Just down the coast from Puerto Vallarta is the lesser known paradise of Yelapa, a small town set back into one of Banderas Bay’s beautiful crystal-blue inlets. Reachable only by boat, Yelapa has a kind of isolated charm that will win over anyone that wants to truly get away from it all. Set to one side of the Yelapa bay is Casa Pericos, a 3-unit guest house with wide open views of the ocean.
Arrival seems a bit daunting when you get the instructions from the owners before you head to Casa Pericos – you have to ask the boat taxi driver to let you off on Playa Isabel and if the tide is high you might get wet getting out – but it’s all part of the adventure. Once you have spent a day or so in Yelapa you will know the way to public boat dock from the house and won’t need your own private, sometimes soggy, drop-off at Playa Isabel if you don’t want it.
Casa Perico’s owners send detailed information about the house, the town, the boat taxi schedule, and even appropriate tipping in your pre-arrival package. When you arrive you will be greeted by one of the two staff persons and he can help you carry your luggage up from the beach if you give them a heads up about when you are arriving.
The house is built on a small cliff just above the water’s edge, the view getting more dramatic as you go up room by room. I stayed on the first floor though, and loved looking out at the water so close to me. From that distance I could see schools of fish jumping and sea turtles lazily swimming past my room. If you go in the rainy season expect rain to dampen your room. The beach-facing front of each floor is completely open, with only curtains made from thick sailing material to serve as your privacy and/or wind and rain break. You won’t mind. The weather in this part of Mexico is an easy 80-degrees all year round with high humidity, a little afternoon shower feels refreshing.
The house’s décor is a mix of beachy simplicity and funky kitsch (hand-blown glass fish on the walls, bamboo bed frames, wicker furniture, beachy motif pillows). It’s comfortable and well taken care of, even though the sea and salt have taken their toll on furniture. The views from each floor are stunning of palm-edged beaches, pale pink sunrises, and local fishing boats floating in the bay.
Each room gets successively bigger with the top suite more of its own beach house than simply a room. This top floor has two levels (one is a loft) with queen beds for eight and extra beds for a larger group if necessary. This floor has outdoor showers, a small dipping pool, a full kitchen and dining room. The other two floors also have kitchens, refrigerators, coffeemakers and small eating areas, but if space is what you want, each upgrade is worth it. Be prepared to bring everything with you that you want to eat or drink, the local stores will have simple items like common spices, bread, fruit, beer, but anything more complicated (wine, good coffee, olives) you will need to shop for before you arrive. Casa Pericos provides absolutely nothing in terms of food, not even salt or sugar, but has plates, silverware, mugs and wineglasses for each floor.
Down at the base of the cliff Casa Pericos extends out to a little cement platform built right at the water’s edge with daisy-yellow tables and chairs for catching the sunset or watching the stars. There is no beach directly in front of the hotel but because of the shape of the land (it’s like a tiny bay inside the bay) there is great snorkeling to be had. I saw dozens of brilliantly colored tropical fish when I went out and the hotel lets guests borrow snorkel equipment so no need to bring your own. There is a small cement dock that leads down into the water where you can hop in at and there is an outdoor shower just inside the Pericos gate for when you get out.
Playa Isabel, when the tide is out, makes a nice little private beach for swimming (you will often find a local or two there with the same idea there won’t likely be other tourists) but the big beach for swimming in Yelapa is the main beach to the northwest of the house, visible from the rooms. You can reach it by kayak (Casa Pericos has kayaks to borrow) or walking through town. Also nearby are La Manzanilla and Playa del Medio just south of Yelapa that you can reach by taking the twice daily boat taxi to Chimo.
The drawback is that you are really are at the mercy of the boat taxi schedule which means that the latest you can return to Yelapa if you are out and about is on the 6:30pm taxi from Boca de Tomatlán. Expect to sit tight, enjoy the view, swim nearby, and play cards and you will be happier than trying to run around and sightsee. The town gets dark at night so don’t ignore the suggestion you bring a flashlight like I did, it would have helped me tremendously going to and from town for dinner. The isolated location means that power outages are common, but Casa Pericos provides candles and board games for such occasions. When the electricity is on the Wi-fi works great everywhere on the property. I ended up somewhat frustrated with the mosquito netting that was supposed to cover the beds but really wasn’t much more than decoration as it wasn’t large enough to cover everything. If mosquitos are a real bother for you, ask staff in advance to set up the netting for you, maybe they have some secret I didn’t.
That said, my frustrations were minimal and my pleasure levels high. This little hidden gem in Puerto Vallarta’s southern shores is made for travelers who want some decadent solitude, lazy afternoon sunsets, and local flavor. While not up to the standard of luxury accommodation (nor priced as such) there are many luxury aspects to Casa Pericos – the location, the size and layout of the spaces, and the views. For some off-the-beaten path magic on Mexico’s southern Pacific coast it’s a perfect choice. Rooms from 150usd to 295usd. Make your reservation directly online with the hotel or go through Trip Advisor.