Featured in Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine, Winter-Spring 2010
Long unreachable by land due to unpredictable dirt roads, particularly during summer’s rainy months, the towns of Villa del Mar, Tehuamixtle and Mayto in the municipality of Cabo Corrientes, south of Puerto Vallarta, have been popular among beach and sun worshippers and camping enthusiasts due to their rustic appeal. But things are changing rapidly. Thanks to a number of new roads presently under construction, the town of El Tuito is quickly becoming an important hub for these and other destinations within the municipality, increasingly connecting visitors with this formerly inaccessible region.
In the previous issue of Vallarta Lifestyles, we introduced you to Puerto Vallarta’s South Shore and the easily accessible town of El Tuito via Carr. 200 Sur, now billed as Puerto Vallarta’s “Palms to Pines Highway.” And although an SUV is ideal, just about any vehicle in good condition can get you to these towns from El Tuito in just about an hour.
All three towns are less than 10 minutes by car from one another and so small they can barely be referred to as such. And yet, when it comes to enjoying an interesting getaway, their proximity to one another and their unique features are absolutely complementary. Nature lovers will particularly enjoy Mayto, which is also the first town you encounter as you drive west from El Tuito. The town itself is not on the ocean per se, but just before it. As you reach the ocean, you encounter a long, undeveloped stretch of beach you can walk northbound seemingly endlessly. The state university maintains a marine turtle research and preservation camp that welcomes Puerto Vallarta high school students, who spend weekends on location involved in the rewarding mission of safely returning marine turtles to the sea once they hatch, an annual ritual that can be enjoyed throughout the region. The camp also welcomes tourists and visitors, who can learn first hand about these and other fascinating creatures. South of the camp, within walking distance, two hotels, Mayto and El Rinconcito, offer comfortable accommodations right on the ocean. Farther south, Playa del Amor, or Love Beach, is a small and secluded beach (hence the name) where spotting visitors enjoying the sun and sand au naturel is not at all unusual.
Tehuamixtle is renowned for its fresh ocean catch, which can be savored at a couple of local restaurants. Admittedly, there isn’t much to do in Tehua, as it’s often called, other than eating and relaxing, but it’s hard to find fresher seafood elsewhere. An unusual donation of a life-sized acrylic shark from the government of Puerto Vallarta adds an unexpected yet amusing level of kitsch to the tiny cove.
Just as the beach extends endlessly to the north in Mayto, in Villa del Mar you will encounter a similar southbound stretch, this one enhanced by an equally endless estuary, where the waters of a nearby river meet the ocean. From the privileged cliff-top location of El Cielito, a rustic yet comfortable hotel in Villa del Mar, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the beach and estuary to the south, as well as Tehua to the north.
The good thing is, you can take in the entire getaway as a daytrip. However, upon arrival, you will find yourself wanting to spend the night. Therefore, we offer the following recommendations:
There are several options for every budget. In Mayto, hotels Mayto and El Rinconcito (322-105-7024) are located right on the beach, next to each other. The more basic Rinconcito is nearest to Playa del Amor. Hotel Mayto features air-conditioned rooms, cable TV, wireless Internet access, beautiful gardens and a large swimming pool that features a wading area, perfect for children. Finally, Cabañas El Cielito in Villa del Mar sits on top of a small cliff, with a beautiful, wide beach directly below it. The cabañas are very basic, but the privileged ocean views, along with a shared infinity pool and personalized attention, make this the most romantic choice of the three.
Hotel Mayto and Cabañas El Cielito feature their own restaurants, with a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner options, including fresh catch of the day. Even if you are not a hotel guest, both venues welcome visitors. In Tehuamixtle, we very much enjoyed Liz Adriana Restaurant, right on the beach, specializing in seafood.
You will not find many signs along the way as you head to Mayto, and that is part of the excitement! But just to make sure you feel reassured, here are some visual cues you will encounter along the way (see image gallery below).
The new PEMEX gas station at El Tuito may very well be open by the time you read this. Regardless, it is a good idea to leave Puerto Vallarta with a full tank of gas, which should be more than sufficient for the round trip.
Also, while the local beaches are truly spectacular, only the most experienced swimmers and surfers should attempt swimming in Mayto or Villa del Mar. In Tehua, a small cove makes swimming, kayaking and snorkeling possible.
Many thanks to Brad Wollman for helping us coordinate this adventure!