Imagine a village in Paradise with burros instead of cars. Instead of on roads, you'll wander and probably get pleasantly lost on cobblestone footpaths as they wind through homes and restaurants. Children run around safely. Dogs scurry everywhere. Every restaurant is better than the last, the tables all outside. Fairly recent Ex Pats make a living side by side with welcoming indigenous families who have been there for more than 500 years. Tourists are there to be, not to buy. Try the boat trip with Ferdinand to the Marietta's: near -- at your toes, the beach alive with tiny hermit crabs if you sit still to look; fresh ceviche with fish caught by Paul and guacamole made right there; on the horizon, on the boat trip back, in all directions . . there were whales blowing, one breaching and one even lobtailing. Make sure you hike to the waterfall and take a dip. On the way there, you'll walk through a river valley of homes sprinkled with tended gardens, unkempt trash, roosters and other pets.
To get to El Jardin, you will walk along a wave washed path along the bay. You could not imagine a more beautiful place to go to sleep and wake up - swaying on a hanging bed, looking through our toes at the bay. In January not even a net was needed. Staying with Chrissi, the owner, is like visiting a beloved college friend. The finest ping pong table in the western hemisphere looks out over Banderos Bay and calls to locals and visitors on many afternoons. On Wifi, we even joyfully toasted our our Denver Broncos with shots of Tequila while they lost their tragic playoff game the the Ravens. El Jardin was the perfect place for our family of 4, including our 22 year old son and 19 year old daughter, to be together. We are just sorry we missed the Saturday night dance at the Yacht Club that apparently brings together every dancing spirit from near and far - cancelled we heard because an elderly village man lost his wife the day before. Yelapa is a rare, precious and unpolished gem. El Jardin was home away from home.
A few practical tips - ONLY buy one way water taxi tickets; do not be tempted by the aggressive water taxi brokers in Puerto Vallarta. Only buy tickets from Sergio in the office to the left as you approach the pier. And be careful about food and water. Read everything Chrissi sends you ahead of time - especially the part about no ATMs in town.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- El Jardin is an eco-friendly garden retreat with the ocean on one side and the jungle on the other. Beautiful gardens surround the open air sleeping palapas. The communal area is open anytime, where guests can mingle, relax, read, dine, lay in a hammock or play one of the many games provided. There are recycling guidelines on-site and the manager will introduce you to the communal spaces at the start of your visit. The common areas are great way to meet people and relax. We have a great local cook who is available for meals and often dinners will be arranged for guests. Our casas are a "labor of love". We have worked hard to get the casas to the state they are in and continue to work to make improvements to make them better and more comfortable for you. ... more less