All posts by Greg

A Tale of Three Trips

Hello, all you OnValartaTimers! Well I must say this has been a strange year, and the strangeness continues. We are at home in Oregon, self isolating, much earlier than we had planned. We were originally scheduled to return on April 10, but we decided in light of the current pandemic to come home on March 24. 

I normally would have done one more edition of the blog before leaving Vallarta. In the stress and urgency of leaving I didn’t get it done, even though we had just gone on three really great trips, with lots of good pictures to share.  But since it’s not yet April 10, maybe we can pretend that we’re still in the land of sun and warmth for a little longer, and look at the pictures from our travels. Besides, cooped up in the house, there’s not much else to do!

We went on three trips to three different areas as our season began to wind down. We always like to do some traveling, both to get out of the city for a while and to see new places. This year we decided to stay close to Vallarta for reasons of time and expense. The first was to San Sebastián del Oeste, a small town in the mountains. The second was to Chacala and Rincón de Guayabitos, seaside towns to the north, and the third was to La Manzanilla, a beach town to the south where some friends were spending the season. 

We took pictures in all three locations, so this edition will have lots of them. Let’s get started.

San Sebastián del Oeste

Once a thriving silver mining town, San Sebastián del Oeste (San Sebastián of the West), commonly just called San Sebastián, is a small town in the Sierra Madre mountains about an hour from Vallarta. At an altitude of almost 5,000 feet, it’s much cooler than at sea level. We had visited here before, on a tour a few years ago; in fact, there’s an entire blog post dedicated to it in the archives. But we had never stayed overnight there, and we had heard good things about an Italian restaurant in the town. Since that’s Peggy’s favorite cuisine, we decided to make an overnight trip.

We stayed in a beautiful hotel, the Mansión Real, and looked forward to an Italian dinner that night.  It was a little past high season, and we were the only guests in the hotel. In fact, as we walked around exploring, we discovered that we were the only tourists, the only outsiders in town! In addition, it was a Tuesday, and the Italian restaurant was closed! Not only that, but we discovered too late that the restaurants that were open all closed at five o’clock! Oh well, we had wine and tequila, plus chips and cookies, so we were OK.

The next day we were at the lovely restaurant, the Montebello, when it opened at 1:00, and had the best Italian food either of us had ever had. Imagine that, in a tiny town in the mountains of Mexico! Then, having seen all of the town there was to see, we were ready when our driver picked us up later that afternoon.

River gorge view on the way to San Sebastián.

At the hotel — our room was at the top of the stairs.

View from the balcony next to our room.

The church.

The town square.

This link below is to a video taken from the bandstand in the square, so you can see the whole town. A loudspeaker broadcasts music from the bandstand all day. Sorry I didn’t get the whole song.


An intriguing old door. This town is all about its more prosperous past.

Entrance to the Montebello Restaurant, with the menu.

Inside the restaurant. Go there if you can!

Chacala and Guayabitos

Our second trip was to Chacala, Nayarit, and to Rincón de Guayabitos. This was our “big” trip for the year, six days. Chacala is almost two hours north of Vallarta, and Guayabitos is closer.

Here’s a map (San Sebastián is on here too, to the east).

Looking north along the beach in Chacala. 

In the other direction, there is a line of beach restaurants.

Our hotel, Las Brisas, from the beach.

A closer look at our hotel. In the front is a combo inside/outside restaurant. As hotel guests we were guaranteed a reserved table, so it became our “living room.” They have really good food, too!

The view from our “living room.”

On a walk to the fishing pier.

The pier area.

Looking back on our walk — you can see the entire beach from here.

Part of the fishing fleet.

This is the designated camping area at the north end of the beach.

Huachinango (snapper) fillets on the grill, “sarandeado style.”

Lobby area of Las Brisas Hotel. Our included breakfast was served here every morning. The hotel staff were so nice!

The hotel entrance. Our room was upstairs on the right.

Sunset in Chacala. Tomorrow, we head to Guayabitos.

Our next stop was Rincón de Guayabitos, about 40 minutes back towards Vallarta. We were looking forward to this part of the trip, both because we like the town and we wanted to visit our friend Brenda Brecke. I didn’t take many pictures here, just a few, since there is an entire edition of the blog dedicated to Guayabitos in the archives. Part of this segment of our trip also included a side jaunt to San Pancho (San Francisco) to see our friend Eve Edwards who was there for the annual music festival.

The beach in Guayabitos looks quite different from Chacala. Guayabitos is a Mexican tourist town and there were many Mexican national tourists enjoying the beach.

This is the beach looking the other direction. I’m sure it looks a lot different these days; there are Nayarit state police patrolling all the popular beaches, enforcing strict Covid-19 rules. The beaches are closed.

A large load, but not a heavy one!

An andador (walking street) beach entrance.

Woody riding shotgun in the taxi.

Here we are at the San Pancho music festival. The festival lasts for three days and attracts international musical acts, with rock, folkloric, Latin and even classical music.

If we’re in San Francisco there has to be a Golden Gate Bridge, right? Here are Eve, Peggy and Brenda.

La Manzanilla

Our third and last trip was to La Manzanilla, a small beach town about three hours to the south. We had planned this trip for weeks. Peggy and I would join our friends Pat and Vic Goodwin to visit Brenda and Brían Treacy, and to check out the town. Brenda and Brian used to spend the season in Vallarta until the city vibe and overcrowding of tourists led them to seek out a smaller, more relaxed location. Brian was the founder of our Vallarta ukulele group, so Vic and I were looking forward to a ukulele reunion.

La Manzanilla, not to be confused with the city of Manzanillo farther south, is located on the most southern part of the coast of Jalisco. Its name means “chamomile.” There is a huge estuary on the edge of town, and we hoped to see some of the famous native crocodiles. So we hired a driver, packed our ukes, and headed south.

This is the interior of the condo Peggy and I rented. It was beautiful, but got hotter than blazes when the afternoon sun streamed in.

The view from the terrace of the condo.

An entrance to the beach, featuring a sculpture of one of the main tourist attractions.

The beach at La Manzanilla.

Peggy waiting for breakfast.

One of the denizens of the estuary at the crocodile viewing area, the cocodrilario. Thanks to Pat for the photo.

Our group: Brian, me, Vic, Brenda, Peggy, and Pat.

Peggy with her piña colada.

Sunset from the La Manzanilla town square.

Well folks, that concludes the three trips. The following are some pics to close out the post.


Vallarta is full of street art. I should do a post of just that.

A group of our friends from the beach in Vallarta. We gathered at Chico’s Paradise for an afternoon of good food, views of nature, and conversation.

The night view from our apartment, on our last night. Goodbye, Vallarta, and God willing we will see you in the fall.

To all our friends and family: stay well, stay safe, stay home, and stay in touch — We love you!