Yelapa Bay boasts an actual town in addtition to its beachy resort area and sizable inland rural community. This was the original fishing village, established long before discovery by vacationers. A dense cluster of brick or cinder block houses, it centers on a spring-fed creek.
Yelapa town has roads, but they are generally unsuitable for cars. The primary means of land transportation is by foot or on horseback. This woman rides her mule past the town's only medical service: a tiny pharmacy staffed by a nurse. People have to hope nothing serious happens to them: it's a 45-minute boat ride to the hospital in Puerto Vallarta.
It's early. The cybercafe hasn't opened yet. The sun-and-moon image is Mexican all right, but the painting style is Haight-Ashbury. Old hippies are holed up in Yelapa, one of the few remaining refuges for those who still cling to the old counterculture.
Say what you will, but where the flower children are, there's good food. Brisa's restaurant has an inviting menu. Lupis bakery offers goodies not usually available in Mexico. At another café, the proprietress informed me she had good brownies—really good brownies.
I don't know what you can get at the House of Miracles.
Marginal businesses subsist providing visitor services. Marketing is rudimentary. If you want to go whale watching, ask Roger.
When on beach vacations, I prefer oceanfront accommodations. But budget-driven visitors can sleep at Casas Irma & Angel for $35 per night ($40 high season) if they're willing to take a fifteen minute walk when they want to go to the beach. "Enquire at the top of the stairs." More primitive hostelries offer even better deals.
These business signs look more suitable for Venice, California than a Mexican town.
I saw plenty of evidence that residents of Yelapa seem more sensitive to environmental issues than those in most Mexican towns. A signboard depicts "Nuestra Sra. de la Ecología," a play on the famous Guadalupe image. Net bags hang from trees and fence posts to collect refuse.
The town has the requisite church. The interior is decorated with fabric hangings to make the otherwise utilitarian cinder block cube look more church-like. The ceiling needs paint, but the interior has been kept spotlessly clean.
Boaters note: Yelapa has a yacht club.
These phone booths are holdovers from the days when the town had maybe a dozen phone lines.
The difficulty of bringing in materials and equipment leads to ad-hoc intallations.
Main Street, a mule trail, leads south through town to a point at the bottom of the bay. Behind, the urban center recedes. Pricier homes line the water, many of them available as vacation rentals.
The mule track rounds the point and continues on for maybe a kilometer, winding past more large homes. It ends here. The sign says it all: no appointment, no entry. Hmmm. Exclusive.
Those who find other Yelapa lodgings too primitive recline in luxury at Verana. It must be good: rates are ten times higher than our hotel on the beach. The cheapest room runs $320 USD per night, five night minimum. It's a 40-minute walk to the beach restaurants, so guests had best opt for the meal plan: another $80 per person per day, drinks extra. So you have to pony up a minimum of almost $2,000 just to be admitted as a guest.
It seems to me that Verana guests might miss what Yelapa is all about—funky, laid-back, real. I prefer the look of this place on the lagoon at the north end of town.
It's such a tiny place. Maybe 2,000 residents. But town, country, beach—there's plenty to capture my attention, lots to do.