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Jan 8-10: Passage from Bahia Chamela to Bahia Careyes, hanging out in a five-star resort and relaxing honeymoon style

We're now in a section of the Mexican mainland known as the 'Gold Coast', probably a reference to the gold-coloured sand and the shimmering golden flecks within the sand. This spot is a cruiser's mecca, with lots of anchorages just a few miles apart. The furthest travel between anchorages is only 20nm, a four- or five-hour sail for us.

We left Purpeat in the water, tied with four lines to the stern, and motored slowly away from our anchorage. The water was pretty flat, with only some refracted swell, so we decided to spin our compass a few times to try and improve the deviation between the compass and the GPS. This involves driving the boat in big slow circles, at least three minutes each circle. Even the tiny waves were enough to give us some headaches, so we packed it in after a half hour and continued our trip south.

Swell breaking on the rocks
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Colourful mansions on the cliffs
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The winds were fairly light, so we motorsailed for most of the trip. The coast is almost a continuous beach, occasionally interrupted by huge cliffs with mansions perched atop. It's also very sparsely populated - I don't think there are many roads that run close to the shore here.

We arrived in Careyes, named for the sea turtles we dodged all afternoon, just after noon. Careyes consists of three small protected coves, each with a beach, with huge rocky cliffs surrounding each. With huge colourful houses on the cliffs, it's no wonder this spot is nicknamed the Mexican Riviera.

Wanderlust at anchor
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Gorgeous private (?) beach
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We anchored in the most protected cove, also the smallest, just off the beach. The beautiful palms and beach stood just off to the side from a vibrant blue casa on a nearby cliff. You can see the swaying rope bridge between the house and what must have been a hottub on the top of a nearby rocky spire. How cool would that be: take your wine and favourite girl across the Indiana Jones bridge to a hot tub on a rocky cliff, overlooking the entire bay? Guaranteed success there, my friend.

Given that we're married now, we didn't do anything so romantic. Sara climbed in a locker and would only come out after I promised to make her dinner. I didn't want her discovering my secret beer compartment, so I agreed and helped her out. Just kidding, I don't hide the beer there. Don't go rooting through the rear locker, it's somewhere else.

Sara comes out after dinner is assured
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These guys don't worry about dinner
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We snorkeled around the boat, and then took the dinghy around some of the islands in the small bay. I should emphasize how small this place was: when we arrived we weren't sure there would be enough room for the boat to swing around the anchor! As it was, we had only a 4:1 scope (100ft chain for 25ft water) and we were close to rocks on the east, a rope partition for a swim zone to the north, and an old concrete dock to the west. Crazy.

We couldn't help but enjoy the crazy dive-bombing pelicans all around us. They were fishing so idly we knew that the water must have been teeming with baitfish - and it was. From the dinghy we could easily make out the huge cloud of fish so dense we couldn't see through them. We explored, searching unsuccessfully for a cave that was supposed to be nearby, and decided to have dinner at the fancy restaurant on the beach.

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Video: Divebombing pelicans catch some dinner!


Video: Divebombing pelicans catch some dinner!

As we were relaxing the rest of afternoon away, another boat joined us in our tiny little cove. They first tried to anchor south of us, between us and the open bay, but I couldn't help notice how much they were getting rocked around by the waves. We called them up and suggested they come beside us: from exploring we had discovered that there was really much more room than appears available from the helm!

They wedged in nicely beside us and we went ashore for dinner. The first place we went to, right on the beach in front of the condos, was expensive. We're talking like $40-50/plate expensive. That's out of our league now, so we got directions to the less-expensive restaurant in the hotel next door. As we walked over we couldn't help but wonder how much the condos go for. We later found out they rent for $1000/night; that's also the off-season (hurricane season) rate.

The five star hotel next door, El Carayes, was only $600/night, and the menu was much more reasonable. We split an entree and ate several baskets of fresh cooked bread. In a country ruled by the tortilla, a warm soft french roll is to die for.

Lovebirds at dinner
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Dessert on the foredeck
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Back on the boat later that evening, Sara and I broke open one of our wedding presents from Lucy and Tom. They smuggled biscotti and some vino santi into the country, making us promise to share pictures of us enjoying dessert on the boat. It was delicious, what a perfect gift.

Now that's clean!
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How awesome is this?
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It's not all romance and dining out on Wanderlust, the next morning we spent a good hour cleaning Sara's copper pots. While we were getting the boat back into liveaboard shape before we left Puerto Vallarta, Sara couldn't help but mention her pots needed scrubbing. I thought we had dodged the issue, but it turns out she hung onto the metal polish and broke it out when I was least expecting it. Nooooo!

We went back to El Carayes resort and snuck ashore under the cover of a blazing hot sun. Our efforts were thwarted by the novelty associated with watching crazy people land a dinghy on the beach, so we ended up asking the hotel officials if we could hang out. "No problemo!" they exclaimed, "I hope you brought your swimsuit, the pool is very refreshing."

We hung out all afternoon. We had brought books and beers, not sure if we would be allowed to stay, but somehow forgot to bring the money. Whoops, my mistake. Oh well, guess we'll just have to drink our own beers (surreptitiously, of course) and not eat anything. Sara saw right through my ruse and threatened to send me back to the boat to get some cash, but the effort involved with helping me re-launch the dinghy saved me the trip.

It was a fantastic afternoon.

What a treat!
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Freshwater bath!
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The pool was amazing: very little chlorine, totally freshwater, and none of the other guests seemed interested in swimming! Fools!

We were sitting in our beach chairs under the shade of a private palapa, reading quietly, wondering how it could get any better when a woman walked up and introduced herself as Paula, the yoga instructor. She invited us to sit in on a lesson. I explained we weren't staying at the hotel - no problem, she said, it's only $15 each. I explained we didn't have any money - no problem, she said, I'll waive the fee.

Sometimes I feel like a gangster. How does this stuff happen?!

Paula, our yogic guru
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After a great workout
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So we had an hour-long private yoga session on the luxurious grass overlooking the beach. I guess none of the other hotel guests wanted to do yoga. Fools!

Apparently I'm a natural
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Sara's done this before
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It was about as romantic as you can get without spending a dime. I collected some serious brownie points with Sara.

If you've got the cash burning a hole in your pocket, by all means come to this resort. It's beautiful, the staff are fantastic, and the freeloading yachties are totally unobtrusive.


Previous: bahia chamela
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