Melaque & Barra de Navidad

After our stop in Careyes, we decided to skip Tenacatita and hit it on our way back North.  So our next stop became Melaque (Pronounced “Meh-lah-key”).

We recognized a couple of the boats already at anchor when we pulled into Melaque, which was a nice sight since the only boats we were seeing out on the water were all heading north, so we thought we might be the only boat left down here.  Lynn and Pat from s/v Cricket, who we’d never met before but have mutual acquaintances, dinghied over soon after we set the anchor and gave us some tips on Melaque.  Mainly that we could make a dinghy beach landing right in front of a restaurant called Conch del Mar (In English: seashell) where the dinghy would be safe if we left it, but also that the restaurant has an all day 2 for 1 special on all drinks.  That sounded like the perfect spot for us!  🙂

Sure enough, we stopped at Conch each of the three days we were in Melaque for a cheap margarita ($23 pesos each or under $2 USD) or a Ceasar (like a bloody mary) or just some plain cervaza ($11 pesos each or under $1 USD).

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View from our table at Conch del Mar.  Camanoe is anchored in the background somewhere and you can see our dinghy pulled up underneath the umbrellas.

You could pretty much get whatever you needed in Melaque,  There were lots of produce stands and tiendas stocked with galley goodies.  One place called the Hawaii Store, specializes in American items that you can’t find at other Mexican stores.  I picked up a jar of pickles (seriously, why doesn’t Mexico have pickles???  They don’t know what they’re missing!) and Dave found a 2 liter of Root Beer.  We hadn’t had Root Beer since we left the states and haven’t seen it in any of the big stores like Walmart or Mega or even Costco.  I wanted to also get a jar of pesto pasta sauce, but the jar they had was pretty tiny and was about $50 pesos.  I figured we could make do with the marinara and alfredo sauces we still have on board and I put the jar back. 

One day we decided to head into Barra de Navidad on the other side of the bay.  A lot of cruisers go to Barra for the convenience of the lagoon anchorage.  Unlike Melaque, which is quite open to the sea and has the nickname “Rocky Melaque,” Barra’s lagoon has no swells or rolling and you can pay a water taxi a small fee to go into town and thus not worry about your dinghy.  But we decided we didn’t want to maneuver the boat through the shallow marine entrance for only a couple of days.  We liked the beach scene in Melaque and didn’t mind having to make beach landings to go ashore.

So to head into Barra, we made our usual beach landing in front of Conch del Mar and then started walking through Melaque, south towards Barra.  We were attempting to walk the whole way through the paved streets and avoid walking along the beach, but eventually we got to a point where we HAD to walk on the beach due to the lagoon.  It was the longest walk of my life.  We were already a couple miles in, but the last half mile was all sand.  You couldn’t walk on the packed sand near the water because the waves were breaking too high and rough, so we trudged through the loose sand with the buildings of Barra just taunting us in the distance like a mirage.

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A long beach walk…lagoon on the left, ocean on the right (left); the very blue lagoon water (right).

We eventually got to Barra and were pretty hungry and in need of a cold drink.  Unfortunately, we’re used to La Cruz where the restaurants don’t close for siesta, but apparently Barra does because NOTHING was open.  We kept walking by taco restaurants with their gates closed down with no one around.  We finally stumbled onto a little cafe near the water taxis and enjoyed some burritos (which are not at all like the burritos we Californians love, but it got the job done).  We did a little bit more walking around, found the malecon overlooking the ocean and the lagoon, but mostly weren’t too impressed with what Barra had to offer.  We were pretty tired from our trek in the sand, so we hailed a bus that said Melaque and got on for $6 pesos per person (under a $1 USD for the two of us).

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Statue along the Barra waterfront; looks to be a replica of one of the statues along the Puerto Vallarta Malacon (left); One of the Barra water taxis with sailboats anchored in the lagoon in the background (right).

But as we should already know, the bus system is never as easy as we’d like it to be.  As soon as we got over the highway passing the lagoon the bus started rounding back in the direction we came from going through residential areas.  We’d been on this type of bus before back in Puerto Vallarta and I really didn’t feel like meandering for an hour out of our way and getting deposited in the middle of no where, so we hopped off at the first chance and walked back towards Melaque.  We think the bus only goes to the outskirts of town…or maybe we just got on a special bus.  We weren’t in town long enough to figure out what we did wrong.  Thankfully, because we’d walked through the town heading towards Barra, we easily recognized where we were after a couple blocks.But, we still had a lot of walking back to the dinghy to do.  Sigh.  My butt hurt.

But in all, we did enjoy Melaque and seeing this part of the “Gold Coast.”  I probably could have done without a couple of very wet beach landings/launchings…but, I guess it’s all part of the adventure.  We also wish we could have enjoyed more of the after dark festivities, but we didn’t want to have to make a dinghy launch at night, so we missed some good restaurants and live music venues that only open for dinner.  On the other hand, we saved some money by making dinner on board…Dave’s been experimenting with the pressure cooker, so maybe I’ll have a new cruising cuisine post soon!


UPDATE 3/29/12: Oops! Forgot to tell you about the goat! We were walking through downtown Melaque the afternoon after our beach trek and here comes a random, white goat just parading down one of the main streets. There was a bus behind it, just inching along, waiting for the dang goat to get out of the way, and everyone was just going about their business like there wasn’t a GOAT meandering through town. Crazy.