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Yelapa - The Paradise Of The Pacific
by Ron Kness
TheSyndicatedNews columnist

Ron Kness is a travel writer and photographer with articles and photos published in various house publications, in-flight magazines and other media sources.

What is it about this place that attracts visitors and residents to stay? Why would someone trade a house with four walls and all the modern conveniences for a bamboo-walled, thatched-roof hut with few amenities and no electricity? The answer is sun, solitude, scenery and the slow, laid-back lifestyle of Yelapa.

To take the Serape to Yelapa, we had to be at the Puerto Vallarta marina dock at 9:15 a.m. The marina charges seven pesos per person to enter. The upkeep costs of this area are paid from the money collected.

The price of a ticket to ride the Serape costs us $30.000 USD each, however with some bartering, we can usually lower the price. Our ticket includes breakfast, lunch, snorkeling and equipment, an open bar over and back and two shuttles in water taxis. The only extra expense incurred is if you want to ride horseback or eat and drink in one of the establishments while in Yelapa.

Once aboard, the ship's steward serves us the buffet continental breakfast. On the buffet are fresh pastries, bananas, pineapple, watermelon, orange juice and coffee.

The Serape leaves the marina at 9:30. Once out in the Bay of Bandaras (Bay of Flags), the Captain steers her parallel to the coast so everyone can view Puerto Vallarta from the bay. He gently guides her to Los Arcos (the Arches). Here, those wanting to snorkel use the equipment aboard and snorkel for about one hour. A ship worker collects a deposit for the snorkeling equipment. After returning the equipment, the deposit is refunded.

We, along with many others, chose not to snorkel, but to sit and enjoy the sun and scenery while sipping on one of the many drinks available from the open bar. The bar opens after breakfast and stays open for the entire trip over to Yelapa and back.

We arrive in Yelapa at about 12:30 p.m. The captain first pulls up to the dock and those wanting to go into the village or walk up to the waterfall disembark. Once they are off-board, the Serape moves out into the Bay and anchors. We disembark into the water taxi waiting alongside and motor over to the beach. Stopping in about knee-deep water with a rocky bottom, we climb over the side of the boat into the water. Getting out of the boat with waves hitting the back of the boat trying to push it further towards shore is no small feat in itself. Be prepared to get wet. Also, wear sandals or some type of footwear as the rocks hurt your feet.

Once on shore, the beach is alive with activity. We stand on the beach and see the Bandaras Bay cove filled with aquamarine water and gentle waves lapping at the shore. Behind us, the lush green Sierra Madre mountainside overlooks the bay. Between, lays a gentle sloping, fine, white sand beach lined with palapa-style restaurants, an art gallery/craft shop, boutique and small hotel.

The Hotel Lagunita De Yelapa's guests arrive by the only mode of transportation available - boat. They come by water taxis from Los Muertos Beach in Puerto Vallarta, Boca de Tomatlan, Mismoloya Beach or by the daily mini cruise ship Serape from Puerto Vallarta. For $45.00 per night, visitors stay at the Lagunita. Included in the cost is electricity at night, hot water twice daily from the wood-fired hot water heater and a thatched-roof hut with maid service. The Hotel Lagunita's manager, Clemente Joya Ramos prefers to call the huts cabanas.

Everything needed by this village comes via the ocean. The groceries used in the homes and restaurants, the fresh seafood caught in the bay, the propane used to cook and the gasoline used to power the residents' outboard motors and generators. Even the children from this village travel to and from Puerto Vallarta by boat to attend school.

Back on the beach, some people chose to rent a horse and ride through the two-feet deep tide pool, up through the Yelapa village proper and finally, on up to the 150-foot waterfall. And ride is all you have to do. These horses have made this trip so often, they know exactly where to go.

Once at the waterfall, some people swim, some just slosh their feet in the water and some sip on a cold cerveza (beer), soda pop or agua mineral (mineral water) at the small waterfall restaurant. Throw a coin into the water and one of the local young boys will dive off the rocks into the water and retrieve it.

Others, such as us, choose to languish on the beach, soaking up the warm sunshine and listening to the rhythm of the waves lapping the shore. Still others, chose to sample some of the local cuisine and drink in one of the many palapa restaurants located right on the beach.

At about 2:30 p.m., we hear two long blasts from the Serape's horn. While still on-board, we were told that was the signal to start making our way back to the water's edge or the dock. Water taxis pull up to the beach and we get inside and find a seat. This is even more of a feat than getting out of the water taxi.

Once the beach crowd is back on-board, the crew raises the anchor and the captain motors over to the dock to embark the rest of the passengers. Once everyone is on board, the ship's steward serves us a lunch of breaded chicken, mashed potatoes, rice, and bread.

The drinks available on-board are cold cervezas, tequila sunrises, margaritas, orange juice, mineral water, coffee and various soda pops. We can either go down to the main deck and get our drinks or wait for one of the friendly waiters to come around and take our order.

We eat our lunch as the captain motors our way along the coast heading back to Puerto Vallarta. We arrive back at the Marina around 4:30 p.m. and so ends a full day.

Once we leave the Bay, life again in Yelapa returns to its normal laid-back style. The harried crowd from Puerto Vallarta left and now the residents and hotel guests are free to enjoy the rest of the day in this village with a Polynesian feel. At sunset, they will gather on the beach and enjoy another fantastic display of Nature as El Sol falls into the Pacific Ocean.

So ends another day in this Paradise called Yelapa. If sunshine, scenery and solitude are just what the doctor ordered, you'll find massive doses of all three here in Yelapa.

Published: Jul 18,2008 10:56
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