human settlement in Nayarit, Mexico

Chacala is a village in the Nayarit Region of Mexico. Chacala is built around the beach, a handsome half-mile crescent of jungle-adjacent sand. Chacala is known for its physical beauty, unhurried lifestyle.

Sailboats in the water off of Chacala

Understand edit

At the southern end of the beach, gentle surf murmurs over black volcanic rocks. In the middle of the crescent, a half-dozen palm-shaded restaurants serve fresh fish and shrimp (and keep a machete on hand for those new-fallen coconuts). To the north, two dozen battered fishing boats are tied to a modest dock.

The name means "where there are shrimp" in Náhuatl, and is part of the coastline known as the Riviera Nayarita. The population consists of approximately 300 full-time residents, but can swell to over 1000 during Mexico's most popular vacation periods such as Semana Santa, (Easter Week) and Christmas.

Climate edit

Chacala's climate is tropical, hot and humid, characterized by high rainfall – the fifth highest in the country, averaging 1000-1500 mm (40-60 in) per annum. The rains are concentrated in periods of brief intense thunderstorms, often occurring in the afternoons, most during the summer wet season between May and October, although a lesser but significant winter wet season exists as well. The wet seasons are separated by spring and fall dry seasons.

Get in edit

Chacala lies on Mexico's Pacific Coast, about 100 km north of Puerto Vallarta and six miles off Highway 200. From the Puerto Vallarta airport, visitors can rent a car (most major agencies are represented) or take a taxi, which costs about US$90 for the 90-minute ride.

From Guadalajara, it is 250 km to Chacala via a new toll highway (MEX-15D) for most of the trip. At Los Grande, the highway will split and you need to stay on federal highway MEX-15, which is an older but free highway that will take you all the way to Chacala (via Compostela). The trip will take about 2 hours.

By bus edit

From Guadalajara, Estrella Blanca has two buses per day departing from the Central de Autobuses Zapopan to Las Varas (a 10-minute taxi ride to Chacala). The 2-hour trip will cost about M$300.

Get around edit

See edit

  • 1 Altavista Ceremonial Complex, Puerta de la Lima (Off highway MEX 200, south of Crucero Playa Chacala). An archaeological area featuring 56 etched stones with pictographs created by the Tecoxquin society around the year 2300 BC. The petroglyphs continue to be revered by the Huichol people, who sometimes come for ceremonies or to leave offerings.

Do edit

  • Chacala Escapes, Islas Marías, +52 327 219-4018. arranges snorkeling, surfing, fishing, whale watching and other trips at US$10-35 per person..

Surfing edit

Chacala is not regarded as a "surfer beach" because the beaches close to town are fairly mild without consistent waves or natural breaks that would challenge an avid surfer. The best surf spots are accessible by boat and pangas at the waterfront can be hired to take you to the remote jungle beaches where the surfers hang out.

  • La Caleta is the best surfing spot in Chacala and is widely regarded as one of the best and most popular in the state of Nayarit. The beach offers a deep water peak and exceptional walls and is very well suited to longboard riders. Wear foot protection because the sharp volcanic rock bottom is covered with urchins. La Caleta is about a 15-minute boat ride from the Chacala waterfront.

Buy edit

Eat edit

  • Majahua, On the beachfront, +52 327 219-4055. It has no roof and a pebble floor, but it's the fanciest restaurant in town, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Main courses US$6-13.
  • Las Brisas, beachfront. A favorite with English speakers. Main dishes US$5.50-18.
  • Mauna Kea Cafe, Los Corchos, just off Islas Marias, +52 327 219-4067. 08:00-10:00. A breakfast spot. US$4.50-7.
  • Chac Mool (vino deli cafe), islas canarias 7, +52 3272194097. Attractive terrace cafe serving breakfasts and European style food, along with gourmet coffees and artisan bread, run by Mexican/English couple.

Drink edit

Sleep edit

Villas in Chacala
  • Majahua, On the beachfront. Four 'suite' units in a pair of buildings on a jungle slope down to the beach. Uneven paths make it risky for children and anyone with mobility problems, but the secluded setting and spa attract yoga groups and other escapists. Breakfast included. US$110-300 per suite nightly..
  • Mar de Jade, On the beachfront, +52 327 219 4000. Thirty units, neighbored by garden, pool and beach. Units have no phones or TVs, and most are fan-cooled. Family-friendly. Spa facilities. Three kayaks. Meals included in rates. High-season rates US$110-135 per person based on double occupancy, or US$135-180 for singles.
  • Casa Chacala, Golfo de Mexico street. Six units and a pool. Has air conditioning (a rarity). Doubles begin at US$50.
  • Techos de Mexico (Roofs of Mexico). Most include kitchenettes and terraces with ocean views; all are within five minutes' walk to the beach, but housekeeping, telephone access and billing practices vary. Little English spoken. Rooms are priced at US$22.50-60 nightly.
  • Chacala Vacation Rentals, +52 327-102-0864. Several houses in the gated Marina Chacala development are available for short-term rental. From US$150 (for a one-bedroom unit) to US$625 per night (for Villa Tesseri, which sleeps 10 to 12 and has a swimming pool).

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