Head to Mexico for a quickie

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of August 29-September 4, 1996
Roughing it (sort of) on St. John
Aspen action, minus the snow
Outside the Beltway, into Virginia
Camping in Hoosier National Forest
Head to Mexico for a quickie

Head to Mexico for a quickie
Question: Can you recommend a destination anywhere in the world for an adventure that can only last about 10 days? I've been to places like India, Thailand, and Europe, and am looking for a quick adventure for my hungry soul. Thanks!

Shirley Coney
San Francisco, CA
[email protected]

Kayakers can check out Tenacatita Bay's rock formations.
Adventure Adviser: For that short amount of time, think south of the border R&R: Mexico. But not hectic, high-rise Mexico with its oiled sunbathers in skimpy bathing suits and sweaty souvenir peddlers. Skip Cancun and the newly trendy Yucatan Peninsula; beeline it to Puerto Vallarta, rent a car, and put as much distance between you and the discos as possible. Point your VW bug (about $180 per week) south on Mexico 200 and just go, keeping your eyes open for horses, cows, burros, and other road-curious livestock.

A good bet for beachfront relaxing is the tiny village of La Manzanilla on Tenacatita Bay, about 60 narrow, windy miles south of Puerto Vallarta. Plan on staying in one of the El Mar bungalows at Casa Maguey, on the southern edge of town. Owner Helga Lehman rents the cliffside cottages out for a reasonable $50 per night or $800 a month. If possible, book the front cottage--its veranda is particularly conducive to pelican-watching and general lolling around.

Not into lolling? Pad down the steps to the beach in search of Lehman; she'll take you waterskiing or wakeboarding, or you can borrow her bodyboard or kayak for the afternoon. The beach, part of a 60-mile marine preserve, has clean sand, no stingrays, and a laid-back, yet reliable break that's ideal for snorkeling and bodysurfing.

If you're on the market for a some land-based activities, amble on down the beach to Jorge Requence's house, where he'll rent you horses ($7 per hour, $20 per day) and give you directions to a nearby ghost town in the jungle. He'll also show you a trail to the mangrove lagoon, where you can get your crocodile and flamingo fix or just while away some time watching the daily parade of 18-foot caimans. For more details, call Lehman at 011-52-335-1-5012.

Most major car rental agencies have offices in Puerto Vallarta; the trick to not-so-expensive weekly rates is returning the car to the office you rented it. A few tips from the driving-smart department: Avoid cruising Mexico 200 at night at all costs, stop and ask directions frequently if you think you're lost (don't worry, most tiny coastal towns are well-marked with signs), and make sure there's a working jack and a spare in your trunk before you set out--you're bound to get a flat or two.

For additional choice destinations along the Pacific Coast, check out "La Costa Incógnita" in the Destinations section of Outside's October 1996 issue.

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