Nov.2004


I have been going to Yelapa since 1988. My mother took both me (18yrs) and my sister (10). At that time Yelapa had no electricity or plumbing. We had to walk to the waterfall every morning to take a shower. You would think this would not be an ideal vacation for a family, but here I am 34 and taking my daughter (10yrs) every year without fail.

Saying Yelapa is paradise is an understatment. It is perfect in so many ways. This little fishing village gives my family a chance to slow down and spend quality time together without TV, cell phones or internet. It is the way God intended the world to be. The people are wonderful and make you feel like family. The activities are endless but our family moto is. "We do nothing in Yelapa and we never finish". Not only am I given the opportunity to rethink my priorities for the upcoming year, but Mexico helps my family see that happiness does not come from material possessions. We come home with a whole new look on what really matters and a new found appreciation for what we have.

I suggest getting out of Puerta Vallarta as quickly as possible and going directly to Yelapa. Try to rent one of the palapas (grass roof bungalo) from the locals. There is no room service but you have access to kitchen facilities and privacy. Hotel Lagunita is nice but the true Yelapa experience includes interacting with the locals both Hispanic and American. Many nights we have meet travelers on the beach and invited them back to our palapa for dinner as we sing around a fire, drink magaritas and talk about our travels. We have made more International Friends during our trips to Yelapa then anywhere else. They say that if you sit by the Waterfall long enough, you will eventually meet everyone in the world.

Yelapa is growing and more technolgy and American culture is moving in, especially since the got electricity in 2001. They still seem to maintain the paradise feeling even though I find it funny to see all the men in town circle around a central TV and watch movies at night. My daughter appreciates the indoor plumbing but I still like to take a morning trip to the waterfall and have breakfast. It looks exactly the way it did almost 15 years ago. I only hope it looks that way when I take my Grandchildren 15 years from now.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or visit my favorite Yelapa web site. yelapa.info or palapainyelapa.com

I'm leaving for my Annual Yelapa trip in 3 days and am so excited. I found this website while checking weather conditions and decided to write. Thank you all who have posted, you reminded me of just a little I am about to experience.

PS. Don't take a watch or be in a hurry. The pace is way slower than we are used to. Order your food 2 hours before you get hungry and order your next drink when they deliver the first one. Heee Heee!

Windy, Portland




May 2005


Friends,
I returned Friday evening from a fairly relaxing 5 days in Yelapa, Mexico. Whilst there, I checked out some possibilities for a large casa to rent, if we all agreed that this is the place to meet for the week 'tween Christmas and New Years..(approx Dec 26th to Jan 2nd, 2006, which is a Monday - Monday week)Note: I took pictures, but digital versions will not be available for a few days...the web links maybe have sufficient and more plentiful views,
anyways..

My Impressions of Yelapa:
It's a great place to hang out and relax in the Mexican style. The Pueblo of Yelapa is hillside on a large cove, and the villagers live ona combination of fishing and tourism. Unlike Matzalan and Ensenada (my only comparisons in Mexico on the coast) the locals were not aggressive on the selling of typical tourist crap or adventure, although you couldfind or rent just about any typical diversions, be it para-sailing, fishing, or chemical. NO Time Share CONDOs visible anywhere...for sale.
Yelapa Cove Sud is the Village, or Pueblo side, and since it's now off season, alot of the restaurants and Bars were closed, but the villagehas Casa's and rooms for rent, no typicalhotels, and markets, bothvegetable and fish, and their own tortilla factory and waterpurification plant. The town is electrified, and has phones in many houses, and public type too. Even an outdoor Cafe for coffee and lattes, that was open every morning...(not all places are).

Yelapa Cove Norte is primarily the Hotel Lagunita, where the Animal stayed, and is really a good place for a low key, relaxing vacation.Since it is Hotel-like, it has a bar, restaurant, and amenities notfound in the pueblo, and is open regular hours..( I only stayed to close to the bar 1 night, unfortunately I don't remember what ahora it was..) http://www.hotel-lagunita.com The rooms are mostly open style Palapa structures, with various styles and sizes... mine had double beds, a great bathroom with gin-bottle glass brick lighting, and ornate tho rustic pebble and tiles surfaces.All the rooms had close proximity to the cove, and the ocean waves permeated my rest..The staff are friendly and the 2 co-managers are Ex-pats with some great stories of old Yelapa and what is was like...but it's not so bad now...Tween the 2 sides of the Cove is a clean coarse sand beach, with clean water, for swimming and snorkeling, and beach kayaking, etc. This beach is approx 1 mile long, and in between the 2 sides are 5-7 beach restaurants, that seem to be there for 1 reason, from 11 AM to 3 PM the tour ferry and sail boats come from Puerto Vallarta, with 50 to 100 tourists, who eat, swim para-sail and then leave, when it suddenly gets real quite again...and most places closed down and the workers go home.

Getting there:
There are a couple methods, but the most frequent is the Water Taxi service from Puerto Vallarta; cost about $8 to 10 each way, depending on how much you want to haggle. It takes 40 minutes in calm seas, maybe 50
on my way there, in moderate seas...if it's rough seas or raining, I would wait until the next day, or try to get the Yelapa Princess Day trip ferry, it's big enough that the ride would be boring...in moderate seas to rough...I am sure.

Things to Do:
Eating , relaxing, exploring, swimming, fishing, hiking, cooking, drinking..For the sporting/adventurist among the group, I think the above activities, and Hiking and Horseback riding are about it... if youbrought a decent Mtn. Bike, I think you could ride for whole days on decent the plentiful single track horse trails...but I didn't find any to rent...there are also 2-3 sailboats in the cove, but privately owned, and the owners were not about, for negotiations... I heard from several folks that surfing, real surfing, is available in winter, at a sand beach about 10 minutes north by boat...and renting a boat and captain to take you anywhere is not a problem...probably for $30usd to be dropped off and picked up. Daily trips to Boca and Puerto Vallarta are possible too, again by Taxi/ferry boat.

Palapa in Yelapa: http://www.palapainyelapa.com This is Brad Wollman's site and his main business now... he's a house finder, and facilitator. I met with him a couple days, and he showed me several Casa's that would accommodate a group of 10, 15, 20, 25 even.. He's about our age, and lives in Yelapa full time now.. I think ex-DeadHeader type, and actually rather pleasant.He keeps a journal on his web site that maybe would give you more insight than I could explain, other than to say the he was helpful and I would be happy to work solely thru him to book a house...cause he seems straight and sincere.He also owns/leases Casa Iguana, which has several Palapa's for rent, byday or week, and a tent site as well...one called Casita, is a hobbit style single room and patio, with a round wooden door..see http://www.palapainyelapa.com/pages/ci.html I checked out many places with Brad, and came up with three options I think could work...for the group to consider.

Option one; Casa Milagros,

This is the one we had heard about, and if you want a central Casa that could handle 22-24 easily, it would be OK.I met with the Owner, Antonia, and a current resident, Jari...they asked me to deal directly with them, rather than thru Brad...anyways, the rooms are all clean, and the views are great, and the kitchen is huge...the drawbacks are: Antonia stays in the Casa, in one of the three rooms that are ensuite (7 other rooms share 3 bathrooms) and one of the other, nicer rooms is rented long term. This Casa is west of the Pueblo, about 1/2 mile, and the trail is rugged, then steep...the steep part is concrete steps, but there are alot of them... Cost; approx. $450usd per night for 9-10 rooms..or 45/night per room..rooms vary from 2 to 4 persons capacity, and maybe there is an adder for extra folks... it was the least clear pricing I got..

Option two; Los Naranjos
, http://www.ranchoyelapa.com

I met owner - expat. Jarrett, and toured this with Brad...it's a huge garden estate, with a central kitchen and living room palapa, and 4-5 out building-casas with 4 to 8 beds for sleeping, and each outbuilding has a shared bath/shower/tub. It has it's own creek and swimming pool with waterfall, and even tho it's the driest season now, it's beautiful grounds and great kitchen-gathering place would work well fora large group... Jarrett's a musician, and hosts workshops for yoga groups, bands, etc here year round. the pictures on the website show the grounds and nicer rooms, pretty well..Drawbacks: it's a 10 to 15 minute walk on a dirt trail, upriver from the village and beach. probably pretty dark at night... but if you stayed in the grounds, I think a great place. Brad said that it's possible to have locals deliver food, beer, etc for low cost... but we'll have to carry most luggage, instruments, etc to the estate upon arrival. and asfor sleeping arrangements, a few of the outbuildings, while covered palapa style, the sleeping rooms are separated only by canvas walls, kind of like summer camp, or tent camping. so at least 8-10 in the group are going to have to like each other alot..Cost: Brad thinks we can reserve /rent the entire place for $250/person/week at 20-22 people.

Option three; Vista Del Mar


Vista is basically 4 (maybe 5th by Winter) stacked 2 room Casa/condos but they are nicely decorated, and have a great location tween the beach and pueblo, so you could make it back from either in the dark, and not a long hike from the water taxi or pier in town. Brad's description: 4 separate, well designed rooms. Each room has two full beds, a great (but small) kitchen w/ refrigerator, Bathroom with hot water, Electricity, Hammock and a fantastic view. None of these have a kitchen big enough for more than 2 cooks at a time..or alot of counter space.. La Concha , the 4th upper unit is even more deluxe with plenty of extra touches. Cost: 60 USD per night (3 rooms, each could sleep 4) and 75 USD for La Concha.(also could sleep 4) (that's $15 -17/ per person if 4 share each) for the rest..

Next door is Las Brisas, http://www.palapainyelapa.com/pages/lbds.html which is $85/night, but lusher,and can sleep 5 more, brings us to 25... about 20 seconds to the beach, but down a steep set of steps.

Casa Del Sol...which could act as the Hub, living room and Kitchen and central hangout place it's owned by Brad's in-laws (who live downstairs), and sleeps 6 adults and 4 kids, easily... but goes for $150 / night by itself...http://www.palapainyelapa.com/pages/casa_del_sol.html

I think this option is my recommendation, is for optimum closeness and yet ability to cook, eat and hang together, or go hide if need be, withsome privacy, is to center on Casa Del Sol, and add 3-5 nearby Casa's,
as mentioned in Option three..

Aman


May 2005


Hi Everyone,
I have been asked to relate my experiences about my stay in Yelapa, so I'll try my best to create a picture in your mind. I went for the nurse's spanish class with 4 other coworkers. [nursesspanishmexico.com, if you're interested.] We boarded a panga [small boat-water taxi] in P.Vallarta and took an exciting 40 min. ride to Yelapa. [That's the only way to get there, no roads, no cars.] There is no pier, so you get your shoes wet as you leave the boat. We stayed at the Hotel Lagunita in 2 rooms that were connected by a common door. The rooms were nicer than portrayed on the internet however our room had no bathroom door. We made due by hanging a sarong over the opening. The beds are covered with netting for sleeping but we didn't have trouble with flying critters in April. There are no clocks, phones, T.V.'s, radios, newspapers, etc. in the room, which would ruin the whole ambiance of the place. The bay was 10 ft. from our window, great for sleeping. Getting out into Yelapa is like taking a journey back in time. This reporter grew up in S.F. and had never seen anything like this before. The pace of life is slow and no one seems anxious. Everybody greets you on your travels through town and makes you feel welcome. They tried their best to assist us in our broken Spanish and those who knew English would practice with us. As days go on, you feel a connection with the land and people. There were many activities available. We went horseback riding up river to visit a lady who used to be the midwife for Yelapa and was treated to a Vegan meal. A friend and I snuck off and went swimming in the last bit of river we could find. [It was the end of the dry season and the river was down to a pond.] If you are so inclined, there is parasailing off the tops of the hills daily. One day, we took a panga to Pizota down the coast and hiked to a beautiful waterfall [cascada] through the jungle. It was hot and muggy climbing over the boulders but the payoff was swimming in the lagoon under the falls. Our guide assured us that there were no creatures waiting to eat us in the water! We attempted snorkeling on the beach but it was a bit rough that day so we found a vernal pool and hung out there. A great day for $15. U.S. We visited the clinic and met the doc, wow, definitely a step back in time from U.S. medicine. They don't have what we do, so, if you can bring anything that might be useful in a clinic setting, they would be very greatful. [Gauze, tape, gloves, etc.] No trip would be complete without a stop at the Yacht Club for dinner [and disco dancing every Wed. and Sat.] The action really gets going late by our standards, dinner 8p.m on and dancing 10:30p.m.-2:00a.m. Big booming speakers belt out good old American toons that you just can't stop moving to. They drug me 'outa there twice. A treat, while walking back to the hotel from town, was finding a group of people celebrating the full moon on the sandbar. Since no one is a stranger, we sat down with them and enjoyed the music and bonfire. Funny, I would have been scared to death to do that anywhere else! Dogs are everywhere, literally, but are the best behaved animals I've ever seen. They will lie at your feet in the restaurants, beach, bar, etc. but never beg. If you decide to feed them a morsel, they gently take it and then go away. Our fleabags could take a lesson from them! After a couple of days, you begin to feel your "need for speed" deteriorate and let the easy way of life take over. Kind of like a massage without the rubbing. I stopped by a panaderia [bakery] while walking through town and wanted a nibble. [I was not hungry in Yelapa and ate the minimum.] This bakery was someone's home and she invited me in to choose from banana bread or cookies! The bread was delicious! So much for not eating at prescribed places. Isabel, a dear lady, lives past the town and the beach there is named after her. She has a collection of Huichol Indian art that is for sale. I left with 3 pieces. Bring extra cash 'cause you're going to want something. If you kick yourself for not having bought more at Isabel's, there's a store in Vallarta that sells it too. The highlight of my trip was meeting the moderator and assistant of this board, Brad [and wife Veronica and kids] and Yelapa Dave. Brad showed me their lovely casa [home] and I will never forget their "open air" bathroom! One must leave modesty behind in the states! They have darling casitas to rent and I shall be doing that on my next visit. Thanks again, Dave for the Yelapa baseball cap. The palapas [open air thatched roof houses] are a sight to behold. Most often, 4 sturdy beams with an A frame thatched roof and partial or no walls! Truely living in nature. In all my travels, somewhat limited as they are, I have wanted to return for fun, but with Yelapa, I am being "called" back. [Wendy, I too have been bitten by the Yelapa bug.] There is something indescribable about the place, a way to loose all the "junk" in life and feel "free" in a natural setting. How can one stress out with a hen and baby chicks crossing the street? It was hard coming home and having to be sucked back into society. If you want to shake off all the cares of life and don't mind being in a natural setting, [the possibility of scorpions, geckos, land crabs, etc.] then this is the place for you. It was for me.

Sue, California


July 2005

About a month and a half ago, Brad, the fine moderator of this board, contacted me about sharing some knowlege about how to create a podcast like TheVU: Vallarta Undiscovered. To that effect, he invited me to Yelapa for an overnight stay. Boy, am I glad I accepted the invitation this past weekend!

I had been to Yelapa for day trips a number of times, mostly hanging out at the beach, and doing just a bit of walking around town, but not much. You see, Yelapa is not an intuitive town, not for the outsider. Even exiting the beach and "climbing" up to the "main" st., (a 6-feet wide, mostly-paved walking path) is not marked at all, such that you're left wondering, how do people get home from the beach?
And then, there's the issue of overnight stays. It's hard to know where to go and ask for places to stay if you don't have a recommendation!

In short, and like many places in the world, when you see them with/through the eyes of a local, you get so much more out of the adventure, and that's exactly what happened when I met Brad.

Brad has lived in Yelapa for well over a decade and offers a wealth of information for the novice and visitor traveller through his website, www.palapainyelapa.com. We hung out for a couple of days, during which I got to see the town, through all the intricate maze-like streets, where we stopped to talk to many locals. Brad showed me the community center, where volunteers and other staff work with local children, recycling materials into paper mache wonders and other toys. We also had breakfast next to the well-advertised but not always generously-abundant waterfall (the rains are back, and so is the waterfall!).

Brad manages a dozen properties that are available for short and long-term rental, all catering to a variety of budgets. I stayed at Casa del Sol, right on the beach. I had brought with me my mp3 player as I swore I'd enjoy some tunes late at night before going to sleep. Well, the ocean consistently sang a better song than those I brought with me, so I never used it. The following morning, there was a bit of rain, which made my surroundings look lush and green, very refreshing!(Of course it's raining this time of year! But that doesn't mean it is not a good time to visit. Quite the contrary!)

Brad's generosity of time and knowledge about Yelapa exceeded all my expectations. I strongly suggest anyone planning on going to Yelapa to contact him, even if you are just going down for the day!

If all goes well Brad and I will collaborate on a Yelapa podcast where we will hopefully capture a lot of what it has to offer in a nice show. Not to mention the fact that Brad is venturing into creating his own internet-based radio show, something we can all look forward to in the hopefully not too distant future.

Thanks again, Brad! I hope to see you in Yelapa again soon.

Paco Ojeda, Host
TheVU: Vallarta Undiscovered
Puerto Vallarta's First Podcast
www.vallartaundiscovered.com