildings wedged together cheek-by-jowel. For those that want to cool off without going swimming, we found a skating rink just a few doors down with sessions that are open to the public.

Historic buildings downtown McCall Idaho

The main drag, just in from the beach, has some classic old buildings.

We made our way to Mountain Java on many mornings, sipping a tasty cuppa joe while sitting in the colorful Adirondack chairs that fill the lawn in front of the Mountain Monkey Business store and look out onto Payette Lake.

This was a wonderful way to start the morning, and we met both locals and tourists alike while kicking back and savoring the view and a brew.

Mountain Monkey Business and Mountain Java McCall Idaho

These colorful chairs on a lawn overlooking the lake became our morning hangout!

By a stroke of very good luck, we happened to be in town during the Antique and Classic Boat Show at the elegant Shore Lodge on the edge of Payette Lake. What a fabulous display of lovingly varnished boats from yesteryear!

Antique wooden boat show Shore Lodge McCall Idaho Payette Lake

What good fortune to be in town on the weekend of the Antique and Classic Boat Show!

These gorgeous boats were known as “lakers” in their day, because they were specifically designed for happy boating days on fresh water lakes. Their meticulously varnished and gleaming woodwork wouldn’t hold up to the salt water of the ocean.

Cockpit of classic wooden boat Payette Lake McCall Idaho

I could handle a day on the lake in a classy boat like this!!

I can just imagine spending a day on the water in one of these, complete with lunch at anchor in some secluded cove on the lake.

Antique and classic boat show Shore Lodge Payette Lake McCall Idaho

Let’s go for a ride!!

These boats have a lot of get-up-and-go too, and many of them have been upgraded with modern engines that have even more zip. The owners of these classic boats just love them and love talking about them too.

Antique and classic boat show Payette Lake Shore Lodge McCall Idaho

This boat won Best in Show. No wonder the owner is grinning!!

Whenever one fired up its engine, a little crowd would form around the boat to listen to the engine purr and to find out where the owner had purchased the boat, what its history was, and what he had done to refurbish it to its former glory.

There’s nothing like a classic yacht, and last year during our travels in Maine, we took a fabulous factory tour of Hinckley Yachts, a boat builder that has morphed from producing stunning sailing yachts to zippy, luxurious powerboats.

Antique and Classic Boat Show Shore Lodge Payette Lake McCall Idaho

Some of the boats went out for a spin while small crowds watched from the dock.

The boats here in McCall, Idaho, were a lot smaller than the Hinckleys in Maine, but their owners got just as much pleasure from taking them out for a spin. Every time someone began untying the dock lines and shoved off into water, there was a murmur of oohs and aahs from the rest of us watching in envy from the dock.

The setting for this fabulous boat show was the equally fabulous Shore Lodge, a high end resort hotel that presides over one end of McCall’s lakefront.

Welcome to the Shore Lodge McCall Idaho

Welcome to the Shore Lodge… Come on in!!

We wandered through the elegant Shore Lodge and explored its many nooks and crannies. It dates back to 1948 and has many refined touches of an earlier age.

Shore Lodge dining room etched glass sign McCall idaho

The historic Shore Lodge is a very elegant hotel right on Payette Lake.

The dining room has a breathtaking view of the docks below and all of Payette Lake and the distant mountains too. For those that needed a break from walking between the antique wooden boats, this was a great place for a bite to eat with a bird’s eye view of the goings-on.

Waterfront dining Shore Lodge McCall Idaho

Enjoy a fine meal while watching the boat show out on the docks!

McCall, Idaho, has a lot more to offer than just beach and boating fun, though. We found some fantastic mountain biking trails west of town near Brundage Mountain, and we enjoyed a beautiful bike ride through Ponderosa State Park which is located on a peninsula that juts out into Payette Lake on the east side of town.

Mountain Biking Brundage Mountain McCall Idaho

We found lots of mountain biking trails and dirt roads on both sides of town.



One day we took a drive down Highway 55 to do some exploring south of McCall. We came across the historic town of Roseberry which was settled by a few Finnish families in the 1800’s.

Roseberry Idaho historic Finnish settlement

Roseberry, Idaho, was settled by Finns and is an interesting townsite today.

The whole area is now a museum that honors those rugged settlers and offers a peek into their lives.

Antique cabin Finnish settlement Roseberry Idaho

Finns had unique log cabin construction techniques that they brought to the New World.

There are some old log cabins that the families lived in as well as a fun town site with a general store, church, school, barn and other neat buildings.

Inside a cabin Roseberry Idaho Finnish historic settlement

And we think RV living is simple!

The town of Roseberry had its hey day in the early 1900’s, boasting a hotel, two black smith shops , a butcher shop, logging mill, creamery and restaurant. However, ten years later, the Pacific, Idaho and Northern Railroad line came through about 2 miles west of town, and Roseberry wilted while the bustling town of Donnelly right on the railroad tracks thrived.

Amazingly, lots of Roseberry people moved their homes and shops over to Donnelly to take advantage of the boom there, transporting their buildings by wagon! It’s hard to imagine that kind of boom and exodus today, especially given the easily driven luxury homes we RVers get to live in.

Historic Roseberry Idaho

Wandering around Roseberry, Idaho, made for an enjoyable afternoon.

Down at Lake Cascade, next to the town of Cascade, we found several campgrounds along the shoreline. RVers, boaters and fishermen were enjoying these lakeside campsites. We didn’t stay, but what a great spot to camp!

Truck camper and boat at Lake Cascade Idaho

Payette Lake isn’t the only game in town.Lake Cascade a few miles south is very beautiful and quiet too!

Back in McCall, we enjoyed some moonless nights, and one evening Mark snuck out with his new 12 mm fish eye lens to catch the Milky Way straight up overhead. This made a very cool effect!

Milky Way above the trees McCall Idaho

The Milky Way crosses the heavens high above us while a shooting star zips by.

If you are looking for a wonderful area for an RV trip in the heat of the summer, McCall, Idsho, is a very fun beach town. There are more links to help you plan your travels below.

RV camping in McCall Idaho


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    Sarasota, Florida – Life on the Waterfront

    April, 2015 – Sarasota, Florida, is a oceanfront city, and The Ringling is an exquisite spot to enjoy Sarasota’s shores. During our stay, we soon discovered that this pretty city has lots of other wonderful public places on the waterfront, too.

    Beautiful colors at Venice Beach Florida

    Sarasota’s waterfront is sweet.

    Centennial Park is an older waterfront park, but the views across the water of the city skyline are lovely.

    Couple on Sarasota Florida waterfront

    Looking out on the bay from Sarasota’s Centennial Park

    Boats seen from Centennial Park Sarasota Florida

    Views from Centennial Park

    At one end of Centennial Park, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall backs right up to the shoreline, and it has a deck where we were told theater goers can enjoy a snack with a view at intermission. How fun!

    Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall Sarasota Florida

    The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall is located right on the bay — a nice spot for drinks at intermission!

    Sarasota is perhaps most famous for its divine sugar sand beach called Siesta Beach. I don’t know if I was more enchanted by the powdery soft sand or the vivid colors of the beach umbrellas and the turquoise water — it was all gorgeous.

    We learned that Siesta Beach was rated the #1 beach in America in 2011, and there are lots of proud “#1 Beach” signs all around town. Interestingly, Siesta Beach was followed closely by Coronado Beach in San Diego…another beauty!

    Beach umbrellas Siesta Beach Sarasota Florida

    Siesta Beach — #1 American Beach in 2011

    Marina Jack is the downtown waterfront area in Sarasota, and we were surprised to find another connection to San Diego when we saw the enormous sculpture “Unconditional Surrender.” We discovered that both sculptures were created by artist Seward Johnson and that the one in Sarasota was constructed first, back in 2005!.

    Undonditional Surrender WWII sculpture Sarasota Florida

    “Unconditional Surrender”
    A sister-sculpture to the one in San Diego.

    Marina Jack is a large marina with lots of boats of all sizes. Next to it there’s a lovely little walking path that goes around a peninsula called the Marina Jack Trail.

    Marina Jack walking path Sarasota Florida

    Views from the Marina Jack Trail in downtown Sarasota

    A little dinghy pulled up on shore made a perfect photo op. We took turns with some other people getting portraits of each other perched on the dink with pretty Sarasota Bay in the background.

    Marina Jack walking path Sarasota Florida

    Pausing for a photo op on Marina Jack Trail downtown

    A few streets back from the waterfront we enjoyed a wonderful farmer’s market one Saturday morning. This was a sizable market with lots of fresh and beautiful veggies and other goodies.

    Farmer's Market Sarasota Florida

    The Saturday Farmer’s Market is just a few streets in from the water.

    On another day we drove a little south of Sarasota to Venice where we found yet another wonderful beach. Of course this whole coast is loaded with great beaches, but when we got to Venice Beach it seemed like the population of the whole coast had decided to join us there! And how funny to find another California connection in the name “Venice Beach.”

    Picnic areas Venice Beach Florida

    Picnic areas on the boardwalks in Venice

    The beach in Venice has some unique picnic areas that are built into wooden walkways so you are slightly elevated above the vegetation. We hadn’t brought a picnic, but many of these little picnic spots were in use by knowledgeable locals who had staked them out for the day.

    Venice Fishing Pier Florida

    The Venice Fishing Pier

    The Venice Fishing Pier extends well out into the ocean and is popular with fishermen.

    Fisherman on Venice FIshing Pier Florida

    Gone fishing…

    It’s also a great vantage point for getting a look at this super popular beach. On one side of the pier the beach was overflowing with crowds of sun worshippers.

    Sunbathers at Venice Beach Florida

    The beach scene on one side of the Venice Fishing Pier…

    Due to construction going on at the pier, looking over the rail at the stretch of beach on the other side, we saw crowds of another sort…

    Seagulls at Venice Beach Florida

    …The beach scene on the other side of the Venice Fishing Pier!

    Sarasota has freshwater waterfronts too. Payne Park is a tiny downtown city park with some small man-made ponds that have lovely water lilies and a lively collection of unusual birds floating around.


    Sarasota has fresh water shores too

    A few miles east of there, the Celery Fields park has some wonderful fresh water birding habitats for long legged herons and egrets.

    Heron flying over water

    A heron flies in at the Celery Fields

    Heron walking in water_

    Stalking dinner in the shallows

    Sandhill cranes are very common in Sarasota (as we found out when we saw some adorable hatchlings) and they are much beloved by birding enthusiasts. Someone had even built them a park bench to sit on, although we didn’t see any sandhill cranes using it.

    Sandhill crane park bench

    A park bench just for sandhill cranes…

    The purple martin boxes were definitely getting lots of use, however, and we watched a pair of them hanging out on their front stoop.

    Pair of birds on Purple Martin box_

    Home Tweet Home

    Nearby, a little ground squirrel had grabbed a discarded piece of bread and he’d run away with it to the safety of a tree branch.

    Squirrel eating bread in yellow flowers

    Sarasota has lots of wildlife…and most of them have street smarts!

    There are dozens more waterfront spots and there’s lots more wildlife to be seen in and around Sarasota, but these are a few of the glimpses we got during our visit there…

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    Sharks and Snakes on the Beach in Florida!

    We’ve been enjoying the Florida’s Emerald Coast (on the Gulf Coast in the panhandle) for the past few days. This coast got it’s name because of the brilliant green water that laps the shores of the exquisite white sand beaches. As each wave curls over, the crystal clear water shimmers in vivid shades of green.

    Emerald waves on Florida's Emerald Coast

    Glistening aquamarine waves on Florida’s Emerald Coast.

    I love beaches, and perhaps my favorite thing about them is that you never know what you’ll see when you go out for a stroll on the sand… We’ve seen little birds scampering along the edges of the waves, playing “catch me if you can” with the endless rollers.

    Twin seagulls on a white sand Florida beach


    We’ve seen happy beach-goers sunning themselves on beach towels and relaxing under colorful umbrellas.

    Couple with beach umbrella on Gulf of Mexico Florida

    A nice spot to sit for a spell…!

    But these images are all to be expected when you go to the beach. What a surprise it was to look up at one point and see a guy barelling down the road next to the beach on a unicycle!

    Unicycle commute to work in Florida beach

    What a great way to commute!

    Beautiful girls in bikinis walking the beach are not a surprise to see, especially during Spring Break. But our eyes bugged out when two girls approached us with something strange looped around their necks.

    Two girls with snakes on Florida Gulf coast beach

    Is that what I think it is??

    Wait, can I see that a little closer?

    Python and bikini


    Holy Cow!! I didn’t know what to say when they told me they were taking their snakes for a walk.

    701 Boa constrictor and bikini

    He stuck his tongue out at me!

    The lighter colored snake was an albino red tail boa constrictor that was just seven months old and would one day be 12 feet long (yikes!). The darker one was a python that was already full grown. Good heavenly days!!

    Another day when we went down to the beach for sunset shots we saw a guy out fishing.

    Fishing on a Gulf of Mexico beach in Florida

    A fisherman tries his luck on the shore.

    He seemed to have something on the line. And it seemed pretty big! But what could be that big? “A manta ray,” was the rumor I heard from his friends who were watching. They had all seen a huge manta ray earlier in the day.

    Catching a big fish on a Florida beach

    Wow… it looks like he’s got something!

    But then we all noticed that dinstinctive dorsal fin. This fish was NOT a manta ray…

    Shark fin in the water in northern Florida

    Ummm… is that what I think it is??

    The fisherman struggled to reel it in!

    Fisherman pullling in a shark on a Florida beach

    That fish does NOT want to end up on the beach.

    Then he finally managed to bring it onto the beach.


    Fisherman pulls shark onto Florida beach

    Got him — and no doubt, this is a SHARK!!

    He worked really hard to get the hook out of the shark’s mouth. It took him several tries…

    Removing a fishing hook from a shark in Florida

    Getting the hook out of his mouth was a challenge.

    But then he finally got the hook out and turned the shark to face out towards the open ocean. He didn’t have a tape measure, but he estimated the shark was a little over 7 feet long. Good grief! Mark had been swimming out there just a few hours earlier!!

    Releasing a shark back into the Gulf of Mexico Florida

    He’s aimed towards the open ocean and set free again.

    And then the sun began to set with beautiful peach colored skies reflecting in the wet sand — another lovely sighting here on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

    Sunset on the beach in Florida

    The end of another beautiful day in Florida

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    Costalegre: Casa Maguey – Kindred spirits in a beachfront villa

    Casa Maguey from beach

    Casa Maguey overlooks the beach in La Manzanilla

    Late June, 2013 – We returned from our exhilarating inland trip to Guanajuato to find Puerto Vallarta simmering away in the early summer heat.

    The rains hadn’t started yet, but the skies threatened every afternoon, while the temperatures inched ever higher.

    Our daily migration path went between the ocean, the swimming pools and the ice cream shop at the air conditioned mall!

    When we had first arrived in Paradise Village two months earlier, I received an intriguing and unexpected email from a man named John Lehmen inviting us to stay for a week in a beachfront villa at his property, Casa Maguey.

    Casa Maguey Oar

    Wow!! Were the gods ever smiling on us now!! We emailed back and forth a few times, and Mark and I studied his website, It turned out that his beautiful trio of oceanfront casitas were situated in the little coastal town of La Manzanilla in the heart of Mexico’s Costalegre.

    Casa Maguey in La Manzanilla

    Casa Maguey

    We had visited La Manzanilla two years prior when we had anchored our sailboat Groovy across the bay in a cove cruisers know as “Tenacatita.”


    Stairs to the beach

    Stairs leading from the house to the beach.

    La Manzanilla is a tiny little village that is beloved by all who know it, but it is not a “hot spot” on the tourist trail. We had taken our dinghy ashore and walked around for a few hours in a very brief visit.

    What great fortune to be invited to see the town once again, but this time from a lovely vacation home overlooking the beach!

    We kept marveling that this special door had opened for us. We wondered who our host John was, and where this unique opportunity would lead.

    Cat on the brick stairs

    Clay pots and cactus at El Mar

    Casa Maguey has wonderful decorations.

    La Manzanilla is a favorite among retired ex-pat North Americans, so we knew John must be an older guy.

    We were sure he’d created a nice little retirement business for himself renting out his beachfront villas. Scouring the Casa Maguey website, we read one glowing testimonial after another from people who spoke of the tranquility, peace, and beauty they found during their vacations there.

    These quotes were taken from guest books left in each villa, and many were decorated with drawings that guests had lovingly made of flowers, hummingbirds, kayaks in the water and other special memories of their time at Casa Maguey.

    Almost all of the comments were addressed to a woman named Helga, who was obviously John’s wife. We could tell she kept a lovely home and was a very gracious hostess.

    Casa Maguey Entrance

    The unique front entrance to Casa Maguey

    So we were very surprised when John mentioned that he would be out of town when we arrived and that his wife Rocio would let us in. Rocio? What about Helga? Hmmm. Our curiosity was perked, but even without Helga, we knew we would have a wonderful time.



    When we arrived, after we admired Casa Maguey’s unique flower covered front gate for a few minutes, the door swung open and we were greeted by a very beautiful young woman. “I’m Rocio.” She said.

    Our eyebrows shot up and we exchanged a quick glance. Huh? We didn’t say a word to each other, but we were both thinking the same thing: whatever happened to Helga, this guy John sure scored well on his second marriage!!

    El Mar Sitting Room

    The sitting room in the casita “El Mar” is filled with
    refreshing ocean breezes…

    Rosie showed us our room, and we were absolutely charmed. Besides a pretty bedroom and kitchen, there was a sitting room with a terrace that overlooked the beach and bay.

    El Mar Sitting Room View

    …and it has a great view!

    The windows and door were flung wide, and the ocean breezes felt delightfully refreshing after the oppressive heat and humidity that been smothering us day and night in Puerto Vallarta.

    El Mar Bedroom

    We had a full-sized apartment to spread out!

    We quickly made ourselves at home and settled right in, spreading out in this full-sized apartment and luxuriating in having not just the airy sitting room and bedroom but a lovely patio too.

    El Mar Bedroom

    How had this good fortune come our way? I don’t know, but it seemed to be the miraculous modern mixture of internet socializing and sharing our travels online. Suddenly we were living in a beautifully decorated and spacious one-bedroom apartment on the beach.

    El Mar Terrace

    We loved this terrace and its exquisite view of the beach

    We stood on the deck and admired the spectacular, flower-framed view.

    The beach stretches out for miles, stopping first at some thatch-roofed palapa beach bars in town and then wrapping around past stands of palm trees and occasional oceanfront mansions.

    The sun was falling low in the sky, casting everything in a beautiful, warm, late afternoon light.

    El Mar Terrace View

    It’s a busy beach with pangas going in and out for tours and fishing all the time.

    What a thrill it was to have a chance to enjoy this beach and town at leisure from the comfort of our own beach bungalow! We snuggled on the couch and enjoyed the view, counting our blessings.

    Casa Maguey Stairs

    The essence of this pretty property is
    peace and tranquility.

    Fountain at Casa Maguey

    The lush gardens are filled with exotic flowers and bird songs.





    Suddenly we heard a knock on the door, and a handsome young man with blonde hair and bright blue eyes appeared. “I’m John,” he said., holding out his hand.

    Our jaws dropped — was this John, our host? He was far from a retiree! We laughed as we shook hands and told him about our goof and how we’d assumed he was a spry old silver fox that robbed the cradle. He was actually the perfect match for his stunning bride!! He laughed too. “I can’t wait to tell Rosie, she’ll think that’s really funny!”

    John and Rocio of Casa Maguey

    Our wonderful hosts – and kindred spirits –  John and Rocio

    So if this wasn’t a retirement gig, we wondered, how had John come to own such a pretty property on the coast?

    “My parents built this place 20 years ago,” he explained. “It was one of the first guest houses on the bay. All the buildings you see around the bay have filled in since then. My mom ran things for a long time, but she retired recently and passed the responsibilities on to me.”

    “Oh… so Helga is your mother!” I said, slowly piecing it all together.

    El Mar Garden at Casa Maguey

    “Yes!” he said. Then he went on to tell us the tale of the most intriguing childhood and upbringing I can imagine.

    Born in Germany to German parents, John was raised traveling throughout the Americas full-time in a 26′ RV, first a Champion motorhome and then a Winnebago.

    For 12 years, he and his mom and dad took their motorhome between Alaska and Tierra del Fuego at the bottom of South America.

    They drove up and down the two American continents seven times, first going along the coasts and then zig-zagging through the middle.

    Champion Motorhome

    John traveled across the Americas in a motorhome with his parents

    They traveled through El Salvador during the war — with a military escort — and they camped on the Caribbean and Pacific beaches in Mexico.

    From Macchu Picchu to the Grand Canyon, they saw it all, speaking German among themselves and learning Spanish and English on the road. Whenever they stayed in a place for two weeks or more, John was enrolled in the local school.

    John was a seasoned world traveler before he entered first grade!

    John was a seasoned world traveler before he entered first grade!

    Fitting in wasn’t so hard where blue eyed blondes were common, he said, but he had to learn to adapt quickly in schools where he stood out from the crowd.

    Mark and I were blown away. What a fabulous family adventure!

    “My family was 7th generation wine makers in Germany.” He went on. “The wine industry was changing in the eighties and small boutique wineries were facing a lot of competition from the industrial giants. So my dad sold the vineyard and decided to take the family on the road…”

    John and the motorhome

    What a great way to grow up!

    Mark and I listened to his story in wonder. We feel like adventurers ourselves, but every so often we meet someone whose travels and experiences completely dwarf what we’ve done. We love that!

    It turned out that John’s parents, Josef and Helga, had passed through this corner of Mexico several times in their travels, camping right on the beach. It was one of their favorite places to visit. One year, they noticed a small “Se Vende” (For Sale) sign hidden in the bushes on property at the end of the beach.


    The hummingbirds happily buzzed all the red flowers.

    At the time, after all those years of traveling, the family was at a crossroads: sell the motorhome and buy another one overseas to travel the African continent, or settle down for a while?

    cat tail flower

    There are lots of very unusual flowers

    purple flower


    In the end, the village of La Manzanilla and the beachfront property captured their hearts, and they decided to make Casa Maguey their permanent home.


    Red bell flower

    How beautiful!

    “I’ve got some stories to tell!” John said. “I’ll show you some pictures later!” Then he was off.

    Sun lashes

    We watched many magnificent sunsets
    from our terrace.

    Running a guest home takes a lot of work, and over the next few days we watched him and his crew working hard on all kinds of projects around the property.

    But we were on vacation! We got out our cameras and began exploring.


    Just outside our door, between the three cottages at Casa Maguey, there is a lush tropical garden that is absolutely brimming with flowers and singing birds. Mark was in seventh heaven photographing all the exotic flowers, and I happily listened to the trilling bird songs.

    Sunset on a silken sea

    The colors were ever-changing at sunset.


    In the late afternoons, we were treated to some magnificent sunsets right off our balcony. Each sunset was unique and special.

    One night the rays of the setting sun played with the palms of the palapa roof over our deck. Mark caught them just right and called his image “sun lashes.”

    Another night we looked out on a silken sea. The water was like an undulating blue scarf, and the halo of the setting sun made a peach backdrop for the rocky cliffs on the horizon.



    Golden sunset with bougainvillea

    The sky and sea are cast in gold

    On yet another night the whole sky and sea were cast in gold.

    A few nights we had overcast and dark skies, preventing any colors from showing.

    Sometimes, however, just for a moment, the sun would suddenly peak through, turning the sky a vibrant orange and yellow, and reflecting these bright shades in the water.

    This was an engaging place, and we felt blessed to have been welcomed in by such warm hosts.

    Orange sunset from El Mar balcony

    A vivid orange sunset takes our breath away.

    Macaws in heart

    Casa Maguey is a romantic spot!



    The heart of a small guest house like Casa Maguey is in the spirit of its hosts, and John and Roscio were fun to be with and were quickly becoming good friends.

    Rocio showed up at our door one night with a delicious desert made of bananas and honey for us to try, and she told us some of her favorite spots to go in town. Once we began exploring La Manzanilla and beyond, it was easy to see why John’s parents had decided to end their travels and make a life for themselves in this quiet village on the Costalegre.

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    PV: 2013 Kiteboard World Cup – Here on the beach!

    Mini Cooper

    It’s Your Lucky Day!

    Mid-May, 2013 – One afternoon while strolling around the streets of Paradise Village (Puerto Vallarta Mexico), we noticed a Mini Cooper go by. Then another. And another. Heck, there were a whole bunch! What in the world? Mini Cooper sightings re not all that common here!

    English phone booth on the beach

    A British phone booth – by the beach!!

    The next morning we went out on another walk, stretching our legs and lazily taking photos of flowers. Suddenly we noticed a group of Mini Coopers lined up in the parking lot at the Hard Rock Hotel resort. Aha! Mark ran over to get some photos, and then we went up to the resort entrance, hoping to find out a little more about what was going on.

    Mini cooper test drive

    Hop in and drive me!





    Sure enough, more Mini Coopers were parked in front of the hotel lobby. And one little white one had these intriguing words painted on the door:
    “Curious of being my pilot? Drive me!” The back window spelled it out a little more clearly: “It’s your lucky day – You can drive me!”

    kiteboard world cup hunk

    Hotties of both both sexes came to the races.

    Lucky day, indeed!! Next thing I knew, Mark was signing some papers and I was jumping into the passenger seat of a chic little black Mini while a rep from a local dealership climbed into the back seat and told Mark to put the pedal to the metal. Wow!!

    Mini Kiteboard world cup babe

    Posing with a backdrop.

    It turned out that Mini test drives were part of the 2013 Mini Kiteboard World Cup competition that was taking place down on the beach. So, after zipping around a few corners and thinking that gee, this was a really sweet little car, we ran down to the beach, grinning from ear to ear.

    Minis were on display everywhere — in the grassy lawn and down on the beach. The theme was decidedly British. There was even a red English phone booth overlooking the water!

    2013 mini kite board world cup interview

    Interviewing the kiteboarders for the media

    Our cameras went into overdrive and we we shared a quick “is this really happening?” glance as a gal put bracelets on our wrists and explained to us that these gave us access to the VIP hospitality suite where they were serving free drinks. Really?  Was it the cameras? Did they think we were with the press? Who cares! Let’s go!.

    kiteboard world cup competitor

    The kiteboarders pump up their kites.




    It was early, but gradually a crowd of youthful hotties of both sexes began to pour in. Neither of us had any idea what a kiteboard was, but the athletes coming in all had huge backpacks and gear bags slung over their shoulders. They threw their gear bags in a pile while they carbo-loaded at a nearby food tent and then got ready to race.

    2013 mini kiteboard world cup kites

    The kites look like colorful dinosaur wings


    After lunch, they began to spread their kites out on the grass. Rather than having rigid ribs and framing, the structural parts of these kites all got inflated by hand pumps.

    Soon the kites filled the lawn, looking like vibrantly colored prehistoric wings. Then, one by one, the athletes carried their wings to the beach where they were laid out in the sand.

    A big crowd had formed on the beach, and the announcer was getting everyone psyched up with an endless patter in English and Spanish, while music blasted a heavy, pulsing beat in the background.

    kiteboard world cup puerto vallarta

    Ready for take-off!


    Looking at the angular wings on the beach, it was hard to imagine how they would be used to propel the kiteboarders.

    But once they waded into the water and flipped their wings into crescent shapes, we suddenly saw the most beautiful display.

    The kites rose up in the air and the athletes were pulled out into the water where they zoomed back and forth at break neck speeds.

    mexico kiteboard world cup

    The beach was loaded with people and kites.

    mexico kiteboard world cup

    Lots of color everywhere.


    The afternoon wind was perfect.








    There was a series of races that took place a ways out, and at first all the kiteboarders zoomed out there. The kites floated back and forth along the horizon, drifting, dipping, diving and soaring past each other, changing directions and floating freely in a kaleidoscope dance of colors.

    2013 mini kiteboard world cup races

    Kites fill the sky during the races.

    kiteboarding races in mexico

    A sailboat is framed by beautiful kites.

    kiteboarding kite

    Color in the sky.







    A few sailboats glided past on the distant horizon, adding to the beauty of the scene.

    We ran up and down the beach, trying to get the best angles on the action, when we suddenly saw one of the kiteboarders fly into the air and flip around in a somersault. Holy cow!! We didn’t know they did THAT!!

    kiteboard jump

    These guys are GOOD!

    kiteboard flying


    kiteboard tumbling


    kiteboarder jumping in Puerto Vallarta world cup






















    kiteboarder tumbling

    Wow – how’d he do that?!

    And then the challenge was on — trying to catch these guys in the act!

    We were far from the the crowd and the main tent, and we could no longer hear the announcer. So we had no idea what was going on.

    jumping over the camper kiteboard races

    A photographer gets a shot from below.








    All we knew was that every so often a kiteboarder would flip up in the air and do a mesmerizing series of twists and turns.

    kiteboarder racing in Mexico

    When is he going to jump?

    world cup kiteboard competition mexico

    Landing pattern.

    But we never knew when that would happen.







    These guys zipped past us, back and forth, and back and forth, at crazy speeds, weaving between each other and making us wonder if their lines would tangle or if they would crash into each other.

    kiteboarding somersault

    Look out below!!

    These were the best of the best, however — it was the World Cup after all — and there were no crashes or even near misses. But there were no indications of when they wanted to jump either!

    So we’d pan one guy as he streaked past us on the beach, waiting and hoping, but then he would sail out to sea and never jump.

    kite board speed racer

    What an exhilarating ride!

    Then, just as we’d put the camera down with a discouraged, “Aw, he’s not gonna jump,” we would see a different guy falling out of the sky right in front of us. It seemed that all afternoon we were saying too each other, “Arrghh, I missed that one!!”

    But we did catch a few. And we were so excited by the whole thing that we went back the next day to see more.

    recue boat with kitebaord jumper

    The Navy rescue boat was never far.

    What a glorious sport. So wild and free. They made it look fantastically easy, and we both wondered wistfully where we could take lessons.

    kiteboard racer concentrates 281






    It seemed like an effortless and exhilarating ride. Sometimes they cruised along one-handed. And even when they crashed, it just seemed like a splashy soft landing.

    In the distance, though, we could see the Navy had stationed a rescue boat, just in case! Luckily, no rescues were ever needed, and instead they enjoyed the best seat in the house, right in the middle of all the action.

    mexico world cup kiteboarding races competition

    Kites flying above the beach.

    world cup kiteboarding races mexico

    What a beautiful spot to watch.

    kiteboard with boots

    Ahhh…. rest at last.













    We also caught some of the action on video and put together a little clip.  It’s not quite Fox Sports, but it gives the essence of what it was like to stand there on the beach and take in this incredible spectacle:
    2013 Kiteboard World Cup Racing in Mexico.



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    Surfing the dinghy = Crash landings on the beach!

    March 19, 2013 – One of the craziest aspects of cruising Mexico’s Pacific coast is the insane dinghy beach landings. Sometimes the surf is up, and you have to time your beach landing carefully, or you’ll get a serious dousing. We watched an experienced cruiser lose control of his dink on his way out from the beach one time. It shot into the air like a rocket and flipped over upside down, scattering his belongings everywhere.  Worse, his outboard was toast!

    Sailing Mexico means surfing the dink sometimes

    Not so easy getting in… and not so easy getting out either!!

    Sooo… heading in to shore in Cuastecomate the other day, we packed our cameras in dry bags and set out to hit the village for some fun photography. But as we neared the beach and heard the huge crashers, we got cold feet. Back to Groovy we went, tails between our legs. Later, staring at the shore sulkily from the cockpit, we decided to give it another go. Properly dressed in bathing suits, and with everything lashed down in the dink in case it flipped, we saw a break in the rollers and Mark floored it towards the beach.

    Dinghies with wheels just roll right onto the beach, but our porta-bote doesn’t have wheels. So Mark cut the engine at the last second to get the prop out of the water before it hit the sand. At the same time, I jumped out of the dink to pull it onto the beach before the next wave caught us. But this is a steep beach. I jumped too soon. The water was too deep. My feet didn’t hit the sand til I was half under the boat and hanging on for dear life. A huge wave grew to mammoth proportions behind us and crashed just inches from the back of the dink while I staggered to pull it to shore. It was all very funny, and we were both laughing hysterically. But a nicely dressed older couple walking hesitantly past us under a shared parasol stared at my dripping, sandy, soaked body in total disbelief.

    Little did we all know, they had a better show coming. On the return trip into the crashing surf a few hours later, we waded into the series of small waves that was to be our escape route and jumped in the dink. Mark pulled on the outboard starter while I rowed with all my might. But he got no response from the engine. We were still floundering in the surf zone when the waves started to grow. “Hurry hurry!” I yelled, making little progress with the oars because his body was right where my left oar needed to be. The dinghy barely climbed over one breaking wave and then struggled over the next bigger one behind it. We just missed a good swamping each time.

    Ten yanks on the outboard and some really colorful expletives later, the engine finally started. We were free. Looking back at beach, I could see the little old couple sitting under their parasol. Their mouths still hung open as our prop finally bit into the water and lurched us back to safety aboard Groovy.

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    Huatulco’s Villa Escondida – A beach bonfire with new friends

    Playa La Bocana Huatulco sailing blog

    Surf at Playa La Bocana

    Late January, 2013 – Huatulco is a small community where people not only run around in crazy vehicles designed for short hops on small roads, but where visitors and residents easily become friends. Every time we landed at the dinghy dock, the guard Antonio would call out, “Groovy, Groovy!” and a chorus of friendly greetings from the tour boat operators and other people around the docks would follow as we emerged onto the streets.

    Surfing Playa La Bocana Huatulco sailing Mexico blog

    Playa La Bocana is a favorite surf beach








    Surfing Playa La Bocana Huatulco sailing Mexico blog

    Hang on!!

    We ended up chatting with the many street vendors day after day, practicing our Spanish and learning a little about them. And whenever we went to “The Ché” (Huatulco’s sole supermarket), we invariably bumped into someone we had recently come to know.

    It seems that everyone who visits Huatulco quickly agrees it is an unsung paradise worthy of frequent return visits. The winter residents are a tight knit group too, and suddenly we had a new circle of friends from the US and Canada who had vacation homes here.

    Surfing Playa La Bocana Huatulco sailing Mexico blog





    We’ve found that most Huatulco tourists have vacationed for years in other more well-known parts of Mexico before discovering this quiet jewel. We spent many happy hours chatting with very well traveled folks from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico City and Europe.

    Villa Escondida La Bocana Huatulco sailing Mexico blog

    Entering Villa Escondida



    I hadn’t realized it at first, but my various blog posts about our wonderful experiences in Huatulco had developed a little bit of a local following. Online sharing travels quickly, and without intending to, my pics and stories had garnered interest from many of the good people that have invested in Huatulco and want to see good vibes about it advertised in an understated, “word of mouth” way. Writing strictly from the heart — as I always have — about our many fun escapades here, I discovered I was inadvertently helping their cause.

    Villa Escondida Playa La Bocana Huatulco cruising Mexico blog

    There are huge views to the beach from every room.


    Out of the blue, we received an email message from the people at (which we later discovered is a local vacation property rental company). The email invited us to meet up with their team at one of the properties they represent to share a dinner and a beach bonfire together at Playa La Bocana.

    Now, mind you, we’ve received our fair share of emails from lottery winning Nigerian chieftains that are dying to give us a portion of their winnings if we’ll just mail them a certified check for ten grand.

    Playa La Bocana Villa Escondida Huatulco cruising Mexico blog

    Views from Villa Escondida hang like paintings on the wall.

    But this was different. For one thing, the email message didn’t have any spelling mistakes or that wacky English grammar typical of those Nigerian internet pranksters. Better yet, all we had to do was show up at Villa Escondida on Playa La Bocana.

    We love La Bocana’s stunning, windswept, rugged surf beach, where nature plays with a raw kind of wildness and abandon. So what a thrill it was to to be entertained at a gorgeous beach house we had admired from a distance on our previous visits.

    Villa Escondida Huatulco La Bocana sailing Mexico bl

    View from up top.

    Stately and grand, with pillars, pools and views, this beautiful house sits right on the beach where the surf pounds with a mesmerizing roar, almost within arm’s reach. Mark and I rushed straight up to the roof deck to check out the views.

    Villa Escondida Huatulco Playa La Bocana sail Mexico blog

    Awesome views from the roof deck.

    Loads of surfers were riding the waves, as the Gulf of Tehuantepec had been blowing with enthusiasm for a while. As we watched the surfers, our cameras clicked in unison. We soon realized the hot bikini clad girls had it all over the boys when it came to skill and survival in the waves, and we laughed as we said to each other, “It’s her! She’s up! Get it, get it!!.” The surfers flirted tirelessly with the unruly waves.

    Villa Escondida Huatulco Playa La Bocana sail Mexico blog

    Villa Escondida sits right on the beach.

    Our hosts turned out to be a collection of fun-loving people that had arranged for a gourmet dinner to be served on fine linens and beautiful tableware overlooking the beach from the home’s breezy dining room. The occasion was a farewell feast for their Canadian contingent that had visited for ten days and was headed home the next day. With quiet grace, our chef announced and brought out course after course to the table, while the sun disappeared into the blackening sea just beyond the open windows.

    View from Villa Escondida Huatulco Mexico sail blog

    Dinner in this dining room was exceptional

    Exchanging wide-eyed glances, Mark and I kept secretly thinking about those microwaved bean burritos we would have otherwise  been having on the boat. Going from a sumptuous squash soup to an elaborately prepared quesadilla dish to a phenomenal main course that disappeared so quickly and went down so well I that have no idea what it was — except that it was awesome — all made us wonder if anyone at the table really knew just how down-and-dirty a cruiser’s lifestyle is…blogs be darned.

    Villa Escondida Huatulco Mexico cruising blog

    Villa Escondida

    Vacationing in Huatulco can be glamorous: staying in a luxury property, dining on the finest foods, and taking a brief barefoot evening stroll in the sand while wearing an elegant dress and carrying a glass of expensive wine. Our companions for this evening were truly devoted to making those kinds of heavenly, tropical, dream vacations come true, and we were savoring a taste of what that is like.

    Window View Villa Escondida Huatulco Mexico sail blog

    Pretty views…

    But there is little of that kind of glamor living on a boat!! For us, most days bring the same old food from the same old chefs wearing rather tired clothes!! What a shock it was to be invited to stay in the honeymoon suite at this house, where the doors open onto a deck above the beach, the shower is as large as our stateroom, and plush, lily white robes awaited us after we bathed.

    Villa Escondida Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

    Beachside pool

    Down on the beach, the bonfire went late into the night. Despite coming to Huatulco with two different perspectives — ours as two tourists on a boat loving the place and theirs as a group of business people seeking to give tourists the most pleasurable vacation experiences possible — we found we had a lot in common. For starters, like most people who have lived and traveled extensively in Mexico, we had all come to love Mexicans and being in Mexico.

    Villa Escondida Huatulco Mexico sail blog

    Elegant and grand…

    Our conversation ranged far and wide about how we’ve learned a new set of values by spending time here. The local people we have met value their family, friends and community in a way that many of us from more developed western nations have forgotten. The prize at the end of the rat race isn’t as eagerly sought after here, which gives everyone more time and energy to enjoy simply being themselves, rather than working so hard to be something else.

    Villa Escondida Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

    As ex-pats living much of our lives in Mexico (and, for our hosts Judy and Valerie, running a business here), we have also each taken a big leap of faith to try a new lifestyle in a foreign country. Following your heart and pursuing your dreams is fulfilling in a way that nothing else can be.

    Beach chairs Playa La Bocana Villa Escondida Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

    A great place for relaxing…

    Yet it requires a degree of fearlessness to take that plunge. And then there’s the big dose of life lessons waiting for you when you splash back to the surface and sputter with mixed terror and glee: “What the heck did I just do?” We had all experienced both the immense satisfaction of living our dreams as well as that occasional deer-in-the-headlights shock of trying to square the dream with reality.

    Beach bonfire Villa Escondida Huatulco Mexico cruising blog

    Our beach bonfire went long into the night.




    The sun rose in spectacular shades of orange the next morning, lighting up the beach in a burst of color. Mark and I took reams of photos while the fishing boats and seabirds puttered across the blue and orange waves.

    Sunrise Playa La Bocana Huatulco Mexico sail blog

    Sunrise view from the deck of Villa Escondida

    Judy and Valerie, the key team members, had to run off early to tour yet another luxury vacation property (what a job they’ve created for themselves!), while Mark and I lingered at Playa La Bocana, soaking in the morning air as the beach slowly came to life.

    It had been a night and morning to remember, and the beauty of the place and our lively late night conversation with new friends enveloped us in a warm feeling of contentment. In all our travels, truly our best adventures have been the ones that came looking for us.  How very cool and surprising it was to have this one seek us out online.

    The Tropical Resort Vacation Gods kept watch over us a while longer, and suddenly we found ourselves back at Las Palmas Villas resort (which turned out to be another one of the gorgeous luxury vacation properties that represents).  What incredibly good fortune… We were on quite a roll!!!


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    Huatulco’s Santa Cruz Bay – great beaches & a cute harbor village – Paradise!

    Santa Cruz Bay Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

    Santa Cruz Beach and anchorage in Huatulco set against the backdrop of Oaxaca’s mountains

    Early December, 2012 – After our beautiful day in the tropical orchard of Hagia Sofia, we left Marina Chahué to anchor out once again.  There are a dozen or so anchorages to choose from in the Bays of Huatulco, and we decided to spend a while in Santa Cruz Bay where we found three beautiful beaches, a snug little harbor-side village, and easy access to the town of La Crucecita.

    Santa Cruz Bay and Chahue Bay Huatulco Mexico

    View across Santa Cruz Bay to Chahué Bay

    s/v Groovy in Santa Cruz Bay Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

    Groovy finds its groove in Santa Cruz Bay

    The roads along the bay are hilly, and we got a great feeling for the lay of the land on our many walks along the road that hugs the bay.

    Various viewpoints give an awesome look down into the bay and across the little harbor and village. Groovy settled into a quiet spot right off a small beach.  The anchorage can hold about three or four cruising boats, but we were the only ones there for a long time.

    Santa Cruz Bay Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

    We had a great view of a tiny beach and two tempting beach bars

    Santa Cruz Bay Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

    Looking out at the anchorage from the beach bars

    The ospreys, pelicans and frigate birds circled in the air above us all day long, and the two beach bars on the little beach came alive at night.

    After staring at those beach bars from the boat for a while, we just had to check out the view out into the bay from where they sat.  Not surprisingly, their view of us was just as appealing as our view of them!

    Santa Cruz Bay Huatulco

    We had our own nearly private beach

    Santa Cruz Bay Huatulco

    Pretty views everywhere


    These were quiet days filled with simple pleasures.  Having easy access to activities on shore gave us the amusements of both surf and turf.  We could wander around on dry land whenever the mood struck us, but we could still take advantage of having a waterborne home.

    The ocean was over 80 degrees, and the cabin temperatures were still frequently hitting 90 degrees in the late afternoons, so swimming became a natural part of every day.  Swimming off the boat is without doubt one of the greatest joys of living at anchor.  But being able to wade in from the beach and feel sand between our toes was just as nice.

    Santa Cruz Harbor Huatulco sailing blog

    Santa Cruz Harbor and Beach

    The village of Santa Cruz surrounds a small harbor, and on the backside of town is Santa Cruz Beach, a slightly larger but wonderfully intimate little beach that soon became a frequent hangout for us.

    Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco dinghy ride and groovy

    Our dinghy got us everywhere in minutes

    It was a five minute dinghy ride to get over there, and as soon as our feet hit the sand we instantly turned into beach bums.


    Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco

    Palm trees and a beach – perfection!

    There are sweeping palm trees that reach for the sky alongside a small row of very inviting beachside restaurants and bars.  All you have to do is grab a table and stake a claim to your own piece of paradise.  Stay until you’ve had your fill.

    Santa Cruz Beach Al Frente del Mar Restaurant

    Have a seat…!

    We kept pinching ourselves day after day, absolutely thrilled with life and amazed we could be living this way.  This was our third season of cruising Mexico, but it had never been anywhere near this good.

    Like so many other hopeful cruisers, we had cast off the dock lines long ago to head to distant shores and “live the dream” of cruising.

    Living the dream sailing blog in Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco Mexico

    Living the dream!

    But the challenges of that dream had too often made it far from dreamy.  Rolly anchorages and sleepless nights, red tide and cold water, exhausting 200 miles passages and frightening overnights at sea had all joined forces each season to make us question our sanity in wanting to live on a sailboat.

    Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

    Santa Cruz Beach

    However, this year, during these weeks, in this place, it all came together and we were in heaven. The bay stayed calm, the water was intoxicatingly clear and warm, and the gods smiled down on us day after day.

    On Santa Cruz Beach happy vacationers and locals alike would just wade out into the water a bit, have a seat, and stay seated with the water up to their necks, until they were totally water logged.  Families, couples, groups of teenage friends and toddlers all immersed themselves in the lapping waves, swishing their hands around, chatting and laughing for hours.  We did too!

    Underwater at Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco

    A fish checks out our new camera

    Under water the fish milled around the rocks, nibbling here and there, and watching the snorkelers with curiosity.  We’d never played around with an underwater camera before, and we soon learned that getting Jacques Cousteau shots is not so easy.  Nothing stays still!  Just as we’d get the shot lined up, the fish would wriggle away or a wave would pick us up and move us — and the camera — a few feet.  But it was so much fun trying.

    Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco sailing blog

    This is a wonderfully intimate little beach




    On the beach the best entertainment was the little kids.  The small waves were just the right size for toddlers — big enough to lure them into the water but small enough not to be scary.  In and out they’d go, running, running, running.

    Toddler on Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco sailing blog

    The waves were just right for toddlers



    Toddlers on Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

    It’s so fun to watch the waves break in your lap!

    A brother and sister sat mesmerized by the waves for a long time, letting the waves break right in their laps, wave after wave after wave.

    Everyone wanted to get pics of each other to send home.  This is the kind of fun you just have to share, and we all knew we could make everyone back home incredibly jealous.

    Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

    Friends posed for each other, getting the sand and water and blue sky lined up just right. Pairs of young girls did endless sexy poses for each other, each one showing off her assets while her friend clicked away.  After they’d do a few bikini model shots showing off the bathing suit from both the front and back, they’d suddenly lie down in the water to go for a curvaceous, alluring water shot. I suspect there are some lucky boyfriends out there!

    Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

    We all took pics of each other

    Mark was only too happy to help out with these mini photo shoots, but the show always instantly became very G-rated!  The nice return was that we got some shots of ourselves to make our friends envious too.

    Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco sailing blog



    Up among the beach umbrellas where the margaritas and beers flowed with enthusiasm at every table, vendors wandered through selling their wares.  The usual stream of women passed through selling commercially made bead jewelry.

    Japanese vendors on Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

    Cruising Mexico in a VW Microbus selling jewelry!

    Far more intriguing was the young Japanese couple who stopped by.  Hailing from Kyoto, Japan, they were traveling across Mexico in a VW Microbus, funding their adventure with their own hand-made jewelry.

    Vendor sells corn bread on the beach Huatulco

    Corn bread for sale!

    Another women sold bread that had the exact taste and texture of corn muffins — quite yummy.  And several women braided and beaded girls’ hair like Bo Derek.  One woman was very eager to do Mark’s hair. It is getting a little long, but I don’t think a head full of braids would be that becoming on him.

    Lots of hair braiding on Santa Cruz Beach in Huatulco Mexico

    A little girl gets her hair braided

    Some guitarists meandered by strumming melodies and then an old man showed up pushing an ice cream cart through the sand.

    Ice cream vendor Santa Cruz Beach Huatulco

    An ice cream vendor rolls his cart through the sand

    This beach was a great place to kick back and watch the world go by.

    The little harbor village of Santa Cruz is filled with pangas, open outboard-driven skiffs.  Some offer tours of the bays to tourists and many others are fishing boats.  As we wandered back to get our dinghy one afternoon a pair of young fellows on a scooter showed off the fish they had just caught.

    FIsh on a scooter - Santa Cruz Harbor Huatulco sailing blog

    Catch of the day!

    A few minutes later, on our way out to the boat, we spotted two fishermen in a panga at the dock carving up some fish they had just caught.

    Santa Cruz Bay anchorage sailing blog Huatulco Mexico

    Late afternoon view from our cockpit







    A quick conversation and negotiation, and we were suddenly waving goodbye and motoring away with a fillet for dinner.

    Fishing near Groovy in Santa Cruz Bay anchorage Huatulco Mexico sailing blog

    Fishermen suddenly cast nets all around Groovy

    Back at Groovy a bunch of fishermen had surrounded our boat and were casting nets into the water.  I don’t know what kind of fish had arrived, but the fishermen knew they were there.  We had always had peaceful sunsets to ourselves, but for three nights in a row we got caught up in a flurry of fishing activity.  The fish were so thick around our boat we could see them from the cockpit.  Then one day the fish were gone and the fishermen were gone too.

    Santa Cruz Bay anchorage Huatulco Mexico full moon and frigate bird

    These were beautiful days of seaside living that blended into each other in a blur of wonder.

    Tuesday rolled into Saturday and then it was suddenly Wednesday, or was it Friday? Who knew, and who really cared?  Mid-December caught us by surprise.  Time disappeared in a delicious, unhurried way.

    Wouldn’t it be beautiful if life were always like this?  It is a dream so many of us share… For a precious time, our lives were suspended in tropical perfection.

    And then, to top it off completely, we were gifted with 24 hours in heaven at the exquisite Las Palmas Resort!

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    Costalegre: Manzanillo’s Santiago & Playa La Boquita – Beach Fun!

    Sunrise in Manzanillo


    Sunrise at Las Hadas resort A sea turtle along the Pacific Mexican Costa Alegre coast.

    A sea turtle drifts by.

    Sailing in Manzanillo Bay in Mexico

    Mom enjoys a brilliant sail.

    Villas on Playa La Boquito in Santiago Bay, Mexico

    Villas on Playa La Boquita in Santiago Bay.

    Villa on La Boquita Beach in Santiago, Mexico La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Mexico Playa La Boquita, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

    Playa La Boquita.

    Playa La Boquita, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

    Black and brown patterned sand yields gold in bright sunlight.

    Playa La Boquita, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Playa La Boquita, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Playa La Boquita, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico sv Groovy at Playa La Boquita Anchorage, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

    Looking out at the anchorage.

    Tuba player on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

    A tuba player could be heard

    every afternoon throughout

    the anchorage.

    Estuary on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

    Umbrellas line the shores of the estuary.

    Estuary on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

    A footbridge crossed to Las Palmas resort.

    Las Palmas Resort on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

    Manicured lawns bring a special kind of serenity.

    Las Palmas Resort on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

    Canoes wait for passengers.

    Panga in the mangroves Las Palmas Resort on La Boquita Beach, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

    A panga in the mangroves.

    Swimming off the back of Groovy, La Boquita Beach Anchorage, Santiago Bay, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

    81 is the new 18.

    Bike shop in Santiago, Colima, Mexico

    Mark talks "bike shop" with the locals.

    Flea Market in Santiago, Colima, Mexico

    The Santiago Flea Market offers tourist souvenirs.

    Flea Market in Santiago, Colima, Mexico

    Mexican sinks.

    Horseback riding on Playa Miramar Bahia Santiago, Colima, Mexico

    Horseback riding on the beach.

    Frigate bird sits on San Luciano Shipwreck, La Boquita Beach, Santiago, Colima, Mexico

    A frigate bird takes a close

    look at us.

    The Oasis Restaurant, Playa La Boquita, Bahia Santiago, Colima, Mexico

    The Oasis gave me a perfect birthday moment.

    La Boquita Anchorage in Santiago, Colima, Mexico

    Late January, 2011 - We left Zihuatanejo and took our time returning north to Manzanillo.

    This 200 mile stretch of coastline is very remote, and for four days of motoring and three

    nights at anchor we saw only a handful of boats: tankers on the horizon by day and fellow

    cruisers tucked in beside us by night.  As the guidebooks warn, the three anchorages along

    here are very rolly, as they are open to the full brunt of the Pacific Ocean's waves coming to

    shore from thousands of miles out.  Despite our best efforts to keep the bow of the boat into

    the waves by setting a stern anchor in addition to our bow anchor, we found that the

    crosswinds on the beam of the boat were so powerful overnight that our anchoring gear

    strained and groaned in too much discomfort to make it worthwhile.

    Heaving a big sigh, we let the boat swing freely each

    night and, as expected, it chose to angle itself

    beam-to against the swell, setting up a terrific side-

    to-side roll that kept us rolling in our bunk all night.

    One by one we found the various round and

    cylindrical items throughout the boat that rolled back

    and forth with a thud or clank on each side.  A

    canister in a locker here, a beer can in the fridge

    there, a broom handle over there.  Quieting

    these relentless noises made for a lot of

    detective work in the wee hours of the night.

    The up-side of all this sleeplessness,

    however, was that we were awake before

    dawn each day, and we saw some stunning


    Mexico's wind gods like to play with cruising

    sailors, and they offer little but whispering

    zephyrs each day along this coast.  At night

    they howl ferociously, however.  Hour after hour

    they shake the rigging like prisoners rattling their cell bars.  But at the first hint of sunlight

    everything stops.  Just like that.  Acting like guilty children, as if nothing happened, they offer

    the merest exhales once again, laughing silently as we curse yet another day of motoring.

    Preferring to travel in daylight, we motored pretty much the entire way.  We were frustrated to

    be cruising in a built-to-sail motorboat.  Again, however, there was a silver lining.  This coast

    is loaded with turtles, and the calm seas gave us a chance to get a really good look at a few

    as they drifted past our hull.

    Ever the adventurer, my mom had been eagerly awaiting a chance escape the steady

    procession of New England blizzards to try the cruising lifestyle on her daughter's boat.  We

    swept her up in Manzanillo and took a sail to neighboring Santiago bay.  To our amazement,

    the capricious winds blew perfectly that afternoon, and we had a glorious romp across the

    wide bay.  Manzanillo's expansive bay is perfect for daysailing, and we took full advantage.

    Once the anchor was down around the corner off Playa La Boquita in

    Santiago Bay, we took the dinghy ashore to check out the beach.  The

    beach is almost four miles long, and is quite wide, fairly flat and stroked

    endlessly by large, fluffy waves.  About a third of the beach is lined by

    beautiful villas that belong to the huge gated community Club Santiago.

    Each home is more lovely than the last, and the cruisers gaze at

    the large flower filled balconies and picture windows with as

    much admiration (and possibly envy) as the vacationers do

    looking out at the yachts swinging in the bay.

    The beach is filled with a

    mixture of brown and black

    sand that makes fantastic

    patterns as the waves wash

    in and out.  From certain

    angles the sand glittered

    brilliant gold too, making it

    seem as though a little bit of

    panning might help out the

    cruising kitty.  Our eyes

    were cast down at the

    patterns at our feet as

    much as they scanned the

    colorful views around us.

    From the boat we had

    heard the oom-pah of a

    tuba, and once ashore

    we had to go find the

    source.  It didn't take

    long.  A tuba player and

    his little band were

    walking up and down

    the line of umbrellas at

    the public access end of

    the beach, offering

    songs to anyone willing to part with

    a few pesos.

    At the furthest west end of the

    beach we discovered a little estuary,

    and we followed it slightly inland.  A

    small bridge took us

    over the water, where

    a beautiful resort, Las

    Palmas, was waiting

    on the other side.

    Perfectly manicured

    lawns and shrubbery

    offered a feeling of

    utter peace and

    tranquility.  We could

    easily imagine

    overworked executives

    coming here to escape

    the responsibilities of a

    stressed life.  The only

    sounds were birds

    chirping in the trees;

    the rustle of the palm

    leaves were like a

    chorus of librarians whispering "shhh."

    Even the pound of the surf and

    excitement of the rugged sandy beach

    just over the little footbridge seemed a

    world away.

    Canoes were ready for guests by the

    shore, and a panga that could host a

    guided tour was hidden in the


    Spirits sky high, we returned to the boat

    where we found, to our utter shock, the

    water was crystal clear.  Our

    guidebooks have lauded the crystalline waters of many anchorages throughout our stay on

    the Pacific coast of Mexico, but this year those waters have eluded us.  Wave after wave of

    burgundy, yellow and forest green colored "red tide" has filled every bay, cove and even

    the open ocean, making it impossible to see more than a few feet into the water.  Suddenly

    being able to see clearly 20 feet below the boat had us all jumping into our swimsuits in

    one motion.  Mark was over the side with a woosh, and mom was right behind.  What a role

    model she is, announcing "81 is the new 18" and taking to the water like a 10-

    year-old.  The aqua-cize classes have paid off in spades, and she demonstrated

    her moves, making light of the very strong current that threatened to whisk us all

    away from the boat if we weren't careful.

    On another day we wandered into Santiago itself where a large enclosed public

    market offers everything from fresh produce to sweet smelling straw baskets to

    freshly filleted fish.  The streets around the market are filled with little shops, and

    Mark found friends at the local bike shop, trying in his best Spanish to explain that

    he used to have a bike shop in his garage too.

    Every Saturday the town hosts a large flea market.  This turned out

    to be more of a tourist-oriented enterprise than we expected, but it

    was fun to wander among all the brightly painted ceramics and

    beautifully carved wood pieces.  Pale sunburned gringos lined up on

    one side of the flea market to find souvenirs for loved ones at home

    while a few locals roamed on the other side, sifting through the

    bargain clothing offerings to find more practical fare.

    Taking the dinghy along La

    Boquita beach, we saw groups

    of horseback riders along the

    water's edge.  Following their

    tracks in the sand later it

    seemed they paralleled the

    weaving water line perfectly,

    never getting their hooves wet.

    At one end of the anchorage lies San Luciano a 300'

    long steel cargo ship that sank in a 1959 hurricane.

    What remains is just a skeleton, but the birds love the

    remnants of the masts that stick up above the waves.

    We have watched frigate birds soaring high over our

    boat, masters of the sky, and at times of the smaller

    birds nearby.  Now we had a chance to see the face of

    one up close.

    Back on the beach on my birthday, we asked both fellow

    cruisers and land dwellers where a good spot would be to

    celebrate turning 51.  Everyone pointed to The Oasis, and

    we spent a lovely afternoon perched on their balcony looking

    out over the pounding surf.

    To one side of the view, the boats in the anchorage stood

    out in brilliant white relief against the towering dark mountain

    behind them.  On the other side we could see the little white

    villas on the backside of Las Hadas resort.  It was a perfect

    birthday moment, and I couldn't help myself as I said to

    Mark, "It's like we're living in the pages of some glossy

    magazine called Perfect Vacation Hideaways."  With that in

    mind, we decided we would stay in the Manzanillo area a

    little longer.

    Find Santiago (Manzanillo) on Mexico Maps

    Visit Anchorages on the "Mexican Riviera" (northern Pacific coast) to see more cruising posts from this area!