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Yelapa 20° 29.470′ N
105° 26.600′ W
Nestled on the southern shore of Banderas Bay the village of Yelapa is certainly one of the easiest ways to access the jungles of the great state of Jalisco. I first visited this town back in 1996 after a sailing trip to the Revillagigedos Islands of San Benedicto & Socorro. Back then this was just what a cruiser was looking for after two weeks off shore. A slow gradual return to civilization. That is what Yelapa was back then and of course in 2012 things are a tad bit different than they once were. Yelapa now has electricity and street lights. This is a great plus since I literally almost killed myself walking back to my Kayak in pitch black conditions when they generators were turned off back in 1996. There is a rough road to Yelapa but I would suspect that 99.9% of people and the stuff they bring with them arrive to Yelapa by water. There is now a hard ware store and at least three mini super markets where you can purchase veggies and other fare.
Yelapa Coast from side walk
There must be at least a dozen restaurants in Yelapa from the upper scale Resorts that inhabit the east side of the bay to our favorite tacos Los Chillones located next to the pool hall in the center of town on the West side of the bay. There is even a restaurant located a few miles up the Tuito river which was closed while we were there which was the end of June. The beginning of the rainy season.
Chillones tacos the best in town
Before the rains started we encountered decent snorkeling at Isabella beach located on the south west part of the bay were several of the smaller upper scale Hotel rentals are. We actually anchored our trimaran right in front of playa Isabella. The water visibility was exceptional when we first arrived at Yelapa, third week in June 2012, and one of the locals mentioned to me that the viz was the best he had seen it in years. Like everything on the South side of Bahia Banderas the coast drops off abruptly just a short distance off shore. This is were I actually saw some of the more interesting fuana on my several snorkeling sessions at playa Isabella. I spoted Jack Craveles and spotted eagle rays at the drop off. Even though you get the feeling while snorkeling that Yelapa has been pretty fished out you can still see a variety of tropical fish. I have actually never in my life seen so many porcupine fish in one area. Some small red snappers a few chubs and plenty of surgeon fish along with some ok sized mullets. I actually did spear fish a few mullets which I gave away to one of our neighbors while we were there.
Visiting during the off season at the end of June has huge advantages. We practically never saw any tourists during our whole stay there. Now of course the water taxi’s, the small pangas and the larger commercial catamaran and trimarans that ferry tourists back and forth from Vallarta come and go on a daily basis but 99% of those tourists that arrive never leave the beach. During our stay in Yelapa we hiked the Tuito river on two occasions up to the water fall. On both occasions we had the whole river to ourselves. The only things we really had to share the trail with were the the local flora and fauna. Huge numbers of Ants ply the trail during the rainy season so when ever you stop to take a break it is best to look down and make sure you are not standing on a pile of ants. You will also spot if you pay attention numerous varieties of frogs.
Rainy season equates to flowers and you will find a multitude of flowers and orchids such as pictured below during the rainy season in Yelapa. Especially while hiking the Tuito river.
To find the waterfall on the Tuito river simply start hiking the path on the south side of the river. You will know you are close when the path takes you over the river twice. When you return to the southern bank of the river you will start a shortelevation gain on the trail. Towards the top of this climb you will see a wooden gate with a large whole in it and etched into the gate the words Waterfall. If you are not right next to the gate you will not see the writing. The first time we hiked it we actually passed the gate and the next time the trail crossed the river we hiked down river to get to the waterfall. Once you pass through the gate follow the path. There will be one fork in the path, bear right and the trail will take you to a staircase leading to the falls.
Some favorites pics of Yelapa & Tuito River