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While many of Mexico’s most beautiful beaches are slowly gobbled up by mega-resorts, a few places remain along the coast that truly feel like an escape. On Mexico’s Pacific Coast, between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, is a stretch of land that still seems untouched, remote and reminiscent of that legendary bohemian Mexico beach getaway you’ve heard of but have never actually experienced.
This is the Costalegre.
The Costalegre runs along Highway 200 from Careyes to Punta Dorada. It’s a sleepy stretch that hides out of the spotlight of more traditional Mexican beach destinations such as Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit and Riviera Maya. But what it lacks in access and popularity, it more than makes up for in natural beauty and privacy.
The drive along the Costalegre has several worthwhile stops, including Navidad Bay, Tenacatita Bay, Costa Careyes, Chamela Bay, Costa Majahuas and Cabo Corrientes — all of which are prime destinations for ecotourism and remain out of the public eye. Driving the Costalegre also opens up travelers to a wide range of accommodations, including everything from budget hostels, where air-conditioning is considered a luxury, to the gated enclave of Costa Careyes Resort within Costa Careyes. This exclusive hideaway is a private resort community with mansions, villas, casitas and bungalows evocative of a Mediterranean village, right on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.
Playa Careyes is certainly the most-visited destination on the Costalegre and is popular with the jet-set crowd. Popular activities here include diving, swimming, kayaking and windsurfing. There’s a nearby golf course, as well as tennis courts and a polo club.
For an authentic and local experience, consider a visit to Navidad Bay, known for its calm, warm waters teeming with wildlife. Indulge in fresh seafood under a beachside palapa or in Los Pitufos, the taco area of the port. Take a stroll along the malecon promenade to catch the sunset, or visit downtown to take in some history.
Some of Costalegre’s best beaches are in Cabo Corrientes, an expanse of 45 miles of sand that feels like paradise. Clients will want to hit Villa del Mar, Tehuamixtle and Playa Mayto beaches. Cabo Corrientes is for the adventurous at heart, as much of this area has yet to be explored by tourists. Wildlife abounds here, with armadillos, iguanas, deer, foxes, alligators, jaguars and more.
Outdoor enthusiasts must make a stop at Cuixmala, just an hour and a half from Manzanillo. Cuixmala has one of Mexico’s most important eco-reserves, which helps protect habitats and endangered species, as well as promotes sustainability. The nearly 25,000-acre reserve has its own beach, as well as several lagoons, and is home to 72 animal species including sea turtles, crocodiles, pumas and parrots.
It won’t be long before the beams from Puerto Vallarta’s spotlight inch down to the Costalegre as development pushes hoteliers and tourists farther south. But for now, this quiet coastal region remains a true beach hideaway that retains the soul of Mexico.
Costa Careyes Resortwww.careyes.com
Mexico Tourism Boardwww.visitmexico.com