The Pacific Coast of Mexico is full of hidden beaches and coves, but more of them get developed each year by large resorts and it gets harder to find a place to kick back with a small crowd. If you’re looking for a real getaway where you can chill out and do close to nothing except swim in the ocean and lounge, head to Punta Monterrey Beach Resort about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta.
This laid-back retreat is not for everyone. There’s no cell service, the satellite internet is spotty at best, and there’s no infinity pool with a swim-up bar. When you head out to relax on the beach you’ll do it old-school style: on a towel. You’ll ask, “What’s for dinner?” instead of perusing a long menu and there’s no social director goading people into volleyball games or aerobics.
All of this is by design. The “right” people find out about the place and book a room. The others won’t even know it’s here. There’s no Punta Monterrey sign on the main road heading north from Sayulita and San Pancho. Just some vague directions about turning onto a dirt road at a certain mile marker. There’s not even a sign when you get to the place. The first time we spotted a name or logo was after we got up to our bungalow and looked at the towels in the bathroom. But hey, we walked back down after changing into bathing suits and had this stretch of sand almost to ourselves.
There are only 12 bungalows and rooms at this place, including a six-room building close to the beach that was under construction while we were there. (It was replacing two previous bungalows with lots of beds and only one bath each.) Most of the others are perched on the hillside above, with a total combined capacity of 37 people if every single bed is occupied. So even when Punta Monterrey Beach Resort is sold out for a wedding or yoga retreat, it’s not going to feel crowded.
There are several styles of rooms at different price points, with different levels of space and comfort. The ones billed as “Rustic Cabins” are not air conditioned, which is no big deal for at least half the year, but you’ll need to really crank the fans in the hottest months. Rustic Cabin #1 actually has the best view in the whole place though—the one you see at the top of this post.
The Deluxe Cabins have a TV (though we never turned ours on) and air conditioning (which we thankfully did turn on in July). There were just two of us in our unit but these are great for families since they have beds in a loft above reached by a wood staircase. All the cabins have palm thatch roofs, but that is covered by a tarp to avoid any leaks in the rainy season.
All have comfortable beds, colorful tiled baths with furnished toiletries, a sitting area, and often some kind of writing desk. Most have a furnished outdoor balcony. This isn’t a great spot for those with limited mobility since it occupies several terraced levels, but a few of the bungalows don’t require a trek up a hill at least.
Meals are served at general times on a somewhat loose schedule—few people are paying much attention to what time it is. There’s generally one one main dish and several sides, with seafood in the mix often for lunch and dinner. If you have dietary restrictions you let them know when you book at they’ll accommodate with a substitution. Everyone sits at a long communal table, which generally works out well because you can meet the other guests and have a leisurely chat. Breakfasts include some divine warm banana bread out of the oven, coffee or tea, and a main dish.
All day there’s filtered water, hot water for tea, and something else to drink like jamaica tea or some kind of agua fresca made from tropical fruit. There’s a big cooler of ice for this and for mixing up a cocktail. There’s a full bar open most of the afternoon and evening, with regular beers, craft beers, reasonably priced wine, and liquor. The meals are included in the rates, the booze is extra. They keep track of what you’ve had and you settle up at the end.
Apart from the dining area and the small bar, the other lounging around spaces are a covered set of tables on the beach, a covered area with several hammocks just above the beach, and two sitting areas near the long dining table. One of these has three colorful swinging chairs you can sit in.
Groups sometimes book yoga retreats here and there’s a large yoga bungalow with plenty of floor space for everyone. Naturally there is plenty of beach space as well for doing it there.
There’s no gym on site, but there are a few hikes you can take from here. The most accessible is to another hidden beach even emptier than this one just around the bend. Punta Monterrey has kayaks you can take out, but this is better done by experienced kayakers or those who can at least get on in open water because the waves crashing on the shore can be intense and tough to get past.
Otherwise, most guests are content to lounge around and not do much besides read, listen to music on their earbuds, and admire the scenery. This is a good place to truly unwind or do some deep thinking. Oddly in such an unplugged place, there’s no collection of board games or even a book exchange, so be sure to bring plenty to entertain yourselves, plus some snacks to hold you over between meals. It’s not all that far to San Pancho or even Sayulita if you want to go out somewhere during the day, but after facing the rather rough dirt road to get here, most are content to stay put until they leave.
The staff is rather limited at this small, reasonably priced resort, but the people who work at Punta Monterrey are fun, friendly, and helpful. A wide mix of traveler types and nationalities books here: during our stay there were couples, friends, and families from five different countries. Rates are $80 to $110 per person including all meals, non-alcoholic drinks laid out all day, parking, and sporadic Wifi.
Think of Punta Monterrey as more of an upscale backpacker place than the kind of fancy Mexican beach resort you see splashed all over social media. The people who come here are looking for a chilled-out place that’s not trying to over-stimulate them and they love spending time on this hidden beach, surrounded by 300 acres of nature. If that sounds like your idea of paradise under the palms, see more and book direct at the official website. Because of their limited connectivity, you won’t find them on any of the usual booking sites. And they’re okay with that…
Review and photos by editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted at Punta Monterrey for purposes of review. As always, all opinions are his own.