Message From Jae



We’re so glad you’ll be visiting Casa de Tortugas!  Here are a few advance tips to make your stay more enjoyable.

For the adventurer who likes to dance, and the dancer who likes adventure:  

This is an amazing spot for those looking for true Mexico.  Chacala is a small, mostly fishing village of around 500 residents, very authentically Mexican.  Most residents do not speak English. Most fish or work locally. There is a lovely active community of ex-patriots who’ve called Chacala their home for many years.  You’ll find the residents and community friendly, welcoming, and safe.  The lovely bay is considered one of the best in Mexico, calm enough for swimming, rarely a crowd.  The beach has received the clean beach certification, a rarity in Mexico.

You can walk a circuit of the entire town in 40 minutes.  The streets are paved with stone or left natural (You will not be able to walk in heels here, so leave them at home and let your feet be comfy)  You are safe walking at night. Visitors are invited to town activities, no one is a stranger long.

It’s especially appealing to singles, couples, and families, and for some reason, those needing healing, as there can be an almost spiritual feel, especially at Casa de Tortugas.

Chacala vs Puerto Vallarta:

Please be warned that Chacala is NOT for those looking for the kind of isolated, sanitized, time-share style experience that you might find in places such as "Cabo" or "Puerto Vallarta".  It is NOT for those who don’t want to interact with local Mexicans.  Here, you will hear dogs barking and roosters crowing, see trucks selling fruit off the back, watch kids walking to school.  There is a scooter that delivers fresh tortillas each day.  Constantine, an icon of the villiage, walks all around town each morning delivering her fresh squeezed juices,.  There is a fish market selling fish and shrimp caught that morning practically in front of our door. It’s utterly charming. 

General information:

1. You’ll fly into the Puerto Vallarta Airport. We’ll arrange shuttles or group rental cars to get to Chacala.

2. Banks close at 4 p.m., and there is nowhere to exchange money in Chacala.  If you’re arriving later than 2 p.m., consider changing some money at the PV airport while waiting for your luggage. It does not usually have the best exchange rate but is very convenient. 

3. There are no real grocery stores between Nuevo Vallarta and Chacala, though there are many fruit stands and very small “tiendas” in Chacala where you can buy basics. Many people like to stop at the Mega store outside Nuevo Vallarta on the way to Chacala for essentials.  It’s a very large (mega, even), American-style grocery store.  We’ve found that it’s helpful to buy milk, sunscreen, repellent, and if you wish, some snacks and breakfast juices and foods.  While water is available for your use at Casa de Tortugas, you may also want smaller bottles of water for sinkside tooth brushing or to carry with you each day.

4.  Lipton (and other assorted flavor teas) as well as coffee & creamer are provided for your stay at Casa de Tortuga, but if you would like your own specialty brand or flavor, please feel free to bring your own, or you may purchase it at the Mega.  Filters are provided for you. 

5. There are ATM’s in the Mega. 

Directions and Check-in:

It’s easy to get to Chacala. 

Directions – Hwy 200 to the Playa Chacala road. As you come into town, you’ll take the third left turn (the first is a simple dirt road you might miss) where the blue signs are tipping a bit – Playa and Zona hoteleria . At the end of that short street you’ll take a right.  In a very short distance that road will Y and head uphill, take the left Y.  Just past the red church at the top of the hill, take a left at the preschool sign.  In less than a block, you’ll take a right at the tree in the road. Casa de Tortugas is at the end of that very short side street on the right 

Before you leave:

1.  Make sure your cell phone has an International/Mexico plan.  Verizon service now works in much of Chacala, and the most recent package was only $2 a day to add on service in Mexico.  AT&T does not charge any added fees for calls made from Mexico to Mexico, or from Mexico to the USA (but not for calls from the USA to Mexico)

2.  There is wi-fi at the Villa, but it can be hit or miss.  Internet cables are provided for a high speed internet connection in the rooms. 

3.  Transportation – There is a van service to and from Chacala operated by Arturo.  (phone number upon request)  

4.  Food and water in Mexico – don’t drink the water.  Bottled water is provided, but you may want to purchase a few of your own bottles to take along to the beach, etc.  Some people take grapefruit seed extract (GSE) before their vacation so they can take advantage of the local fare without concern. We’ve never experienced any stomach problems here, but if you have a sensitive stomach you might consider it just in case.

5.  Bring sunscreen and insect repellent (or plan to purchase some at the Mega Store).  The insects vary with the seasons but are usually very moderate.  As the sun begins to go down some biting can begin, so wear protection or avoid being outside just then if you are particularly vulnerable.

6. For your planning purposes, be aware Puerto Vallarta is one hour ahead of Chacala. Chacala is on U.S. Mountain time.

7. If you prefer to pack light, laundry service is available for $3 per garment.  

Chacala Activities to look forward to or plan in advance:

1. Sun-bathing on the lovely beaches, swimming in the calm bay, paddleboarding, surfing at nearby beaches, bird-watching in the virgin jungle, fishing from either the rocky point or out of local boats, horseback riding on the beach or through the jungle, boat tours to deserted beaches. 

2. Boating and fishing – local guides offer boat rides, fishing trips, whale watching in season, snorkeling excursions, and exploring isolated beaches. The boat dock is 5 minutes from Tortuga. 

3. Whale watching – you can see whales breach from nearly every room and patio at Casa de Tortugas, usually January – March.  You may also see Sea Turtles and Dolphins. .

4. Surfing – a secret surfers paradise - check out nearby Caletas – a left break world-renowned by the experienced surf community for advanced surfers. 

5. Petroglyphs near Alta Vista – nearly 2000 years old, site offers explanatory signs in Spanish and English. Arturo,, a Chacala resident is ready to be your guide. 

6. Learn Spanish on the beach - Trini’s Escuela de Espanol (Spanish Immersion Program) – offers group or individual Spanish instruction using an immersion model for very reasonable rates. 

7. La Penita market – a weekly open-air market on Thursdays, in the neighboring city of La Penita – lots of shopping and dining options!  

8. See crocodiles up close and personal - visit the San Blas crocodile farm and mangrove swamp.

9. Night life – we’ll be putting on dances at Casa de Tortugas, Mingos on the ocean, and Acelas upper deck overlooking the beach.  There may be a Cuban band one night at Mar de Jade, and we’re all invited to attend Karlas weekly rooftop party and dance. 

When you leave to go home:

1. Remember that Puerto Vallarta is one hour ahead and you can run into slow traffic on the road any day of the week.  It’s best to leave 4.5 hours ahead of your flight time.