It takes about an hour to reach the fishing village of Yelapa from Nuevo Vallarta. // © 2015 Garrett Kuwahara
Feature image (above): Los Arcos is one stop on Vallarta Adventures’ Yelapa & Majahuitas tour. // © 2015 Garrett Kuwahara
When it comes to deciding whether to swim underneath a waterfall, there’s no time for debating — just do it.
That would be my tip for anyone signing up for Vallarta Adventures’ Yelapa & Majahuitas tour. Passengers board a catamaran for an hourlong ride to Majahuitas cove, where they can snorkel and kayak, and then proceed on to Yelapa, a remote fishing village full of charming buildings and a lovely beach and waterfall (under which to take that dip I mentioned). For those longing to leave their resort for a bit, this tour is the perfect choice.
The trip across Banderas Bay is a little long, especially if you tend toward seasickness, but the crew helps while the time away by putting on entertaining skits. There’s also a bar, for those who want to pass the hour that way. Check out the (nonalcoholic) hibiscus tea, my personal favorite.
After we had been cruising for nearly an hour, the catamaran hugged the coastline so that passengers could drink in the emerald jungles and red-roofed houses. The boat pulled up to Los Arcos, two giant stone fixtures jutting out of the sea in the middle of the bay. Towering over the sea like two twin-sized stone behemoths, with seabirds resting along its sides, Los Arcos is something that simply must be seen in person.
From there, the catamaran made its way to Majahuitas Cove — another gorgeous site, with an abundance of fish and clear, warm water — for an hour of snorkeling and kayaking. Depending on the size of the group, passengers get around 10 to 15 minutes of kayaking but are free to snorkel for the entire hour. Vallarta Adventures provides all the gear guests need, and germaphobes can even buy their own snorkel if they wish (but not to worry — everything is thoroughly disinfected).
Afterward, guests are served a refreshing spread of sandwiches and salads for lunch onboard the catamaran. From there, it’s only another five or so minutes to Yelapa.
Yelapa is a charmingly remote village — it takes four hours by car to get there from Puerto Vallarta, whereas a boat takes only an hour or so, which is why the town has everything delivered to it via the bay. There are also no roads or cars within the village itself.
Despite its quaintness, the village is also visibly impoverished. This is one of the reasons Vallarta Adventures includes the destination in its tours; the company wants to inject some money into Yelapa’s local economy. It’s also a much-needed reminder for tourists that there’s more to Mexico than resorts.
In Yelapa, guests can choose to spend a full two hours on the beach or take an hourlong tour of the town and visit its waterfall. The waterfall is a short half-hour hike through the village, and its cool waters are the perfect antidote for a humid hike.
Afterward, guests can relax for an hour on the beach and order drinks from the local bars. The short van ride back to Nuevo Vallarta is nice after a tiring day of fun and sun. The crew puts on one last show before the tour ends, showcasing their humor and dance moves. I heard many of my fellow passengers say they’d be back for more (some as early as the next day) — a true testament to Vallarta Adventures’ great itinerary.