View Worlds Aquarium Map Chamela Bay in a larger map
Chamela 20° 35.190′ N
105° 07.700′ W
Chamela is a long bay with many sweet spots so zoom in and out to see it all. Click on each Icon for a detailed description
of what the area is all about and why I have placed an icon there. Enjoy!!!!
Chamela Bay Jalisco’s hidden Jewel
Chamela Bay is located around 70 miles south of Vallarta on what was commonly called the gold coast of Mexico but is now being rebranded as the Costa Alegre or happy coast. We will address that label in more depth on our page on Tenacatita, but I regress. Back to Chamela. This area, no matter what you call it comes out smelling like a rose every time and I was simply enchanted by its raw beauty and lack of development.
Cruising the west coast of Mexico in Summer time, aka Hurricane Season is unconventional and most cruisers put their boats on the hard and go home or stay very close to a sheltered Marina. But there is one distinct advantages to cruising Mexico’s Gold Coast or new name Costa Alegre during summer. You will damn near have the whole cost to yourselves. We have not seen another sail boat since we departed Yelapa. Well over a hundred nautical miles from where I am now creating this page in the beautiful bay of Tenacatita. We have spent time in no less than 10 different anchorages since we rounded the corner of Cabo Corrientes and left the protected waters of Puerto Vallarta in Banders Bay
Full Moon sets over Isla Pasvera
Fishing village of Perula
There must easily be a dozen places you could drop anchor in the island filled shallow waters of Chamela bay which is technically defined as everything between punta Perula and punta Etiopia, approximately 8 miles in length. I dropped the hook in no less than 6 different spots over the course of our 4 day exploration of the bay. There is excellent shallow water snorkeling through out the area and very decent spear fishing for the beginner spear fisherman.
My son and daughter, 10 and 11, actually shot their first fish here in Chamela and I don’t believe I have every seen so many mullets, (lisa in spanish), any were else in Mexico. Which by the way are excellent eating if you cook them Sarandeado style. If you have never done a fish Sarandeado style check out this video I created on how the boys in Sonora do it. We almost never fillet small fish since you loose far to much meat if you fillet them and you miss out on all the great meat around the head and cheek!
If you are cruising in your sail boat then provisioning in the small village of Perula is a very simple matter. Perula is located at the northern end of the bay and is a perfect spot to go ashore for supplies . Perula has many inexpensive sea food restaurants and taco stands. With the seafood found on the beach and the tacos found next to the town square. At the writing of this page, june 2012, the current price for a taco is 6 pesos and they actually give you a bowl of beans for each person. Myself wife and daughter had diner for less than 50 pesos in Perula. Most sea food dishes start out at around 90 pesos and there must be close to a dozen restaurants on the beach starting at the rivers mouth.
You will also find very inexpensive locally produced home made ice cream called Nieve de Garrafa. There is a small river were the beach ends that is an excellent place to make a kayak or dingy landing and on the weekends you will find this area full of local venders selling their wares to the many families frolicking in the shallow protected water of the rivers mouth . If you are not living on your sail boat then there are several hotels and at least one RV park in the area.
Islands in the bay
Isla Pasavera and Isla Colorado are the two most prominent and largest islands in the bay and enjoy status as a bird sanctuary. You will find a multitude of Magnificent Frigates, Yellow Footed Boobies and Brown Pelicans along with very large jungle crabs on the densely forested northern parts of the island. Isla Coronado has two small coves at its northern point with a lovely sandy beach at the north western cove. We have never seen so many bait fish in our lives at these coves and the day we were there a ball of bait fish covered both coves from end to end. The north end of Isla Coronado sports two large arches and I suspect, although I did not dive there that this might be very good advanced spear fishing spot since the water depth drops off nicely in that area. the northern ends of the island are quite shallow indeed and the depth between these islands is only around 20 feet.
Chamela Bay ends at punta Etiopia but before you get to punta Etiopia you will find beautifully convoluted coves, several coconut plantations and a sweet anchorage called Paraiso, aptly named indeed. The cove at Paraiso is split by a rocky point with coconut palms found on both beaches between the rocky point. In front of Paraiso are two islands with rock out cropping and naturally formed arches. There are also several blow holes in the area and a multitude of birds as well which makes this area a kayakers dream. One of the many friendly plantation caretakes at the cove next to Paraiso gave us free coconuts and informed us that bungalos at Paraiso were rental properties and there were several families there on summer vacation when we arrived.
Just past punta Etiopia there is a deep cove that sports some very high dollar looking houses so there is little doubt in my mind that Chamela will continue to grow but at the moment of this wrighting the area is still relatively undeveloped and well worth visiting.