Friday, October 21, 2005

Camping, RV's and Spas in Chacala

There are different ways to stay in Chacala: beach camping, RV "camping", inexpensive Techo de Mexico family-owned rooms with or without kitchens and patios, family owned mini-complexes with four-six units, small hotels with spas, and other small rentals in varying price ranges. Some with pools. A few with air-con.

Camping on Playa Chacala is often wonderful. Most of the time it feels like being on a tropical island. However, there are times (Sunday afternoons and Semana Santa) when it is very crowded and full of trash. Just a small warning.

Camping on Chacala Beach
There are different places to camp on the beach in Chacala. People genrally camp on the southern end of the beach, south from Chico's restaurant.

My understanding is that each area of the beach (above the high-tide line) is managed by a different person or family under Federal "concessions", which are held by paying annual fees to the Federal government.

There are several camping areas south of the Delphin's Restaurant (where motor home tend to camp in the winter). These include two campgrounds (Esparanza's and Don Beto's) with ramadas and "sweet" (that is, not ocean) water showers and bucket-flushed toilets. And trash cans. Usually electricity is available with your own extension cord. Sometimes the fees for the use of showers, toilets, and electricity are separate from the camping charge, but not always, so ask.
Esparanza's is my favorite camping area. Partly because she has lots of palm trees and its cool and shady, and its the last ramada area on the beach, going south. Don Beto and Dona Lupe have a nice camping area next door.

Most of the camping areas have ramadas (palm shelters), where you can put your tent and set up camp. The ramadas are right on the beach, a lovely setting.

On the days/weeks right around Christmas and Easter the beach and town are jam-packed with campers and buses, etc and it is noisy and crowded. Sundays can also be crowded with day-trippers from Guadalajara, Tepic or Compostella. Not the best time for a camping experience.Some people camp on the beach below the high tide line (and pay at the campgrounds to use the toilets, etc). Often you see people suddenly realizing their tent/camp is about to be swamped by the rising tide, and hurrying to move everything out of the way. There are a few places to park along the beach road where it is quieter and nicer. A person might want to talk to someone at the nearest house and work out an arrangement about parking/camping there. It is worth talking to several people to make sure you are paying the appropriate person for your spot.
Campers/Motor Homes/RV's
One of the beach restaurants collects rents for motor home camping slots on a stretch of beach (mid-beach) at the south end of restaurant row. During January and February there are maybe 35-40 motor homes parked side by side in the beachside slots, blocking the view (and sometimes access) for anyone else camping in that area.

There are showers in that area but I think they are only open during the Easter weeks. Trucks selling drinking water are driving around town every morning (five gallon jugs for 10 pesos).

Trash and garbage has been a huge problem in the area in the past but lately the town has tried hard to contain the mess left by visitors. The trash situation is improving. For one thing, the town has hired people pick up trash around town, with more frequent trash pickups.

The town is also actively discouraging RVer's from digging holes into the sand to empty their black (toilet and shower) water into. That has become popular sewage solution among the gringo (US and Canadian) campers who come to Chacala for extended stays. The hole-diggers are sometimes the same people who explain that they like Chacala because the ocean isn't polluted (yet). Right!!!

In January and February this lovely spot is filled with motor homes
parked as close to the beach as possible.
The rest of the year Mexican families are tent camping here.

Chacala has two new spas, one at each of the small hotels located at the south end of Playa Chacala.

Majahua, at
, has a beautiful spa on the palm and tree covered hillside right above the ocean. The spa itself has a wonderful series of small pools connected by waterfalls, with small private areas for massage and relaxing. The Majahua hotel has a restaurant and a five large guest apartments that rent individually or for retreats for yoga groups, etc. All the buildings are tucked away in the jungle on the hillside overlooking the ocean. It's very beautiful and not be be missed.

Mar de Jade also has a new spa, located in a large building away from the beach and up from the guest rooms. I have only seen it from a distance but it looks very impressive.

With the support of Jose Enrique De Valle (owner of Majahua), a program called Techos de Mexico, at was developed in Chacala about eight years ago. This program helps local families develop a stable source of income by offering construction loans and volunteer building help to create family-run rental units near or on top of the family home. There are currently eigh home owners with about 12 rental units. All are well-built, with screened windows, with glass, hot water showers, fans, tiled floors, security windows, and steel doors and two double beds. Some units have kitchens and most have patios or terraces. They are located all over town and are easy to identify by Techo de Mexico signs at each house.

For more information about Techos de Mexico rentals go to
Techos de Mexico

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