Archive for the ‘Mexico – Punta de Mita’ Category

Thar Be Whales, Captain!

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Please excuse the line from an old Star Trek movie.

We headed out, on a windy day, to Punta de Mita for a whale watching excursion.  When we arrived, we were told that the cost was 1200 pesos ($120.00 US) for the boat.   The boat can handle up to eight people, so of course, the more people on the trip, the cheaper it is per person.   Since we were the only ones inclined to venture out on the large swells, we decided to have lunch and hope for more suckers to arrive.

As we ate, we watched the surfers, who were enjoying one of the best days of surfing.  Punta de Mita is normally a very good spot to surf, but the surfers need to take a boat to the “point” where the waves break best.  Today there were waves exceeding 20 feet at the “point” so nobody ventured over there.  Here’s a shot, taken later from the boat, showing the large waves approaching the “point”.


The waves, which don’t usually break in front of the restaurants, were about 3-6 feet tall and very well formed.  There was also a great distance between the waves.  Surfers were able to catch waves that would slowly take them for a ride that exceeded a minute.


In about an hour, when we were finishing our lunch, we were told that, indeed, they had found two additional people to share a boat.  Neither the captain nor the other couple spoke any English.  The captain pulled the boat stern near the shore so that we could step in next to the motor.


We headed out through 6-8 foot swells past some islands that lay about 3 miles off shore.  These islands are popular snorkeling and diving spots because of the caves and rock cuts, one of which can be seen in this photo.


There are three major groups of humpbacks; North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Southern Hemisphere.  Some of the North Pacific humpbacks work their way, about 3500 miles, from waters near Alaska to the area around Puerto Vallarta and the Bahia de Banderas (Bay of Flags).  Punta de Mita is at the northern end of the bay.  The whales arrive in mid-November and head back in mid-March.  They breed here and then the next year following the 11-12 month gestation period give birth here in the area.   The calves are about 14-feet long and weigh about 2.5 tons (5,000 pounds) at birth.  When fully grown, they will reach a length of about 52 feet and will weigh 30 to 50 tons (60,000 to 100,000 pounds). 

More information about Humpback Whales can be found at:

About a mile past the islands we spotted our first group of four whales.  The captain worked us close to the action.  Apparently the whales like the interaction.  I left the boat in the picture for perspective.


When they spout and breathe is the first sign that lets you know they are in the area.  The action of breathing is quite loud.


Their enormous tails are nearly as wide as our boat is long.  When they come down beside you it takes your breath away.


Sitting on the beach at Lo de Marcos we have seen whales breaching well over a mile out to sea.  The splash they make is huge and easily seen from shore.  The act of breaching is when they propel themselves out of the water, do some spinning and splash back down.


This photo courtesy of AFP.

We followed the whales for about an hour and then headed back in through, and on the backs of, the waves to our starting point.  Punta de Mita is growing rapidly with numerous condos and resorts.  The largest resort is the Four Seasons. 


The Mexican government is planning to build new resorts in every town from Puerto Vallarta northward to San Blas, about a hundred miles.  Evidence of this is easy to spot in Lo de Marcos, where they have fenced off two beaches for construction to begin this summer.

In all, we had a great time.  The food at all of the restaurants in Punta de Mita is great.  As a matter of fact, we’ve had good meals almost everywhere in Mexico.  The whale watching was everything you would ask for, and of course, the weather was great.

If you are in this area between December and March, be sure to check out the whales.

Friends from Home

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

We discovered that some friends from Dallas, Lin and Russ, were staying in a time-share just down the road in Nuevo Vallarta.  NV is, as the name implies, a new section of condos and hotels on the beach just north of Puerto Vallarta.  Unfortunately, the road into NV is riddled with pot holes.  No attempt is being made to fill them in.  I guess they figure that as long as the construction continues, the trucks will continue to tear it up.  So, why not wait?

We made arrangements to pick up Lin and Russ and give them a personal tour that wouldn’t be offered by the hotels.  We drove south about 45 miles and  picked them up at 9:00 AM.   We immediately headed north to tour some of the smaller towns and beaches.  Our first stop was the very touristy town of Rincón de Guayubitos.  This is a popular destination for North Americans and Mexicans alike.  Every weekend brings dozens of busloads in from the interior.  The shore is lined with hotels and the streets are one shop after another, generally selling the same stuff.  We ate breakfast down this street somewhere, on the left.


Visitors from the US and Canada are finding this town to be the perfect spot and are tossing up McMansions in great numbers.  The typical house in this area is between $750,000 to $2,000,000. and that is US dollars.


From there, we headed to Lo de Marcos.  It was a little chilly and very few were at the beach.  We were also able to give Lin and Russ a tour of our current home RV Park.


From here, we stopped in the quaint village of San Francisco, also called San Pancho.  It is more rustic than most of the towns in the area, but it is also the only one with a hospital.


Then it was back to our old stomping grounds in Sayulita for a chilly lunch at Don Pedro’s, the beach restaurant we used to frequent when the Cowboys played football.


We discovered that we were low (nearly empty) on power steering fluid, so we made only one more stop this day at Punta de Mita.  We spent a few minutes walking on the beach and then we headed back to Nuevo Vallarta.  Lin and Russ returned to Punta de Mita a few days later by bus.  They took a whale watching tour on a small boat that could handle six people.  Apparently they had dozens of close encounters with the huge humpbacks.  From what they say, we may have to try this tour.  More information on humpbacks can be found at:


A couple of days later we picked up Lin and Russ for a lunch in Puerto Vallarta.  We left the truck at Walmart and took a cab to PePe’s Taco Stand.  Unfortunately they didn’t open until 5:00 PM.  So we headed to the beach and walked about a mile to the main downtown strip, the Malecon.  After looking at every menu along the street, we settled at the “No-Name Bar and Grill”.

From our vantage point on the second floor balcony, we were directly across the street from a very long pole sticking up in the air.


On top of the pole were four men, dressed in traditional Mexican Indian outfits, playing flutes while sitting or dancing.


Notice the large spool of rope.  That should tell you that there is more to come.  After they find that a large enough crowd has gathered, they drop themselves off of their perch fastened only by one heel and spiral down upside down.


This process took about ten minutes.  This shot is as they approach the ground.


Believe it or not, they played their flutes the whole way down.


Upon reaching the ground, they scattered, along with some associates, to collect tips from the fascinated crowd.  They even found us on the second floor balcony.


From our same perch on the balcony, we were treated to a seagull feeding frenzy.  In the background of this photo are two gulls diving into the water. I hope they don’t have the same target in mind.


Followed by a large splash.


We wondered where seagulls went when they were not stalking your snacks.


We really enjoyed visiting with friends from home.  Thanks Lin and Russ for your vacation time spent with us.

Twenty Nine, again??? December 13, 2007

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Once again it is time to celebrate Tinka’s annual 29th birthday.  We seem to stretch out our birthdays to span several days.

Monday we headed over to Distilleria Beach near Punta Mita. The beach is very flat with well packed sand.


Distilleria Beach is famous for waves that are excellent for body surfing and boogie boarding.


Monday, a group of us from the Sayulita RV Park headed over to enjoy the waves.  We all brought our umbrellas, but the restaurants along the beach provide little palapas, for a price, to those who need them for protection from the sun.  You can see these small palapas in the background of this picture.


Mexicans love their holidays.  They have 8 of them in December alone.  On the 12th is the “Our Lady of Guadalupe” and it is preceded by days of preparation.  Part of the preparation is igniting large, loud pyrotechnics at most hours of the day or night.  This starts of at about 4:00 AM and ends about midnight.  Guess how much sleep we get?

Sayulita is loaded with boutiques along its cobblestone streets.  New shops and restaurants are opening every week. It didn’t take long to load up on birthday gifts.

We decided to go out for a birthday dinner on the 12th so that we could witness the festivities.  We made reservations at the Calypso restaurant located under the palapa at the second floor of this building.


From this vantage point we could watch the parade to the church at the square.  They had entertainment and fireworks around 10:00 PM.  More information regarding this celebration can be found at:

As luck would have it, we forgot to take the camera.  However, this shot shows the square earlier in the day.  (CLICK ON THE PICTURE FOR A LARGER VIEW)


The evening was fun and the meal may have been the best since we arrived in Mexico.  I had rack of lamb and Tinka had chicken piccata.  Creme brule was the encore. (You’d have loved the photos.)

Today, the actual birthday, we headed north to the town of La Peñita to wander through their “Market”.  This is basically a large flea market that takes place every Thursday.  Thousands of merchants take part in this event.  Most of the residents and many tourists take advantage of the large assortment of merchandise.

Here is a panoramic shot of the town square that acts as the center point of the Market.  (CLICK ON THE PICTURE FOR A LARGER VIEW)


Each evening just before sunset, many of our RV park friends meet at the beach for cocktail hour and watch the sun go down behind the mountains, not the ocean as you would suspect. (Sayulita is in a bay and our beach faces to the north.)  Anyway, we shared a birthday cake with about twenty that were present.

Here is Tinka picking up the cake donning one of her new and really comfortable birthday dresses.


For the most part, this 29th birthday was a success.

The only downside of the week so far was the death of our RV refrigerator.  The unit is still under warranty, but of course, there are no service centers in Mexico.  We’ll have to wait until we get back to Tucson, in April, to get it repaired or replaced.   So it’s off to Sam’s Club and Home Depot tomorrow to pick up a substitute for the short term.

About Big Waves and Hidden Beaches – December 6, 2007

Thursday, December 6th, 2007


You may have been watching the news on television and notice that they have been having some huge waves along the California coast.  Well, guess what? They’re here now.  

This morning Tinka went to the beach and came across some surfers that were beside themselves about the waves.  She talked to one of them and found out that they had just hopped a plane last night in California and headed here in anticipation of the large swells.  The local surfers didn’t seem all that anxious about getting out in the huge waves.

Those little dots in the picture below are surfers.


Again, dots equal surfers.


 Here’s a guy that, moments before, we were all cheering the terrific ride through the tube of the wave.  Below is the result of the end of the ride.  The other half of the board beat him to shore.


 As these large waves hit the shore, they must eventually send the water back to sea.  When a huge incoming wave collides with a large outgoing one, the sea errupts sending water some 30 to 50 feet in the air.


A tip regarding large waves.  Pay attention or they may arrive by surprise.  Here’s a before and after.  Oh, by the way, make sure you’ve securely tied your top.



 Now back to the original theme of this post.

Mexico is full of beaches, about 9000 miles of them.  Most of the best are very built up with condos and hotels.  However, there are some out of the way beaches that are quite intriguing.  We’ve stopped at these two a couple of times.

The first is Dead Man’s Beach.  so named because of the overlooking cemtery.  Nice as they are, I’m not in a hurry for one of these ocean view acommodations. 



Here’s a tomb’s view of the southern half of Dead Man’s Beach 


And the northern half.


No, these people aren’t dead, just sleeping.  On the weekends, Dead Man’s Beach is popular with the locals.


This guy is preparing to swim back to his boat that he has anchored in the bay.


Now we come to River Beach.  It is named this because a river dumps right into the sea in the middle of the beach.  It has the strangest beach access road I’ve ever seen.  THE RIVER.  We turned off of the road to Punta Mita, just south of Sayulita, onto one of the bumpiest roads we’ve found.  (And believe me we’ve found some.)  At some point, about a half mile from the highway the road merges with the river.  This is looking down the “road”.


The bed of the river was mostly gravel and the condition was much better than the dirt road we just left.  Oh, yes, we must have come at rush hour because there was traffic. (I apologize for the poor picture.)


The road dumps out into the ocean, literally.


Here we’re looking north from the “road”.


And to the south.


Now this is my kind of beach.  The whole ocean pretty much to ourselves.

Go Cowboys plus Punta de Mita

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007


It appears that the NFL network is trying a power play to get their share of Time/Warner and Charter’s money and that of other cable companies.  The NFL owns the network and decided not to share the feed of one of the most important games of the season.  I’m sure that the game had one of the smallest audiences in recent years.

Lucky for us that Don Pedro’s Restauant, on the beach, was showing the game.  The owner is also a Cowboy fan.  There were a large group of yankees rooting for Green Bay.  It was a pleasure to watch them suffer a loss at the hands of the Cowboys.

Punta Mita (also known as Punta de Mita)


Click on picture for full size. The mountainous area in the distance is Puerto Vallarta.

We’ve made two trips to Punta Mita in the last week or so.  Along with Sayulita, Punta Mita is known for its good surfing.  It is interesting that the two beaches get good surf on different days.  They face different directions and it depends on the direction of the currents.

Punta Mita is about a third of the way down the coast toward Puerto Vallarta.


As you can see, there are two ways to get to Punta Mita.  Unfortunately, neither road is what you would consider wonderful.  Both roads are twisty, turny and hilly.  The east-west route towards Bucerias is a nightmare for wide vehicles.

Inside the town there is a restaurant area along the beach.  There are hundreds of condos and hotels, including a Four Seasons Resort.  They are building a golf course complex on the road towards Sayulita.  There are some great looking beach homes along that northern route as you exit the town.  The road getting to them is dirt and quite rough.  The rest of the town might be considered rustic by any standards.

Here is one of the nicer streets in Punta Mita.  The cobblestone construction is very common in all of the area towns.  They are currently “improving” some roads in Sayulita in this fashion.  They jar your teeth loose.  You can imagine the ride on a bicycle.


No mater the roughness of the road, you will find magnificent displays of flowers and shrubs.


The restaurants are really nice.  As with most, they are open air and on the beach.  Our first visit brought us to this restauant at the east end of the strip.



Another restaurant, that we didn’t try.


This is the restaurant that we opted for on our second visit.


Entering from the street, you cross a bridge across a pond full of turtles.


At the restaurant, Rick is relieved to be off of the road.


And Tinka keeping an eye out for vendors that come to the table selling their wares.


Surfing doesn’t take place at this beach.  Here are some swimmers enjoying the warm water.


At the other end of the spectrum, there were several large yachts parked just off shore.