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La Playa Tenacatita, the Mexican Way beach

In cooperation with: Visit Mexico
Santa Cruz, CA
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La Playa Tenacatita, the Mexican Way beach

I have been visiting La Playa Tenacatita for more than two years now. I suggest you know some Mexican to have a good time visiting here. Not many people around this area speak much English. I've made friends and brought them all Spanish-English electronic dictionaries. They teach me Mexican; I teach them English. You will be forever cherished if you bring electronic dictionaries. When on sale online, they are CHEAP for the return you get in the way of "special" treatment by the Mexican people.

I am about to depart for at least another three months and will be looking for a place to live either at Tenacatita or nearby. Up until now, I camp on the beach like most of the people do who visit this lovely and YET UNBLEMISHED BY FOREIGNERS spot on La Costalegre. After you get to know the people, the "pescadors" (fisherman) will bring you fresh fish. An interesting tidbit: You can watch the sun come up on one side of the double crescent beach and watch the sun go down on the other side. Try it sometime. It's great! And, when the moon is full, it's wonderful!

Tenacatita, up until last October, has not been a spot for Americans and Canadians to pull in their HUGE RVs and act like ugly Americans and Canadians. I was sad to see that it's been DISCOVERED by the "rich" foreigners.

My experience there has been wonderful. The people who come there are mostly Mexican Nationals with their tents and beach toys (4 wheel trucks, jet skis, Mariachi bands and lots of jovial festivities) during the winter holidays. There are lots of restaurants and at least 3 convenience stores. They do roll up the sidewalks early. But, after you get to know the people, there is lots to do after dark - watch movies on a laptop, go to El Rebalisito for "cena", go for a walk in the moonlight, just sit and chill. Mexicans are very social and love to kick back and chat for hours. However, see the paragraph below about the mosquitos.

It is not true that there is no hotel at Tenacatita. Mardi and Felix run Hotel and Restaurante Paraiso right on the beach. The rate is 250 pesos per night. The rooms are clean and sparse. No TV, radio, clocks, kitchens. Mardi cooks up some great Mexican food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant closes around 9 PM. There is also a swimming pool and a place where hammocks are hung and you can take a siesta in la sombra (shade).

There is also another hotel in Tenacatita. I can't remember the name. It sits back off the beach. I understand it is more expensive than Hotel Paraiso and does have TV. I never paid much attention to it.

Between El Rebalisito (where they have a Mexican Rodeo in February) and Tenacatita, a new hotel has been built. I don't know much about this hotel. I can't remember the name but have seen it when I google "hotels at Tenacatita."

El Rebalisito has 2 wonderful "mom and pop" restaurants just off the main paved street that runs through the town. They are only open in the evenings, and the food is good. I found the people to be most "simpatico y amable." The restaurants are typical Mexican style. Since the nights usually don't get below 65 degrees F, most people like to sit outside. There is usually a man and woman selling "choco milk" outside one of the restaurants. When you see the "choco milk" stand, you know you are at the better of the two restaurants.

In La Rosa, there is a grocery store where you can buy just about anything you need in the way of simple food and produce and also ice (don't eat the ice or use it in drinks!). There is no meat market. In El Rebalisito, if you get up early enough, you can get carnitas from Pedro just off the main paved road.

I usually make a trip into Melaque once a week for supplies I can't get locally. Although Tenacatita, El Rebalisito and La Rosa all have stores, the prices are a little higher than Melaque. But, you have to figure in the price of gas to get to Melaque and back (about 30-45 minutes each way)and figure whether it is worth it.

One thing to watch out for at Tenacatita is the mosquitos. I haven't found a repellent yet that works - I won't use DEET. Someone told me the other day to buy a box of cheap dryer sheets and stick them all over you in your clothing near dusk. The mosquitos in Tenacatita are fierce. Caladryl (I buy the clear one) lotion works well after the fact. If you get an infection at any of the bite sites, use a Mexican product called Barmicil. You can get it at a "farmacia" in Melaque. It clears up the infection with one application.

Hope this helps you decide to try an "out of the way" and beautiful beach on the Costalegre. Who knows I might see you there.

Toronto, Canada
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1,106 posts
102 reviews
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1. Re: La Playa Tenacatita, the Mexican Way beach

Excellent report on one of my favorite places in the Costa Alegre Robi! It sounds like you are coming at the right time to avoid the foreign tourist with their large RVs. I have been living here 12 years now and people with RVs have been visiting the parking area at Playa Mora and certain sites on Playa Tenacatita yearly for that entire time. In fact Chuy the 'guardian of the beach' has the road into Playa Mora plowed each season once the rains end so they can get in.

The high season for foreign tourism is January through March. The area is also very busy with national and foreign tourism at Christmas and with mainly national tourists during Semana Santa - the week preceding Easter and the Easter weekend. The rest of the time it is pretty quiet out there except for Sundays when local families come to the beach with their coolers and umbrellas. Off season is a really good time to visit if you want to enjoy the beauty and tranquility this lovely spot offers. The coral reef at Playa Mora is the best site in the area for snorkeling but please don't step on or break off pieces of the coral if you decide to snorkel.

There are three hotels I know of at Tenacatita Beach and they all have pools. Paraiso which Robi listed; Los Amigos located behind the restaurants at the beach but not on it and Las Villitas on the beach.

Also the Playa Tenacatita trailer park have I think four rooms on the beach that they rent and there is/was also a duplex for rent there just off the beach that friends from South Carolina stayed at and really enjoyed.

In El Rebalsito just down the road there are two hotels, Hotel Costa Alegre above the big store on the corner of the road to the beach and Hotel Mision del Sol just outside of the little "town" part of El Rebalsito also on the road to the beach.

For those without vehicles who want to stay overnight there is a bus into El Rebalsito that leaves Barra de Navidad around 5 pm each evening - and Melaque around 10 minutes later - and returns each morning leaving El Rebalsito around 7:00 am. The bus driver lives in El Rebalsito and times are approximate. One can also take a 2nd class Vallarta bound bus out of Barra or Melaque and it will let you off at the intersection of highway 200 about 9 km from he beach or take the 2nd class bus a bit further into Aguascalientes where you can get a taxi to the beach for about $100 pesos. The first class buses will not normally stop at either of these places but you can always ask the driver before you get on.

From about Christmas through Easter there are also day tours to Tenacatita by panga (small boat), cruiser (large boat), van, suburban and bus. Some of these tours include a trip in a small boat through la vena the river that runs from the ocean, through the mangrove to the lagoon behind Tenacatita beach. Taxi fares from Barra and Melaque to Tenacatita are about $500 pesos return.

Santa Cruz, CA
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2. Re: La Playa Tenacatita, the Mexican Way beach

Thanks for the compliment BarraNan and the inclusion of information I didn't think about writing in my original post.

One thing I would like to correct is that the pueblo up the highway toward Puerto Vallarta from the Tenacatita turnoff is Aqua Caliente. Aquascalientes is farther north and inland I believe. I teach English to the children in Aqua Caliente when I'm in Mexico, and school is open. On November 22, all the children dance at la plaza for El Dia de Revolucion. I've not seen a taxi or a taxi stand in Aqua Caliente, and that doesn't mean there aren't taxis.

Near Aqua Caliente Viejo, just before Aqua Caliente, runs El Rio Purificacion. This was once an Aztec ritual site. The magma is near the surface of the earth in some places in the river. You can dig a hole and take a "health" treatment in the sulfer water. There is also black mud to smear all over your body for detoxification.

Toronto, Canada
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1,106 posts
102 reviews
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3. Re: La Playa Tenacatita, the Mexican Way beach

You are correct. The little town on the highway just past the turn off to Tenacatita is indeed Agua Caliente often spelled locally as Aguacaliente.

Aguascalientes the city is the capital of Aguascalientes the state and is located sort of between Guadalajara and San Luis Potosi or Zacatecas depending which direction you go in from Guadalajara.

Saskatoon, Canada
Destination Expert
for Riviera Maya
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12,953 posts
49 reviews
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4. Re: La Playa Tenacatita, the Mexican Way beach

Some excellent and very helpful information in this thread!

You guys should make it into one of the 'FAQs' for this Barra forum. :)

We only spent one day at Tenacatita but we really loved it!

Hi Nan! I hope business is going well and things are good in Barra? (We stayed at the Casa de Marco last February, Maggie and Don from Saskatchewan.)

Take care and keep up the great work on this forum.


Mexico City, Mexico
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5. Re: La Playa Tenacatita, the Mexican Way beach

Hello everyone. These reviews are great and you seem to know Tenacatita and Barra de Navidad really well. Im travelling to Barra de Navidad for vacation over Semana Santa (from Wed to Sat) and I have narrowed it to two lodging options: Casa Chips in Barra and Hotel Las Villitas, which allows to switch if wanted from its facilities in Barra to Tenacatita. We think about the second option because of this but reviews of Casa Chips are really good.

If staying in Barra, would like to know the best option (taxi, bus) to make it to Tenacatita to watch the sunset and then be able to come back at night safely. Also, would love to get advise on activities to do both in Barra and Tenacatita to get the most out of our stay. We are a young couple but look forward to relax and enjoy the beach and local atmosphere rather than party all night.

Thanks in advance.

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6. Re: La Playa Tenacatita, the Mexican Way beach

When I was last in Tenacatita it wasn't the mosquitoes that got me. It was the noseeums, also called sand fleas, midges, biting gnats and flying teeth. Something that worked pretty well was old-style suntan oil. The tiny gnats would get stuck in the oil and weren't able to bite.

7. Re: La Playa Tenacatita, the Mexican Way beach

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