Chacala


Chacala, one of Mexico’s best kept secrets...

Off the beaten tourist path just 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of Puerto Vallarta, lies Chacala– a picturesque beach town set in a small cove on the Pacific coast of Mexico in the state of Nayarit. Chacala means “where there are shrimp” in Nahuatl. Here, on the coastline known as Riviera Nayarita, visitors fall into the easy rhythm of the slow pace of village life for a true Mexican experience. Chacalenos are friendly people. Traditions bind the community and the locals’ livelihood stems from the fishing trade and tourism.

Chacala, with its secluded bays and surrounding lush green jungles, offers visitors the tranquility of underdevelopment away from the hustle and bustle of larger vacation destinations.  You won’t find fancy hotels in Chacala, but cozy tourist accommodations where you can get first-hand advice about how to best experience this laid-back fishing village and the surrounding area. 

Chacala has a population of about 300. That number swells to approximately 1,000 during the high tourism seasons of winter, Christmas and Easter. Fishing is good periodically during the winter, spring and fall.

The Chacala Experience

Leave your cares and your dress up clothes behind. There is no need to worry about what you look like in Chacala. Sip on margaritas and dine on fish tacos at a beach café in your bathing suit.  In Chacala, your spirit will be refreshed and your body rejuvenated by the laid back atmosphere, warm sunshine, ocean breezes, friendly people, and the many activities you may choose to participate in. Chacala visitors are seeking a retreat from their hectic lives.

Guided Tours (and pricing)

Tours will be further discussed and organized during day #1 of orientation (i.e., there is no need to pre-purchase of any of these packages).  Everything will be done in Chacala.  Payment may be made by cash or credit card.  All prices are per person in US Dollars.
 

La Caleta /Surf Break (2-3 hours)

  • $40 USD per person (4 person minimum)
  • 2 miles north of Chacala, access by boat.

Chacala Bay Tour (2 hours)
  • $40 USD total (Up to 5 people max)
  • Option to be dropped at Chacalilla, Las Cuevas beaches for Lunch. Swimming/Snorkeling are available at an additional cost including return pickup. This tour price is for whole group not per person.

Whale Watching (2 hours) *Seasonal*
  • $30 USD per person (4 person minimum)

Alta Vista Petroglyphs (4 hours)
  • $30 USD per person (4 person minimum)
  • Engraved images in volcanic stone over 2000 years old. Important religious center for the Huichole Native Americans.

AltaVista Nuevo Ixtlan Aguas Termales (½ day)
  • $30 USD per person (6 person minimum)
  • Hot springs near Guayabitos

Jamurcca Hot Springs (Near las Varas) (2-3 Hours)
  • $20 USD per person (4 person minimum)
  • Near Las Varas/La Cuata short 30 minutes from Chacala
  • Pools at different temperatures , picnic lunch areas.

La Penita Market (Thursdays) (4+ hours)
  • $30 USD per person (4 person minimum)
  • Extensions available to stay for lunch at both these market locations

Guayabitos Market (Mondays) (4 + hours)
  • $30 USD per person (4 person minimum)
  • All year at both these markets but more artisan type vendors during the high season. November through Mid April.

Isla de Coral Snorkeling (½ Day) (Boat from Chacala)
  • $40 USD per person (6 person minimum)
  • A protected nature reserve just a 30 minute boat ride from Chacala. Great snorkeling for all levels. Snorkeling equipment included.

Compostela (½ Day)
  • $35 USD per person (6 person minimum)
  • Tour the historic City of Compostela and its surrounding areas including a visit to Nayarit coffee farm specializing in the production of Organic Coffee.

La Isla de Mexcaltitan (Full Day)
  • $60 USD per person (6 person minimum)
  • Known as the Mexican Venice, a community on a man made island surrounded by a lake and canals.

Tequila (Full Day)
  • $70 USD per person (6 person minimum)
  • Round Trip to Tequila, Jalisco to discover the Agave plantations who make some of the worlds most renowned Tequilas. Tasting available at all locations. Adults 18 and Over for this trip.

San Pancho (½ day)
  • $30 USD per person (6 person minimum)

Sayulita (½ Day)
  • $30 USD per person (6 person minimum)

La Tovara Jungle Boat Ride/San Blas (½ Day)
  • $40 USD per person (6 person minimum)
  • Extensive Mangrove forest in a protected animal reserve. The regions only crocodile reserve where you will learn about these amazing creatures as well as exotic birds and tropical fish. Includes beach lunch.

Santa Maria Del Oro (Full Day)
  • $60 USD per person (6 person minimum)
  • Beautiful town with large Crater Lake, artisan shopping and restaurants along the lake front.

Other Information
Bottled drinking water is provided for free on all of the tours.  Alcohol (beer or champagne) may be available at a modest charge.

Activities in Chacala (on your own)

Choose to do nothing but lounge by the infinity pool surrounded by lovely gardens at Casa de Tortugas or venture out to enjoy all that Chacala has to offer. Your Casa de Tortugas host or hostess will help you make the most of your visit.

The Beach

The main beach is a short, two-minute walk along the ocean and the children’s beach is 30 yards away. Caleta Bay is a great place for surfing.

Boating

The marina is just two minutes from Casa de Tortugas. Owners of the local panaga boats will take you snorkeling, whale watching, turtle watching, fishing, and on sightseeing excursions as porpoises swim along side.

Fishing

Fish for delicious dorado (mahi-mahi) and snapper. Fire up the outdoor grill at Casa de Tortugas and prepare your catch of the day!

Whale Watching

The humpback whales come to the calm waters of Chacala to give birth from December to March. Take a whale watching cruise. In Chacala, it is said that there is one boat for every 10 whales!

Surfing

Take a day trip to Sayulita for surf school. While you are there, take a ride on the zip line.

Hiking

Hike in the mountains above Chacala. Hike around a crater, through orchards to a hidden beach while overlooking the coastline and Bay of Chacala.

Birding

Over 170 species of exotic birds inhabit Chacala. Be sure bring your binoculars.

Jungle Ride

Just one hour north of Chacala, you can take a two-hour Tobarra jungle ride. Enter the mangroves by boat and discover all the wildlife from birds to snakes to crocodiles.

Shopping

Take a van to the nearby marketplace in La Penita where once a week you can shop for Mexican artwork, artifacts, clothes, food, plants, and fresh produce.

Hot Springs

Soak in natural hot springs that are only a short car ride away.
Petroglyphs A local guide will take you to an archeological site to see 2300-year-old carvings.

Nightlife

If you yearn for a little nightlife, head to more developed Sayulita or Guayabitos for music and dancing.

Volunteering
   
There is a great opportunity for volunteerism through Mar de Jade who runs a school for children.  Bring your favorite project, donate school supplies or visit and assist teachers for a day.  Mar de Jade has also started an organic gardening project for the locals and you can spend an afternoon helping to plant, weed and harvest.   

Chacala Restaurants

Chacala is a small fishing village.  Fresh Fish is always available to buy or purchase at the open air restaurants on the beach.  Chacala has good, clean food and no one has ever gotten sick.  Lots of fresh fish and fruits, beans, rice and more American place for salads, traditional breakfast, chai, lattes etc. 

Most of Chacala’s palapa-covered restaurants are located along the beachfront and feature the best in seafood from the local area. Savor freshly caught or harvested lobster, shrimp, mahi-mahi, oysters, or other local favorites. New restaurants located away from the beach offer a bit of a different cuisine. Your Casa de Tortugas host or hostess will steer you to in the right direction to suit your tastes. Go casual. There is no need to dress up in Chacala.

How to get to Chacala (if coming on your own)

Chacala is located on a bay about 1 ½ hours north of Purerto Vallarta where you will find the closest international airport.  For the "Mexico Dance Adventure" week, we will provide shuttle survice for you from the Puerto Vallarta airport to "Casa de Tortuga" in Chacala, so no worries.   However, if you are traveling on your own, there is a van service that operates out of chacala that will pick you up at the airport and drop you off at Casa de Tortugas for about $100. Contact: trinimoya2@yahoo.com.

Another option is to buy a ticket for an airport taxi to the Puerto Vallarta bus terminal (“Al central de caminiones, por favor”). The bus terminal is one kilometer away. There, you can go to the Pacifico bus counter and purchase a ticket to Las Varas which costs about $7.00 per person. Board a northbound bus to Tepic and get off at Las Varas. From Las Varas, take a green and yellow collective taxi to Chacala which costs about $1.00 during the day and about $10.00 in the evening.

Due to a developer’s purchase of a large parcel of land around the sister bay, Chacalilla, what was once a rough, unpaved road off of Highway Mex 200, is now a smooth five-mile ride into Chacala.