20 May Beach time in Costalegre
We just enjoyed some time in Costalegre, soaking up the sun and sea. Costalegre is located in Jalisco, between Bahia de Chamela and Playa del Oro. While there, we happened upon 3 little towns that we really liked. Quiet, relaxed and spectacularly beautiful, these low-season destinations are perfect to get away from it all.
We arrive in Melaque, rent a small 2 br house with another couple – about a block from the beach. We walk barefoot to the beach, past the fishermen and their catch, beyond the boats and nets to the sea. Enclosed by jagged rocks, the bay is tranquil. Protected from the open ocean, it’s perfect for swimming. Gentle waves roll in and out without much ado. We eat mangos on sticks and watch stray cats congregate around discarded fish parts.
It’s May and the water is still quite cool. We only wade out to our waists before opting for a cocktail and dry sand between our toes instead. The only foreigners around, local tourists hit the beach on the weekend, but otherwise this sandy alcove is ours to enjoy.
Considered a hub of local activity for the region, Melaque sits 4 kilometers northwest of Barra de Navidad on Bahia de Navidad, it has a few shops and restaurants, access to one of the best beaches for swimming in the area, and, surprisingly, a bus station! With the amazing buses in Mexico, this means an easy, comfortable ride in and out. Local tourism rather than foreign keeps prices reasonable for budget travelers.
Pictured above is a Pacific stargazer (Astroscopus zephyreus). Evolutionarily, it’s pretty fascinating – one of the few bioelectrogenic bony fish, using a jolt of electricity (in this case, with sonic muscles) to stun its prey; the Pacific stargazer has a worm-shaped lure in its mouth, and 2 venomous spines on its back.
While the Pacific stargazer is not endangered, one of the 51 species of stargazer is extinct and we walked away wishing this little guy had been left to daydream at the bottom of the ocean.
Barra de Navidad
You can actually walk from Melaque to Barra de Navidad. I know because I did it. After breakfast at Bananas, an incredible breakfast joint serving up health, deliciousness and breakfast burritos (something surprisingly hard to find in Mexico), we wander the streets looking for a fisherman to take us out on the water. We find one – a talkative, funny tour guide named Hernan Ramos who took us out fishing and exploring along the coast.
Playa Tamarindo, a secluded beach once reserved for some now defunct luxury bungalows, hosts only a couple of summer homes which sit tucked behind its palms. Black sand mixes with shimmering gold. We stop for a swim, soaking up the sunshine, crystalline water and watching a cluster of pelicans hunting nearby.
Back in Barra de Navidad, ready to depart, we realize we can stroll along the water for the 2 kilometers back to Melaque. The “Christmas Sandbar” is a small fishing village of about 7000 people, popular with foreigners (particularly Canadians) and surfers during season; it’s promoted as a tourist destination by Jalisco’s government.
Barra de Navidad was once used by Spanish ships as a jumping off point for the Philippines. It looks like it has a story and we find ourselves daydreaming, gazing at the large lagoon behind Barra de Navidad where the fishing boats gather scallops and transport locals on water taxis to Colimilla
On the walk back we notice the high winds and large waves right at the shore. No wonder it’s known as both a prime surf spot and a danger depending on the forecast. In 2012, Barra de Navidad received a serious blow from Hurricane Jova. While business has returned, the damage is still evident in semi-virgin beaches like Playa Tamarindo.
Making our way back to Melaque, the waves and winds die down. We’re tucked away and ready to rest.
On another day we find our way to La Manzanilla, driving on a winding forest road. The temperature lowers in the shade and we breathe in the green foliage. We arrive at the beach and it’s nearly empty and pristine. The Fisherman mill about their boats and a few shop doors are open. This sleepy town has only 2,000 inhabitants. Spanish for chamomile, we are instantly soothed.
La Manzanilla is home to 300 American Crocodiles in a large nature sanctuary. It’s a beautiful wetland habitat where these incredible creatures, living up to 100 years of age, are right at home. We tour the preserve and laugh at the creaking boards over 10 foot crocs, hoping none give way. We leave happy to have seen such majestic creatures being respected.
Have you been to Costalegre? Share your experiences, thoughts, and questions below!