PV: Paradise Village Marina – A Resort Vacation!

Early April, 2013 – After enjoying the wonderful outdoor market in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, we took a brief, hour-long sail aboard Groovy to Paradise Village Marina, where we were suddenly surrounded by all the comforts of shore-based living.  And and then some!

paradise village resort

Paradise Village Resort – What a Place!

sunrise at paradise village marina

Sunrise surrounds Groovy in its slip.

After five months of rolling around in small coves and bays, the luxury of Paradise Village Resort was totally over the top for us.

overlooking paradise village resort pools

Paradise Village “Dragon Pool” with the beach and bay beyond.

The marina sits in an estuary, and at sunrise the water is often like glass.  One morning we were blessed with a spectacular sunrise that embraced Groovy.

It felt really strange to be able to walk right off the boat and into a resort.  No mad dash through the surf to land the dinghy, and no salty and sandy feet when climbing back aboard.

The dinghy even began to gather dust in its spot hanging off the transom.

We began to wonder if what we were doing still qualified as “cruising.”

paradise vaillage hot tub crowd

The hot tube is a popular place.

Paradise Village Resort just begged for exploration.  Looking down from a balcony near the top of one of the buildings, we could see the “dragon pool” that has two water slides where squealing kids shoot out of the mouths of dragons.

palm tree and chairs at paradise village beach resort

There are rows of palapa-chairs on the beach by the bar.

Beyond the poolside chairs and palms, we could see the pier that marks the entrance to the marina channel and the beach and bay.

The hot tub looked really inviting from this balcony too, and we discovered that quite a few cruisers spent their evenings there after the sun went down.

Palapa and chairs at Paradise Village

Hey – we’re on vacation (from our vacation)!!

Out on the beach there are rows and rows of lounge chairs sitting under thatched umbrellas.

For a few days we ran around so much,  taking it all in and rejoicing at being able to live at a resort (how did THAT happen?), that we didn’t stop to take advantage of any of it.  We just took a million pictures and said “wow” over and over.

waterfall pool in puerto vallarta

The “Waterfall Pool” at Paradise Village.


But then we got down to the business of vacationing, like everyone else around us, and we spent an afternoon hanging out in those wonderfully inviting chairs.  Pretty darn nice!

nuevo vallarta gulls and beach

Gulls on the beach.

snowy egret landing in nuevo vallarta

A snowy egret comes in for a landing.

The other big pool at the Paradise Village beach resort is the “waterfall pool.”  Playing in the spray in this pool was fun, but what really got me excited was the fabulous shower in the spa.  For five months I had been dancing around in a phone booth for my daily shower, but not any longer.

nuevo vallarta beach kid

We just loved watching the kids play on this beach in the mornings.





The “ladies room” in the spa isn’t just a row of toilets.  It is a haven for women where all your weariness and cares of the day just melt away.

Beyond all the massage rooms, where the masseuses wear crisp white uniforms and the vacationers kick back in plush robes, there is a candle-lit hot-tub.

puerto vallarta kids playing on beach

Treasure hunting on the beach.

This darkened tub is surrounded by cushioned lounge chairs and glass vases filled with water and floating flower petals.  The air is thick and moist and sooo relaxing.  Oh my.

When I walked in, gentle, soothing, new age flute music wafted softly through the warm mist, and no one was there.  I submerged myself in the luxurious hot water and basked in that bubbling tub for what seemed like hours.

Once I was sufficiently relaxed, I contorting myself into all kinds of crazy positions in front of the jets to massage all my sore spots and bruises from the boating life.  Pure heaven!  Then I moved on to the immense shower.  Sigh.


sea kayak in waves

The tour boat operators struggled to get their boats off the beach sometimes.

The shower was made of fancy stone tile and was very spacious.  Three big dispensers were filled with sweetly scented, high quality shampoo, conditioner and body wash.  None of that one-bottle-does-it-all stuff here.

And the hot water just ran and ran and ran.  I emerged a long time later, quite pink and very wrinkled.

I was so excited about all this that after gushing about it to Mark for a while (he rolled his eyes a bit), I started going on and on about it to a neighbor down on the docks.

shipwreck on the beach puerto vallarta

A unique wooden cruising boat was beached in front of the resort.

She laughed as she listened to me and then informed me rather bluntly that we cruisers weren’t supposed to use the spa.  It was only for the highest paying resort guests.  Oh, man!  Really?!  I had been ready to move right in and stay forever.

One day, “Flying Dragon,” a very unusual wooden cruising boat, ran into trouble and grounded hard on the beach. All the cruisers from the marina ran down to the beach to see what was going on and try to help out.

shipwreck on the beach shovels nuevo vallarta

Taking a break from shoveling.

We discovered that it had beached the night before while coming into the marina, and as the day progressed, the community efforts to assist the folks on this boat grew and grew.

All kinds of ingenious tricks were employed to try and dislodge this boat.  Men began shoveling around it, then they used a torch to remove the rudder, and finally they drove a backhoe onto the beach to dig a trench around the boat.

At high tide a huge tug-of-war line of men stretched far out into the water and pulled the bow towards the bay.  After sunset the boat finally floated off and was able to limp into Marina Nuevo Vallarta across from Paradise Village Marina.

Mayan temple sand castle

An ancient Mayan temple in the sand…!





Paradise Village is very grand, and the theme at the resort is ancient Mayan culture and history.  Even down on the beach someone had built a Mayan temple sand castle.  Up at the resort, the arched doorways and windows have the classic tapered edges and flat tops of the ancient Mayan style.

Mayan temple window patterns

Mayan history is reflected throughout Paradise Village Resort.

Every building is named for one of the famous landmarks of the ancient world: Palenque (Mayan ruins in Chiapas Mexico), Tikal (Mayan ruins in Guatemala), and more.

People go cruising for all kinds of reasons, and one of our biggest goals was to learn first-hand about a foreign culture and its history.  In this third year of floating along Mexico’s coast we began to feel that we’d accomplished that goal.

When we first stayed at the Paradise Village Resort before Christmas last year, we knew nothing about the ancient ruins or cultures that are sprinkled throughout Mexico.  Our cruising had been strictly focused on coastal destinations.

Zapotec style stonework

A huge lintel at one of the resort entrances reminds us of the stonework at the Mitla ruins in Oaxaca.

Mayan Statue at paradise village marina

Mayan warrior.

Now we felt really grateful to have gotten off the boat and seen some of the wonders of the ancient world. As we looked around the resort now, we recognized the historic references to antiquity.

Last spring, we had crawled all over — and loved — the ruins at Palenque, Monte Alban, Yaxchilan and Bonampak.

The lintel over the huge stone arch at one of the resort entrances looked very much like the stonework we had seen at the Zapotec ruins of Mitla outside of Oaxaca City, and the statuary around the resort was reminiscent of the stone statues we had seen at Yaxchilan.

Jaguar Statue paradise village resort


Tiger face in the Paradise Village collection








Last year we had been alarmed by the roaring sound of the howler monkeys in the trees at Palenque, because we had thought the sound came from jaguars. Here at Paradise Village, the jaguar statue looked very fierce — but not nearly as intimidating as Diego, the Tiger-in-Residence at the resort.

Tiger at Paradise Village Resort - Diego

The tigers were both very regal.

Diego and his companion Daisy are part of the Paradise Village Bengal tiger program that has produced over 76 cubs from 9 females and 3 males since 1996.  We learned it is the most successful tiger breeding program in Mexico, and the cubs have been relocated to zoos all over Mexico and Latin America.

Exotic flora and fauna abound at the resort, and a collection of macaws and a cockatoo give the place a really jungly sound each morning and evening as they squawk and holler at each other and their caretakers.

There is a fun parrot show twice a week, and these guys are really amusing to watch!

military macaw on bike

A native military macaw prepares for the Tour de France.

Moluccan Cockatoo drinking from a hose

The Moluccan cockatoo gets a drink.










scarlet Macaw flapping his wings

The scarlet macaw went crazy during his shower every morning.

scarlet macaw shows off his colors

Joseph and his coat of many colors…

The olive green military macaws ride bikes, balance on balls, and do toddler-level exercises with jig-saw puzzle shapes and blocks. A blue and gold macaw roller skates, and the scarlet macaw and cockatoo pose with kids for photos afterwards.

Scarlet macaw takes a bath

He loved his bath as much as I loved that hot tub in the spa!

Their trainer has worked with them for many years, and it is one big happy family.  Every morning she brings out a hose to clean their cages, and they all take advantage of the water spray to get a bath and take a drink.

starbucks sign

Ahhh… a Venti Hazlenut Latte at last!!









The military macaws are the only native parrots in this flock, and their breeding program at the resort must be very successful, as there were ten or so of them, including a few loving (and squabbling) pairs.

We were enjoying our new resort life so much that the days just flew past.  Every imaginable convenience was within a few footsteps of the boat

latte swirls

This fancy latte was even better…

Down at the mall (there’s a mall!!), we found not only Subway, Domino’s and McDonalds (believe me, these are very appealing when you’ve been at anchor for a long time), but there was a Starbucks.

Ooooh that first Venti Hazlenut Latte was yummy. Better yet, another little coffee bistro nearby had fluffy coffees with pretty designs on top.

At first, we had planned to stay at Paradise Village Marina for a month or so.  Little did we know that our stay would stretch out to be longer than that!

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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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PV: La Cruz – A Fun Artisan Market & Cruiser Hangout in Mexico

La Cruz Marina Riviera Nayarit

La Cruz has an active fishing jetty and docks for mega yachts too!

Early April, 2013 – After rounding Cabo Corrientes and sailing up from the pretty but lightly populated anchorages of the Costalegre, our arrival in La Cruz felt like coming into the big city. The Banderas Bay Regatta was in full-swing, and the Puerto Vallarta marinas were packed to the gills.

The La Cruz anchorage was also full to overflowing, and we suddenly felt the exhilarating rush of being part of a busy port.

La Cruz Mexico Artist's gallery

An art gallery in La Cruz.



La Cruz Mexico horse in yard

Despite being next to urban Puerto Vallarta,
La Cruz has a rural, small town feeling to it.

La Cruz is an interesting mix of high end yachts, fishing boats, and cruising boats.

It is one of the most popular hangouts for cruisers in Pacific Mexico, and is home to some wonderful characters too.

Cruiser at La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

La Cruz has some great characters, many of whom happily traded in their suits and ties to go cruising.

The quiet town itself has an artsy side and a rustic side, and we saw a little of both as we strolled the familiar cobblestone streets, passing an art gallery, roosters in the streets and a horse tied to a tree.

New to us, however, was the fabulous La Cruz market that takes place every Sunday. Somehow we had missed this vibrant event in years past, and it was a real treat to take part in it now.

La Cruz Market and beach

The farmer’s market is spread out under umbrellas along the shore.









La Cruz Mexico Marina Nayarit Farmer's Market

Wonderful things for sale on the water’s edge.

The little jetty and walking path near the fish market transform completely every Sunday morning as food and art vendors set up shop under colorful umbrellas.

Kids play on the beach while parents buy and sell goodies just steps away.

Anything and everything is for sale in this market, but unlike some flea markets, this is all Really Good Stuff.

La Cruz market band

These guys kept the tempo of the market upbeat…

Bird of Paradise flowers

Exotic flowers for sale.

There was a band playing in the midst of it all, putting us in a festive mood as we shuffled from table to table, marveling at the crafts and sampling delicious things.

Huichol bead art La Cruz

A Huichol man makes ancestral bead art.



Beautiful flowers were brought in from the fertile valley nearby. Artisans made Huichol bead art and glass blown figures as we watched.

Glass blower

A glass blower shows how it’s done.

Coffee table with Wendy

Ahh… my favorite coffee!









We found our favorite coffee vendor, a Frenchman name Wendy, and replenished our stash of his tasty roasted beans.

Out on the jetty, we found a vendor selling unusual, tiny, paper dolls. I’m not sure if they were papier-mâché or some other technique, but the wizened faces of the little old ladies and men carrying baskets of hot peppers were unique.

Papier mache doll heads

Dolls made of paper.

Papier mache doll head

Lots of detail on the wrinkled faces.

La Cruz Mexico Water Bottle Lady

This lady was selling butterflies made from used
water bottles.

Another lady was selling colorful “stained glass” style butterfly decorations made of discarded water bottles. Now that’s clever!!

Water bottle butterflies

What a creative idea!

We came across a vendor selling lovely carved picture frames. One in particular made a neat frame for the boats in the marina behind the market!

La Cruz Marina - Framing the boats in the marina

A pretty frame for the boats.


But I think the reason this market is so vastly popular is because of the awesome food for sale. Every delicacy you can imagine was on offer.

Juice Vendor

Orange-tangerine juice – yum!

stacked french bread

A mountain of baguettes.

Mark started with a glass of fresh squeezed orange and tangerine juice — what a great combo!

Other vendors were cooking things to order. Oh my. No wonder cruisers love La Cruz so much!

La Cruz Mexico Farmer's Market

Not sure what it was, but it was delicious!


One table had French bread loaves stacked high in the air. They looked intriguing, but the baker who made them looked even more-so!

mexican baker

The baker.

We enjoyed every minute of this market and took our time savoring all the yummy food and talking with the vendors.

Paradise Village Marina sunrise

Sunrise at Paradise Village Marina

Back on the boat, it was time to move down the bay to Paradise Village Marina. We had been living at anchor for five months now, and had promised ourselves a final month of sweet shore-based living in that deluxe marina. On our first morning, Paradise Village welcomed us with a lovely sunrise over the bow…

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PV: Chamela to La Cruz – Dances with Whales at Cabo Corrientes

Map of Cabo Corrientes Chamela Banderas Bay Puerto Vallarta

100 miles from Chamela to La Cruz…

Late March, 2013 – Cabo Corrientes (“Cape of Currents”) is a notorious point, known for dishing out excitement, thrills and sometimes terror to sailors that are voyaging between the Costalegre (Chamela to Manzanillo) to the south and Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta) to the north.

However, much like the bad tempered Gulf of Tehuantepec down near Mexico’s border with Guatemala, this cape’s mood swings are predictable. It isn’t hard to find a window of opportunity when the cape will let your boat pass without demanding much of a toll.

We saw a weather window coming up on our favorite weather prediction website. To time it optimally, doing as little night sailing as possible, we needed to leave Bahia Chamela and its pretty islands around midnight to arrive in Banderas Bay 100 miles north the next afternoon.

So we hopped 10 miles from colorful Careyes to Chamela Bay where we anchored for an afternoon and evening, watching the immense waves crashing on the beach.

Chamela Bay Mexico surf XZQK3RSSYWQF

The surf was up when we got to Chamela.

Bahia Chamela Mexico surf XZQK3RSSYWQF

Cruisers were stuck on their boats in the anchorage watching these crazy waves.

Chamela Playa Perula Mexico surf XZQK3RSSYWQF


Wow. What a show!! The surf was so high that none of the cruisers were going ashore in their dinghies. Well, one pair of guys tried. In the end, though, they anchored their dink outside the surf zone and then swam in. That must have been quite a body surfing ride!!

Cabo Corrientes Mexico XZQK3RSSYWQF

The notorious Cabo Corrientes is calm as we pass.


We took note of the locations of all the fishing pens and other cruising boats around us in the anchorage while it was still light.

Then, at the appointed hour, we crept between them all, in total blackness, and snuck out of the anchorage in the dark.

Cabo Corrientes Mexico XZQK3RSSYWQF

Another boat joins us on the way into Banderas Bay.




We had an uneventful voyage north, and hours later, at dawn, the infamous Cabo Corrientes treated us to a hazy sunrise. All was calm and serene as we passed the point.

Whale breach XZQK3RSSYWQF

Welcome to Banderas Bay!!!

Humpback Whale breach

Over we go…




That is, all was tranquil until a huge humpback whale breached right by us.

Holy cow!! All heck broke loose aboard Groovy as we slowed the engine and jumped for the camera.

Humpback Whale breaching XZQK3RSSYWQF



Photographing breaching whales is a little tricky, though, because they don’t tell you when and where they are going to pop up.

Whale breach Puerto Vallarta

Let’s do it again!




Humpback Whale breaching Puerto Vallarta

Over we go…

Only after the show ended did I remember to think about important things like the camera’s shutter speed and orientation of the polarizing filter.

Oops!! Oh well, the drama was fantastic.

Whale watchers see humpback whale breach

Wham!! Right in front of a tour boat!!

One thing that intrigued us was that this guy always breached with his left fin up and then fell over on his left side. Another thing that amazed us was that the whale watching boats were always right there — and so close!!

Whale watchers see humpback whale breach

Left fin first! Kinda like springboard divers that lead their rotating dives with one arm.

Whale watchers humpback whale show

The whale watchers got such a great show — and so did we!!

Whale watchers get splashed

A little spray action for the tourists!

It really seemed to us that the whale was performing for the whale watching boat, because it breached so close to them every time. I’m not sure what kind of performance contracts these whales work out with the tour operators, but both the whale and the boat seemed to know exactly when showtime was over. The boat left, and the whale never appeared again.

Tuna catch La Cruz Marina Nayarit

Catch of the day.
Actually, they had lots more carts of fish!

We anchored outside of Marina Riviera Nayarit, the pretty new marina at La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, and quickly went ashore.

La Cruz Mexico fish market

Little fish on display at the La Cruz fish market.

La Cruz Marina Riviera Nayarit Mexico

La Cruz is a mix of high end yachts, cruising boats
and fishing pangas.

There is a wonderful fish market next to the marina, and we watched the fishermen unloading their sizable catch from their pangas. Those fish were easily 4 to 5 feet long.

La Cruz Mexico fisherman

Those are some big fish!

Just as we were arriving, our friends Mel and Elaine were leaving Mexico on their sailboat Mazu to cross the Pacific Ocean to the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific. Yikes. That’s a three week long journey without ever seeing land, never mind stepping on it.

Mazu Before Crossing

Our friends Mel and Elaine get ready to cross the Pacific.

We tossed them their dock lines and waved them goodbye as they left on their adventure. For us, our eyes were turning towards shore, and we were looking forward to discovering some new things in and around La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.

Mazu Before Crossing

Land-Ho will be on Hiva Oa in the Marquesas in 3 weeks. Buen viaje!!







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Costalegre: Careyes – The most colorful anchorage in Mexico!

Careyes castle Costalegre Mexico blue oceanfront estate

Bright blue elegeaance!

Late March, 2013 – When the swell got us rockin’ and rollin’ too much at pretty Paraiso, we decided to backtrack four miles to another little jewel on the Costalegre coast: the Bay of Careyes.

Snowy egret flying

A snowy egret flies overhead.

This anchorage is marked by a series of ornate and colorful estates on its outskirts, and they had caught our attention when we passed them on the way in.

Castles in Careyes Mexico Costalegre Red mansion

Perhaps their Ferrari is
fire engine red too?

Costa Careyes castle Mexico Costalegre blue mansion

Another royal blue estate!

As we approached Careyes this second time, the bright blue, fire engine red and brilliant orange of the houses lining the anchorage glinted in the morning sun. All of the oceanfront estates were sizable, and all were painted in vivid colors.


Turning into the bay, in front of us was a hillside covered with homes of every imaginable color.

It looked like the owners had all run to the paint store and bought the store out of every can of paint in every color and then had a field day creating a community of rainbow colors.

Bay of Careyes anchorage Mexico Costalegre

What a colorful hillside!

We quickly got Groovy settled near the beach and then spent a good hour in the cockpit gaping at our surroundings. This place is like no other on the Costalegre. I know I just said that about Paraiso, but it is true of Careyes as well. These are special and unique anchorages.

Sailboat at Bay of Careyes anchorage Mexico boats at anchor

Groovy looks good here!

Colorful Careyes houses Costalegre Mexico

Careyes sports homes of every imagineable color!

Where Paraiso had given us a feeling of the tropics, with turquoise water, a light sand beach and palm trees, Careyes was all about splashy, bright buildings spilling down a hillside in a playful spray of primary colors.

Pretty homes of Costa Careyes on the Costalegre

What a spot!

Careyes Mexico colorful houses on the hill

There are no colors left in the paint store!!

Playa Rosa Careyes Bay Mexico boats at anchor

Playa Rosa at Careyes.

Sailboat at Careyes Beach Costalegre Mexico boats at anchor

Groovy is tucked in around the corner.

Bright color was the theme here – even the beach we were anchored near was named “Playa Rosa” or “Pink Beach.”

Playa Rosa Costa Careyes Costalegre Mexico

What a fantastic staircase!

Palm trees on Playa Rosa Careyes

Looking out at the bay from Playa Rosa.










We quickly jumped in the dink to explore this beach. It was deserted but had an alluring bright blue zig-zag staircase running up into the hills.

The beach was backed by palm trees and we got a good glimpse of Groovy around the corner.

It felt a little funny walking on this empty beach. There wasn’t a soul to be found, yet there were lots of homes in the hills.

Bay of Careyes Playa Rosa Palm trees

View from Playa Rosa



We came across a little restaurant and poked around, but there was no one there.

A driveway led to a narrow cobblestone road, and we walked up the road a ways. What a pretty little lane it was, filled with flowering trees.

We still didn’t see anyone anywhere. It felt a little like we’d landed on a beautifully landscaped and deserted island.

I know there is a town or main street or something back there, but we didn’t explore too far.

Costa Careyes cobblestone street

Pretty cobblestone lane and flowers.

Bougainvillea flowering tree

A beautiful flowering tree.

Homes in Costa Careyes

Vivid orange casitas away from the beach.



When we first dropped the hook in Careyes, we also put down a stern anchor to keep the boat pointed towards the waves in an effort to reduce the rocking motion. The tricky part was that during the day the predominant wind waves came in from one direction, and at night the swell came in from another direction.

Stern anchor

A requirement for boaters overnighting in Careyes: a stern anchor!





Sailboat anchored in Careyes

Groovy poses in front of a castle!

So once or twice a day during our stay, at the whim of the tides, the wind and the swell, which are all active forces on the boat, we needed to adjust the stern anchor line, letting it out or pulling it in.

Garden patio home

A pretty garden patio…






Blue heron

A blue heron on Playa Careyes.

This would realign the boat so it pointed directly into the waves, wherever they were coming from, rather than lying sideways to them and rolling like a pig on a spit.

Playa Careyes Costalegre Mexico

Playa Careyes

The easternmost beach, Playa Careyes, had a few signs of life in the late afternoon when a family came out to play volleyball. As the sun was setting the game broke up and a couple took a dip in the water together. A blue heron watched them from the shore.

Careyes Costalegre Mexico pretty homes

A rainbow of colors on the hillside…

Another day we took the dinghy to the westernmost beach, Playa Blanca, and it was utterly deserted. The few stark buildings that were there appeared to be totally unoccupied.

However, as we rounded the corner we saw the most unusual bridge strung between the bright blue estate on the mainland and a tiny island just in front of it. I guess if they wanted to go for a picnic on the island all they had to do was walk across the bridge!!

Palm tree on Playa Rosa Careyes

A palm tree on Playa Rosa.

Careyes Bridge to island Mexico

A very cool bridge next to Playa Blanca…

Costalegre Careyes Playa Rosa homes

Dinghying to Playa Rosa.

Crashing surf in front of Careyes mansion

Crashing surf and a lime green estate…











We had noticed the water slowly turning darker during our first two days in this anchorage.

On the morning of our third day we found ourselves immersed in red tide.



Rats!! We had escaped the red tides that plague Mexico’s Pacific coast all season, but one had finally caught us here in Careyes. Oh well!

Sunset at Careyes

Sunset in Careyes.

We scrapped our plans for sticking around and snorkeling, as it would be a few weeks before the red tide completed its lifecycle.  Sigh!

Our next destination was Puerto Vallarta, and a weather window had opened up for us to slip around the notorious Cabo Corrientes in peace and quiet.  So we packed up the boat, and made our way towards Bahia Chamela to stage our passage.

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Costalegre: Paraiso – An Unexpected Tropical Oasis!

Careyes oceanfront resort

Looks like some pretty good digs!!

Late March, 2013 – The wind and waves at Cuastecomate were making life a bit uncomfortable. That bay is known for good snorkeling, which we had wanted to try, but in the current conditions it just wasn’t possible.

Up the road 25 miles there was another anchorage, Paraiso, that we had heard was very beautiful. We had never stopped in because it, too, could get rolly. However, we decided to chance it this time and hope for the best.

We stuck close to the coast, and suddenly some out-of-this-world properties appeared on shore. We leaped for our binoculars.

One mega-million dollar vacation property was bright orange and featured not only the usual thatched palapa roofs covering its ramadas, but also a large rotunda at its center. Wow!

Carayes Mexico waterfront resort

Look – Another one, and this one’s blue!

Shortly after that sighting we came across a bright blue mansion with two large cylindrical towers. Wow again!

Who built these properties? Were they private homes or resorts? Whoever and whatever, we really liked the bright colors they used. No blending into the landscape here. If you’ve got it, flaunt it wildly!!

Each of these estates had unusual architectural novelties placed away from the main building — in matching colors.


The orange estate had a cascading series of walled enclosures.  We couldn’t tell what was inside the enclosures other than some trees, but it seemed this was some kind of elaborate staircase with arched doorways leading from one set of stairs to the next. The blue property had a wonderful little wall with a donut hole cut into it. A ladder led from the donut hole down to a path to the sea.

Careyes Mexico oceanfront mansion

Terraced and walled enclosures with arched doorways leading to the beach…??!!

Careyes waterfront villa donut hole

A donut hole in a wall (or bridge?).

Was that donut hole wall a bridge? Decoration? Who knows, but it sure was cool!

If those things weren’t enough, then we came across an enormous bowl perched on the edge of a cliff. What the heck??!!

Who built that and why?!


Carayes Mexico bowl on a cliff

Holy cow – a huge bowl on a cliff, with a staircase!

Paraiso anchorage in Mexico

“Paraiso” is the right word for this place!

It must have been someone very rich and very eccentric!

As we passed the bay of Careyes, we debated stopping there instead. We had heard it was exquisite too.

We had also heard that it is very difficult to anchor there. The swell turns the bay into a washing machine, sloshing the boats about mercilessly.

Despite being very tempted to turn in, for the moment, our sights were set on Paraiso just four miles further on.


Paraiso Mexico cover with boat

Tranquil, turquoise waters.

Tropical beach play in Paraiso Mexico cove with boat

A family enjoys a day on the beach in paradise.

Palm trees and white sand beach

Palm trees, almost-white sand and thatch roofed palapas…















Turning the last corner into the little cove of Paraiso, a gradual feeling of stunned amazement crept over us. The deep blue, churning water outside the cove miraculously smoothed out and became the most vivid turquoise.

Playa Paraiso Mexico

A tour boat swings through the bay.

Swaying palms trees, light colored sand, jade water and a small thatch roofed building filled our view. Adding pure charm to this scene, a family was having a picnic on the beach. The parents relaxed under a colorful umbrella while the kids frolicked on the sand and in the water.

Were we still in Pacific Mexico? This felt like the Sea of Cortez (way north) or Huatulco (way south). We had never seen an anchorage anything like this anywhere else on the mainland coast of Mexico!

Snorkeling at Paraiso anchorage

We couldn’t get in the water fast enough!


Groovy in the Paraiso anchorage

What fun!!

This coast is rugged. Huge splashy waves crash on brown beaches. And it is often plagued by algae blooms where dinghy beach landings become terror-inducing adventures. Boats at anchor look like bucking broncos.


Porta-bote floats on turquoise water

In suspension.

But this place was a gem. Paradise! Whoever named the cove “Paraiso” (“Paradise”) got it 100% right!

Our dinghy floated off the back of Groovy as if sitting on glass, as its shadow followed its gentle movements on the sand below.

Groovy anchored Paraiso cove

What’s that dark patch? Rocks? Sea grass? Guess again…








Fish off the back of Groovy

Fish off the back of Groovy

We couldn’t wait to jump in that water. We hadn’t seen inviting water like this since we left Huatulco six weeks earlier.

When we anchored, we noticed a large brown patch of something, so we avoided that spot and put the anchor down in the sand. The anchor winked at us from its resting place, as if saying, “I like clear turquoise water too!” But what the heck was that brown patch? We thought it was probably sea grass of some kind.

Wrong! It was fish. Millions and millions of little fish. Looking off our swim step we could see them swirling about when the dark patch engulfed Groovy.


Fish school in formation

Organized fish on a mission.

We jumped in, and as we swam among them we were astonished that none of the fish ever touched us. We were surrounded by fish so thick that they nearly blotted out the sand below. Yet, even if we thrashed around or deliberately reached out to touch them, not one fish made a false move and bumped into us.

The patterns they made as they swam were beautiful. Sometimes they would stream by, all lined up in parallel like flying soldiers. Then suddenly they’d stop dead in their tracks and all turn 45 degrees, some facing one way and some the other. Then they’d reorganize and soar off in parallel again.


Fish school out of formation 405

Stopped dead in their tracks at funny angles…

Diving pelican

A flying knife!

I swam along the edge of one of these fish patches.  It was a true edge. On one side there were millions of fish in formation. On the other there were none. Just clear water. I swam back and forth across the edge several times, totally floored by this phenomenon of organized fish.

Playa Paraiso palm trees



Who’s the leader our there? Who’s shouting the orders to swim or turn or stop? Do they do it by telepathy? I could believe that, because they seemed to have a kind of group consciousness.

I know that in cycling pace lines the conversation and chatter is non-stop (unless the guys in front pick up the pace, and then all conversation stops because no one can breathe!). Hand signals are used to pass information down the line like, “danger ahead.”

Playa Paraiso Mexico

What a place!

I suspect honking geese are doing somewhat the same thing, chatting about who did what last week while the guy in front chooses the altitude for the best air currents. But fish?

Whatever method the fish used to plan their movements, the birds didn’t miss a trick. The pelicans rained down on the fish patches like javelins falling from the sky.

Anchored in Paraiso Mexico

A dreamy place to drop the hook!


We took the dinghy ashore the next day and strolled along the beach. Such serenity and beauty!!

Although there are a few buildings set back from the beach, nature rules here.

I had read the wonderful adventure that sailors Tom and Lori of the sailboat Camelot had had here two years prior to our visit.

They had met the owner of the property on shore and had shared some really good times with him and his family, both ashore and on their boat.

I was secretly hoping for a fun encounter like that.

But we weren’t so lucky this time. As we approached the inviting but seemingly vacant building, a man greeted us and informed us that this was private property.

Palm trees

Palms with branches swept back in the wind.

“You can stay on the beach, though,” he said, gesturing back towards the pretty crescent beach with a smile.

Palm trees and thatched palapa

Paraiso beach palapas.

Bahia Paraiso Mexico

The waves play with the sand.










Anchored in Paraiso Mexico

Such a pretty place.










Well, who could possibly complain about being told they had to stay on this beach?  The setting was true perfection. We lolled around on the sand and in the lapping waves, soaking in this delightful tropical oasis.

Sunset in Paraiso Mexico

Paraiso at sunset

Back on the boat, however, the anchorage became rougher and rougher. The tranquility we saw at our arrival was replaced with the more familiar rolling seas of this coast. Our stern hook kept us pointed into the swell, but Groovy began to lurch.

As we bounced around for another day, we kept thinking about those majestic properties we’d passed on the outskirts of Careyes on our way here. They were like a siren call begging us to backtrack a few miles.

We had heard Careyes was beautiful and that we shouldn’t miss it. Besides, we might get lucky and find a patch of calm water over there…!

Costalegre Map (partial)

The central portion of the Costalegre (“Cheerful Coast”). Barra and Tenacatita are the more popular anchorages in this region.
The distance between Paraiso and Barra is ~30 miles.

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Costalegre: Cuastecomate – Exploring a “Secret Anchorage”

Cuastecomate Anchorage  Costalegre Mexico

Groovy rests at anchor in “secret” Playa Cuastecomates

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

Cuastecomates beach Costalegre Mexico

The surf was up during our stay.







Playa Cuastecomate Costalegre Mexico

Royal blue skies and jade seas at Cuastecomate.

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

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

Cuastecomates Costalegre Mexico

There are lots of beach palapa bars at Cuastecomate

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

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

Cuastecomate pangas on the beach mexico 405

Pangas on the beach at Cuastecomate

Playa Cuastecomates Costalegre palm trees

The village is tiny with lots of palms.

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

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

Cuastecomate Costalegre beach view

Looking down towards the beach.




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

bougainvillea flowers cuastecomate mexico

Bougainvillea flowers.

Cuastecomate beach hotel costalegre mexico

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











Playa Cuastecomate beach surf costalegre mexico

View of the bay.

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

Cuastecomates Costalegre Jalisco anchorage costalegre mexico

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

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

Cuastecomate shrine mexico

A little shrine was on a corner…

Shrine at Playa Cuastecomate beach costalegre mexico

Inside the shrine








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

Cuastecomate Jalisco beach hotel costalegre mexico 550

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

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

Cuastecomate Flowers

…great shot!!!

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

Flower Photography

Mark gets pics of the flowers…








flowers Cuastecomate Jalisco Costalegre

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

Cuastecomate Jalisco anchorage costalgre mexico

A little frame around Groovy.

Fruits for sale Cuastecomate beach palapas costalgre mexico










regina flower

Cuastecomate Jalisco hotel costalgre mexico

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

Playa Cuastecomate beach palapas costalgre mexico

Cuastecomate Jalisco Costalegre Mexico

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

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

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

fishing kayak

A fisherman gets caught in the downpour.




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

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

Cuastecomate Tree Devil Branches

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

Once the rain cleared, we watched a gorgeous sunset.



Cuastecomate Leaf like a cross

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

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

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

Sunset at Cuastecomate Costalegre

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

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

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Costalegre: Santiago – Brilliant sunrises every day!

Manzanillo Sunrise in Santiago Bay

Awe-inspiring colors at dawn.

Mid-March, 2013 – We left the little cove of Las Hadas in Manzanillo and went around the corner to lovely Santiago Bay where we anchored of Playa La Boquita. Almost every morning we stayed in this bay we were treated to a divine art exhibition in the sky as the gods painted the heavens in brilliant shades.

Sunrise in Santiago Bay Manzanillo

Every day the patterns were different.

Sunrise Manzanillo Bay (Santiago)

Some days we just got a hint of color…

Sunrise Santiago Bay Manzanillo

Other days the colors filled the sky.




Sometimes the morning mural covered the entire sky, and sometimes it was just a pinpoint of color with reflections in the water.

Eager to watch the celestial drama, we bounded out of bed each morning absolutely thrilled to see the sky awash with yellows and oranges and pinks and reds.

Sunrise Santiago Bay Mexico

Even with blurry, sleepy vision, sunrise was worth getting out of bed for…!

Sunrise Santiago Bay Manzanillo

These were heavenly moments.



Each day’s heavenly artwork was completely different than that of the previous day, and seeing the wildly varying patterns of color was a wonderful reminder that each day we live is utterly unique, starting with the texture and color of morning’s earliest moments.



In Santiago Bay, Playa La Boquita is at one end of a very long and wide beach, and there is always lots of activity on this beach.

kid flies a kite on Santiago Beach

Afternoons on Playa La Boquita are perfect for flying kites.

Playa La Boquita Santiago Bay Manzanillo

Playa La Boquita is a beautiful, big, wide beach.










Little kids played by the water’s edge and a variety of vendors wandered past with carts full of all kinds of goodies.

Santiago Bay beach vendor cart

This girl sure was cute, but I don’t think she could get the cart to go anywhere!

Playa la Boquita beach vendor cart

What a cool thatched roof!

Mark liked the thatched roof on this one vendor’s cart, and I liked the little girl riding it in the back!









beach toy cart Santiago Bay

Skip shopping ahead of time and get your beach toys right at the beach!

Another vendor had every imaginable blow-up beach and water toy for sale, plus enough pails and shovels to dig to China and build lots of sand castles too. No need to go to the toy store before hitting this beach!

La Boquita Beach Santiago Manzanillo

Shifting sands…

La Boquita Beach Santiago Manzanillo

Between the waves…











Mark enjoyed getting some artsy images of the sand and the water while I was drawn to a little bird standing up to his knees in the water and fishing between the rocks.

Sandpiper Playa La Boquita

This little guy blended right into the rocks.

Bridge La Boquita Beach Santiago Manzanillo

There’s a wonderful foot bridge that leads to some pretty resorts at the far west end of the beach.

One of the hallmarks of this beach for cruising sailors is the tuba player. From late morning until late evening the deep tones of a tuba can be heard throughout the anchorage.

tuba player playa la boquita santiago

A tuba player waits his turn.

Groovy at anchor Santiago Bay

The swell at Santiago isn’t too bad…


When we walked the beach we found the tuba player – and then discovered there was more than one of them!

Several small bands with tubas wandered up and down the beach performing for the vacationers.

They would politely wait for each other so each tuba band got a chance to perform without intruding on the others.



Waves at La Boquita Manzanillo

…some of the waves are quite sizeable!!

This is a beach that gets some nice surf. The waves come in sets. Each wave grows slightly larger than the last until there are one or two really big crashers. Then they grow smaller until the beach actually seems quite calm.

Invariably, as we walked this beach, I would suddenly see a huge green wave out of the corner of my eye followed by a beautiful band of white frothy spray and the sound of thunder as it smashed on the beach. I’d grab my camera excitedly, but, of course, that would have been the big wave of the set.  I’d have to wait another five or ten minutes for the next photo-worthy one.

Club Santiago Homes La Boquita Beach Manzanillo

The beach villas in Club Santiago are lovely

Club Santiago Homes La Boquita Beach Manzanillo

I love the stone walls, the flowers and the palms.

But then I’d forget all about the waves and become intrigued by something else. The camera would be turned off and dangling on my hip. And then, suddenly, there it would be again: the bright green underbelly of a huge wave looming up and rolling over so beautifully. I’d grab my camera again, but it would be too late. I would have missed it once again!

Dinghy parking La Boquita Beach

Dinghy parking on the beach.

Club Santiago Walking Paths Manzanillo

The walking paths in Club Santiago inviting too.








bottlebrush flower

Mark discovers a bottlebrush tree in bloom.

Getting a dinghy safely on the beach requires watching these wave sets too, but it’s not too bad a dinghy landing here.

tropical flower

Not sure what this flower is…

There’s a kind of designated parking area on the beach for the dinghies, complete with a rope you can tie your dinghy to so it doesn’t float off if the tide comes in while you’re away!!

Oasis bar club santiago mexico

The Oasis, a cruiser hangout.

The homes along this beach are beautiful. We wandered into the neighborhood of Club Santiago which fills this end of the beach.

The palm tree-lined paths and backs of all the homes were just as lovely as the fronts of them along the beach.

Life is Groovy

Life is groovy.

Some of the landscaping is very pretty, and Mark found some bottle-brush flowers and another exotic tropical flower that we weren’t sure what it was.

Back on the beach, we stopped at the Oasis Bar, a favorite cruiser hangout where you can enjoy a brewski in a lounge chair under an umbrella while watching your boat bobbing in the bay.

beach chairs club santiago manzanillo

Welcome to Santiago Bay!!

This was pretty good living here in the Manzanillo area. The days slipped by quickly, and before we knew it almost a week had passed.

We probably would have stayed even longer, but the crazy thing in Manzanillo is that the air quality suffers from the soot produced by the nearby coal-fired power plant.  After a few days, poor old Groovy was grey. Fortunately, the plant is in the process of being converted to natural gas, so the air in all of the Manzanillo area will be much cleaner in the future.

But we needed to give the decks a bath, so we hauled up the anchor and moved up the coast about 25 miles, setting our sights on the tiny cove at Cuastecomate.

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Costalegre: Manzanillo’s Las Hadas Resort – The Med in Mexico

sailing blog Zihuatanejo pangas on the beach

Pangas on the beach in Zihuatanejo.

Early March, 2013 – We were loving Zihuatanejo‘s wonderful, relaxed, laid-back atmosphere, and we took many leisurely strolls along the waterfront. It was impossible to walk anywhere without snapping a few pics.

One afternoon a couple on inflatable kayaks paddled out to Groovy and we discovered they were future cruisers who were outfitting their Catalina 34 Aussie Rules for a voyage from Vancouver Island through Mexico to Australia two years from now.

sailing blog Zihuatanejo palm trees and pangas

Palm trees lean out over the beach.

We remember being in their shoes in San Diego and the Caribbean a few years back, longing to meet active cruisers who could tell us what the lifestyle was like.  We welcomed Rose and Dave aboard, gave them a quick tour and had a lively conversation about cruising.

sail blog sailing groovy with friends

“Aussie Rules” captain Dave steers Groovy on a windy romp.

Dave is an Aussie who grew up sailing Down Under, and he and Rose fell in love when the two of them were fierce rivals in the sailboat racing circuit on Okanagan Lake in British Columbia. We could tell they were both itching to get out for a sail to cap off their Zihuatanejo vacation, so we invited them back to Groovy for a daysail with us a few days later.

sailing blog Crepuscular rays outside Zihuatanejo

Sunrays spray the sea from the clouds.

The wind gods showed up on cue and gave us a wonderful, brisk ride. Dave was completely in his element as Groovy leaned into the waves, and he was ear-to-ear smiles at the helm. We are looking forward to following their voyage in a few years!!

It was time for our own voyage to continue, however, so after seeing them off, we pointed the bow north from Isla Ixtapa and made our way to Manzanillo 29 hours (190 miles) away. On the morning of our departure we sailed under beautiful, brooding clouds and sun rays.

sailing blog Lazaro Cardenas see from the sea

Lazaro Cardenas is one big industrial port!

mexico cruising blog sunset at sea

The sun sets off the bow of Groovy on our way to Manzanillo.

The huge oil refinery at Lázaro Cardenas made quite an impressive sight as we slipped past a mile offshore.

Happy to put all that industry behind us, we watched a colorful sunset off our bow and settled in for one of our last overnight sails for the season.

A recent armed robbery aboard an anchored cruising catamaran in Caleta de Campos (halfway between Zihuatanejo and Manzanillo) made us cautious as we snuck past in the night.  We detoured slightly further out to sea and passed without mishap.

mexico sailing blog sunset at sea

The sun goes down in a burst of color.

This had been the first incident of its kind that we know of in Mexico, and it is being taken very seriously by the authorities. The catamaran’s owners were seasoned Mexico cruisers and were known for their fun Playboy antics at the Baja Ha-Ha cruisers rally in 2010 (near top of page). In contrast, armed attacks on cruisers are quite common in many Caribbean countries.

mexico cruising blog sunrise at sea

The sun sneaks above the horizon behind us and Mark pops up to say “hi”

Next morning we caught the sunrise at about the same position on the horizon as the previous night’s sunset, but this time at the other end of the boat! As you can see, along this stretch of coast the direction of travel is predominantly east-west.

When we finally pulled into the sweet anchorage in front of the Las Hadas resort, it was like being given a second sunrise for the day.

Las Hadas is unique and utterly charming. Filled with fairy-tale turrets and gargoyles, arches and palm trees, it was a pleasure to sit in the cockpit and take in the view while Groovy gently swung this way and that.

sailing blog Las Hadas Resort manzanillo mexico

Las Hadas (“The Fairies”) Resort – right out of a fairy tale.


The cove is very small, and condos and villas cover the hillsides, hugging the anchored boats in a close embrace.

The white-washed architecture, bright green palm trees and true blue sky combine to make a beautiful backdrop.  What’s best is that all the properties that flank one side of the anchorage are filled with vibrant magenta bougainvillea flowers.

sailing blog Las Hadas anchorage manzanillo mexico

Our boats seem to be anchored in a flower garden.



Standing out on the breakwater on the opposite side and looking back across the tiny cove, it seemed as though all our boats were anchored in a brilliant garden of palm trees and pink flowers.

Even though we have been here several times before, each time we arrive we are enchanted once again.  The colors are so vivid, the buildings are so fanciful and the whole area is so lovingly maintained.

sail blog las hadas resort anchorage manzanillo mexico

This tiny cove is such a picturesque spot to drop the hook for a while.

sail blog Las Hadas Resort manzanillo mexico

Curvy palms.

sail blog Las Hadas Resort rope bridge manzanillo mexico

A wonderful rope bridge crosses between the pools.

sail blog Las Hadas Resort pools manzanillo mexico

What a spot!

sail blog las hadas resort arches manzanillo mexico

Double arches and cobblestones – such fanciful architecture.



















We wandered happily all over the resort, as excited to be walking its little cobbled paths today as we were the first time three years earlier.

sail blog las hadas arches manzanillo mexico

Arches everywhere…

Las Hadas palms manzanillo mexico

The pretty archways, royal blue swimming pools and soaring palm trees inspire the imagination.

sail blog sailboat wreck las hadas manzanillo

A fallen comarade – we never got the full story behind this odd sight.

sail blog Las Hadas Resort architecture manzanillo mexico

Private pools and cabanas and courtyards everywhere…








Out on the pier we found a toppled over sailboat with broken rigging that was in dire need of a bottom job. It was unclear how it came to be lying there. It looked very forlorn, with tall grasses growing around it.

A mystical air envelops this whole resort, and there is an element of fantasy to it all. The architecture is truly whimsical, with towers, sculptures, curving stone paths, and rotundas at every turn.

We needed to get through the resort to the main road to do some errands, but it was hard not to get sidetracked and wander off down all the inviting little pathways.

sail blog Las Hadas anchorage

First light in Las Hadas…


One morning we hustled ashore before the sun had risen to try to capture the Mediterranean looking cascade of villas in the morning light. We climbed high on the hill on the opposite side and found a tiny peek-a-boo lookout through some chainlink construction fencing where we could catch the view.

cruising blog Stone stairway las hadas

An intriguing stone stairway.

While we were in Manzanillo we began experimenting with various post-processing photo techniques. Mark downloaded PhotoMatix which creates intriguing effects. First you take three identical photos at different exposure settings and then you feed them through this software which takes the most vivid colors from each image and creates a composite merged “painting.”

cruising blog las hadas docks HDR

Down on the docks – PhotoMatix software.

Another technique is Nikon’s “color sketch,” a menu option within the camera that takes a photo and creates a colored sketch from it.

cruising blog Las Hadas docks color sketch

Down on the docks
Nikon’s “color sketch” button.

cruising blog Colorful clay bowls mexico

Mark found a vendor selling colorful clay bowls.







cruising blog Bronze sculpture Las Hadas

Las Hadas has some interesting art work and sculptures.

This was all great artsy fun, and we were loving our walks around this stunning little oasis. Every way we turned there was another beautiful image that begged for attention.

cruising blog sailboat at anchor las hadas manzanillo mexico

Groovy turns heads – ours at least!!

Unusual sculptures and accent pieces caught Mark’s eye, and then he was drawn to the colorful clay bowls sold by a pottery vendor on a folding table.

Meanwhile I wandered down to the beach and took portraits of the Groovy boat framed by palm fronds.

It was hard to call an end to all this, but we finally hauled up the anchor and made our way around the corner to Santiago Bay where every morning was kick-started with a spectacular sunrise.

Note: to see the location of Zihuatanejo and Manzanillo on a map, check the first image on Mexico Maps and another halfway down that page.



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Pátzcuaro – A “Magical City” with a colorful outdoor market

Patzcuaro Mexico sailing blog Hotel Chaluma

Our cute little bungalo on the edge of Pátzcuaro

Mid-February, 2013 – After our very full day of hiking among the monarch butterflies in the mountains near Morelia, we drove with our friends Joe and Nancy to Pátzcuaro, one of Mexico’s “Magical Cities.” These cities have been designated by Mexico’s tourism board as being particularly charming and fun to visit, and we were not disappointed.

We found a cute place to stay outside of town, Hotel Chaluma, which is made up of a row of small cottages. But for just 350 pesos ($29 USD) per night, it didn’t come with any heat. There was a fireplace in our room, but no wood.  The proprietor told us wood was available for sale from a neighbor, but we never managed to make contact with him. So we shivered in the brisk morning mountain air and laughed when we could see our breath.

Patzcuaro Mexico cruising blog hotel courtyard

Fancier digs in town.

There are finer places in town, and we peeked in the courtyard of one that had a very elegant ambiance.

Patazuaro Michoacan hotel living aboard blog

For an authentic old-time atmosphere, stay here!

You can also stay in more rustic hotels in the old historic buildings that are lined up in and around the town square.

Patzcuaro Mexico library mural living aboard blog

This mural on the back of the library depicts the Mexican state of Michoacán’s history.

We wandered into an old stone church that now houses a big public library. At the back of the room was a huge, colorful mural. There were images of ancient pyramids and Spanish soldiers in plated armor carrying spears on horseback.  There were vivid images of priests and ancient indigenous manuscripts being burned in bonfires.  People on their knees were enslaved in chains. We found out that this mural depicts the history of Mexico’s state of Michoacán.

Patzcuaro Mexico church cruising blog

One of several picturesque churches in town.

There are several old stone churches around town, and peering down a street we were drawn to one at the far end.

Patzcuaro Mexico market garlic seller sailing blog

Garlic for sale (just remember in Spanish it’s called “ajo”)

Patzcuaro Mexico market woman sail blog

A woman heads to the market.


As we approached, we saw lots of people milling around in front of the church, setting up blankets and tarps to sell produce and homemade food items.

It was Friday, and we discovered that Friday is market day when all the people from the surrounding villages and towns bring their goods to sell on the streets of Pátzcuaro.

We were fascinated by the hubbub. Everyone was busy, either hauling stuff into the market in handcarts or wheelbarrows, or shopping and filling their baskets with items to take home.

The air was festive and the place was hopping.


Patzcuaro Mexico mercado bags of beans

All kinds of dried beans for sale…

We have been to many a “mercado público,” or public market, in Mexico, but this one was different. Being inland and situated near farm country rather than near the touristy coast, the quality of the produce was fantastic and the prices were low.

Patzcuaro Mexico indian market wheelbarrow sailing blog

Bringing stuff to market!







Patzcuaro Mexico indian market cruising blog

This was a busy market…

All the fruits and veggies were plump and ripe and uninjured. Handwritten signs advertised 10 pesos for 2 kilos of avocados (about 36 cents a pound). Same price for oranges. Dried beans were 16 pesos a kilo (about 60 cents a pound).

This weekly market is known as the “Indian Market” because so many of the people bringing their wares to town are indigenous people from the rural countryside.

Patzcuaro Mexico mercado fruit cups sailing blog

Colorful plastic fruit cups with Starbucks style tops!

Some of the vendors laughed and pointed at us as we passed.  We were the only gringos there.

The exotic air of this market was wonderful, and we couldn’t help but snap a zillion photos of the people around us.  We heard snippets of conversation about “fotos” and “fotografos” (photographers), and some vendors made funny faces and posed or gave us a thumbs up. Our own foreign oddness seemed to add to the jovial chaos around us.

Patzcuaro Mexico indian market

The women wore colorful, pleated, lace-trimmed skirts and shawls

Patzcuaro Mexico friday market

Lots of men wore hats and everyone bundled up because it was cold!!

The women all wore colorful calf-length skirts, often decorated with lace, and frequently pleated thickly in the back. Most of them had shawls of one kind or another too (it was cold!).

Some shawls were a simple rectangular scarf or wrap, but others had a collar and were shaped to drape over the shoulders with a clasping system to keep it all together.

We wandered among the throng, admiring the beautiful veggies and fruits, and wondering what some of them were.

Patzcuaro indian market vendors

People presented their goods for sale anywhere they could find space.


Lots of folks were selling homemade food items, including cooked tiny fish from the nearby lakes. There were hot sauces and diced fruits and veggies in plastic cups that looked like colorful frappuccinos.

Patzcuaro farmers market woman cruising blog

A woman lays out pails of small fish, both cooked and raw, from the nearby lakes.

Patzcuaro indian market eggs cruising blog

What type of bird laid these eggs??

One big box had dozens of tiny speckled eggs in it. We weren’t sure what kind of bird produced the eggs, or how the eggs were used. Ordinary chicken eggs were for sale too, and as is often the case at Mexican markets, you could buy the eggs individually in a plastic bag. So if you wanted only 7 eggs, that’s all you had to buy. Just be careful with that baggie on your way home!

Patzcuaro Mexico indian market woman living

There was something warm and friendly and inviting about this market

Patzcuaro Mexico market woman living aboard blog

The old ladies especially seemed to enjoy simply taking it all in.

At the far end of the market we found a lady selling gorgeous cactus flowers and irises. Each was unique in shape and color. They were similar to the “Christmas cactus” we see north of the border, but she had so many more varieties, and the flowers seemed much bigger.

Joe and Nancy bought two flowers with instructions from the vendor that if they put them in the ground in Ixtapa they would grow. No need for rooting them first in water. We’ll keep our fingers crossed, because those cactus flowers would make a spectacular addition to any garden.

There is more to see in Pátzcuaro, and there are intriguing other towns in the area, but our beloved sailboat Groovy was calling us home.

Patzcuaro Mexico cactus flowers sailing blog

Colorful cactus flowers.


We had left the boat at anchor in Zihuatanejo for four days, and we needed to make sure our home hadn’t drifted out to sea.

Michoacan Mexico steel bridge cruising blog

The brightly painted steel bridges turned golden in the afternoon sun.

Michoacan Mexico Infiernillo dam

We descend from the mountains towards the lakes.

Michoacan Mexico cactus

We’ll be back to see more of Morelia and Michoacán.

We retraced our route back down to the seashore, passing the lovely serene lakes and golden hued bridges followed by the thick cactus stands along the desert.

This part of Mexico had enchanted us, and our only regret was that our trip inland had been so short. With any luck we’ll get back to this area again someday and be able to spend more time enjoying all it has to offer.

But for now, Groovy welcomed us home without any hint that we’d ever left, and we resumed our floating life in Zihuatanejo Bay.



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