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Mary Marsden Passed Away

I have some sad news to tell the people of Barra. Mary Marsden, who lived in Barra for the last 10 years and was a good friend of most all the Americans that lived down there and that came down there on vacation, passed away on June 17, at her daughter's home in Alaska. They said that she went in her sleep so it was a peaceful way. I hope you can contact Beer Bob, and Tracy and her mom Peggy and they can let the rest of the people that cared about Mary know. You might mention to Cosme Rodriguez Nieves, who lives at #71 Manzanillo street also as he was a very dear friend of Mary's and they did live right next to each other.

Dave & Nona McDonald

June 2000

Hi Tom, this is Dave McDonald again, The family is going to have memorial for Mary on the 24th of June here in Craig, Alaska, If anybody would like to send me a e-mail that they would like me to read for Mary and her family at the memorial please feel free to give my address to her friends and ask them for me to send me their message, and I will relate it to the family at the memorial. -Dave Mc Donald, dano4438@yahoo.com

Las Piratas is Moving

In the event that I'm not the only one to devour the contents of your entire fantastic site, should anyone have scrolled back to my March 1999 recommendation of Las Piratas restaurant/bar in Xametla (Bahía de Chamela, around km 64 on Highway 200) ... the bad news is, it's closed; but the good news is, it's reopening this fall in Yelapa, an island off Puerto Vallarta accessible only by boat. I'd have written sooner, but I was waiting for Juan Carlos, Arundu and Larry to decide on their new site, hoping they'd relocate somewhere closer to Barra. Knowing that some of your readers begin their Mexico adventure in Puerto Vallarta, I'll try to keep you posted about their new location.


June 2000

A Cautionary View

Thanks for the website - an excellent source. Spent May 29 - June 7 in Barra with my husband and 11 and 16-yr-old sons. Had a wonderful time. The kids especially loved skateboarding in the zócalo, fishing (went 3 times, caught LOTS of fish, including 2 sailfish), catching crabs, and swimming in the surf.

We stayed the first night at Villa del Mar, and it was very nice. But since we live in Missouri we wanted to be on the ocean, and moved to Hotel Barra de Navidad. The desk clerk told me twice that they had no rooms to accommodate 4 people. I waited till a different clerk came on duty, and guess what, they did have double rooms. Previous comments had remarked on the indifference of the staff, and I have to agree. Our maid and a hotel worker, Juan Carlos, were the two exceptions.

We had no problems with the hotel, but a German couple staying there lost their camera in the hotel. For two days they asked everyone around if they had seen the camera. The day they left an expensive camera suddenly appeared on the lobby desk, and the staff crowded around it laughing and trying to figure out how to work it. This made us want to change hotels because we felt the staff was untrustworthy, but to tell the truth I just couldn't give up that great balcony. I would probably stay there again but would be EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS. This is the first time in 16 years of Mexican travels that I have ever been leery of leaving possessions lying around in a hotel.

I'm sure we'll return next year. By the way, if you fly into Puerto Vallarta and bus to Barra, you can catch the morning bus at 8:15 on the corner of V. Carranza and Aguacate, eliminating an extra trip to the bus station.

Paula Cunningham

June 2000


We are interested in any information about mining gemstones in the Jalisco area. Thank you.

Cathy Brooks

June 2000


Great site! It came in handy when I was in Barra. I agree with Norma Turner on Maxim's being the best cantina in Barra! I stayed in town for a week in January and had a blast hanging out with the crew there. Roberto, the man who runs Maxim's, was friendly, generous and very talented (he played in the house band). The drink prices were phenomenal and the music (both recorded and live) was second to none in town. (no non-stop Santana, Lopez, Martin like every other bar) Justin, the bartender, was one of the coolest dudes I've met in Mexico and the surfers who took up residence there every night were always entertaining, telling exaggerated stories of their daily exploits. A big HOLA to Max, German, and the rest of the crew. You can even DJ if you bring your own CDs. (no Jimmy Buffett, please!) If anyone needs a break from Pipers and Sunset, I highly recommend Maxim's. Just don't drink too many El Presidentes or you'll end up waking up on the beach with a mouthful of sand! (or worse).

Todd from MN

May 2000

La Terraza Kosonoy

My name es Pedro Garcia and my mother had e restaurant in Melaque for 15 years, was called "Los Pelicanos" she sold it because of the earthquake in 1996, now the lady that both the restaurant changed the name to Los Pelicanos Cascan, but is not the same service that my mother had for the international tourism, I lived in Melaque for 15 year to and the only good restaurant that I recommend is "La Terraza Kosonoy. They carry big selection of seafood and cafeteria food, if you have any more question about Melaque hit me back with an e-mail, thank for your attention, bye, bye.

Pedro Garcia
e-mail peter.garcia@atlp.com

May 2000


I've been looking to buy a small house in Bucerias. I love it there but it has been difficult. I found out about Barra a few months ago. It sounds and looks nice and the realtor has been wonderful. But I haven't been there yet. I'd like to just move on it and go down for closing and use the tight funds for that. Just can't without knowing more about Barra vs. Bucerias. Have you or other readers been to Bucerias? How would you compare the two? I love the beach in Bucerias and the pictures I have seen show Barra to be busier. I also have concerns about the waves breaking close. I am a strong swimmer and body surfer but lots of times I just like to bob. Any comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Kitty Leonard
Veneta, Oregon

May 2000

Hi Kitty. My fiancee and I are devoted to the Barra area especially Boca and La Manzanilla. We were in Bucerias last January and then in the same trip drove to Barra and surrounding areas.

You probably ought to take the time to visit Barra, Melaque, Via de Obregon, San Patricio, Cuastecomates, La Manzanilla and Playa Boca de Iguanas before you buy. Not that Bucerias is a poor choice, cause it is a nice little place.

Bucerias is fairly quaint with easy access to the PV airport and of course all the attractions of PV, of which there are many. However, you will also have more air pollution, traffic and vendors bugging you.

On the other hand the Barra neighborhood is very different. It is much more Mexican, with the good and the bad that goes with that. Your house buying money will probably go further in the Barra area as well.

We in particular love the Barra area and feel that in the future when the mass of baby boomers hit it will become more of a booming economy than it is now. The beauty of the area is awesome. The people are, as the vast majority of Mexicans, wonderful to visitors. My best advice is to look at the Barra area before buying.

We have been traveling to Mexico for the last four years as often as possible, and it seems that after each trip we update our feelings about where we want to buy for the future. Take your time is my thought. See many areas.

Best of LucK.

Jim and Dale jimccpa@home.com

Maxim's Bar

We've just returned from spending five months in Barra, and after reading your visitors comments, were surprised to see no mention of Maxim's Bar, where we spent many a beautiful sunset. Maxim's is located next to Popeye's Restaurant, on the second floor. It is a small bar with a palapa roof and amazing views of both the lagoon and the ocean, with arguably the best sunset. We enjoyed the atmosphere at Maxim's far more than that of the other bars--the people who run it are friendly and made us feel right at home (and the drinks are the cheapest we found!). On weekends they often have live music, it was more mellow than the music at Piper's, and added to the relaxed atmosphere. Maxim's was one of the highlights of our trip, and we are very glad to have stumbled upon it. They also plan to stay open all summer, unlike many of the other bars in town. We look forward to our next trip to Barra, and Maxim's!

Norma Turner

May 2000

Posada de Cervantes

Hi Tom. Your site was invaluable in getting to know Melaque. I'd like to let others know of our adventures there during May 13-16. The cab from Manzanillo airport runs $22d to Melaque.

The surf was very high in Barra & Melaque during our stay. This caused the beachfront hotel rooms to sound like artillery shells going off outside the door. After two restless nights at the Hotel Villa Hermosa 335-550-02(right across from the bus terminal) we moved to a new hotel.

We highly recommend the Posada de Cervantes on Calle Abel Salgado 132 (about 6 blocks from town toward Barra across from Hotel Mallorca). It is a new hotel as of December with 7 rooms & 4 bungalows (w/kitchen). Includes AC, pool, restaurant, & fans in the rooms. The English speaking owner named Victor is very generous, both in spirit and with knowledge about the area. Phone 335-565-74. These rooms were much more quiet being one block back from the surf. The entire place was ultra clean. Best coffee we found, and excellent breakfast. Rooms are $400p, $550p for Bungalows. You will not be disappointed.

We agree that the local businesses should start a clean up program. We enjoy the clean streets of PVR over the litter around the Melaque/Barra area. Prices in general are very reasonable in town. We did find that many of the finer restaurants were closed for the off season. If you go now be prepared for that.

Feel free to contact me if you need any help.

Kelly & Delene Patterson

May 2000


Hi Tom....I am just wondering if you have heard from anyone experiencing Hepatitus A perhaps contracted in Manzanillo. My family and I were there March Break this year. My husband was hospitalized today with suspected Hepatitus. The doctors believe they have ruled out pretty much anything else and he seems to have classic symptoms. We stayed at the Karmina although (you don't have to publish that if you don't want to) we did not eat off the property we did travel to Colima and Barra de Navidad. We will not have the final test results for 2 more days however. Any info would be greatly appreciated.


May 2000

Plenty of Mosquitos at the Sands

Hi Tom: My girlfriend and I recently went to Barra de Navidad during the Easter holiday. We had a great time with only 1 exception, the Sand's Hotel [photo 45K]. After the third night there, my girlfriend had been bitten by so many mosquitoes while sleeping, that we had to find a different hotel. The unavailability of fly screens and windows that wouldn't close properly allowed easy access for the pesky and bothersome critters. We ordered a room with air conditioning and didn't get one, we were charged $55.00 US a night, then had to pay an additional 6% fee for paying by credit card.

The inability to have our concerns understood properly made matters more frustrating, the hotel staff couldn't even inform us of the breakfast that was supposed to have been included. We didn't know whether to laugh or cry when we came back one night after an evening of dancing to find ourselves locked out of the hotel, really!! We eventually ended up in Hotel Barra de Navidad, a beautiful hotel on the beach, and great scenery with just about all the comforts of home. If it wasn't previously recommended it certainly is now. Our last day and night was spent at Cabo Blanco [photo 62K], a bit pricey, however if you plan on spending the day at this all-inclusive hotel, you will find it well worth the price.

We really did have a great time in Barra de Navidad, the restaurants were great, the street vendors were great, the people friendly, and the beach - absolutely fantastic!!! Thank you Tom for your website and the information it contains, my girlfriend and I both would have no problem in recommending this place to other vacationers.

Ken & Julien

May 2000

Accommodations in Tenacatita

Hola Tom, I am wondering if there are any moderately priced hotels in Tenacatita? I'll be heading to Barra on May 21 for two weeks and want to spend a day or two at Tenacatita, it looks so beautiful. I don't want to stay at the Blue Bay, are there any other options for accommodation? Awesome site, its been instrumental in helping me plan my first trip to Barra and Melaque. Thank you!


May 2000

I think there's just one hotel and it doesn't look too great. This town pretty much closes down and goes home (elsewhere) in the evening. However, this could change at any time.

You might like to try Coconuts by the Sea in Boca de Iguanas. Boca de Iguanas is another beach in Tenacatita Bay and is likewise beautiful though doesn't have as many restaurants. You can contact the owners, Bob & Cissie Jones by email cocos@bay.net.mx. Web page: http://www.COCONUTSBYTHESEA.COM/. Phone: (333) 86315. It is a private home with guest quarters. You can tell them I referred you. - Tom

Tenacatita 21 Years Ago

Having spent 4 years in Guadalajara in the late 60's - early 70's, it was a joy to see that Tenacatita hadn't changed much. Haven't been back in 21 years, but it's pretty much as I remember it. There was only a restaurant during Semana Santa. The rest of the time ..only a concrete slab. We used to go there at least once a month for a weekend. Slept in hammocks... Occasionally the local fisherman would help with palapas and there are oysters out there...we used to fill gunny sacks and sink them on the rocks for the next visit. They were great with a cerveza, some hot sauce and limón after the dusty drive in. The road to PV was not finished in those days!

Enjoyed your site and the memories.

L. Daitz, M.D.

May 2000

Hotel Bahía

Hola. Just touching the computer for the first time since arriving home. We visited Melaque for one wonderful week and loved its people and quiet pace. I really enjoyed all the tips from your readers so I thought I'd share a few.

We really enjoyed Bananaramas the coffee and breakfast are excellent and the owners are very helpful with info on the area. We stayed at Hotel Bahía and it is very clean quite new and very very inexpensive 1050.00 for two for 7 nights! That's PESOS!!The owners are delightful and the elderly gentleman that is there all the time is very sweet. We shared drinks and food with him. He speaks only Spanish but was patient with my espanol. The accommodation is no frills but a group kitchen is available. The beach across the street is the best place to swim with gentle waves.

Other places we ate were Surfos and Alcatraz. The friendliest and nicest place on the beach is Viva Maria they made our group a special seafood meal which was awesome.

The Banana boat fellows that work there and offer rides on the banana are great, take a ride only 30 pesos. The only down side I found to Melaque is the litter sad to see all the water bottles and other garbage polluting the ocean. Tenacatita was very clean and Boca De Iguana. Would be nice to see Melaque businesses and vendors get together and clean up the beach and town a bit. Don't get me wrong I loved it but it could be that much better with a clean-up drive.

Barra has a little more character and was fun to shop at but the Hotel Bahia was a great place to stay. Don't hesitate to use the first class bus service to Melaque it is excellent and very inexpensive.(Premier Plus) Adios any questions feel free to email me.


May 2000

Fans of La Paloma

Dear Richard and Nancy:

We still talk about our magical week at La Paloma and, as I think we mentioned, we never go back to a place twice, however much we enjoy it, as there are so many places in the world to see. However, La Paloma is different, and not only do we want to return but we want to recommend it to our friends.

Mary & Ian
May 2000

Two Weeks at the Cabo Blanco

Just returned from 2 weeks in Barra stayed at the all-inclusive Cabo Blanco hotel [photo 62K] which is nicely placed off one of the canals in the lagoon. Bring the "Deep Woods Off" for after sunset. It's in a lovely setting with well manicured grounds. Rooms are spacious and clean. The price was good so we still felt we could visit some restaurants in town as well. They also have a private club on the beach for day activities.


SeaMaster was good (grilled shrimp in butter and garlic) but I wasn't too fussy about letting the many beach sellers into the restaurant while eating. Didn't stop us from buying so it couldn't have been too bad. Went to our favourite Valero's on the lagoon side 3 times and enjoyed the shrimp kebabs (with garlic and butter on the side). Also went to the Ambar (recommendation from the Lonely Planet guide) where an expat French lady serves terrific crepes and onion soup. After 2 weeks it was a welcome change.

Day trips:

Tenacatita - Nice beach for the day. Restaurants and bars on site. La Manzanilla (not to be confused with Manzanillo) is a short bus ride north and is a beach for mostly Mexican families. I liked the ambiance there. You could rent a few chairs and a beach umbrella for about 6 dollars for the day.

Colima - Spent about $60 U.S. on an all day bus tour to this interior capital city which is also in the state of Colima. I would say that the advertised pyramids and volcano are overstated. The bonus for the folks from Barra is that you get to see Manzanillo as well. Overall, it was a good way to see another facet of Mexico.

Cihuatlán - larger town with not much tourism south of Barra about 20 minutes (7 pesos by bus). Enjoyed going into the stores on the one way main street which are geared for locals and not tourists. This may be an alternative trip if you want to see something different and need to do some banking as they have bank machines there. Barra itself is friendly and has the usual amenities except for a bank machine which is available in Melaque only 10 minutes away by local bus for 2.5 pesos.

There are several small boat operators on the lagoon side who will take you all around the area, including a closer look at the Isla de Navidad area where the spectacular Grand Bay hotel is located.

While I didn't personally sample the night life, others at the hotel went to the Sunset bar each night for happy hour and then later to Piper Lovers. They seemed to like them both. If you would like any further information, let me know.


April 2000

Wonderful Place for a Holiday

What a wonderful website. It was invaluable to me in my research before heading off to Melaque at the end of March. We had booked into the Posada Pablo de Tarso, but only stayed one night. I'm sure that 5 years ago, this was a beautiful spot, but we found it to be deteriorating, and quite run-down. We ended up staying at Las Brisas, a hotel right on the beach in the center of town. (Right across the street from Bananarama). It was close to the bank, to the bus, and restaurants. As we were there at the end of the season, there was almost nobody on the beaches. We had a bungalow that slept 6, with a kitchen, and a balcony overlooking the bay. The hotel has a pool, and a beautifully cool patio/breezeway/lounge area. We loved it, and am surprised it is not mentioned on your site, or by any of your visitors. We paid just under 500 pesos for the bungalow, and my parents paid 200 for a room with 2 double beds. The socio, Augustin, and his staff are very friendly. If you want to stay further down the beach away from the central area Los Orientales looked very nice as well.

We traveled with 4 teenagers, and found Melaque and Barra to be very safe and friendly. Our kids would head off shopping or to restaurants by themselves after the first couple of days. We had great meals at Cesar y Charley, very economical fish at Las Palmas, wonderful chicken in a lava bowl at Alcatraz, and we just loved the alhambres at Pedro's (a small taco stand on the street - the little place with 3 Coca Cola tables under the 3 flags at Surfo's Bar) Breakfast at Banaramas every day - thanks to my brother, David now has a bacon and tomato grilled bolillo on his menu. And if you get to Tenacatita you MUST try the Rollo del Mar - fish stuffed with shrimp, octopus, and bacon, pan-fried with an almond sauce over top. At 60 pesos, you just can't beat it!

I would like to recommend a fellow named Victor to anyone for anything. He drives a large van (he operates out of the Hotel Dorado) and will take you anywhere from Tenacatita, to Boca de Iguanas, to the airport. He took along boogie boards and snorkel masks and fins for us to use as well. ...And he speaks very good English.

We took Canadian travelers cheques, and got a very good exchange rate. Also tried the bank machine, and it worked just fine. Melaque is a wonderful place for a family holiday.

April 2000

The Primera Plus

Hi! After many months of anticipation we finally arrived at Barra de Navidad via the bus "Primera Plus". It took about 3 ¿ hours from Puerto Vallarta. It had a bathroom and TV's which showed a first run movie. We stayed at Hotel Delfin. It was clean, quiet and the pool was great, all except for the disco Friday and Saturday nights. The first morning we were awakened by fighting roosters next door at 4:00 am. The people who ran the place were very helpful on information about the town. The best margaritas in town were at The Toucan. It also had great fish tacos, although they ran would out of fish several days which didn't make sense because the fish market was two blocks away. We had great dinners at The Seamaster -Grilled Fish Fillets, and at Bananas- Shrimp and pasta. We ate breakfast at the Arte Café. The place had great coffee (espresso, lattes, etc.) and breakfast. Our questionable meal was at Ramons. Thank god for Pepto Bismal and Tums. We had the opportunity to see the first lighting of Piper y Lover's new sign. That night my wife and 7 year daughter were shooting pool and having drinks when the Federales came in and searched several patrons in the bar and out in the street. From what I was told say are looking for drug dealers. We went snorkeling in the small bay but the visibility was limited. The waves were too rough for small children and there were good waves for surfing in the bay. At night when went out, we needed bug spray, but we already knew this and were prepared. We took the bus to Melaque one afternoon and ate at the El Dorado. Along with the drinks we received free ceviche. We stayed 3 days in the Barra de Navidad area and left a day early because my wife needed more action. This area is really slow and laid back. I think for a long term stay this is the place to be.

Scott Racy
Yakima, WA

April 2000


Tom, we have really appreciated your work on the Melaque area. We were there recently and stayed at Cuastecomates for 4 nights, then did a road trip up to Sayulita and back and stayed three more nights. We had great service, great room and think its a hidden gem for people who don't need the latest in linens and cuisine. It's a definite RETURN on our list and I hope more people go there. We also found a great hotel at La Perula- the El Dorado, for $30. ooo and a great beach. Keep up the good work. We plan to be sailing there in our boat next year and will keep you posted on what we find. Thanks.!!!

April 2000

Searching For Jules The Artist

Our family visited Barra de Navidad last summer and we met Jules, an artist from Chile. We were impressed by his giant "poseidon" sculpture and his drawings. He also made puppets and was working on play to show in Barra. We took pictures and gave them to an art magazine director from Phoenix, Arizona who is interested in his work but we lost Jules e-mail address. I remember he had his studio in the first floor of an unoccupied building facing the beach (Hotel Tropicana?) If someone knows him please let me know or tell him to send us an e-mail. Thank you very much.

Rosie Villegas-Smith

April 2000

AeroCalifornia Lost Baggage

Hola Tom, thanks again for this web-site. It was invaluable to me as I planned and experienced my week (alone) in Barra. Manzanillo airport had a taxi (siteo) stand to buy a transport ticket to Barra - 200 pesos. (Barra taxi charged 220 to return to airport.) . Stayed at Mar Vida bungalows and loved it. In the neighborhood part of town, pretty quiet except for the rooster. All of the restaurants/bars that overlook the ocean were nice. Sunset Bar's 2-1 happy hour was a good deal, although margaritas a bit weak. Popeye's, Mar y Tierra and Ramon's were better. Chips (upstairs overlooking the beach) had great music and served delicious roasted peanuts (with lime of course) with their drinks. I got to meet the Felix your website visitors commented about. Drank a beer with him and met the folks staying at his rooms. Barra had not changed much since I was there in the 70's except for nicer restaurants and bars. It's still my favorite get-a-away.

Now I am asking for some help. I read some negatives on your website about AeroCalifornia but after I had already purchased my ticket. I took their flight from Manzanillo to Mexico City on Sat. April 8 and I haven't seen my bags yet, nor can I get any assurances from the "non-chalant" people I have called that I'll ever get them. They said to give them 30 days. All I have is an 800 number for the airline and a long distance number for lost & found in LA. I'm getting nowhere and wondered if anyone has an address for AeroCalifornia or a phone number for administration - officers that run the airline, etc. I want to contact the airport staff in Manzanillo, LA and Mexico City myself but need phone nos. or addresses. I can't begin to tell you how much I need/want all of the things I have in those 2 suitcases. Okay, I'm through whining but if anyone can offer any information on how to contact this illusive airline headquarters or airport locations, I'd greatly appreciate it!

Susan E. Richmond

April 2000

New Japanese Restaurant

Barra de Navidad has a Japanese restaurant now called Jashi on Sinaloa. We ate lunch there on the opening day, 3/17/00. We had shrimp tempura which had a dozen shrimp and a lot of veggies too, including some mild peppers. We also had the sushi nacional. Interestingly, this included smoked salmon. It also had octopus, which we found to be chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy chewy. On our visit, the ambiance was dominated by the town drunk who had taken his station on the planter just outside and was yelling things at no one in particular. It seems that Japanese restaurants in Mexico tend to put crème cheese on a lot of their sushi rolls, embedded in the rice. If you don't like this, just tell them "sin queso crema" and they can make it without the crème cheese. Overall, we enjoyed our lunch-the food was fresh and reasonably priced.

Tom Penick

March 2000

Bungalows Villa Mar, Melaque

In reply to Barbara Yaley, the telephone number for Bungalows Villa Mar is 335/5-50-05. I did not stay there, but it's just off the main strip (1, av Hidalgo) and right by the beach. The owner speaks English. Was in Melaque in November 99 and looked forward to visiting Los Pelicanos, having heard good things from friends (it kept showing up in guide books too, like Fodor's Up close Mexico), but it was closed, was getting renovated, and apparently had changed owners. I'd like to hear what's happening with it these days myself, as I hope to go back there this Winter.


March 2000

In Search of Ricardo the Tall One

Hola again, Tom! just a couple more thoughts. The 2-for-1 drinks at the Sunset Bar were amazing, as was the blues-y atmosphere of Piper y Lovers. Those were some fun places...a little too fun, perhaps, if you know what I mean. Positively intoxicating. The Mary Chuy trip to Tenacatita was great, and not too expensive considering the sea cruise you get and the mangrove swamp tour. No crocodiles, but we got to see a pod of humpback whales swimming around the boat on the way back. We slowly made our way back with fishing lines in the water. The guys caught a few, but nothing worth keeping, they decided. Also saw sea turtles, needlefish, a baby sting ray, and the gorgeous coastline. Caramba!

At the Hotel Barra de Navidad, I took advantage of their safe boxes. Kept passport, documents, checks, and extra credit card in there. Made me feel better, much more secure. Again, I have nothing but good to report re. the Hotel Barra. Nice new decor, cheery and homey and wonderful. Those balconies are worth the price of admission.

At Ramon's, you can get "different" types of food, if you get tired of Mexican food and seafood. In addition to excellent traditional Mexican fare, Ramon's has a nice spaghetti, fish and chips, hamburgers, and even chicken fried steak!! I tried their chicken fried steak my last night in Barra, and it wasn't bad. Their chile rellenos are good! I find it's nice to eat pasta now and then when in Mexico, with tons of garlic. Helps slow down the digestive tract a bit, always a good thing down there. The little liquor/tobacco store across from the Hotel Barra not only has Mexican pesos (cambia), but also has stamps and a little mail drop-box. Nice, since the Barra post office is way way north of the main drag.

Reading the visitor comments, I am now wondering about the tiny military presence in Barra (and Melaque?). I had no idea why they were there, but they helped patrol the beach, kept the dune buggies off "our" part of the beach, which I absolutely appreciate. One day when a great big mangrove was banging against the beach, probably washed out of the lagoon, they chopped it up with great big machetes. Bravo! Tom, is their presence really ominous, as indicated in some of those reader comments? I never did see the Melaque part of the military thing. What's the deal with that? I certainly hope it's not ominous. If it's part of the war on drugs, good for the Mexican government!!

Well, Tom, I guess that's it. Except for the fact that I'm still in search of Ricardo the Tall One, via Piper at Piper y Lovers or whomever else might know him. Hard to miss him: very blond, six foot 10 inches tall!, staying in La Manzanilla (I think). Just want to get my e-mail address to him.

Maggie Plummer

March 2000

Contacting Piper

Hi there, Tom! Thank you so much for the web site, which helped me have a great 10 days in Barra. Just got back, and my mind is still down there on the beautiful sandy beach! Anyhow, a couple of things: I loved Banana's! Especially for breakfast and coffee. I hated Popeye's because of the arrogant/nasty/rude man who seemed to be in charge of things the evening I was there (my first evening in town, so he lost my business for the entire time I was there).

I loved the Hotel Barra de Navidad for its secure, private rooms with balconies overlooking the wild, explosive surf. And I loved Ramon's across the street from the Hotel Barra. Also, the liquor and tobacco store with cambia was wonderful! I did not care for the pasta dinner I had at the overpriced Mar Y Tierra. So, I disagree with your "best of Barra" listing there.

Now, a question: is there a way to somehow contact the folks at Piper Y Lovers? I would appreciate getting in touch with Piper and possibly a man he knows. Any help with this is most appreciated! Thanks again for your great web site, and I'll be back -- possibly next time I'll try staying in Melaque. or maybe even La Manzanilla, if I have the guts to try it!

Maggie Plummer of Polson, Montana
also known as Margarita de Montana!!
March 2000

Questions for the Readers

Tom, I happened by the excellent visitor comments on Barra and was wondering if your readers could assist with some suggestions.

1. While we are staying in Barra for 2 weeks in April, our friends will be in Manzanillo. What is the best way by bus for us to meet up with each other? How far are we apart?

2. We had also heard that mosquitoes can be a problem. What sprays etc seem to be effective? [see this] Do the larger hotels (Cabo Blanco) spray as a matter of course? [yes] Are they an issue at certain times of the day or year? [all times of the year, moreso when the wind is calm]

3. What are your readers favourite day trips and what publications are available on the area?

Thanks so much for any help, and keep up the good work on the excellent site.


March 2000

Flights to Manzanillo

Hi: so happy to find your website, and thorough as it is, it did not include the two places I was interested in contacting: Los Pelicanos Restaurant and Bungalos Villa Mar. I'm sure you know about Los Pelicanos and it's interesting owner, Phil. I cannot believe she doesn't have her own website! The restaurant has always had the best food, with Phil at the helm dreaming up new and tasty sauces and such.

Might you have any info on either of these two places?

Also, I am having trouble booking a flight from Oakland or San Francisco, CA, to Manzanillo. for years, there was no flight at all, and now i hear there's flights out of sf to Manzanillo on Alaska. What happened to the cheapies that used to go to Manzanillo regularly?

Barbara Yaley
Berkeley, CA
March 2000

No, I don't know those places, unless you mean the Bungalows Mar Vida in Barra de Navidad. http://www.tomzap.com/marvida.html

I think Alaska Airlines is it. I can't recommend Mexicana. I just got back from a trip where 38 of us got bumped from a Mexicana flight on the way down and one of these families got bumped again on the way back (though their luggage made it--and ours didn't). -Tom

In-laws are Online

Tom... Hey, could you do me a BIG favor?

On one of your visitors comment pages, you have a letter from me and it mentions my "rich pampered in-laws". So now that they are online 20 hours a day I'm just worried that my comment might offend :-)

My Favor is if you could DELETE the rich pampered part... thanks.

name withheld
March 2000

Tereza Cortes, Sí; Judy's, No

Hey! I've just gotten back from Melaque, and there is a really good restaurant I would like to recommend. Its called Tereza Cortes. They have great food and the people there are really friendly. If you go there make sure you say hi to Lorena. Oh, and there is a restaurant called Judy's that I would NOT recommend! I had eggs that were ice cold and my friend had awful waffles.


March 2000

Why No Bananas?

Why isn't Bananas mentioned more? I spent 3 months in Barra de Navidad and ate many wonderful meals there. It's got great food and the best service in town. It's packed morning and night, truly one of the most popular places. Also beware of the restaurant Capilla as many people have had problems with food poisoning after eating there.

Brad Smith

March 2000

I agree with you on Bananas. Nice place, friendly staff, good food, and on the ocean. - Tom

Camping at Tecuán

Many thanks for the informative site. I'm searching for information about camping at El Tecuán. Although they are closed, do they allow people to camp at the end of their beach still? Is there any way of contacting these people?

Peter Nichols

March 2000

Toucan Bar & Grill

Just got back from our second year in a row from Barra de Navidad. Another three wonderful weeks at the Hotel Delfin! Wanted to let everyone know that there is a new bar & grill that's only been opened a few months called Toucan. They are situated right on the beach and it was very relaxing watching the waves roll in & enjoying our happy hour margaritas. They're served in a large disposable cup (for your sanitary protection) and one is all you need! Beautiful sunset viewing!

Also, met Pete & Helen, a Canadian couple who have a charter service & restaurant. The charter service offers fishing & site seeing. We were fortunate to view the dolphins swimming on each side of the boat, jumping in and out of the water - a spectacular experience. Their restaurant offers specials each night - i.e. Wednesdays is Chinese and Friday nights is spaghetti. Their breakfasts are very good too. We recommend you give them a try.

Frans & Dori

March 2000

Snorkeling, Etc.

Tom, Thanks so much for your website. I found it invaluable when researching my trip to Melaque. We just returned from 3 weeks in the Melaque / Barra area.

I would like to recommend the Bungalows Orientales in Melaque. This place is spotless and very reasonably priced (with reductions for longer stays). We paid 350 pesos per night for 4 people, includes kitchen, clean bathroom, 2 bdrms, living area, tv, pool, on the beach. Located on Gomez Farias east of Moreno, (a 5-minute walk to the centro).

We also stayed at Posada Pablo de Tarso, bungalows with kitchens etc. This cost us 500 pesos/night for 4 people, but we spoke with others who managed to get a better price. This place is not as clean and organized as the Orientale in my opinion. Also, there was a robbery here in the middle of the night. Someone walked right in an unlocked door and stole all the cash and cards. Make sure your doors are locked and your $ are stashed.

Lots of people around Melaque want to go snorkeling, but the locals and the guide books direct everyone to Tenacatita, which is a very good spot for this. However it's not cheap or convenient to get there. There's a bus every Wednesday for about 110 pesos ea. Boats from Barra are really expensive, there is a Canadian guy who will take you in the back of his truck for a fee. We took a boat up the coast to Tamarindo beach for snorkeling, paid 800 pesos for 8 people expecting to be out for the day. Had the whole thing nailed down until we discovered this price was only for 4 hours and we were back in Barra by noon. They post the costs for excursions by boat, but they conveniently forget to mention little details like this. (I assume the Tenacatita trip is for the whole day, but be sure to ask).

If you're in Barra or Melaque and you want to snorkel, I recommend going to Cuastecomates, which is just over the hill north of Melaque. You could probably walk there in 30 minutes, we took a 30 peso cab ride. It is a gritty little place with no markets (just restaurants and a dirty beach), but a short swim takes you to some pretty good snorkeling areas, (to the left side of the bay), not world-class, but pretty good. Also, make sure you bring your own gear. Renting or borrowing gear in this area is not easy.

I agree with many of the other comments regarding restaurants in the area. Be sure to try the taco stands on the street below Surfos in Melaque. The one across the street is downright excellent and is nearly free. Next to this stand is a dessert cart which has excellent Creme Caramel (flan).

We went to Popeye's in Barra for some fish on someone's recommendation. I tried "Pescadero Vericruzana", an excellent dish I enjoyed immensely until 3 am the next morning when I suddenly awoke with huge stomach cramps and streaked to the bathroom in record time. Needless to say, I do not recommend Popeye's.

Gord in Calgary

March 2000

Relaxing at La Paloma

Tom - we've just returned from a two-week stay with Richard and Nancy - three cats, a dog and 5 birds. What an amazing experience! We can't recall having a more relaxed vacation in years (Aero California notwithstanding). Richard (his home town 40 miles from where we live) and Nancy were wonderful hosts. We've booked again for next year. This time for three weeks. San Patricio/Melaque is the old Mexico as we know it with wonderful people and great markets.

As a word of caution to others flying into Manzanillo from L.A., do not fly Aero California. They are forever late and if you've got connections - good luck. As well, on the way down, they lost our bags along with those of two other vacationers. They turned up eventually about 3 1/2 days into the trip.

While our vacation didn't start out well - La Paloma certainly made up for that inconvenience.

Al & Addie

March 2000

St. Pats Party

Hey Tom! Will be in Barra the 7th. Please tell Felix to save me a chair and a cold beer. Looks like the Posada Pacifico is still the best deal in town. Does Miguel still own the Sunset Bar? Great page good updated info. Hope its a great St. Pats party in San Patricio. If I meet up with you there I'll buy you a Casadores at the Sunset. Hasta.

March 2000

Bus Question

Hi, my girlfriend and I want to take a bus from P. Vallarta to Barra de Navidad at 5pm on a Friday. We know we've missed the main first class line. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Jason Kessler

March 2000

Real Estate Question

What is the rule about buying a property and renting it out to others, e.g. a small office building? Thanks.

Marcus & Alison Cain

February 2000

Parrot Alert   Parrots are Cleared!

Tom, Thought this bit of information might be important! There is a small grocery store just south and east of the bus station in Barra. The store is across the street, just north of the store that sells newspapers and magazines. There is a parrot in a cage, just out side store. Three friends who were in Barra in late Jan. and early Feb. spent time talking and touching the bird. All three contracted an infectious form of pneumonia; one is now in critical condition in a Seattle hospital. The doctors seem to feel that the bird is a carrier of some dangerous contagious parasite or disease. Please post on your web site. Stay away from the Parrot in the cage outside the store!


February 2000

The owner of the parrots has been notified and has taken the birds to the doctor to be checked. Thanks, Marsha. - Tom

There is a respiratory disease called psittacosis which can be transmitted by birds....docs in Seattle should be able to make a definitive diagnosis with serological tests....as you may have guessed I'm in the business... am a pathologist. I have never seen a case but it does happen.

Thanks again for the site... has proven invaluable to me. I doubt if I ever would have found this area without it.

Bill Droke

3/20/00   I have just returned from Barra de Navidad and have the lab report on tests done on two parrots, which are negative.

I spoke with Dr. Herlinda in Barra, who has treated patients with the illness that your friends evidently had. She attributes it to rotovirus initially, which sometimes leads to a bacterial infection. She says the infection has been fatal in some cases in Colima where the infected area was around the heart. Symptoms of the rotovirus vary and may include diarrhea and vomiting. She has one patient that continues to suffer from a dry cough after 3 months of illness. She says the rotovirus is brought in by tourists.

Others have reported a similar outbreak in Canada and in Norway. -Tom

Apartment for rent in Melaque?

Hi tom, I just got back from Melaque about 3 weeks ago, and it was my first trip. I loved it. I am planning on going back next January for about 3 months. I was wondering if you knew of a apartment I could think about renting somewhere close to town or close to the beach?

I also wanted to say that My cousins and myself who just got back from Melaque really enjoyed the La Tenga, Disqoteque and Surfos Bar. I love Melaque, Mexico!

Crystal Coe

February 2000

Hotel Barra de Navidad

We will be at hotel Barra de Navidad in April. We know it has a pool and view of the ocean, but don't know what it looks like. Does anyone have a picture of the hotel? or can describe it? also any recommendations on where to eat with kids? Thanks.


February 2000

Melaque Restaurants

Just got back from 2 weeks in Melaque. Here are a few restaurants that are not on your website, and that we liked very much:

La Colema, open for breakfast 8-noon, is across the street from Judy's. Menu and prices are similar to Bananarama and Judy's, especially liked their fruit salad.

Siete Estrella, open all day, on west side of plaza. Very reasonable prices, breakfasts, buritos, guacamole, hamburgers, etc., and very good fresh fruit liquados (milkshakes).

Ricardo's, open at 6 pm, across street from Club Nautico El Dorado, excellent food and service. Try their Wed and Sat Barbeque Special of salad, drink, chicken or ribs, and dessert, for 55 pesos.

Restaurant Alcatraz, uptairs, "kitty-corner" from trailer park. Try their Chicken Special (Pollo Estilo Alcatraz) slices of sautéed chicken, onions, green peppers, bubbling in a rich brown sauce, served in a hot stone bowl. Also excellent, garlic shrimp (served with or without shells).

Sunflower Cafe, downstairs from Alcatraz, brewed coffee, espresso drinks, fresh baked cinnamon buns and pies.

Thrifty Ice Cream, up the street, towards Plaza. Lots of different flavors, in regular or waffle cones.

Thanks for your website, its really fun to read comments about Melaque, (we first came in 1984, its become discovered...but not yet spoiled).

February 2000

More On Canadian Money

I have to disagree with Ann when she advises that people take U.S. currency or use credit cards while in Mexico. We just returned on Tuesday from Barra and all we took were Canadian travelers cheques and some pesos we had left over from last year's trip. Both the money exchange on the main street in Barra, as well as the cigar/liquor store exchange across from Hotel Barra de Navidad, accept Canadian travelers cheques, the latter even exchanging Canadian bills. We also used the ATM machine in Melaque and found this to provide the best exchange rate. (It also makes you feel really rich to see your account balance until you remember it's in pesos!!!). I see you have a link to the condos Colinas de Plata on your site and wonder if anyone has any comments with regards to this accommodation.


February 2000

I have seen the Colinas de Plata and they are very nice and peaceful. Swimming pool, nice grounds, laundry, air-conditioned. They are located in the neighborhood behind the Cabo Blanco, so it is a bit of a walk to downtown Barra de Navidad. I have photos which I will be adding hopefully soon. - Tom

Tennis in Cihuatlán

I spend 3-4 weeks every winter in Melaque and have done so for the past 3 years. My wife and I are tennis players and are both very passionate about the sport. We were very fortunate to meet people in the Cihuatlán area just 15 minutes inland of Melaque who play at local clubs located there. I say clubs, but do not intend it in the way that we perceive clubs her in North America. In Cihuatlán these "clubs" are very open to new people playing there. There are daily rates of 20 pesos at El Genito(?) and 30 at Tenis El Palmar. Both clubs boast red clay courts and great people to go along with them. The players are mainly Mexicanos but there are definitely a strong contingent of gringos as well. Play usually starts at 9:00 AM and goes until it gets too hot around 12:30 PM. There is a window of opportunity to play again at 4:30 in the afternoons for two hours or so. The setting at El Palmar is beautiful. It is nestled in a banana plantation with beautiful plants surrounding the four clay courts found there. We usually play the mornings and then cruise the beaches or the quaint storefronts in Cihuatlán. Great little town and great people. If you like to play tennis go there you'll love. There are lessons available from Leopoldo Salas, a USTA certified instructor and former 12th nationally ranked player in Mexico. Good healthy fun. Transportation is available via local bus. It costs 5 pesos to go from Barra or Melaque to Cihuatlán. When the bus stops at the depot (which is where the trip ends) you can almost see the tennis courts. If you walk out the back of the bus stop you will be facing a soccer stadium/field. To the left of the stadium is El Genito and to the right is the Tenis El Palmar. Just walk on in and you will be treated right. Use what Spanish you have and you'll fit right in.

Excuse any misspellings that I might have made - I am not sure of some of the Spanish names for the clubs.

Ranjan McArthur
Victoria, BC, Canada

February 2000

Problems at the Hotel Royale Costa Sur

Howdy Tom. First of all, I would like to tell you that your web page was a big help.

I just arrived back from my first trip to Mexico, vacationing with family members who go each year, staying 3-4 weeks each time. This was their first trip to the Melaque/Barra De Navidad area. They stayed at Hotel Mallorca, and some at the Las Palmas. Both were exactly as listed on your web page description, good/clean values.

My experience with the Hotel Royale Costa Sur ended by checking out on the 3rd day of a scheduled 7-day stay, and relocating to Melaque. Due to problems with toilets backing up, no warm water for showers, and our room included a kitchenette that was not usable. And would not have mattered anyway due to no store in the area to purchase food items, etc. Melaque was the nearest. Let me say that the staff was very friendly and tried to help me with the above issues. I made an attempt to speak with the manager, but he or she? was never available. To be honest, my experience was more comical, than frustrating. I just wanted notify you, and anyone that was planning a trip to the general area, they should stay clear of this location until it comes under new management. It truly has potential to be a great place to stay.

But I still planned to vacation next year in the Manzanillo area. I found too many positive's with the people, weather, and over all cost of lodging.


February 2000

Hello Villas Cabo Coral, Anybody Home?

I'm trying to get some information about Villas Cabo Coral. I sent them a couple of letters over 3 months ago - to-date no reply - NADA.

Aubrey Little

February 2000

Too Late for the Bus

Hi, Anyone have info on a fellow that will come to Puerto Vallarta and drive a group to Melaque? Our plane gets in just after the last first class bus leaves PV! So we are trying to find another means of getting to Melaque. Has anyone tried the regular bus? When does it leave PV and is it okay. Thanks.


February 2000

Hotel Tecuán Closed

We just returned from another great trip to Barra and Melaque. A couple of notes about some of the places we stayed and visited while there. In Melaque we stayed at the Monterrey [photo] which is clean, cheap but noisy due to the rooms venting to the lobby. Right in the middle of town so everything is easily accessible. Also stayed at the Bungalows Mallorca [photo] which is south of town. The rooms were nice with small kitchens and even a TV with ESPN in English! This part of the beach is a little rougher but there is not nearly as many people. The pool was great and the grounds well maintained. About $50 per night for two bedrooms.

In Barra we tried to stay at Cabo Blanco [photo 62K] but in December they went to an all-inclusive deal that is about $150 for two. The place was empty. No way to work a better deal. I did talk to some folks that thought it was such a good deal that they could afford to go to town to eat, imagine that! We did stay at the Barra de Navidad and had a great time. After all the warning we were very careful with our money but had no problems at all. I would only stay if I got a room with a "vista" or toward the ocean. Pool was fine and the ocean much calmer that last year. A friend went fishing with a guy named Blas and had a great time and would recommend him if you are a little adventuresome. There is a small restaurant called Elory by the lagoon that was great, much better that Seamaster's or some of the better known ones.

In Tenacatita there is now a small hotel, there is about six rooms that are small and one large two or three bedroom "suite". Twenty bucks a night. The rooms are clean and sometimes you have hot water. They have a little restaurant in the middle of the place where you can get good food and there is a bunch of places within walking distance.

El Tecuán in so more at least for now. We went up to look and it appears as if the Canadian's just pulled up stakes. It was a great place to stay.

One place that might be worth checking into is Paraiso Costalegre in the Chamela Bay area. They have just fixed up the ocean front rooms and also have some large multifamily suites. There is not much in the way of food at the hotel but you can go to the bus stop about a mile away for food etc. There is also quite a few small places to eat in Perula. Beaches were great for body surfing and hardly a soul in sight. The manager, Salvador, has very flexible prices for the rooms. Somewhere between 35-50 a night depending on your haggling skills.

Hope these comments are helpful.

David Castor

February 2000

Is Felix Still Around?

Hi Tom, I just saw your comments site on Barra and it brings back so many memories. I have spent a lot of time from 1990 to 1996 in Barra and Tenacatita. I was living in Guadalajara and would make many week-long trips to these places. I have friends, the Romo family, who have property in Barra and Tenacatita. I have one question though, is Felix still around? I had many a beer with Felix and did not see any comments recently on his little table establishment. Please e-mail me. Thanks, great site.


February 2000

Just like Charles, I took many beers with Felix at his bar(?) tables establishments... Is he still alive?

Paul Savard
Alias "Pablocito"

February 2000

Tom, just spent a month in Barra, got back from Never Never Land the 8th of March [Feb.?]. Had a great time as usual! Checked out your web site and there was a question whether Felix was alive and still around. He is doing great and looks better than he has for years!!! Drank plenty of beer with him and laughed and laughed when he would go out and shake a leg. You know how he likes his ladies. Yes, Felix is alive and pounding! Thanks for your great site.


February 2000

What's Up With the Hotel Royale?

Tom, When people ask how I find all the unique hideaways in Mexico that I travel to so frequently I must confess that the majority of the info comes from your pages and direct them to your site.

Last Easter I was able to share the riches of Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido for 2 weeks with 7 other women, half of whom had never been to Mexico. It being a mother daughter grandmother trip the pressure was on (Me) will we be safe, etc. It was a fantastic trip. When questions arose I just directed them to your site. This March headed to Melaque for 3 weeks and I was wondering if anyone has been to the Hotel Royale Costa Sur in Cuastecomates recently? Spoke to them on the phone and they were extremely nice. Was wondering if this is the hotel mentioned in a post with a description of the beach at Cuastecomates stating the hotel is a dump. I must confess I have stayed in some very enjoyable dumps and with a quoted price of $15 a night for myself and 2 grandchildren I'm willing to give it a go. Any input would be welcome. Many thanks.


February 2000

Delfin and Disco

We just returned from two weeks in Barra/Melaque. We stayed two nights in the Delfin [photo 36K] but decided to move because of the noise from the disco down the block. Otherwise the hotel was clean and pleasant and the staff were helpful. We had reserved the room by sending a money order from Canada. The money order had not arrived when we checked in but the hotel only charged us the difference between the amount of the money order and the cost of the room.

The buffet breakfast at the Delfin, which costs $29 pesos, is a great bargain. Good coffee, toast, buns, fresh fruit, cereal and a choice of entrees (eggs, pancakes) make it a good stop. On occasion they also have a "pasta" dish that contains ham, egg, peppers and cheese. It is delicious but costs an extra $8 pesos.

We ate a couple of times at Ramon's. The food was excellent, the service good and the prices reasonable.

We ate at the Ambar but would not recommend it. It was pricey, the service was poor and the food was barely adequate.

We enjoyed Tessa's burgers and sandwiches. Chris also recommended Estrella beer which we enjoyed more than the other brands.

A "must" for happy hour (from 2 to 10 pm daily, beer included) is the Sunset Bar. It is unique, the service good and the setting is great. One good shake and the whole place will come tumbling down. We feel that it would give most places a run for the "worst bathroom" award. But, after a few cervezas, who cares.

We stayed for 12 days in Melaque at the Hotel Puesta Del Sol [photo] across from the bus station on Gomez Farias. We had a top floor, ocean view room with a small fridge, two-burner stove and sink on our balcony. The hotel has a mixture of long term residents who return year after year (mainly Canadians) and Mexican tourists. We were initially concerned that the maid did not do a very good job and our linens were not changed. We spoke to one of the young guys in charge (all the people running the place were very young) and the problem was cleared up. From that point on we did not have a problem.

We ate at Cesar and Charlie's and had good meals. We also went there for happy hour a few times (very good margaritas). A word of caution make sure they give you the "two for one", they had a tendency to lose count (and after a few drinks we did too).

Bananarama has good breakfasts (they still don't compare with the Delfin buffet). The owners (from Grand Forks BC) have opened Bananarama At Night (Wednesday through Saturday). The place is a bit hard to find but you can get a map at the breakfast Banarama on Gomez Farias. They have a small menu (pork chops, spaghetti, lasagna etc.). The owners are very friendly and are a good source of information about Melaque.

We had good meals at Koala's. They have a limited menu (no Mexican food) but the food was well prepared and very tasty. However, they are a bit pricey.

We also had a couple of good meals at the small restaurant that is located in the Villas Camino del Mar - we think it is called Chevolos. It is a small, family run operation and the food was very good. The family lives on site - when you use the bathroom the toothbrushes from family members are by the sink.

We also enjoyed Surfo's Bar, upstairs a half block east of the square on Jaurez (it has three flags - Mexican, American and Canadian hanging from the front). The hamburger place in the back is supposed to be good as well. We had a Greek salad there that was very good. Just below Surfo's on the street is a taco stand that is considered to be one of the best in Melaque. One of the Americans living in Melaque referred to it as "Pedro's".

We went to the golf course at the Grand Bay Hotel [photo 278K]. It is amazing to see how the other half lives! We ate at the golf course and would not recommend the food. The salad was excellent but our sandwich and stuffed pepper we among the worst meals we had while in Mexico. Go to look around, have a drink, but not too eat (at the golf course anyway).

Los Pelicanos, a restaurant referred to in virtually all the books about Melaque, is no longer in business.

We found your web site helpful before we went.

Ed and Dody

January 2000

Has the Hotel Tropical re-opened?

Has the Hotel Tropical re-opened? I first went to Barra in 1989 and fell in love with the place and returned a few times since, always staying at the Tropical. I went there once after the earthquake and found lotsa tourists. I had a terrible room at the Hotel Barra de Navidad. I haven't been back. I would probably go back on more time if the Tropical was open again. Any info would be helpful. Thanks!


January 2000

Tropical is still not open. -Tom

Blue Bay Was Okay

Thanks for your info before the trip down. The Blue bay was okay - definitely not a four star resort, as was told to us in the travel brochure. Activation people and shows were wonderful. The pool and beach were also wonderful. The rooms left a lot to be desired as did the housekeeping staff. The food was good but always the same menu. The fruit and veggies were very fresh and plentiful. The trip into Melaque and Barra de Navidad was definitely worth the money. The vendors love to barter and I ended up paying about one quarter of what was originally offered as a price. I found all the people I met were very friendly and helpful.

Debbie Henderson

January 2000

Transportation to Area Beaches

If I decide to take a bus to Barra de Navidadfrom PV, can I get to the outlaying areas to snorkel and lay in the sun by bus, or taxi? Such as Tenacatita.

S. Racy

January 2000

Yes. I'm not familiar with the particular schedules for the little local busses that do this. You need to find out when the last bus leaves the beach; it's usually just before sundown. Particularly in Tenacatita, which is bustling during the day with many beachfront establishments; in the evening everyone leaves. - Tom

Blue Bay, Barra, Tenacatita

Hello, I just got back from a two-week stay at the Blue Bay Village. We went for New Years 2000 and stayed til the 14th. The rooms and hotel area were clean and well kept and the food was good but got sick of buffet-style after 2 wks; theme nights and shows were great. The pools were nice to cool down yet still warm enough to sit in, but the beach was the best part of it all, it was beautiful. Very clean and not really crowded as the hotel guests were the only ones on it. If you are looking for a nice place to stay for the beach, hotel activities or if you have kids it's great, very secure and private, you need a gate pass to enter and exit and it's about 15-20 min drive to the hwy. But if you want to do your own thing and see all that you can on your trip than I suggest a town like Barra de Navidad.

Since we (group of 6 of us) were there for two weeks we got out to see the area. We went snorkeling for the day in Tenacatita and it was awesome, the clear water around the coral was excellent for snorkeling, we saw so many bright-colored fish, octopus, manta rays etc. and the waves and wind were calm the whole day. Later on we had supper and I tried the Rollo de Mar, it was the best thing I ate the whole trip. Don't forget your English/Spanish Dictionary if you can't speak Spanish the one restaurant we were at spoke no English. We also made two trips into Barra de Navidad shopping, everyone was so nice and polite we had to come twice. We had drinks in Piper Lovers, neat place, and then over to the Sunset Bar for supper and a few more drinks, food was great (I think we all ate hamburgers)and the drinks were huge. Good prices! We did get the opportunity to go to Manzanillo, but the hour and a half drive in the cab wore us out. Not as friendly there and a lot more people and traffic to deal with. I wish I had gone to Barra first because I wouldn't have bothered going to Manzanillo, prices and services were way better in Barra and it had everything you needed right there without the hassle. We walked all through Barra de Navidad saw a lot more cuz everything was in the same general area. A lot of time was wasted in the cab in Manzanillo. It all depends on what you want, the big city or smaller towns. Awesome trip! Be sure to go and visit Barra de Navidad and Bahía de Tenacatita.


January 2000

And the "Worst Bathroom" Winner IS . . .

Dear Tom, We just got back from a week in Barra and loved it! We stayed at Mar Vida and found the room to be quite large and suited our needs just fine. The pool was nice to sit around, but it was way too cold to get in. Marsha was very nice and helpful during our stay. They are putting a new addition on to her office that created a lot of noise in the early morning, kind of a drag if you're trying to sleep in. On our next visit we'd like to try the Pacifico next door for a lot less money, and because we did not need the kitchen.

As for the food, we ate very well. Mar y Terra was the top of our list for great dining and service. We spent most of our afternoons there under an umbrella, and several dinners there were all wonderful. Other places we enjoyed were Ramon's, Banana's, Los Arcos, and Pati's. We were not impressed at all with Popeye's (they win the worst bathroom award hands down). Happy hour almost every night was at Seamaster's. The service and the drinks were outstanding. I would also like to say that Ambar's was a joke of a restaurant. We went for desert and a drink one evening and ordered the Banana crepes flambe. They arrived at our table with no flames, but soaked in alcohol so we could barely eat them. The service was not great either. We also searched for Jalepeno's (wanting to try the Sexy Coffee), but it has closed.

We took a trip over to the Grand Bay one afternoon for lunch and to check it out. We ate lunch by the pool and had a very good meal for not much money. We went another day for lunch at the golf course, but I wouldn't recommend it. The service was slow, and the place was pretty much empty. Loved the water taxi rides though!

Susan Perrigo

January 2000

Barra/Melaque Report

I spent Jan 07-11 in Barra and Melaque. Had a great time. Met new friends and especially enjoyed Cuastacomates. As beginning snorkelers we especially liked the area near the point on the south side of the bay. Saw all kinds of fish in very clear warm water. The hotel there is still a dump and we would not recommend it at all. The restaurants on the beach there were great, however. We met people from San Miguel Allende there and will probably see them there in April in San Miguel when we return to the Chapala area.

Barra was great as usually. Enjoyed eating at Ramon's and Banana's. Not impressed with the food at Popeye's, but love the setting and the view. Also ate at Tessa's and Pati's, both good. Only spent a few minutes in Mango Bay, but should have spent much more time.

Accommodations at Marsha's Mar Vida Bungalows were at best ok. She needs to fix the place up some. She is helpful and nice.

Stayed one night in Via de Obregon near San Patricio/Melaque and thought it was excellent. Also visited La Paloma and wished we could have stayed there. It is magnificent. Friends we met at Marsha's spent a second week at La Paloma so we saw the room and all the facilities. It is the top of the mark. Unparalleled in the world as far as I am concerned -- and last time in Barra I stayed at the Grand Bay Hotel. It is world class, but the La Paloma is truly unique in all the world.

One other point. While in Barra we had the opportunity to get a massage with Rod from Idaho. We met him thru Marsha. He is reasonably priced and did wonders for a mild back sprain I had from falling on the rocks near Cuastecomates. He can be scheduled thru the ladies at Mango Bay.

Drove out to Playa Boca de Iguanas and La Manzanilla -- another must see area. Not time for Tenacatita this trip though.

We arrived in Puerto Vallarta and went to Budget where we had confirmed reservations for a VW. No cars available. They walked us over to Advantage and set us up with the same car for the same price, but slightly more per day for the insurance program. Thank you for your tip on calling Budget's 1-800 number. Thanks for your site and your help.

Jim C

January 2000

Hotel on Tenacatita?

We were told there is a new hotel at Tenacatita Beach (not the Blue Bay Hotel) and are thinking about checking it out when we are down in the area in March. Does anyone know what it is called, anything about it, prices, and/or a contact number to make a reservation? Thanks!

Wendy Randall

January 2000

Wendy, I can't get a message to your email address. -Tom

Questions about Blue Bay

We are arriving on Jan 21st and have not heard much about Blue Bay Village. It is supposed to be a four star resort but i could not find anything about the Manzanillo one, just Cancun. I believe that it is on Tenacatita beach and i read all the wonderful comments on the beach so I am hopeful. Any input will be great. Also any info on tours and such would also be appreciated.

Debbie Henderson
Surrey, B.C.

January 2000

Tennis Courts?

I'm taking my children, ages 11 and 14, to Melaque for the month of April. Are there public tennis courts in Melaque or Barra?

Laurie Fraser

January 2000

Most of the tennis courtsare at the larger hotels. The ones at Cabo Blanco are quite nice and you may be able to rent some time. Of course, the ones at the Grand Bay are stupendous, but it'd be harder to get time on them.

John Williams

January 2000

Jungle River Adventure

Dear Tomzap, Do you have any info on the "Jungle River Adventure" referred to in Sea Magazine? It's a part of the Tenacatita Bay berthing.

Ed Fesler

January 2000

There is a natural waterway just inland from the coast, where wildlife tours are conducted. I am assuming this is the River Adventure you are talking about. I have spoken with one couple that took a tour and weren't too impressed since they didn't see much wildlife. I would not discount the tour based on that. It is a beautiful area and there is much wildlife there--we just can't expect them to "perform" every time. If you like nature and natural places, I would recommend the trip, otherwise it probably won't be much of an adventure. - Tom

Bungalows Aztecas in Melaque

Any info on the above hotel? Much appreciated.

Ken Hayes
Vancouver Canada

January 2000

Dr. Woo Amazes

Hi Tom ! When we go for holidays it is hard to think in medical problems, but you never know. If you go to Melaque or Barra de Navidad Jalisco, Mexico, there is a doctor that can help us in many ways (adults and kids). His name is Dr.Roberto Pimienta Woo. He has had one of the leading family practices in Melaque since 1976 with extensive experience in all types of emergencies. Not only does he speak English fluently, he has extensive knowledge in alternative medicine. That means that those of us that do not like to rely on heavy antibiotics, etc., can find other gentler cures. He is also an amazing iridologist (analysis by looking at the iris), he has even found serious problems that people did not know they had until they went home and had their own doctors look for it.

His address: Ramon Corona #128, San Patricio-Melaque Jalisco, Mexico 48980, Tel. and Fax (335) 5 50 77.

Leslie Johnson

January 2000

Hotel Barra de Navidad Improved

We returned on 1/2/00 from spending two of the most enjoyable and relaxing weeks in Barra de Navidad. We stayed the whole time at the Hotel Barra de Navidad and would recommend it to anyone. We stayed there in 1997 and found it to be somewhat noisier and not so well maintained then. It has definitely improved! Nearly all rooms now have air conditioning and TV, they have been refurbished and repainted with new drapes and bedding. Plus, the beds have been improved and are more comfortable. We found it to be very quiet -- the only noise being from the surf just outside our window -- which I found to be relaxing. However, during the week between Christmas and New Year when the hotel filled up with Mexican vacationers, the common areas were totally engulfed and there was constant action (which I found to be reassuring and happy). The maid service is reliable, friendly and trustworthy. We had no incidents of robbery, nor did we hear of any -- there was always someone at the front desk and another who was moving around the hotel grounds. Our room rate for a beach side room was 560 pesos per night (high season) and it was well worth it as we had no maintenance problems nor any other kind of problems and we had the beach, the pool, air conditioning (which we only needed to use 3 times and only in the afternoon to cool down the room for a little while), TV (with one channel with English language movies), fresh clean sheets and towels daily. There is no longer a restaurant at the hotel and I heard of no plans to reinstall one. Ramon's is directly across the street and Jose will happily deliver beverages to you on the beach, by the pool or in your room upon request and a generous tip.

We had several friends who stayed at the Bogavante and encountered problems, the worst being that the management would pump out the septic system every few days with the end of the pipe going directly into the sand on the beach in front of the hotel -- the area where the hotel guests sunbathe! It was very disgusting and made me stay away from that area the rest of our stay. Another hotel, the Delphin, gave our friends a surprise when they checked out -- a 40 peso per day room tax!! Otherwise, they thoroughly enjoyed their 3 week stay at the Delphin.

Several members of our group had children ranging in age from 12 to 23. All were able to be set free in Barra (or from Melaque) and found the night life in town to be safe and exciting -- dancing at the Sunset, burgers and shakes at Tessa's, ping pong at Pipers, walking, meeting etc along the streets. Since the town is self-contained, the parents did not need to go far to "accidently" run into their children.

We found Ramon's restaurant to the be the most reliable, friendly and competively priced one in town. We enjoyed three meals at Los Arcos and found it to be very good food and the "Mom and Pop" atmosphere delightful. Piper's was the best night spot. Churros from Florentino in the evenings was a highlight.

Also two very good coffee shops are now in town: Mango Bay, run by Pam and Jan, serves espresso and brewed gourmet coffees -- very strong and rich. Pam also makes the best Kalua Milkshake in the world!! They also have an internet station with two computers, which is run by Mary Carman, DDS, who is delightful and very helpful. The connections are as reliable as the long distance connection with Guadalajara (somewhat iffy). Pam and Jan are a wealth of information on local interest -they are both British and speak Spanish fluently. Pam is married to the manager of the Grand Bay Hotel and is very knowledgeable about activities in and around that facility.

The other cafe is called Cafe D'Arte, run by Hector and Tina. Hector is Mexican and Tina is British. They make a rich brew, the best fruit, yogurt and granola bowl in town, and great scones. Additionally, their Licuado rivals Katarina's (across from the church).

As you can tell, we had a wonderful time and are looking forward to another visit.

Mas tarde
Linda and John

January 2000

The Bus to Barra

Flecha Amarilla run two first class buses to Barra every day. The fare is 126 pesos. Takes 4 hours, 15 minutes. Departs the main bus station (central camionera) just down the road from Vallarta airport, at 7:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. If you are coming from downtown Vallarta, take the bus marked "Ixtapa". It goes right into the main bus station. Allow about 40 mins. to get there. Flecha Amarilla has a good website, www.flecha-amarilla.com where you can even book your ticket online, but usually no problem getting a seat.

Cihuatlan buslines head to Barra as well, but unfortunately I don't know their schedule. It's likely to be more frequent than Flecha. Hope this helps.

Paul B.

January 2000

About Canadian Funds; Melaque Advice Wanted

Love your site! A word about Canadian funds: I would take Canadian travelers checks to Mexico. I have never had a problem exchanging for the Peso. It is a way better deal for Canadians to do one exchange you lose when you change to American first big time!

We are going to Melaque the beginning of April Looking for a clean reasonably priced place to stay....suggestions? There will be three couples should we book ahead? Any info is greatly appreciated. Can't wait for our trip.

Hasta La Vista

January 2000

Oooh, that Avocado Man!

Dear John [Williams], We left for Melaque on the 19th, just got around to checking my mail (arrived home on the 2nd). What a beautiful community Melaque is! We were lucky enough to meet a local family who welcomed us into their home for a really fun New Year's Eve dinner. Spent some dynamite surf days, some just playing in the warm water. We loved the markets and the truly kind people. Had no trouble with $$$$$, even came home with a fair amount. We played music with people from Alaska, Sweden, and one man right in Melaque! It seemed so safe, the kids were on auto-pilot (they're all teenagers and the discos in Barra occupied lots of their evenings.) We loved walking to Barra to shop for artsy things and just enjoy the beach there. Spent a day snorkeling in Tenacatica Can't say enough good things. I love my toasty brown skin, even though I am covering most of it up here in the Oregon Coast's cool, wet environs!

Back to teaching this week - my 1st and 2nd graders were glad to be back, I brought each of them one of those cool turtles with the bobbing heads, a shell from the beach and a peso. they were stoked! I'm exhausted but happy, ready for our return trip next year (which will be made easier by the fact that we were bumped for a night on the way there and each (10 of us) received $500 vouchers! - then some of us had luggage detained in Phoenix on the way home and were given $100 vouchers for each detained piece! What a score!!!)

Debbie T.

January 2000

P.S. Having withdrawals of sorts for those yummy avocados - even more so for that charming avacado man!

Exchanging Canadian Money

I was reading the comments by Ann who recommends taking US money to Mexico. I would disagree with these comments. From our experience in Melaque, almost two years ago, we found Canadian Traveler's cheques were the way to go. You can't spend them but you can exchange them at the bank in Melaque without any problem. You also get a much better exchange rate than changing your money from Canadian to US and then to pesos, service charges, etc. It worked out that we were getting a much better exchange rate on the peso than the American dollar was getting on the peso at the time (considering the difference between the value of the Canadian and American dollar). It is probably worth checking both the US and CAN exchange rates against the Peso before you go. Anyway, we went to the bank every couple of mornings to exchange money. There were usually very small lineups as Melaque is a pretty tiny town. This worked out well for us. We used the Canadian travelers cheques to get pesos for spending money and our credit card for the hotel, etc.

Wendy Randall

January 2000

About Busses

In response to Wes' request for Puerto Vallarta - Barra bus info, I can tell you the following:

In mid-October I flew into PVR arriving about noon. I took a cab to the new bus terminal just north of the airport (80 pesos taxi stand rate). I quickly checked out the schedules at the various bus lines and concluded that I had just missed a first class bus to Barra and boarded the next available bus, Flecha Amarilla line's servicio regular run at 1:30 p.m. (cost 98 pesos). It was an interesting, if somewhat lengthy, trip to Barra which included many stops along the way. We even encountered a funeral procession in Tomatlan. The bus pulled into Barra about 7:30 p.m.

I have a sneaking suspicion that if I had taken my time in PVR I might have found a first class bus mid- to late afternoon that would have cut travel time in half and provided for a more comfortable -- if less culturally intense -- bus trip. The additional cost for a first class bus is only 20 or 30 pesos.

I also traveled by bus from Barra/Melaque via Manzanillo (28 pesos) to Colima (38 pesos first class) and then to Guadalajara (96 pesos first class). A side trip from Colima to Comala (near the volcanoes) by local commuter bus is three pesos either way. I didn't plan my trip from Melaque to Colima at all -- but the frequent bus connections resulted in seamless connections along the way. It was all quite painless.

I loved Melaque, by the way.


January 2000

Canadians and Money Exchange

Hi Tom: I see there are now at least two queries from Canadians about money so for what it is worth here is my advice. Archie and I visit Mexico every winter and although we stay at all-inclusives I think the same advice holds good.

First of all, forget Canadian travelers' cheques. Nobody wants them or understands them. Arm yourself before you leave Canada with some small denomination bills in American money. That will deal with cabs and odd expenses. Taxis take American dollars, buses take microscopic amounts of pesos. Then change around $20 Canadian into pesos at your hotel or the nearest bank, whichever is most convenient. Charge everything, including excursions, at your hotel or restaurant (make sure they take VISA but most do,) and relax. You do not pay for another month anyway and the exchange rate is usually fair. Even on the beach or the small boutiques every Mexican is happy to take that good ole American dollar and the dollars you don't use this trip -you should be so thrifty - you can use next vacation.

Do not waste time and money changing Canadian money into pesos when in Canada. Nobody cares and Canadian money is unfamiliar currency. As long as you are armed with enough pesos to give a small gift to a child or buy an ice cream (not a wise move for North American insides) plastic works just fine.

Perhaps you might comment, Tom, but this holds true for Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Cancun, and various spots in between. Happy New Year everyone,


January 2000

Learning Spanish

I just got back from Barra and Melaque and had a wonderful time. I intend to go back in March. Some of the highlights. There is a woman in Barra called Bonnie who offers the best Spanish lessons. You can have private lessons or, if others are around, you can share lessons. I learned a lot from her. She has been living down there and in Vancouver for quite a few years and has some excellent connections and really good ideas about how to learn and about with Spanish. She teaches the language in such a way that you can get out and talk as soon as possible and try out your language skills. I highly recommend her. Check out her website at info@easyspanish.com. She is creative, lively, and has a real sense of how to learn a language in a short time.

A few questions. I loved Melaque. Barra was great, but the beach was easier in Melaque. I stayed at the Hotel Bahia, down by Hotel Lagazpi. I lost their business card. Can someone tell me how to get in touch with them? What is March like after the San Patricio festival, is it busy at the end of March, but before Semana Santa. Any information would be appreciated.

Good restaurant in Melaque for barbeque is La Pelape (or it might be in San Patricio as they run into each other). A trip to La Manazanilla was about 45 minutes by bus and less than a buck. Really nice... just make sure you are on the last bus returning about 3:30.

Deb Calderon

December 1999

How About the Bus from Puerto Vallarta?

Could someone please send me some recent info about taking a bus from Puerto Vallarta to Barra. Eg. how long of a trip, approximate price, which bus line etc. Thank you.


December 1999

Barra/Melaque Visit

Hi! Returned from Barra/Melaque on November 26. It was my first visit, but I'll be back. Stayed most of the time at Posado Pablo de Tarso [photos 58K] in Melaque. Very peaceful, woken only by roosters and the Church bell.

Surprised to see negative comments re Los Arcos from "Eileen and Jay". Following my first meal there, the owner came chasing after me down the street to give me change because, owing to my poor Spanish, I had left too much money. Does this sound like someone obviously looking to take advantage of tourists? By the way, the food was very good, so were the prices and the owners are very friendly! [Los Arcos is recommended. -Tom]

For those staying in Barra or Melaque, Ciber@net, 27 Av. Gomez Farias, Pasaje comercial, Melaque, has internet service by 15 minute segment or by the hour. E-mail: melaque@ciber.net.mx They are open from 9:30 to 2:30 and 4:00 to 8:00 daily. They have a number of computers on site and I never had to wait, but reservations can be made at Melaque 559 19.

Paul Bertorelli

December 1999

A Week in Barra

Hi Tom, My friend Jay and I just returned from a great week in Barra and we wanted to add to your long and useful list of visitor's comments. We stayed at Mar Vida and can't say enough how we enjoyed Marsha's calm and helpful way with handling guests and providing information. The accommodations were great (spotlessly clean thanks to the very conscientious maid service provided by Rosa) and comfortably spacious. We found that having a kitchenette was a great solution to saving a little money and adding flexibility to our stay there.

There's Internet access now in Barra. Mango Bay, a nice coffee (Starbucks, Peets, etc.) and pastry establishment also offers curios and Internet access by the hour. The women who run the place are wonderfully gracious. Hourly Internet rates run about 75 pesos. Mid-morning seems to be the best time to successfully get online and it's not a bad time to get your second cup of coffee either!

We rented a car from Peggy at Crazy Cactus and found that getting out of Barra and exploring the beaches and coastal towns nearby was a pleasant distraction and a great way to escape crowds. Peggy and her daughter Tracy were very helpful and her rental rates are reasonable. BTW, Tracy says that she's working on getting permits to rent kayaks which will most likely launch out of Melaque. Apparently, getting the proper permits is somewhat of a hassle. She imagines that she'll have the kayaks ready to rent sometime in January.

Here are a couple of things we learned about getting to Tenacatita. There are two ways to get there by boat. One is to rent a boat by the hour (a pricey venture but entirely worth it if you can afford it); the other is to go there on a group boat. The latter costs about US$20 per person and snorkel equipment is available at an extra cost. (If you don't want to wait and take chances that the boat equipment will fit you, you can rent snorkeling equipment at Crazy Cactus by the day or the half-day. They have a wide range of sizes and they rent for about 75 pesos a day) The downside about the boat is that it only goes once ten people have signed up. Since we couldn't fill the allotted spaces, we drove there instead. Snorkeling visibility was not great that day but the experience was wonderful.

BTW, Los Arcos has gotten a lot of great press from visitors but oddly enough it was the only restaurant we visited where we had a bad experience. We asked if they would provide us with a "take-out" order of rice for two and what would be a simple low-budget side dish turned out to cost 16 pesos (and believe me it was a measly scoop of rice). This seemed exorbitant given what we knew of local prices and it was truly the only experience we had of someone obviously taking advantage of tourists.

Thanks for all your great coverage of the area. It was much appreciated and incredibly useful during our stay. We'll be back!

Eileen and Jay

December 1999

Place to Rent Kayaks?

Tom, Heading down late Feb. and early mar with a keen group of ocean kayakers and snorkelers. Is there any place in Melaque or Barra where we could rent kayaks? What about Crazy Cactus? is there any way to contact then on the web? We have snorkeled at Tenacatita and it was great but wondered if their are some small reefs or islands within boating distance from Melaque? Thanks for the help.

Glen Dunsworth

December 1999

Brownsmead Comes to Mexico

Dear friends, Well, thanks to your great information on the net, we are coming to Melaque, leaving on the 19th, staying thru the 2nd at the Posada Pablo de Tarso [photo]]. Now, what kind of money shall we bring? We understand that there is no ATM in Melaque, is that correct? We've also heard that it's not always possible to use traveler's checks. What do you think? Are you even anyone who want to spend their time answering gringo's questions?

We are actually an interesting group of friends, mostly musicians, bringing instrument, snorkeling stuff, dancing feet and kind hearts. Some of us are school teachers and some of us are other things. We are all really looking forward to relaxing and enjoying a beautiful new to us part of the world.

Oh, how's the surf? How's the drinking water? We've been working on our Spanish. We'll do our best to be good guests.

Debbie Twombly

December 1999

Melaque does have an ATM machine, but a recent comment suggests that you not rely on it. American Express travelers' cheques, and others, are accepted. It is best to drink bottled water. Enjoy your stay. -Tom

Two Weeks in Barra

Thank you for your excellent website - just got back from 2 "perfecto" weeks in Barra (Nov. 12-26), spent our first night at the Bogavante [photo 17K] on the beach then moved to a more affordable and I think the very best deal in Barra, the Posada Pacifico. Barra is safe, friendly, has the best sunsets and an astounding number of good restaurants for a small place. After a couple of days of testing the water on the calmer Melaque side, I learned some safety tips and was in the ocean in Barra daily - the surf can be intimidating and dangerous so careful timing (the earlier in the day the better) and being watchful very important. I am so glad I took my Muskol mosquito repellant - it was ESSENTIAL every evening maybe because it's so close to the change of season...but they were out in full force.

NOW - How to have the best time in Barra?! Take spanish lessons! There is a woman in Barra named Bonnie who runs "Amiga's" Spanish Lessons, one on one or in groups. She has a very creative and effective method of teaching - I learned more from her than I had in years of studying - I highly recommend her and know that my experience in Barra was superior because of the knowledge and confidence I gained with speaking Spanish. Her rates are reasonable ($60 US for a 5 - 10 hr package) and she makes it fun, relaxing, and easy! She is a very talented teacher! Bonnie is from Vancouver and lives in Barra. She can be found down there at #124 Avenida Lopez de Legazpi, above the Money Exchange/Vinos y Licores (liquor store), across from the Hotel Barra (on the corner). There is a doorway next to the store, walk down the corridor and up the stairs to her door. Her balcony faces the street.

By the way, in response to one of your visitors, I did see Fortino's 2 Restaurant there but didn't go in. The best deal were the taquito's and quesadilla's at Pitufo's Taqueteria (eve's only) on Avenida Veracruz. Other great restaurants - Los Arcos, Velero's, Seamaster, Manglito's, Paty's, Ambar's.

The boat ride with the river cruise to Tenacatita was fantastic and I recommend the Fiesta Mexicana restaurant there. I just want to add that regarding the Marine's being there - well, I felt safer having them around, they are definitely welcome by the locals, and have a friendly presence there.

Vancouver, B.C.

December 1999

Barra With Kids

Just got back from Barra, stayed there from Nov. 15 to 23. Regarding traveling with kids, we had our son (8) and daughter (5) along and had no trouble at all with them. In fact they had a great time swimming, fishing, jungle tour, walking around town and they especially liked playing ping pong, thanks Piper, sorry about the ball. After a couple days in town you are no longer a stranger and can't get too far without running into someone you know.

We thought we would like to stay at the Mar Vida to take advantage of the kitchenette but I did not make reservations and when we arrived Marsha was booked solid so we went to the Hotel Barra de Navidad. I had stayed there in 1991 and thought it was nice then so we checked in. The next day we looked at other accommodation, many nice places and price ranges to choose from, but with the kids along a pool was very high on the priority list. We weighed the pros and cons of each place and decided to spend the whole time at the hotel Barra. It is the only place on the beach with a pool, the location is great and the room we had was on the beach side and had just been renovated complete with air conditioning (425 pesos + 35 pesos if using the air conditioning). There was renovation work going on around us but it was no problem. We had great sunset and morning views from our patio, close to everything, I bought a cooler, loaded it up, went to the pool and had a blast with the family (I spent more money in PV in three nights than the whole time in Barra but I won't get into that).

The marines set up beside Mar y Tierra didn't cause us any concern. They are armed to the teeth and ready for action, only problem is, there is no action. I was told they are looking for drug smugglers, apparently a lot of drugs come in through Manzanillo and they don't want the same to happen in Barra. Who Knows???

In short, a great time was had by all, no problem with the wee ones and if you like the place you're at, stay there.

Thanks for the web site Tom. I had print outs of the "best of Barra/Melaque" with me and some the restaurant owners did not know they were on the web site but thought it was great when I showed them the page.

Chris, Renee, Walter and Barbara

December 1999

Traveling with Kids

I've been reading your website with great interest and notice that there are only a few references to traveling with kids. We have 4 very energetic boys aged 11, 10, 7 and 5 and would like to know if Barra and Melaque are very child friendly places. We were going to book an all inclusive in Cozumel (the boys like to snorkel) but a friend in Vancouver is going to Melaque in January and sent me a link to the website. I'm a little nervous about traveling in an unknown area with kids but think that it would be much more fun to go to a less touristy place, explore and experience the real culture of Mexico. Any suggestions for accommodations and activities would be appreciated. Terry McCurdy
Racine, Wisconsin
(temporarily displaced Canadian!)

November 1999

Shifting Sands

We arrived 16 Nov 99 after dark without reservations; but with intentions to stay at the hotel Delfin [photo 36K]; but as it turned out, the Delfin had no availability for that night; but they quoted their posted rate of 235 pesos, 2 persons, 2 beds for the following day.

Not knowing where to go or what to do in the dark, we went across the street to the Hotel Sands [photo 45K]. The night desk clerk quoted his unposted rate of 288 pesos for two persons; but they did not have two beds, only one full size bed , but, he would give it to us for the one person rate of 216 pesos. We spent a very uncomfortable night at the hotel sands and the following morning we went to all the hotels listed on Zpescas web site and to our surprise found much better accommodations, some even with air-conditioning, for competitive prices or less.

When we check out of the Hotel Sands on 17 Nov 99, the day desk clerk gave us a bill for 288 pesos, plus 6% tax, claiming regardless of what anyone quoted us, the rate is 288 pesos for two persons and even after 45 minutes of negotiations, he would not budge.

We reluctantly paid the bill, but promised to post our comments here when we returned home. We thank you for the opportunity to post our comments and only wish to alert prospective guest of the Hotel Sands to be cautious in dealing with them and to be assured that there are far better places to stay for even less money.

One for example, is the Polos Bungalows, which are air conditioned and include a complete kitchenette and TV, for only 200 pesos, this would have been a far better choice, had we known about it that first night.

All-in-all, we did enjoy our visit to Barra de Navidad and wish to give special recognition to the Barra de Navidad Hotel, the Delfin Hotel, the Ambar Restaurant and the Mar y Tierra Restaurant; all very nice establishments.

Mr. & Mrs. J. Sedlin

November 1999

Responding About the Blue Bay

About Blue Bay village, its a real nice spot, the food is medium, its like a Club med, but cheaper... Activities are provided on site, but not to the same extent as at Playa Blanca, which is a Club Med, close by. Charter flights go there, and also the permanent retired folks who live in Lake Chapala region, when they want to see the ocean for a change...

Paul Savard
Alias "Pablocito"

November 1999

How to contact Villa Obregon?

Hi Tom, Found your email address while searching for help in contacting Fidel and Blanca who rent bungalows in Villa Obregon on Melaque Bay. If you can help me with a phone number or address I would greatly appreciate it. Muchas gracias.


November 1999

Horseback Riding and Donations

We are coming to Barra de Navidad in December. We would like to ride horses in the area from Chamela Bay to Manzanillo. We will have a car and plan to explore the coast anyway with Barra being our base. Can anyone tell me of any other horseback riding adventure beyond the one mentioned on this page already? Price per hour or day - where they go, etc. Guided? Okay for experience boys (age 14) along with parents?

Also, we are interested in ways to be a blessing to those we meet along the way? Any ideas of ways to help others less fortunate but still avoid offending anyone. We would like to take toys for the holidays, is that okay? Does anyone know of the churches in Barra or Melaque? Any names or addresses or contacts would be great. How can we help? Would clothing or food be more appropriate? HELP! We have never "been there - done that" so we want to be sure to not step on toes. Our hearts are in the right place, just not sure how to proceed from here. Any suggestions. All comments will be appreciated!


November 1999

For donations, check with Marsha at the Bungalows Mar Vida. She and her friends can point you in the right direction. -Tom


I came across your web page about Barra de Navidad. Do you still answer questions about that location? I am interested in details about Cabo Blanco. . What hotels here in the states would compare with them, etc.? Have you heard of Blue Bay Village in Tenacatita? Is it really touristy?

Jill V Davis

November 1999

Wanting Input on Melaque

Dear Tom. Found your web page by accident. and it was a great accident. Have been enjoying wandering around on it; and reading about people's trips has been wonderful.

We are planning a trip to Mexico in mid January next year, and and I am trying to gather as much info as I can. Am anxious to make a decision and reservations as soon as possible. Someone I met recently, told us about the Santa Maria Hotel, in Melaque, and he liked it a lot. Didn't go into a lot of detail about it though. so, if anyone knows about it, please write and tell me about it.

We are planning to fly into Manzanillo in mid-January, and staying for about 6 to 10 weeks in either Barra de Navidad or Melaque, with possibly a couple of side trips here and here. We are looking for a nice beach, (I realize that the Melaque beach is somewhat steep, how steep?) a small town, with a zócolo and a tiny bit of nightlife, with a few restaurants to try, and some music. My husband is a saxophone player and loves to play with the locals. I would be grateful for information any of you Mexico lovers out there could give me. We have a wedding to go to in Puerto Vallarta at the end of April, so looks like we will have a lot of time to fool around.

Jean Ridellab
Orcas Island, washingtonb

October 1999

Barra and the Costalegre

I really enjoy my various stays in Barra, and all Costalegre in general.. I've been going there for the last 10 to 12 years now... My best place to relax and cycle around. I usually try to get a room on the beach the first two or three nights upon my arrival, then move back inside of town, for cheaper hotel, like Caribe, or Pacifico. I bring a bicycle with me wherever I go when I am south, and its often to Barra that I set my compass to...

One can also bring along his tennis racket, or I guess, rent one, and play at the Hotel Cabo Blanco courts (2). You must reserve, and preferably be an early bird, otherwise, its no fun, its too hot!

See you in paradise! I am going back for sure next January 2000. Anybody knows if any celebrations are planned in Barra for the Millennium?

Paul Savard
Alias "Pablocito"

ICQ: 9033248
October 1999

Enjoy it While You Can

Hi Tom, Just reading through your website on Barra de Navidad. Have ventured there on numerous visits over the past twenty years, as recently as January/99. Never been disappointed yet, but - - - how it is changing. ie Grand Bay Hotel, wow, what a complex for the very, very rich!

For those trying to 'keep it a secret'' - bad news folks. The Vancouver Sun recently printed a two page spread in the weekly travel section titled 'Mexican Beach Town is an Unsung Getaway" - photographs and all! Also the Victoria 'Times Colonist' did the same spread. Written by a Los Angeles Times reporter I can only speculate that it has also been published in many other North American newspapers.

Oh well, lets all enjoy while we can still afford it! (Does anyone remember what Puerto Vallarta was like in the late 1950's and early 60's ???)

Dave Guy

October 1999

About the Hotel Barra de Navidad

Notice that you do not recommend the Hotel Barra de Navidad and can't help wondering why.

We also had a bad experience at the Hotel Barra. Our room was broken into and tossed during suppertime three times in a one week period four years ago in January. Lost her purse and a little cash (about US$120.00 total value). Management at that time was aware that the hotel was experiencing security problems and we were told by one of the desk clerks that the manager knew the guilty parties but chose not to take action. On that day we checked out!

We have since been staying at the Hotel Monterrey in Melaque. It is an older but squeaky clean family run smaller(about 20 rooms) hotel - The location close to all amenities can't be beat, beach is far superior to Barra and the management couldn't be nicer. Rooms are somewhat basic but very comfortable.

Herb Feinberg
Grand Junction, Colorado

October 1999

Several have asked why the Hotel Barra de Navidad is not recommended, including the manager of the hotel.

We stayed in one of the air-conditioned rooms (there were only 6) that fronted onto the beach. Our air-conditioner lacked a grill so we had to rig an air deflector using a tray and a chair to keep the unit from sucking the cold air back onto the thermostat and turning itself off. Fortunately the air-conditioner worked well enough to compensate for the number of openings in the windows and around the air-conditioner itself that were not sealed. Workmanship in the room was decidedly poor.

Although our room fronted onto the beach, there was a security? fence that prevented us from walking out onto the beach without first passing in front of the windows of all of the other rooms that fronted onto the beach. (Our room was at the end of the hotel.) The chain link fence just stopped when you got past the rooms and you could walk around to the beach. The fence also interfered with our view of the beach.

The swimming pool is situated at the other end of the hotel. The sea breeze, which is deflected by the large hotel structure, comes around the corner and through the pool area so that swimmers experience a chill when getting out of the pool even in very warm weather. The hotel has no parking area. We parked on the street with two wheels on the sidewalk like everyone else. There are two rows of rooms, two floors high surrounding an interior courtyard. We do not like this design, because with the parallel masonry walls in this enclosed space, the sound from one noisy person can keep the entire hotel awake.

We did like the restaurant, which wasn't often open while we were there. It is upstairs with a balcony crowded with palm trees overlooking the beach. Even though they got our order wrong, we enjoyed our breakfast.

Comparing this hotel with another beachfront hotel, Hotel Royale Costa Sur in nearby Cuastecomates, we found the Royale to be somewhat cheaper (comparing air-conditioned rooms) and devoid of any of the complaints we had about the Barra de Navidad. Based on these experiences, I don't recommend the Hotel Barra de Navidad. I am not saying that the hotel should be avoided, I just think there are better options. But there are people who regularly stay at the Hotel Barra de Navidad and like it.   -Tom

Don't Worry About Military Presence

Dear Tom: People seem to be questioning and/or worrying about the Military Presence here! Please tell them they can all relax, unless they are banditos or drug pushers, or gunsellers! The Military are not very visible except for their beautiful new Base, which is a great improvement to our area , or when we have weather related disasters and they immediately come to the aid of our communities. The presiding General is a first class individual , and their presence here makes the Melaque communities a safer place to reside, or visit.

Richard & Nancy Lennie
La Paloma Oceanfront Retreat

October 1999

Any Mexico Birdwatching Sites?

Dear Tom, Happened across your website while endeavouring to learn more about the earthquake in and around Puerto Angel.

Like many of the visitor's who have left messages and provided information, Barra de Navidad has a particular resonance for me. I first visited in 1988 on a trip to the Pacific coast from Guanajato where I was studying at the time. Having been really taken by everything about the then sleepy (and still relatively so) little village (outside of the main holidays naturally), I try to visit once every two years or so, sometimes more frequently, as part of my travels through Mexico while climbing volcanoes and birdwatching (inter alia).

This brings me to a small problem: I have found it difficult to locate any good reference books/websites on Mexican ornithology. I have no doubt that they exist, and so if anyone can assist with suggestions, I would be very grateful.

On the several good places to stay in Barra, may I suggest the excellent and very friendly (and many have already attested to this it appears!) Hotel Delfin. The rooms which give onto the lagoon are excellent with vast tiled bathrooms and great views.

Have you (would you) considered putting any parochial meteorological data on the site? - this would be reassuring for those of us about to experience the dark winter days in Northern Europe and elsewhere!

I enjoyed your site and look forward to visiting again.

Mark Isaac
Pimlico, London, England

October 1999


Hello all! My name is Sarah Bullock. I live in Tallahassee, Florida but my family is from San Luis Soyatlan Jalisco. I am stunned at the knowledge that there is a website totally devoted to my most favorite place in the world. I know lots of N. Americans go to Barra but I truly had no real clue. My dad used to take my mom to Barra long before I was born. He even took her 3 weeks before I was born. This could be why I love Barra so much--I have history with it. Anyway....

You guys have made my month......

My guy, John, and I are wanting to get married in Barra (even though he's never been there before!) Does anyone know if the Grand Bay has a ballroom? Does anyone know if someone there will marry two non-demoninational Christinas in English and Spanish?

Hopefully someone does :) please let me know. Well I should get back to my studying. That was afterall my intentions...Viva MEXICO!

Sarah Bullock

September 1999

Those Darn Police

Just found your site on Melaque, what a wealth of information.

We have been visiting Santiago ( near Manzanillo) for the past two years and met some other Canadians on a trip to Barra who recommended Melaque and area as a possible 2-week vacation destination.

What concerns me is the March 99 Welcome to Occupied Melaque, is there now a large military garrison here and if so what has the impact been?

Also we are considering renting a car ( depending on how expensive it is ) to explore and some of the comments on this site have referred to being pulled over and paying extra to the policia?

I would appreciate hearing from you and anyone else who has up to date information on Melaque and area.


September 1999

No, there isn't a large military garrison there. I think the military presence was just temporary. I haven't heard anything more about it.

Yes, sometimes the policia will extort money from tourists. This can happen anywhere in Mexico. It is not a frequent problem. Best thing to do is be patient, don't give in easily, always have small bills available (they don't make change), and don't speak very much Spanish.   -Tom

Want to Rent Apartment

We have traveled to Barra de Navidad twice during the last few years and are looking for an apartment to rent during the month of Feb 2000. We have made many good friends there and wish to spend time with them there. If anyone can recommend accommodation, please get in contact with us. Dale and Zaida Rechner

September 1999

Alaska Airlines

I've traveled to Mexico many ways over the last twenty some years [plane, car, train, bus & sailboat] and I think that the following information may provide the most convenient mode of transportation from the Seattle area to my favorite spot, Melaque. Starting October 28 Alaska Airlines will have three flights a week [Tues., Thurs. & Sat.] from Seattle to Manzanillo. The flight [#222] leaves at 0644 and arrives in Manzanillo at 1530. There is a stop in LA but no plane change. Return flights are the same days leaving at 1610. This should end the days of having to deal with PV and the bus ride South.

Stephen McGuire

September 1999

Schools in the Barra de Navidad Area

Hi Tom, I just discovered your website and was wondering if you or anyone else out there can help me with information on schools in the area. Do you know if there is a good elementary (probably private) school in the area that still has some English spoken? Or are we looking at strictly Spanish? How about in Manzanillo? Any info would be appreciated.

T. Hansen
September 1999


Tom, Last time we were there we were told that there is a newsletter that we could get put on. It's called something like Friends of Melaque. This guy that owns a very lovely villa in Melaque told us about it. He said that they have meetings once a month etc. Have you heard of it? I am excited about getting back to Mexico and we hope that my husband's relatives enjoy it as much as we do.

September 1999

Bananas about Bananas

So why isn't Bananas on your list of places to eat in Barra? The food is fresh the service is fantastic, the view is great and the owner is very, very helpful. His coffee is excellent. He is open early so if you have to get to the airport you can still eat a decent breakfast. His food is pretty much American but he has killer seafood Florentine. We love Los Arco's; their food is good and so are the people. Sooo accommodating. Just love the twinkle in their eyes when they serve you. We have been going there for 4 years and love it there. Also how about Velro's. Have you ever had the shrimp there? We went there last year for the first time as we had had it confused with the place next door that we got sick at a couple of times.

We go to Barra because you just can't beat the people. We bring toys to the kids down there. This year my husband was going to drive his little VW down but I kind of got carried away with the toys so now he has to drive his truck. Is there an orphanage near there or we just best taking them to the church in Barra or Melaque or La Manzanillo? Are you from a Chamber of Commerce sort of organization for Barra or?

September 1999

No, I'm just a fan like you. Marsha at Hotel Mar Vida says to contact her when you get there about the toys. She doesn't know of any orphanages close by but can connect you with plenty of needy children. -Tom

El Tecuán

My husband and I are interested in visiting the hotel El Tecuán. we stayed there several years ago bu on more recent visits it was closed. Does anyone know if and when it is operational? Thanks.


August 1999

About Shore Fishing

One excellent shore fishing opportunity here is Snook - they get to about 35 pounds, and can be caught surf casting with 4" Rapalas and other lures where the mouth of the river meets the ocean here not too far from Barra. Other species are Pargo and Huatchinango (a type of red snapper). Most fish can be caught casting Buzz Bombs, Rapalas, dead cut bait, Krocodiles, etc.

Visit our website at www.zpesca.com for more info, or e-mail me direct at zpesca@aol.com.

Brian Wilson
General Manager
Z Pesca Sport Fishing

August 1999

Barra Renovation ??

I have enjoyed your web page of Barra de Navidad and visit it when I need a Barra Boost!!! I've been going there for a few years and love it. I just heard through the grapevine that Grand Bay was trying to buy all of Barra and redevelop it. Do you have any info on this scary tale. I hope it's not true.


August 1999

Laguna del Tule

How can I reach Laguna del Tule office in Mazunte by fax or e-mail?

Frank Howard

August 1999

Hotel Royale Costa Sur in Cuastecomates, Jalisco

Hi Tom. Rates at the Hotel Royale Costa Sur were 500.00 pesos per/night, (actually it is 450.00 per nite and kids under 14 are free and you pay 50.00 extra if there is more than 2 adults ) we have a 11 year old and a 16 year old so we had to pay an extra 50.00 per nite.

They were kinda busy, I guess there was about 10 cars in the parking lot, maybe 10 to 15 families. Restaurant was open all the time, breakfast is from 8-12, lunch 12-6, and dinner from 6-10pm, most breakfasts were around 23 pesos, the lunches, (shrimp,fish etc,) were around 70 pesos with a 20% discount, and super was around 35 pesos but all there was was burgers and fries. We tried several of the palapas along the beach and the food at Royale costa sur was much better , a little more expensive but better none the less. (My wife got sick after eating shrimp at one of the palapas).

If you get all/included rates, they are 555.00 per/nite for adults, and 392.00 for kids, So i guess if you are a heavy drinker and eater than the all/included is Good.

Tim West

August 1999

Questions about Tours Inland from Manzanillo

We are planning our next trip to Melaque and this time would like to take a detour on the way there to see some of the sights near Colima for a week or so. We will be flying into Manzanillo and would like to head North to see the Volcán de Fuego and the archeological sites near Los Ortices. Is anyone aware if there are tours that can be purchased in Manzanillo for this or will we have to rent a vehicle or take the bus. Also wondering about accommodations. I read that there is a place to stay near Los Ortices called Centro Turistico Tampumachay, has anyone stayed there? Any help/advice would be appreciated. Thanks! Can't wait to get back to Mexico!

Wendy Randall

August 1999

Tecuán, Beaches, etc.

We are returning to Barra in January and would like to know if anyone has information about El Tecuán. We stayed there in Jan. 98 and had a great time with the Canadians that were running and rebuilding the hotel. We are also thinking of taking the bus down from PV and wonder if there is any reasonable car rental available in Melaque or Barra?

A couple of places that have not been mentioned much but we found great. A small restaurant in Barra called Traditions is wonderful. There is a great beach south of the Grand Hotel that is miles long and no one on it. You have to get on the highway going south for 10 or 15 miles and turn at the Grand Hotel sign, go another 5 miles and you will see paths to the beach. The Hotel Monterrey in Melaque was a lot of fun, on the beach and clean. Don't stay on the days kids go to school unless you like getting up at five, they are very loud.

I cannot speak for the rest of the year but in mid Jan. you have a great deal of choice where you can stay w/o reservations, just check places out and plan ahead a few days.

David Castor

August 1999

Melaque Updates

I have been a six to nine month a year resident of Melaque for some years and have enjoyed your site.

Thank you for putting La Paloma on your site. Richard and Nancy Lennie are fine people and have an elegant location and excellent accommodations. She is a fine watercolor artist and is a gifted teacher. Her classes are inexpensive the material is very well presented. She can make anyone into a passable artist in 'no time'.

Villas Camino del Mar now has Internet service. Email address is skennedy@ciber.net.mx.

Hotel de Legazpi now has email: legazpi@ciber.net.mx

You have used the street name Asalgado Velasco several times. It is properly Abel Salgado Velasco, but is used correctly as Abel Salgado. ( I used to live on that street.)

Far and away the most popular restaurant in Melaque is Flor Morena directly across the street from the town square, open only for dinner from 6 pm to 11 pm. One hundred percent Mexican food (no fish except shrimp pozole on Sundays). Very small, only six tables and open to the street. And very cheap, a plate of for chicken enchiladas is only 10 pesos. Their pozole is the best in town, and the locals send their kids for it with their own pots. Just as popular with the North Americans as with the Mexicans. No phone. Open all year.

A very good dinner restaurant is Koala's, owned by an Australian woman and her husband, Beverly and Bill Weston. It is on Avenida Obregon, the street that separates San Patricio from Villa Obregon. Open only during the season, from December through March, it has a limited menu of non-Mexican food, and has a great outdoor ambiance.

Los Pelícanos is now open only during the tourist season, as is Viva Maria 1910. Viva Maria serves a stuffed fish roll with almond sauce that is as good as anywhere in the world. They also make great hamburgers.

Since no one in Hotel Mallorca speaks English, Tere Smith has asked me to tell you that English language FAXES to the Hotel should be addressed ATT: TERE SMITH.

Bungalows Laguna del Tule is on Zafiro, not Abel Salgado, at the end of the block that I live on. The street Abel Salgado comes to and end two long blocks west, where the street jogs one block toward the ocean and becomes Zafiro. The owner is Fidel Diaz, who speaks excellent English.

Hotel Dorado is actually Hotel Club Nautico. Its large and beautiful palapa restaurant on the beach is named El Dorado, (and sometimes called El Piramide, from its pyramid shape).

Another good new hotel (only four beautifully appointed room rooms) is Las Palmas located on the beach at Abel Salgado 100. It is only open during the season. Telephone is 335-55385. The owner can be reached at email: dotson@hartnet.com in the off season. This is a lovely place and the owner, Larry Dotson, would no doubt be able to send you a good picture.

Alaska Airlines has just announced in today's Seattle Times that it is beginning service from the West Coast to Manzanillo in November.

I think allowing people to post notices and queries to your site is a good thing. I have been able to help a couple of people to get some of their questions answered.

Carl Young
carljoven@ciber.net.mx (when in Melaque)
carljovn@aa.net (other times)

July 1999

Windsurfing in Barra

We are planning a vacation in Barra next summer (July 2000), but one of our party won't go unless he can windsurf. Can you give us any info on the availability of rental equipment and conditions?


Yes their is windsurfing here and rentals, The new group that took over as the server of sports equipment for the town and the Grand Bay Hotel, has everything that you can think about for renting for playing in the water.

Bungalows Mar Vida

July 1999

La Paloma in Melaque

To: Richard Lennie & Nancy (La Paloma)

I'm back in the office this morning physically, but mentally and spiritually I'm still on the beach in Melaque.

I would like to say thanks to both of you for all the wonderful hospitality and for being such gracious and generous hosts. I've traveled to many places over the years and this trip to La Paloma easily ranks at the top of my list as one of the most relaxing and enjoyable that I have ever had. Muchas Gracias!

Mike A.

July 1999


Mar Vida, Fishing, Etc.

Hi Tom. We found Bungalows Mar Vida [photos 82K] through your site, and spent two weeks in February. This was our eighth winter visit to Central America, Cuba and Mexico and was as good as any of them. Mar Vida was well equipped, nice pool and really close to everything. Restaurant Los Arcos across the street had good meals, nice family service and reasonable prices-dinner for two including a beer each-64 pesos.

Good fishing trip in a panga from Rogelio Flores (owners of Mary Chuy) 1000 pesos for about six hours, caught half a dozen fish including a decent size (seven or eight pound) tuna-BIG, BIG waves! Lucky that we are boaters, and used to this! Super trip to Tenacatita in the Mary Chuy--about two hours each way--great seafood on the beach, very relaxing, recommended for kids too! Saw dolphin pushing dead mate out to sea-quite unusual (for me) and a bit sad.

Enjoyed walking from Barra to Melaque along the beach, getting cash at the ATM, having lunch, shopping, and catching the local dusty (but only two pesos) bus back to Barra. Super BBQ chicken from a guy in the main street who cooks it in a 45 gal drum right on the sidewalk-half chicken, rice and peppers, tortillas and sauce for 22 pesos--MORE than enough for lunch! Please don't tell anyone about this great little, friendly laid-back town, then we can keep it all to ourselves! Okay? Great site,full of good relevant info-thanks a lot!

Mike Kirkpatrick and Judy Paler
Winnipeg Canada

June 1999

I won't tell a soul. -Tom

Casa De Moma Laya?

A friend and I will be traveling to Barra at the end of July. We will be flying into Guadalajara and taking a bus to Barra. Do you know how we might obtain a schedule, or is this a common route with multiple buses per day? We also hope to meet some other friends at "Casa De Moma Laya", I hope I got that right?? If you have any info. particularly the phone # that would be a super help.

-And how's the surf been???


June 1999

Is Fortinos 2 still there?

My wife and I have visited Barra twice and we hope to make a third visit early in 2000. We "love" it. I just hope it hasn't changed too much since our last trip in '94. The quieter, the better.

Anyway, can you please tell me if the restaurant "Fortinos 2" is still in Barra? It was a great little restaurant just around the corner from Los Arcos (which is also a great place). Omar, Maria and their 2 young boys ran it and lived next door. It's been 5 years since our last visit and I have no idea if it still exists.

Viva Barra!!

Alan Barton

June 1999

Is Bungalow's Mary a good place?

Please tell me if this a good place to stay in Melaque. I know it is on Avenida de Palamas and is near the informal trailer camp. I have friends who have stayed at this location and with upgrades felt it would be a fine place to stay. Please advise.

Thank you in advance. P.S. November is our best time.


June 1999

La Paloma

The following is in response to an email inquiry about La Paloma In Melaque:

Thank you for your inquiry, and congratulations for being the first! We just went on the web page yesterday! LA PALOMA is our own private retreat which we started building in June of 97 after living in Hawaii for twenty years in the Vacation Rental business . Retirement is a drag, so we decided to share our beautiful home and gardens. We have three accommodations for two people each (6 guests ) and are situated on the beach in San Patricio Melaque. We are 1-1/2 blocks from the post office and the main area of shopping, eating, and enjoying the real Mexico. I will refer to each unit as a studio as my wife is an artist who teaches in her own studio on the property, and you are welcome to partake! As you enter our property, you will discover a tropical paradise, for my love is gardening. It's very private, and very secure, with a 25-meter swimming pool and jacuzzi 8 feet above the beachfront, and plenty of hammocks strung between our palms just waiting for your R & R. As our guests, the whole property is yours to enjoy, and our housekeeper Isabelle might even teach you Mexican cooking! We reside here year round, so can steer you in any direction you choose. Our accommodations are as follows:

STUDIO ONE is situated privately on the second floor above our kitchen and dining room wing, has a 14x14 foot bedroom with Queen size bed, an in-suite bathroom with shower, and an 8x8 foot dry kitchen before opening on to a 14x14 foot filtered sundeck overlooking the pool and ocean! The kitchenette has a coffee maker, juicer, blender, toaster-oven, fridge, and all the housewares and dishes you'll require to prepare light meals. Our main patio by the pool has a large gas barbeque for your pleasure, and we can also arrange to prepare and serve you home cooked gourmet meals when you choose. Each studio has a television if you wish and we have a grand selection of pocketbooks, and a telephone, fax, or email for your communicating needs.

STUDIO TWO is also situated more privately from our casa on the second level of Studio Three and has a private entrance, a 15x17 foot Bedroom with two double beds, an in-suite bathroom with shower, and a full kitchen. The Ocean view is also spectacular, but set back 100 feet from the beach. The deck of Studio One is 45 feet from the beach.

STUDIO THREE is our largest with an 18x20 foot bed/sitting room, a King Sized bed, bathroom with shower, fully equipped kitchenette, large patio dining area, and a front patio accessed through sliding glass doors. It is also 100 feet to the Beach entrance with a lush green lawn in front, and is on ground level.

Each unit is freshly furnished "Rustico Mexican" and you'll feel like you're maybe in the South Pacific before you walk to town! Our property is ruled by Casey Brown, the sweetest boxer dog in our whole darn town, Three Cats, Laurel & Hardy. Squeaky, and six birds at last count!

Don't be misled by our very low first year rates! Studio One $50.00 per night, Studio Two $55.00 per night, and Studio Three $65.00 per night. Minimum stay is three nights. I'm proud to say we have the very best accommodations on the Bahía de Navidad! Yes, your dates are open, and take your choice of 1,2, or 3! A deposit of 30 percent is required when making your reservation, another 30 percent by October 1, and the balance on check-in. No refunds!

Muchas Gracios for your interest.


Richard and Nancy Lennie

June 1999

Los Pelicanos, in Melaque

We are looking for a phone or fax number, or e-mail address for Los Pelicanos, in Melaque. We are in the process of planning our trip for next year and would like to speak to either Ramone or Rosa. We have sent mail, but not heard anything in return. If anyone can help us out with this, it would be appreciated.

Thank you.

Wendy Randall

May 1999

Favorite Beach

Hello! I have traveled to Barra de Navidad about 5 or 6 times in the last year. I was living in Guadalajara going to school and our favorite beach was Barra! It was very relaxing and I think we could not have asked for anything better. Personally, my friends and I enjoyed staying at Hotel Caribe [photo 18K]. The rooms are very nice and clean and extremely affordable. The family who also owns it is very nice. The other hotel that we enjoyed staying at was Posada Pacifico [photo 42K]. The family who owned it was also nice. There was also a man named Herly who married into the family that I met the first time I was down there. He and a friend would always take us to Tenacatita by boat and the price was always very reasonable.

There are only two flaws that I can find with Barra 1) the spider monkey that they have caged up at the Hotel Sands and 2) the wild animals that they have at the local bar Piper's and Lover's. Hopefully those things can be changed. Overall, I LOVE BARRA!!! I am planing to go there again this summer!!

Ruby Garza

May 1999

Nice Visit, Can We Move In?

Tom, Great page and a tremendous help in making arrangements and getting the lay of the land. We spent 7 days in Barra and area during late March and should have spent 3 weeks. We stayed at the Bungalows Mar Vida and loved it. Not fancy but very clean, bottled water each day, a cooking unit and right in the community so you really felt like you were IN the town. The food was wonderful. The Sunset had a great Happy Hour, nice folks and a fabulous waitress from Gabriola Island BC named Mimosa. Say Hi if anyone sees her and ask for any help you need. Most gracious.

Marsha at the Bungalow Mar Vida was also very helpful on tours and stuff. A great tour we had, organized through the Hotel Barra de Navidad was up to Tenacatita. Super place, good snorkeling on the north end, nice shallow beach and FABULOUS food. The Rolla del Mar was to die for. If I could make a living there I would just hole up and kiss the world goodbye.

The market was good once you got used to bartering a bit. Good prices for blankets, jewelry and carvings. Also good prices on all the food. Most expensive was a $25 CAN (150 peso) lobster dinner at Valero's where you pick the lobster and you get the whole thing , about a kilo of fabulous lobster complete with singing waiter. Tina had 18 large shrimp in garlic sauce for 100pesos. Most meals were 40-60 pesos and fine food. On the way home we found a fruit vendor selling mangoes, pineapples, oranges, grapefruits out of her truck. Got a ton of fruit for 70 pesos and picked up fresh bread from a street vendor, lasted us for three days!

Watch out for the beach Umbrella rentals at Popeye's, some folks got burned. Beach vendors are on the beach at Barra and Melaque but not a lot and very friendly. Support them, they are inexpensive prepared to barter and this is their living. They depend on tourists and it's the least you can do to support the local economy. Best on we found was Sophie, wonderful woman and small son and taught us Spanish as we shared a beer on the beach. Just like family.

Thanks for all the assists on your page Tom. Please keep updating! WE WILL BE BACK! Now if I could only figure a way to make a living down there......

Glen Dunsworth and Tina Jennissen

Lantzville BC

There's No Place Like Home

I was browsing on the internet just to rekindle all of my memories of Barra de Navidad, when I came across your website. I decided that this would give me a great chance to let everyone know the experience that I had in the small town of Barra de Navidad.

We first arrived in Puerto Vallarta, and I was hit with an uneasy feeling in my stomach. I knew right away that Vallarta was not my kind of place. I wanted to experience the real side of Mexico. Fortunately, my friends, who had been in Mexico for two months, had come across Barra de Navidad, and thought that that place would be right for us all. So we made our way there. Little did I know that I would experience the greatest feeling in the whole world-ease. We spent two weeks in Barra, and I have never felt so at home, without being at home. We were always greeted friendly, and everyone did their part to make us feel at home. Being there two weeks was not enough, and made my decision that I would be moving there in a couple of months.

I now know of a place that I can recommend to everyone, where almost everyone has something to do. Hopefully I will see you all there, enjoying the lovely scenery and smells of Barra de Navidad.

Shawna Mullen

May 1999

A Week in Barra

Just got back from a week's stay at Barra and would like to share a few thoughts. Weather was great, a little hot in the midday but nice cool nights almost requiring a light blanket. Beach at Barra and Melaque a little rough but not impossible. Spent one day at Tenacacita where beach was wonderful. Also some tidal pools and snorkeling available. Did the river cruise at Tenacacita also and was very pleasant.

Food throughout the trip was excellent. Stayed at hotels on the beach. Hotel Barra de Navidad and Bogavante. Not plush and you pay a little extra for beach front (around 400 pesos) but acceptable. Might look for something else next time. Rented a car from Zepesta for one day. Went to Boca de Iguana beach (most beautiful that we saw) and saw the croc. Was told that he had consumed a few puppies recently. Nobody there but us and the proprietors of the palapa.

Went fishing one day with Zepesta. Had a great Mexican guide and took a panga. Didn't catch much but saw dolphins. A little spooky to a mountain man to be on the ocean 15 miles out in a small boat with an outboard motor. Guide carries a gps though so I guess there is no real worry.

Went to Melaque several times. Loved the market. Got a fresh pineapple for 9 pesos. Did not try the goat head which was offered, however. Saw no evidence of military in Melaque at all.

Had a contingent of the Mexico Navy next to hotel in Barra but they are not very active. Spent most of their time polishing their navy truck. Went to golf course of Grand Bay for breakfast one morning. Very very plush and very very empty. We were only ones eating and had about 5 servers. Prices not high although I was told it costs 100 dollars to play golf. Some huge yachts in the Grand Bay marina. Not much activity in the hotel itself although we did not go in. Word is that it is owned by a wealthy Mexican family from Guadalajara and that they really do not need to make money with it.

Mosquitos not too bad in the beach area but noticeable on the lagoon side.

Finally, there is a computer shop with access to the internet in Melaque in the alley on the way to Cesars and Charleys restaurant close to the main bus stop. 25 pesos for 1/2 hour.

All in all a great trip and we are going back as soon as we can.

April 1999

Anybody Know Gloria in Cuastecomates?

Tom, we are trying to get in touch with Gloria in Cuastecomates. We want to rent her place for 3 months. She has 4 apartments and a palapa. That place sure has grown. 4 years ago we took a trip to Manzanillo and were going to take a side trip for one day to Barra. Well, we brought our luggage just in case we might like it. Well we never went back to Manzanillo. This year we brought toys down for the kids and gave them to the church. I hope to bring roller blades down for the older kids next time, that's if I can find them cheap. We just love the people down there.

I met an elderly American who was there by herself and said that she had come the year before to visit a friend and since the Mexican people were so friendly that she didn't mind traveling and staying down there by herself. She was 78 years old and had a bicycle that she was driving around Melaque. She was so happy to be down there and said if the Americans in her hometown treated her that nice she would have stayed home. She was very nice and showed us how to get to some restaurant in Melaque that she had eaten at many times. If you can get me Gloria's telephone # I'd sure appreciate it.

April 1999

Here's the info, thanks to Wendy Devlin: Gloria Diaz, APDO 139, San Patricio/Melaque, Jalisco CP48980, Mexico. Phone number in Monterrey, Nuevo León, is 835-80363. -Tom

Soldiers in Melaque?

Hi Tom. We are starting to plan next year's vacation (save, save, save) and hope to spend a month in Melaque, as we loved it so much last time. It was quite disturbing to read the article on Melaque being "occupied" by a bunch of soldiers. Do you know what is going on? Is this true? It certainly may impact on our decision to go there. We loved the peace, tranquility, and small-town feel of Melaque and can't imagine it being full of soldiers. When we were there last year there was one evening when a troop of soldiers were running down the beach in the dark with their rifles (scared my son half to death - he was only 10) but other than that we only saw them on the highways.

Any info on this situation would be appreciated.

Wendy Randall
April 1999

Bus Schedules?

Your site is a real find! I'm going to Barra in 2 weeks...I haven't been there for 10 yrs. We were going to rent a car but now I'm not sure. We're flying in to Puerta Vallarta..... Do you know how frequently the buses run from there to Barra and how I can get a schedule? If you have any other ideas, they would be appreciated...thanks for your help. My first time in Barra & Melaque was in the late 70's and I loved it then. Thanks for all your info.


April 4, 1999

A Great Place to Hang Out!

I think I've enjoyed almost every beach between Barra de Navidad & Chamela on the Costa Alegre, but I found one that's truly my new "home away from home." It's called La Piratas (The Pirates), aka Xametla, located on la Bahia de Chamela, around km 64 on Highway 200, maybe about 10-15 minutes north of Club Med La Playa Blanca. Frequent visitors to the area may remember when it was located in a set left over from the filming of McHale's Navy (the movie) at the mouth of the river at Blue Bay/Los Angeles Locos. The Pirates have moved north, but the ceviche and other food, margaritas, music, & relaxed atmosphere are better than ever.

The driveway is just south of The Pirates' small sign. If you miss the sign, you can't miss the lagoon next to the highway. It serves as a bird sanctuary & is usually full of egrets & pelicans & ducks, etc. Drive maybe a 1/4-mile toward the beach on a quite passable (for Mexico) dirt road, & you're there! No hablas Espanol? No problema! Most of the Pirates speak some English.

Relax at a table on the beach, or stretch out in a hammock or on one of the couches in the open-air bar. The service is excellent, the view of the islands is spectacular, the beach is extremely clean, the swimming is great, & the sunsets will blow you totally away (if the margaritas don't get to you first!).

Make a margarita your first order of the day! The barman is an Indian, looks about 7 feet tall, named Arundu (whom I renamed 'our-undoing' after a few of his incredible margaritas!). The bar is fairly well stocked for a beach bar w/your basic, top-shelf potables: Johnny Walker, Absolut, Herradura, etc., as well as ice-cold cervezas & sodas. Arundu also doubles as the deejay, playing a wide range of music from traditional Mexican to techno-pop, Sinatra to the Stones, and classic rock favorites such as U2, Pink Floyd, the Doors, & more. If you don't hear what you want, ask!

Bring your appetite! The food is unique, world-class, & made to order, not to mention reasonably priced. Chef Juan Carlos does things with fresh shrimp, lobster, scallops & fish that make many restaurants seem as exciting & predictable as McDonalds. Salsa & the ceviche are a must!

For a little romance, every night they build a huge bonfire & at least a billion stars are visible from the beach. Plenty of room to pitch a tent on the beach, too, just south of the bar. I don't know the fee, if any, but the RESTROOMS ARE CLEAN & convenient. Since I was there this past February, I understand they're adding a dive shop, too.

Whether you're day-tripping from Barra or Puerto Vallarta or looking for a place to relax for a couple of days, The Pirates is a MUST! I spent two weeks visiting a friend who lives in Emiliano Zapata (a small village on Highway 200 most notable for its numerous topes [speed bumps] & the gift shop Novedades de Victoria), & spent at least seven of those days with The Pirates.

Jane Gorby

March 1999

Welcome to Occupied Melaque

In case you're wondering what all that construction is on the east edge of Melaque, here's a hint: Can you say "Chiapas?"

The Mexican government has decided to install a 2000-man army garrison in Melaque. Ostensibly, it's to "provide protection and assistance" during civil disasters such as floods and earthquakes. In reality, it's to stem the alleged importation of illegal drugs and the fostering of illegal ideas. The Zedillo government recently eliminated the government subsidy for tortillas, causing the most basic food of the Mexican diet to more than double in cost. A number of other Mexican staples have experienced meteoric rises in the last few months; gasoline, which used to be quite cheap, is now approaching $1.80 U.S. per gallon. This has resulted in predictable grass roots outrage. Since the government is not interested in a repeat of the events in Chiapas, it is taking pre-emptive measures.

Military helicopters spent much of January and February swooping low over the beaches of Melaque, buzzing sunbathers and disrupting the traditional tranquility of the town. It was a bit too reminiscent of other military actions we all know and love. Mexican army and navy troops are now conspicuous in the streets of Melaque, their trucks zig-zagging through the village for no apparent reason. But most disconcerting -- and downright ominous -- is the sight of a dozen uniformed 18-year-olds with Uzis marching up and down the heretofore peaceful beaches. Those of us familiar with the histories of "banana republics" know these guys aren't there for *our* protection.

There has never been a criminal element in Melaque. It is not a haven for drug smugglers. Even petty theft is somewhat unusual there. But when you dump 2000 armed troops into a tiny town of Melaque's size you will have problems. Not the least of which is the impact of their very presence.

It will not be the same.

Jef Jaisun

March 1999

Loved Melaque

I just got back from three weeks vacation in Mexico to visit my boyfriend in Guadalajara. We decided to take a trip to the beach and ended up in Manzanillo at night. Since it was dark we were enable to see just what we were in for. We were only aware that the air felt grimy. The next morning daylight confirmed that Manzanillo was not for us so once again we ended up at the bus station. Our immediate choices were Zihuatanejo, which I know and love but is and eight hour bus ride from Manzanillo, or Melaque, close, unknown to both of us, therefore another gamble. I'm so glad we decided to go to Melaque.

Whether you're on a backpacker's budget or sky's the limit, Melaque is one of those places that sucks you in, makes you stay 3 or 4 days... or months in some cases, and economically allows you to do so. We stayed in a hotel for $13 US per night right on the beach (I believe it's called Santa Maria, I was so relaxed I don't even remember) almost at the half way point in between Barra and Melaque. The young couple keeps their rates the same year round therefore pretty much keeping busy. They ended up having to kick us out because they had a large group reserved to occupy the entire place. Not a problem. I was grateful for the time we spent and will return. I noticed a lot of "Se Vende" signs on properties. If anyone has any information on who to mail for details please let me know. Next time I go, I might not leave.

Meredith Schwarz Rojas

March 1999

[For information on property, you can contact Marsha at the Mar Vida in Barra de Navidad. -Tom]

Manzanillo and La Barra

Many thanks for your terrific site! Was very handy when we were planning our '99 winter break. Spent week in Manzanillo, then another in Barra. Found Manzanillo a nice city (particularly downtown). Stayed at Hotel La Posada right on Las Brisas beach and next to the main shipping channel...fascinating if you are a ship-watcher. Hotel was nifty, but pricey for the area and minimal amenities...Better choice would be Hotel Las Brisas just down the street for half the price.

Week later we took the Primera Plus bus from their depot in Santiago to Barra and stayed at the Hotel Delfín...absolutely delightful and spotless little place in a great location, just a block or so from everything. Priced at 290 pesos for 2 people, has nice little pool, no A/C just fans, very nice view of the Barra Lagoon. Suggest rooms on 3rd or 4th floors (best view). Somewhat noisy if your a light sleeper, maybe take earplugs. Best buffet breakfast in town (29 pesos!). Old Hotel Sands directly across the street was once the high spot of Barra, looking very tired now, but still promoted in several guide books. The Delfín is the hands down choice for this part of town! Will be there next year if everything goes well.

Scott Morrison

February 1999

Bungalows Mar Vida

We took your advise and spent 22 days at Bungalows Mar Vida in Barra. We had great accommodations, nice pool and wonderful people --Marsha and Joaquin were great. Barra grows on you--sleepy little town filled with nice people. The bungalows filled our needs but you shouldn't expect the Hilton (though come to think of it, it was better then a couple of Hilton's I've stayed in). We explored the town, the beaches, the restaurants--never had a touch of the tourista. I loved the fruit and vegetable trucks and all the local vendors. Beach vendors were not pushy but were definitely there. The town was naturally much less pricey then Puerto Vallarta and we often ate for 35 to 50 pesos for two---we also tried the really "good" restaurants and spent considerably more. The golf course has a nice breakfast and lunch at very little money. Great town to try.

Cheryl Halkyard

January 1999


I went to El Tecuán; its an hotel next to Los Angeles Locos or Blue Bay near to Melaque and Tenacatita .El Tecuán is the coolest hotel in the whole state it has a beautiful lagoon where you can rent jet ski or go fishing you can also go to the beach with the best surf beach cause its very shallow so you can go out to catch the big waves. The hotel also has tennis courts, pool and a cool disco and restaurant so its the perfect place to go. This is the phone number (335) 150-26 or (335) 150-18. So call them; it's a very cool place.

Mauricio Reyes

January 1999

El Marques Rules!

In my week's visit in Barra de Navidad Jan.99, we stayed at 2 hotels in Barra. Hotel Cabo Blanco [photo 62K] for 1 night where the price for a double room was 525 pesos. The grounds were beautiful, however the room was dark and VERY moldy smelling, as well as small.

We moved a few blocks away to the El Marques Hotel [photo 31K] where the price was 330 pesos,and stayed for 6 days. The hotel had a small swimming pool and was downtown. A very large bright room, no A/C, with ceiling fan which was adequate. The staff was very friendly and obliging. The room was spotlessly clean and large with 2 double beds, a huge shower stall with plenty of hot water, and the hotel is extremely well maintained. My wife and I would highly recommend this hotel.

A return trip to the area is a priority for us, and a longer stay is certain.

Peggy at Crazy Cactus was great to rent a car from, she has 2 for rent @US$60 per day.

K&P of Canada.

January 1999

The Writer Writes

Hola Tom, I wish you to know that I am constantly referring people to your site for reference to the south-west coast of Mexico. I enjoy very much the way that you have organized it and maintain it.

Since I wrote the series, Walking the walk which ran monthly on the http://www.mexconnect.com site last year, I have received approximately ten e-mails a month asking for specific information about the Barra de Navidad/Melaque area. That's about 100 e-mails or more! I answer each one personally and often refer and link them to your site.

During my last month's trip I researched some internet connections before going and looked up the people when I arrived in the area. This involved spending time with Susan Dearing, the authoress of, Manzanillo and Colima, Facts, Tips and Daytrips. and scuba instructor/business woman. Through her, I experienced many of the delights of the area and I will be writing a story for her especially regarding her efforts to promote an ecologically aware tourism in her area.

I also made a tour aboard the Research Vessel, ATLANTIS while it docked in the port, courtesy of another internet connection. In addition, I visited Guadalajara and Laguna Chapala, again, meeting with internet friends from my visit there last February. My stay with two of my teens in Melaque, my hikes, day-trips and experiences with old friends and new will hopefully be featured on Mexconnect over this next year.

Overall, I just wish you to know that I have a long-standing commitment to Mexico and her people and I try always to foster a positive cultural exchange. My stories attempt to promote visits to Mexico and to dispel fears and prejudices. Hence the writing of my stories reflects what I feel that I have experienced and learned and hope to share. So all that being said, please let me know if I can assist you in any way. Perhaps you would wish to provide a link from your site to my name or articles on the Mexconnect site. Hope to 'talk' with you again.

Wendy Devlin

January 1999

Fishing with Enrique

I just found your site and was delighted to read about an area that I enjoyed so much. I was especially pleased to see comments about Enrique Figueroa. I fished with him several times in May, 1996. My wife, toddler son and I spent three months, then, trailering the west coast of Mexico. We came from Puerto Vallarta, stayed at both Boca de Iguanas and Melague, and left for Ajiji.

We checked the beaches and towns out from Chamela Bay to Cuyutlan. The playa north of Tenacatita to Rio Purification was the most interesting because of the fish I saw. There were 4-foot long needlefish and large roosterfish surfing the wave crests, and mighty waves they were! I was not prepared for surf fishing and the small steelhead rig that I brought would not cast beyond the crests unless I was willing to take a pounding from an 8-foot wave crashing against a 45-degree beach! The 18-foot alligator at Boca de Iguanas is actually a 2 & 1/2 meter ' crocodilia"; we saw it when the "seas became angry" and the tide cut us off from the road out for three days. Water filled the lagoon and the critter came out of the mangroves.

As for Enrigue, he was an excellent guide. I wanted to fish light tackle only and we caught dorado, yellowtail and (jacks??) trolling the birds and casting. Once while fishing just a few yards from the big rock off the headland, I was fishing my twelve pound bass baitcast rod and Enrique my ten pound spinning rod. We were casting purple and black Cousin Joe's steelhead jigs (Enrique's choice from the lures that I brought) into surface feeding (jacks??) of one half to three pounds. Strikes were fast and furious. I had just reeled in without a strike and as I moved toward the other side of the panga, Enrique handed me his rod and indicated I should take up the slack and set the hook.

What a surprise, the drag began screaming and 30 yards off the boat a huge(to me) sailfish shot out of the swell crest. And it continued to jump out of the wave top for six or seven jumps. Enrique cried "pez vela!" He chased the fish as I raised and pumped and we both laughed and shouted at the jumps, runs and soundings. This went on for well over thirty minutes. Several times Enrique ask about the line test, "cinco kilo?, ten pound?" He said the fish was treinta kilo. I thought the fight was over when the fish slowly came to the boat as I pumped, darn near exhausted. I said, " I got him!!" and Enrique shook his head with a "no." Just then the sail rolled on his side about eight feet from the boat and looked at me with that fierce eye and "scream" it was on again. This time he reached the ground swell crest about forty yards out and jumped only three times. He tried a forth but fell backwards..... on the line which had no heavy leader to withstand rough fish bills. That was that, but no disappoint for me. What a great fishing experience.

You may guess that I had enjoyed fishing with Enrique. I would recommend him to anyone and I would recommend Barra de Navidad.

Leonard Ross

January 1999

Cops in Barra de Navidad

I went to vacation in Barra de Navidad during the summer of 98 in the month of August. Barra is a nice vacation town for relaxing and midnight enjoyment. I, However, would have liked to see a cleaner beach and more lights on the boardwalk of Barra. Also I think they should get rid of those damn corrupt cops they are just too much nonsense. and also more respect to the tourist on behalf of the government.

For example, let's say you're driving along the coastal area of Jalisco in a rented car. The cops will pull you over and make up some excuse for you to hand over some money. The reason for this is because the cops are aware that the people usually driving a rented car have money and that they're tourists so that's a good chance to make them hand over some good cash. Another thing you notice of being a great risk especially in Barra is being held hostage for your money. This works with the cops being aware of it and not doing nothing about it. The whole point is that it's making lots of tourists not want to go to Mexico anymore. And if you're a first time traveler to the Barra area you must be very aware.

Thank you and I enjoyed your web page--very much good work!

Martin Reyes Jr.

December 1998

Actually, this is the first I have heard of trouble with police in Barra. Anyone else have problems?


Scuba Updates

Tom I spent 3 weeks in Barra Nov 98.. I note a few corrections for your Barra page.. Since John, Butch, and Connie and the whole Sharkbait and Chums group are no longer available, Humberto Baltazar Cortes, (PADI) Instructor, and his helper, Israel Bernal, are running the Scuba and watersport concession at Grand Bay. Humberto has the scuba tanks and compressor at the ice house in Barra, most of the other gear is at the Palapa at Grand Bay but both Umberto and Israel are easy to find in town. He will provide local panga guides with all the gear as needed for a dive trip, you then settle your account with the panga guide. Actually a much better system than last year. Humberto and Israel will also arrange private dive lessons for certification as requested... cost $350 Dollars for the package.

Another nice addition is (2) rental cars at the Crazy Cactus. These are available for daily rental..$55 dollars..Ricky at Z Pesca does and excellent job arranging a quality fishing trip. I also like the independent guide Enrique Figueroa in panga "Irma 1." He has a good boat, motor, and fishing gear.. cost $25-$20 per hour.. room to work price depending on number of trips.. Z Pesca is a similar charge.

Bill McNair

December 1998

Looking For A Place To Rent

Have enjoyed browsing you web site. My wife and I are interested in renting a 2-bedroom apartment or small villa for the month of July or August somewhere in Mexico on the Coast. Please reply to:

Hank Rudin
PO 1776
Onset, MA 02558

November 1998

Answers to Questions

Melaque, is a favorite spot of mine and the surrounding area is quite beautiful and unspoiled. I'm very new to this staying in hotels on vacation so I will hesitate to recommend any particular place. However be assured there are at least a dozen ocean-side small, clean and friendly hotels lined along the beautiful beach.

It possible to go there without a reservation ahead of time except for Christmas and Easter. It is a big favorite vacationing spot for Mexican families from the cities. Also there is a local fiesta for San Patricio around March 17th and I imagine it would be busy there. Melaque is the kind of place that fills up a little for most weekends and empties considerably by Sunday night.

To get there by taxi from the airport towards Manzanillo takes approx. twenty minutes and costs, about 200 pesos $20 US last February l998.

To get to Tenacatita you can easily take one of the frequent buses going towards Puerto Vallarta and get off at the Tenacatita sign (Km.28) just south of the Rio Purificación bridge. It would be easy to catch a local ride down to the village of Rebalcito 3,7 miles or the beach at 5.4 miles. Bruce Whipperman's book The Pacific Coast Mexico Handbook states that a single Transportes Cihuatlán bus makes one run a day between Rebalcito and Manzanillo. (inquire locally at the Melaque bus station) It is also easy to catch a frequent bus and approach the area from Puerto Vallarta after a 3-1/2 hour bus trip for $12 Am

As for needing to speak Spanish, of course it is a big help to try but most of the people in the services at Melaque speak a little English. If you wish to get a sense of my own personal experiences there, check out my stories on the http://www.mexconnect.com site dedicated to cross-cultural exchange with Mexico.

A new story goes up every month about Melaque and area on the right-hand side bar under my name, Wendy Devlin in the series called "Walk the Walk" or you can find all of my previous stories to the site under my name on the author's index.

Hopefully the articles will inform you while they entertain! All of the best.

Wendy Devlin

October 1998

Looking for Advice

I'm writing you to see if anyone out there can give me a few practical details about Melaque/Barra de Navidad. My boyfriend and I are planning a trip there in January. I guess I'm wondering how my lack of all but a few Spanish sayings will effect my visit there. Do all of your other visitors speak some Spanish? Do you need it to get by there? Can anyone recommend a moderately priced Hotel/Bungalow in Melaque? Also, what would the approximate price be in pesos' for a taxi from Manzanillo to Melaque. One more thing, we are not planning on renting a car, any suggestions on how to get to Tenacatita?

Thanks to anyone who can answer these questions


October 1998

Diving in Barra

I traveled to Barra a few times last year and met John through your web pages. It resulted in a fabulous series of trips to Barra for diving and relaxation. I'm heading back down again soon and I'm wondering where Butch and Connie headed off to and if someone else is running the dive concession at the Grand Bay. I emailed John tonight as well. I hope he's at his yahoo address. Many thanks for any help.


October 1998


I spent a week in Barra this March (1998) having driven down the coast from Nogales. Of all the towns on the Pacific Coast that I visited, Barra was by far my favorite. If you're driving or flying through Puerto Vallarta, do yourself a favor and limit your stay there to a day or less and head south to Barra. It's many times cheaper, safer, less crowded, less tourists etc. I stayed at the Hotel Bogavante. I paid roughly $18 per night for a room whose doorway led straight on to the beach. In fifteen feet from my door, I was standing in the Pacific Ocean. It was a little spooky, actually, because of El Niño this spring. The surf sounded like cannons and a building two doors up was devastated by the surf while I was there. To say the least, there was no swimming/snorkeling on the Barra beach.

No problem though, just drive north to Tenacatita for more tranquil waters and very cheap snapper (huachinango) and beers. I recommend exploring the swamps immediately surrounding Barra. There are some great opportunities to see wildlife (egrets, crocodiles, etc) and beautiful vegetation. That part of the coast is more arid than around Puerto Vallarta, but there is a river delta of sorts that empties into the sea near Barra and creates a very lush, tropical riparian zone. San Patricio Melaque is worth a visit but a little less appealing than Barra in my opinion. Barra is very laid back, so leave your anal retentiveness at home and have a wonderful visit.

Brad Purdy

October 1998

Tourist Guidebook

While reading over your comments from people who have visited the Barra area, I noticed that several were asking questions that could be answered by my tourist guide: "Facts, Tips & Day Trips, Guide to Manzanillo and Colima." The guide has 128 pages, and not only does it completely cover all of the activities, hotels, restaurants and services in Manzanillo and Colima, but it has 8 pages (with 2 maps) of Barra de Navidad, Melaque & Coastecomate. It is copyrighted with the Library of Congress and registered with the copyright office in Mexico City. The guide has been out for 6 months, and sells for $20 inc. postage and handling.

I would also be pleased to be a regular contributor to your web site, since I have spent 11 years on the Pacific coast of Mexico, 3 in P.V. and 8 here in Manzanillo.

Susan Dearing

July 1998

Guadalajara, Suchitlán

One option for getting to Barra de Navidad is to fly into Guadalajara and then making your way overland to the coast. American Airlines is up to four direct flights daily from their Dallas-Ft. Worth hub into Guadalajara, with plans for a fifth. Guadalajara is a fascinating city all in its own right, and well worth a day or two of exploration.

I have made many a run into Guadalajara to meet people at the airport, then run to the bus station for the overland. Long had I noticed a really nice looking hotel right across from the bus terminal called El Parador. I had never stayed there as it appeared to be expensive. However, on my last trip through, since I had been on the stand-by list in Dallas all day, I went ahead and grabbed a room there rather than going downtown as is my usual custom. To my surprise, I found that a double there was only $215 pesos or about $24.00 U.S. The room was small but well-appointed: TV, phone, etc. The restaurant is open 24 hours, and the breakfast buffet was fabulous! The place has two pools, laundry service, and a very attentive staff. Give it a whirl next time you're blowing through Mexico's Second City!

Suchitlán   We decided to rent a car and make a run to the volcano near Colima this time around. Despite the seasonal rains, this is a gorgeous, must-do type of thing. While in the town of Suchitlan, under the shadow of the volcano, as it were, we came across one of the most unusual restaurants I've seen in a long while. The name is Los Portales de Suchitlán. From the outside, it looks like a typically small, grubby rural eatery. But as one enters, it just keeps going back and back and back. The dining area is part indoors, part out. Towards the back, it fades into a playground area on the edge of the high-mountain jungle growth. There are three sets of ultra-clean restrooms, and these too are progressively larger as one goes towards the rear. The food is excellent and very varied - from superb conejos (rabbit) to excellent puntas de filete (cut-up steak) to wonderful chiles rellenos and a very good mole. Service was also quite good and the prices far lower than on the coast. Prices for entree were rarely over $25p (about $2.70 US). And once you're done, it's but a short drive to the national forest way up at San Antonio...

John Williams

August 1998

Tom Visits La Barra

Just returned from a 1-week trip to the Barra de Navidad area. Flew Aeromar from San Antonio with a stop in Guadalahara in one of their ATR 42's, a 44-seat twin propjet. Got tickets through Vista World Travel. Got pesos by withdrawing with a bank card at the Banamex in Cihuatlán, a few kilometers northwest of the Manzanillo airport.
Stayed the first night at the Hotel Caribe, which is only $11 U.S., but missed having air-conditioning as it is rather hot here in July and August. Visited with the Fox's--they're planning to spend some of the off season back in the states soon.
The next two nights we stayed in Boca de Iguanas at the Hotel Boca de Iguanas. Despite its proximity to the lagoon, we didn't have much problem with mosquitoes at the hotel or its restaurant. The owner/operators were very friendly and the room was only $13 U.S. There are two other restaurants, Restaurant Boca de Iguanas and Restaurante El Jardin de Eden. We ate at the latter and enjoyed the food and the friendly folks that ran the place. Mosquito repellant was a necessity here though. Besides these establishments, there are 2 camping/trailer parks and a very nice beach. The beach is wide and gently sloping, great for kids. Tried to go snorkeling but found it too difficult to get past the surf. The settlement is occasionally visited by an 18' crocodile. This is a protected animal and is driven back into the lagoon when he appears. My wife was disappointed that we didn't get to see him.
Stayed one night at the Hotel Royale Costa Sur in Cuastecomates, and what a find! This hotel was built during the Salinas administration but has experienced noticeable decay. However, the grounds are beautiful, the rooms comfortable and air-conditioned, and the staff friendly and attentive. There is a large pool with swim-up bar, tennis court, and a tranquil 300-yd long beach set back in a sheltered bay that also hosts several restaurant palapas. Snorkeling is fair around the rocks at the hotel end of the beach. The bay is a good dive site. This being the off season, there were few guests at the hotel. We tried the hotel restaurant but found it locked. One of the staff noticed us and unlocked the restaurant and summoned the cook who was delighted to prepare dinner for his only two customers. The menu is short but the food was good and amazingly inexpensive, $10 U.S. bought 2 seafood dinners, guacamole appetizer, with 2 cervezas and 2 sodas. A double is $39 U.S.; all rooms have an ocean view; highly recommended.
Stopped in Melaque to get some more pesos from their money machine and then walked into the nearby Hotel Monterrey for a bite to eat. Not receiving service and noticing the Restaurante Ceasar's y Charlie's right next door, we moved over and enjoyed excellent service and food with an Italian influence. Lots of flavor. Come to think of it, this is the second time I have done this. Ceasar's y Charlie's does not front onto the street so the best way for me to tell you to find it is to walk into the Hotel Monterrey's beach patio area and take a right.
We tried to visit Tecuán but they were filming a movie there and wouldn't let us in.
We drove inland on Hwy 80 to Autlán, a 2-hour drive through some mountainous country which was beautifully green due to the recent rains. Autlán is a maze of somewhat narrow one-way and two-way streets with little available parking. Fortunately, all this can be avoided by taking the highway bypass which skirts the city to the east. You'll see signs leading to Motel Autlán which has clean, comfortable rooms for $25 U.S. Ceiling fans, hot water, pool, enclosed parking. The restaurant is good but is open-air and has flies. We just sprayed our tablecloth with insect repellant.
We returned to Barra de Navidad and stayed at the Hotel Barra de Navidad in one of their air-conditioned rooms (most are not) for $43 U.S. Not recommended.
We spent the last two nights in one of the 5 bungalows at the Mar Vida. These have 1 king size (but short like typical Mexican beds) and 2 twin size beds, a kitchen with fridge, range/oven, coffee maker, utensils, dining area, TV, air-conditioning, ceiling fans, pool, tables outside. They go for $29 U.S. for 2 people, $38 for 4. The bungalows were well constructed with more attention to detail than is typical in Mexico. Owner, Marsha, speaks English and is interested in the internet although it is not available in Barra. She also operates a copy/fax service from a small building on the premises. Highly recommended
On the other side of the street is Restaurant Los Arcos. It's a Mom & Pop establishment with friendly service, good beef, inexpensive. Recommended.
We did a lot of shopping around town. Noticed that a little shop next to the dentist has much better prices on some items.

Tom Penick
The Pacific Coast of Oaxaca, Mexico


Happy Camper

Hello. I'm just writing a comment about Boca de Iguanas, Jalisco. I just came back yesterday from camp, and it was the most wonderful trip I've ever made. You can surf, snorkel, rock climb, rappel and even scuba dive. I would also recommend this traveling/camping company that can arrange tents, food and all the activities at an incredibly low price: lacima@vianet.com.mx

Believe me, it's inexpensive and fun. There's showers and toilets too!!! Try it and you'll enjoy it.

Agustina Sacerdote

May 29, 1998

Barra de Navidad and Melaque We recently returned from 2 weeks in Melaque and had a great time. We took the bus down from Puerto Vallarta. The Primera Plus cost us 85 pesos each and was air-conditioned, bathroom, movies, and even included a bagged lunch. We decided to get off in Melaque instead of Barra and stayed for the first week at the Hotel de Legazpi. The hotel was nice, clean, had large rooms with 2 double beds and a refrigerator. The hotel also has a great pool and some of the longer term residents there get together to play poker a couple of times a week.

We spent a lot of our time at the palapa called Los Pelicanos, which was almost right in front of our hotel. Ramone is still working there and is a great host. He was one of the highlights of our trip. Los Pelicanos has a new owner Rosa, who is a real sweetheart and took really good care of us (drove me to a doctor's etc, when my son got sick).

We were there for the Santa Patricio celebration and Los Pelicanos had a great party all day for the blessing of the boats. Many sailboaters came in to spend the day at Los Pelicanos as I guess this is a yearly tradition. The whole week of St. Patricio was a lot of fun with fireworks every night in the town square and other things going on. We could have done without the cannon that seemed to go off every couple of hours up until 2:00 am and then started again at 7:00 am.

We found the people in Melaque very friendly and warm. It was kind of like being in the small town we come from where people say hi (hola) to strangers on the streets.

For the second week we moved over to the hotel called Los Orientales. It included 2 bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and TV for about $30 CAN a night. Both hotels were fine, we just wanted to check out the other end of town for a while.

We did spend some time in Barra. It is much more touristy (although still not really touristy) and is cleaner and has much more shopping. We preferred the quiet tranquillity of Melaque though so stayed there and just took the bus over to Barra once in a while. We ate at the SeaMaster Palapa in Barra and their Rollo Seamaster was fantastic (fish stuffed with a cream sauce with shrimp and wrapped in bacon). The seafood crepes at Viva María in Melaque where awesome and the fried squid at Los Pelicanos was amazing. We spent one day at Tenacatita and there was great snorkeling and great food at the palapas (very cheap).

We were sad to leave Melaque and being back in Puerto Vallarta was not near so enjoyable, plus the cost of everything was almost double (if not more for food). We would recommend this area for anyone who doesn't want to party but enjoys some quiet relaxing days on a great beach with wonderful people and good food.

We will definitely be going back. If anyone is going there, please pop in to Los Pelicanos and say hi to Ramone and Rosa for us.

Wendy and Don
Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada

April 1998

Road Trip Through La Barra

I mined your site for info for my ecstatic winter '97 trip to the Oaxacan coast, and returned to it today for a browse. I was surprised to see info on Barra de Navidad. Because of the hurricane damage further south, I decided to fly into Puerto Vallarta this winter, rent a car and head down the coast of Jalisco. The coast between PV and Barra was stunning and very untouristed, and I had a fabulous time. As a woman traveling alone for 2 1/2 weeks, I had no problems whatsoever and made many friends. I spent three days in Barra before heading north again. I can recommend the Hotel Caribe [photo 18K], where I got a single for $10/night; they have a great little second floor balcony porch with a table and chairs, and rocking chairs for lounging. Also, it was one of the best places for buying crafts along that coast. Many vendors come from Guererro and Oaxaca to sell a variety of lovely things. There's a central square where they set up every day, as well as several wonderful craft stores on the pedestrian streets. Also, for a truly spectacular deserted beach, drive down to Playa de Oro (about a half hour south); you'll probably have it to yourself.

I also stayed at Boca de Iguanas and at Tenacatita, and I visited La Manzanilla. I especially liked Boca with its palm-fringed beach, but the beach at Tecuan is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen...a lagoon separated from a Pacific bay by a big sand dune, a desert-like beach that goes for miles. But the real find for me was Bahía Chamela, the next bay north of Bahía Tenacatita. I hung out for a week at a little fishing town called Perula. Makes Barra look like a metropolis. Two inexpensive and lovely places to stay, a couple restaurants serving simple ranchero-type food and super-fresh seafood. I met many of the local people, and it was a very rich experience. Watched the sun set on the banks of a river that runs out into the bay...fantastic bird life, magic light on the desert hills, silhouettes of cactus...very Carlos Casteñeda. I felt very lucky to see this area, so close to PV, before it gets discovered.

Thanks again, Tom, for being a friend to the off-the-beaten-path traveler.


April 1998

Anyone know about longterm rentals?

I live in the Lake Chapala (Guadalajara) area of Mexico, and just picked up your website about the Oaxaca coast. Very informative! Naturally, since it's close, the area around Manzanillo is our interest to us. Also checked out Barra section...good also. But, do you have any information about Manzanillo? We just visited there for a few nights and noticed a lot of earthquake damage to coastal hi-rise buildings, condos and the like. With not much repairs in sight. Nevertheless, beautiful beach and I am interested in a long-term rental there...any ideas?

C.B. Chisam & Ruben Nunez

March 1998

Internet friends

After wanting to go back to Mexico for so long, it seemed somewhat dream-like to just hop on a plane in Vancouver and arrive in Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, 4 hours later. It is easy now to see why most visitors to Mexico prefer to travel this way and how in many ways you do not really feel as if you are really in Mexico. But that feeling soon disappeared when once more, I began talking and visiting with people and 'living' (even if only for a few weeks) in Mexico When I got on the Internet, 1 1/2 years ago, I basically dedicated my share of the time, to looking for "real people in real places". That is how I found some of you!

I'm pleased to say that we managed to leave the sea-side town of Melaque, in order to meet over the course of 4 days with one of my first internet friends, Luis Dumois and his wife and two children in Guadalajara. It is a happy fact that in our world, we can use this medium to get to "know" each other over internet time and then to possibly meet , to be delighted with each other's company in real time. It happened to us!

So for the moment, I'm busy un-packing and re-adjusting to "civilian" life but I hope to write you all again soon. I have a great many new tales to tell and look forward to hearing some of yours in the near future.


February 1998

More Barra de Navidid on the Web

Hey there, Great Job on the Barra Site. I just got home from Barra yesterday and can't wait to go back again. Butch and Connie send their hello's. My brother was also down a few weeks ago, he put together this Barra Site http://www.accessone.com/~dfa53/ with some cool pics. I'm gonna send him some stuff to add as soon as I finish it all up. He also has your link on his page!!! keep up the good work.


February 1998

The Secret's Out

My family and I just returned from Barra and we had a wonderful time. We rented the green touring car from the Crazy Cactus and tooled around the area while all of the locals stared at us and honked their horns while we figured out how the darn thing shifted. The next night my wife and I took our two little boys for a horseback tour out to the lagoon and to where the local people make bricks, we rented the horses from the fellow that is the manager of Chips he also was our tour guide. He showed our family a wonderful time, and I am sorry that I forgot his name.

We stayed at the Bogavante [photo 17K], which was an OK hotel, but they charged a couple of Canadians a six percent surcharge, because they paid with a credit card, which I thought was a bit outrageous. My father in law is one of the old gringos that hang out at Felix's, so we spent a lot of time sitting out there drinking beer and listening to the blues sung by a fellow that lives upstairs from Felix. All in all, it was a wonderful time and my family and I can't wait to get back, there was more to do than we could do in one week. I would have to say that Barra is probably the best kept secret in Mexico.

kalamazoo, mi

February 1998

Scam at the Hotel Monterrey

On 2//7/98 I was enjoying a novel on the beach in front of the Hotel Monterrey in Melaque, Jalisco. I had arrived at the beach about 11:30am and proceeded to plop down at one of the table /chair/unbrella setups that are rented on a daily basis and where I had been sitting for the past three days.

After about a half hour this older Mexican man and small child walked up and the man asked for the 30 pesos rental fee so I handed him the money.I was a little skeptical because each of the three days a different person had approached me for the fee. I thought that well since the kid was there he was probably legit. The previous day a little boy about 10 years old asked me for the fee, and then I watched him walk up the steps to the Monterrey Hotel where I learned later that the man who is collecting the money is supposedly sitting all day and watching the tables and chairs. Well about two hours after the man collected my money, he returned and asked for the money again and I told him that I paid him earlier but he insisted that I did not and since I would not pay him a second time he removed all the chairs from the table and folded down the umbrella. He was a real nasty old guy!

So I found out who the owner was and complained. The owner did not want to do anything about it and only said she was sorry. The owner runs a small shop in front of the hotel. She said her employee told her that I had been there for two days and had not paid any money which was total bullshit. They do not give out any receipts so you have no way of proving that you paid. I was told the collector has a list to keep track of payments though he was not carrying it when he approached me. When the owner told me that I must have paid the wrong person she had a smirk and almost thought it was funny. I had the turismo guy there when I talked to her he was of no help.

Besides that I had a great time in Melaque.

February 1998

A Few Dive Thoughts

On her first Certification dive, Doreen talked to Butch and me about turtles. We told her that we had seen a few on the surface, but as yet had not had a dive graced by their presence. So of course, immediately upon decent, there swimming through the schools of jacks went a beautiful sea turtle! The visibility was about 40-50 feet; the schooling fish were all around us by the hundreds; every tropical in our inventory from purple headed wrasses to moorish idols to Cortez Angels seemed to want to strut its stuff. We tried to stimulate the Manta populations by talking about them before the rest of the dives, but no such luck! All this at our favorite and most consistent dive site, Los Moros de Cuastacomates.

The water's been a bit warm this year for facilitating whale watching we're still at 80F - but even a blind hog roots up an acorn once in a while. We were on our way to Las Monitas, just passing El Ranchito, when a mother sperm whale and calf appeared near our boat! Needless to say, we spent the next hour in leisurely circles around the pair until they finally sounded. We decided to do our dives at El Ranchito and were not disappointed. This site consists of a number of large boulders in heaps with some pretty nice coral growth. Lots of shells. Max depth is around 65 feet, so it's great for less experienced divers. But the whales didn't return by the time we finished the dive...

Las Monitas, near the entrance to the Cuastacomates cove, is another spectacular site for divers who don't mind a little surge. Near the cliff face are some monster rocks dropping from the surface to as deep as 60 feet. From there the boulder-strewn bottom slopes steeply to 100+ feet. Viz is usually even better than Los Moros de Cuastacomates. Life is fantastic, and the shelling is among the very best.

Just beneath the lighthouse on Isla de Navidad is a large rock called El Viejo. About a half click out from El Viejo is a lone rock, the name of which I have been thus far unable to determine - so I call the site El Faro. This is my favorite dive, albeit one I can only do with experienced divers. It drops straight down to 120 feet through the thickest schools of Amberjack and Rainbow Runners I've seen around here. The current really rocks during this part of the dive. The wall is covered with the much-sought Cayo clams the ones you need a tire tool to remove from their anchorages. We have yet to do this dive without seeing big green Morays - often swimming free in broad daylight! And the distance from shore makes this a very likely spot for big pacific palagics.

John Williams
Barra de Navidad
January 1998

Thanks to All

The beer producers of the world were having a conference in the most beautiful city in the world, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Everyone was in attendance. On the final night there was a big celebration in the hotel bar, the waitress came around to take orders, so everyone orders their own drink, the president of Miller orders a Miller high life, the president of Budweiser a bud, Adolph Coors orders a Coors, etc. when it comes to Arthur Guinness' turn he orders a coke.

Everyone says in disbelieve "what the heck is going on?, aren't you going to order a Guinness ??", to which he retorts "nah, if you guys aren't going to drink beer then neither am I".

For Butch and Constance and John and of course Michael. Alysia and I wanted to once again thank you all for your kindness and hospitality.

Hasta Luego!
William Caryl

January 1998

Restaurant Pacifico

My favorite restaurant is the Restaurant Pacifico. The Dorada stuffed with shrimp and cheese is outstanding along with a couple of Margaritas or cervezas. We are returning in two weeks, mid January 1998, and I am looking forward to eating there again. We stumbled on Barra de Navidad about five years ago while driving through Mexico. We could not find an available bungalow so stayed in Melaque [4 km NW] and have returned two times since then. We find it a wonderful place, peaceful, but with a little entertainment, if we want it. For us, it is for the sound of the waves and the uncrowded beaches that we return as well as the friendly people of the area.

Dianne Christy

January 2, 1998


Walt Work of Ann Arbor & I were in Barra 11-29 to 12-6 fishing every day with Enrique Figueroa. We caught numerous small tuna, 10 sails, 55 small macao sharks but only 2 dorado. The highlight was a 184# yellow fin tuna. Just great fun. We landed it despite breaking our rod. We met John Williams and Butch, as well as his charming wife, Constance. They operate the water sports center at the Grand Bay and are worth a visit but don't mention the fortunes of the Longhorns or Cowboys to John. We stayed at the Bogavante where we have stayed for 6 years during the week after Thanksgiving. It remains acceptable. Ramon's has kept its position as our favorite and most convenient restaurant. Piper's is a great nite spot. We saw John, Butch & Constance there enjoying the live music and dancing. Barra remains one of our favorites but we will be at Puerto Escondido for Christmas & to celebrate the New Year and a big MICHIGAN WOLVERINE victory in the Rose Bowl and a National Championship.

John Dewane
St. Joseph, Michigan

December 1997

Toys in La Barra

While you're in Barra de Navidad, you may want to rent a few toys to help in the enjoyment of your vacation. Over at the Crazy Cactus, Tracy has a couple of mountain bikes she rents for $50p a half day, $80p for all day. Perfect for fitness nuts that want to do the 35km round trip out to Playa Los Cocos by the golf course! Or maybe you'd like to rent a surf board or a boogie board to take along on our trip to Tenacatita. Boogie boards are $12p per hour, $80p per day while surf boards are $20p per hour, $100p per day. She also rents snorkeling gear, but hey! So do I!

John Williams
Barra de Navidad
December 1997

Chinese Food

Should you be in Barra de Navidad some Saturday or Sunday evening, why not stroll down the main drag (Av Veracruz) and stop by Cenadura Esperanza for a little Chop Suey? I know, I know - Restaurant service in Mexico is already such that eating at a place called "The Wait" might seem foolhardy! But this savory mixture of fresh veggies - plentiful bean sprouts and crisp broccoli - heaped on a platter with a side bowl of steamed white rice - is certainly worth a little wait while the cook chops veggies. And at a price of $2.00 US for the vegetarian variety, the price is certainly within anyone's budget. It'll cost you twice that if they toss a little meat or chicken in, but it is a tremendous quantity of food regardless of how you have it prepared.

John Williams
Barra de Navidad
December 1997

Night Diving and Lobster

Was out night diving December 1 on the fringes of Coastocomates along with a Chilango and a Chilanga. Visibility was limited only by light range; I'd put it at better than 25 meters in daylight. Played with a couple of eels, including a big greenie. Missed one lobster. Got into another and signaled the customers to come look only to find them wildly signaling me. They were on a large bug - must have been better than three kilos - I'd weigh it, but I didn't think to until after consigning it to the stew-pot! If you come down here for a night dive, please remind me to take gloves and a game bag! Not only was the spiney hijo de la chingada uncomfortable to carry and stronger than he looked, but without the bag I had to pass up the others! But with a kilo of shrimp tossed into the pot (along with potatoes, carrots, and corn) it went around easily! Come on down and dive with ol' Sharkbait - you may get a feast tossed in!

John Williams
Barra de Navidad
December 1997

Tessa's Malt Shop

Our buddy Eric has finally opened up his hamburger shop above the Crazy Cactus. This puts him between La Capilla and Ambar and across the street from Felix', the bar where the OLD gringos hang out drinking beer. Funny there'd be so many watering holes on the single one-block street with the local Catholic church! Anyhow, Eric is putting out easily the best hamburger for many miles around. The shop is named for his Rottie, Tessa, by the way. He makes a bacon and turkey club - called Sargeant Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Sand - that is melt-in-your-mouth delicious! And he will even make you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich if you ask him real nice! Warning: do NOT make the mistake of ordering a hamburger next door at La Capilla. Gotta wonder if the mushy patty in there has any meat along with the soy powder. Eric on the other hand is using a good grade of beef. Give it a try!

John Williams
Barra de Navidad
December 1997

Rock in La Barra

When I was living in Huatulco, one of the things I missed most was good live rock and roll. After all, I'm from near Austin, the live music capitol of the known universe! Here in Barra de Navidad, we have a pretty darned good rock band, though. Unfortunately, I can't give you the band's name right now as it seems to change with every wind shift. Guess that's just the old C F & G of it! Anyhow, they play most every night at Piper & Lovers' Bar - a place you will come to know if you visit us! My partner, Captain Butch, just got 'em a three night a week gig at Hotel Cabo Blanco [photo 62K] starting in mid-January, so you may have to check at Piper's to see where they're playing on any given night...

Actually, the rock scene in Mexico is quite vibrant right now. The Chilangos really have a good selection of bands to see on any given night in the old D.F. One band in particular, El Tri, is amazing not in the least because they've not swept the US off its feet! Alex, their leader, stole everybody's licks so long ago he thinks he invented them! And some of them he may have - they've been together over 30 years, after all! His lyrics are funny and highly political, just like rock is supposed to be. I'll not rave about Mana - their records DO sell in the US and for good reason. But I will sing loudly the praises of one Alejandra Guzman. Mellissa Ethredge has nothing on this woman's skills! And if any of you guys ever see her latest CD cover, you WILL want to lick her tattoo! If any of my readers know Doug Sahm better than I do - or Flaco or Freddy or Augie, for that matter - how about butting a bug in their ear: a package show with El Tri and Alejandra Guzman joining the Texas Tornado to play San Antonio, El Paso, Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Monterrey. The Tornados' sales in Mexico would skyrocket as would Tri and Alejandra sales in the US. Just a thought...

John Williams
Barra de Navidad
December 1997

Hotel Jalisco

I have stayed at the Hotel Jalisco, just a little east of the hotel Delfin, and can recommend it for the budget traveler. A single room can be had for about seven dollars per night (with integral bathroom), or less if paid by the week. As "Tom Bodet" so eloquently states amidst a drizzle of violins "All rooms look the same with your eyes shut". Rather than fuss about the fact that I had to provide my own reading light, instead I went over to Ramon's, bought a complete lobster dinner plus drinks, and still had fifteen dollars more in my pocket had I chosen to stay at the Delfin or Sands.

Better yet, I went north and stayed in the town of La Manzanilla. A room at the Puesto del Sol, cost the same as the hotel Jalisco, and the former offered the use of their downstairs kitchen - a 300 sq. ft room with writing table, dressers, and four chairs cost me a little over five dollars a night - not bad considering that the hotel is located about 100' from the water on Tenacatita Bay! My daily budget for food and lodging? Ten dollars!

¡Salud y Saludos!
David Eidell


Betrayal in La Barra

A little over a month ago, a seemingly nice family arrived in Barra de Navidad to open a new restaurant. The restaurant was quite nice; for the first three weeks, a bakery was in operation every morning. Brandon Portinelli was making his own sausage and bread; night was a real treat: Brandon claimed to be from a family operating Italian restaurants in Chicago and Oregon; the pizza and bread sticks seemed to confirm this. In fact, Brandon started out making his own cheese as the locally available cheeses were woefully inadequate for pizza purposes. The setting was truly exquisite. The only air-conditioned restaurant in the area. A television featuring DTV and local cable service. A good stereo system.

Well, earlier this week, rent became due. Brandon scammed two Canadian girls for $2,000p. promising to find them an apartment. He scammed two middle-aged gringos for $4,300p, promising to get them body parts to repair their van. Then he went to Coach Charlie, said he was going to "detail" his 1990 Aerostar van. He loaded up wife Eva, three year old son Jerry, and the landlord's big screen TV into the van and disappeared.

The shock was that the restaurant was a gold mine. Overhead was being more than covered just by the bar; the food was gravy! But the near-universal response to the betrayal has been that the blow of losing an ideal hang-out was even worse than the loss of the money. We can only hope that the next owner will keep it an ideal spot for the expatriate crowd. Sigh.

John Williams
Barra de Navidad
November 14, 1997

Fishing/Snorkeling Anyone?

Ah, such a fine day at lovely Tenacatita! We left Grand Bay by panga at 9:00 AM and arrived at the river mouth before 11:00. We stopped at a dock next to a restaurant used in filming the McHale's Navy fiasco. Looks like something from a Louisiana bayou with a wrap-around porch. At the dock there, we removed the sunshade from the boat for the trip through the mangrove swamp. We didn't see any crocodillas this trip - caimans, actually - but we did see some beautiful birds and jungle foliage. The narrow channel opens up again right behind Playa Tenacatita, so we stopped for a bit of snorkeling amongst the corals and vivid tropical fish. Several Zipolite style palapas offering good food cheap food on an elevated causeway; miles of lovely white beach; great coral near the rocks at either end; and very few people! Paradise should offer as much! Then it was back through the narrow channels of the mangrove swamp; putting the sunshade back on the boat; and a nice ride home. During the return trip, we brought in a couple of Bonita and a strange, toothy billfish called an Algohon - great excitement for the fisherpersons on the craft! We got back in at about 4:00 PM - a good time had by all!

Tenacatita jungle/snorkel/fishing cruises are a bit pricey because of the distance from La Barra. We will take up to four for $250.00US and add up to two more for $25.00 each. The price includes use of professional quality snorkeling equipment; an English-speaking guide - probably me or Mike - ; sodas and beer; fishing tackle; all on a first-class panga. Give us a call to make a reservation! 011-52-335-5-63-90, extension 4303

John Williams
Barra de Navidad
November 8, 1997

Food Tips

Finally tried out Restaurante La Arca today. This one is located across the street from Bungalows MarVida and Posada Pacifico. Tried the filete con papas and got one of the best steaks I've had in Mexico, outside of La Pampa Argentina in Tangolunda. At it was only $30p! Plan to try the Pollo relleno con jamon and queso (cordon bleu) next time! See ya there!

John Williams
Barra de Navidad
November 8, 1997

Visit to La Barra

Just recently got back from a visit to Barra de Navidad and I would have to recommend it to anyone wanting to visit Mexico. I was fortunate enough to be there with our resident scribe John Williams who made the trip even more delightful. The area itself is quite nice with a lot of nice little inexpensive restaurants and the more expensive ones were still quite reasonable. Of course my favorite was Casa Italiano, which unfortunately I have heard is no longer open, but with any luck at all someone else will take it over. Was nice to have a place to go with air conditioning and the food and atmosphere were excellent. Another good place to eat was the Sunset Bar which had unbelievable tacos pastores. The snorkeling was fantastic and the water was unbelievable clear. It's definitely a place to go if you are wanting to get away from it all and relax but there are plenty of things to do for the active minded also. The Grand Bay is an exquisite hotel but for the ordinary traveler the Cabo Blanco [photo 62K] is equally as nice and would be my preference if having to choose a hotel. So if any of you out there are wanting something different in Mexico definitely check out this area.

Edie Dragoun

November, 1997

Dive and Fish Report

We have been SO busy this week with Canadians wanting dive certifications looks like we might get the back rent paid from the off-season after all! The water is the best we've seen in a long time - at Cuastocomates, the viz has been a consistent 15-20 meters! And twice this week, on the near-shore 20 minute run, we've been surrounded by pods of porpoise. Haven't got ém to let us play yet, but we're slowly making friends. These near-shore pods are great news for you fisherpersons out there - it means that in spite of the warm water, the tuna are coming close to shore! The Dorado catch is up; we haven't sent any fishing groups out in the last week, but others report the sailfishing is still hot. Week before last, we sent out three boats and came up with one two meter and two three meter specimens. Come on down - we'll find you some fish! Shellers note - the cones and tigers are really thick as are the caracol. We should find you something nice!

John Williams
Barra de Navidad
November 8, 1997

Pizza anyone?

Long have I complained about the inability to find a decent pizza in Mexico. Problem solved. Jerry's Casa Italiano has furnished the solution. Brandon, whose family runs Italian restaurants in Oregon and in Chicago, has done it the hard way. He makes not only his own Chicago-style crust, but also his own sausage and his own cheese! This is great pizza! Named for his two year old son, this restaurant also features biscuits and gravy; great breakfast sausage for your eggs or hotcakes; Calzone; freash pasta; iced tea(!); a bottomless cup of coffee; air-conditioning; and cable TV. His is the only air-conditioned restaurant between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo. Easy to find in downtown Barra de Navidad. Try the submarine sandwich on homemade bread.

For you fellow cheapskates, try restaurante Balcon de Diana. 13 peso Comida de Corrida. Good food located on the last street before you get to the canals.

Restaurante Villano [photo] is a great place for the dirty old gringo in the party/ The food is good and the three little girls serving it are a treat for the eyes!

Restaurante Paty on the main drag through town is inexpensive and features BBQ chicken and carne asada as well as fresh roasted potatoes off the grill.

Ramon's, across from Hotel Barra de Navidad, is slightly more expensive - and worth it! He had the restaurant in the hotel until this location became available. Since he moved, the hotel actually had to close its restaurant - as his superior cooking took away all their business! Try the chicken-fried steak and finish off with flan.

John Williams
Barra de Navidad
October 1997

Mexican Dentistry

Several months ago, I bit into a link of Elgin hot sausage, found a bit of bone, and shattered a tooth. As a self-employed entrepreneur, vastly undercapitalized and absolutely without insurance, I've been living with it. Well, now that business has sent me back to Mexico, I decided today, during a flare-up of tooth pain, to take advantage of third world medical prices. I visited the offices of one Dra. Laura Ballesteros Cobian in beautiful downtown Barra de Navidad. Hers is a lovely, air-conditioned office with all of the modern tools and fixtures of dentistry. The doctor herself is an attractive woman with a stunning smile. All equipment is autoclaved for sterility; the doctor even wears a surgical mask while working. Peering at my long-ruined tooth, she confirmed that an extraction was in order. After liberal injections of Novocain - during which she informed me that the tooth was abscessed - she performed a near painless extraction of the offending molar. Price? N$60.00, or about $8.00 US! The Penicillin for the infection cost more than the extraction! And this woman was sure-handed, skilled, and gentle. I'd never recommend planning a vacation on the basis of available dentistry, but if you're headed in this direction anyway, please keep the good doctor in mind! Her Consoltorio is located in Suite 1 at 174 Av. Veracruz in Barra de Navidad, Jalisco. If your Spanish is up to it, and you want to call for prices and times before you come, try 011-52-(335) 5-58-59.

John Williams
Barra de Navidad
September 1997

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