Yelapa, Jalisco, Mexico
Hotel Lagunita in Yelapa, Mexico | Courtesy of Hotel Lagunita
GETTING THERE Take a two-Bloody Mary flight to Puerto Vallarta. At the airport, play Red Rover through the line of taxi hustlers and cross the bridge to catch a 20-minute, half-price cab ride to Playa de los Muertos (any driver will know it). Make a quick stop for street tacos, then hop on a $10 water taxi to Hotel Lagunita in the tiny cove of Yelapa, where no roads go and silence runs free.
BEST MOMENT Visiting the Marietas Islands, 30 minutes offshore. The islands are a sanctuary for blue-footed boobies and sea turtles. I hired a fishing boat to take me out there and spotted whales and manta rays the entire way. Snorkeling the caves, exploring the beach, and eating fresh ceviche made for an unforgettable excursion.
WORST MOMENT Sampling the local moonshine is a romantic notion right up to the moment it hits your lips. Mmmm, kerosene! This is the region that invented tequila (made from agave), but for some reason the Yelapans use a different plant entirely to make something called raicilla. It mixes well with nothing and spits in the eye of what you used to call a hangover.
FAVORITE CHARACTER Augustina, the legendary "pielady" of Yelapa, makes her rounds at about 10 a.m., so you will eat your first slice of the day before noon. It's inevitable. Every morning she bakes a dozen pies from scratch—banana cream, chocolate pecan, pumpkin, key lime, lemon meringue. She carries them atop her head in a plastic bucket, and there are never leftovers.
Map by Peter and Maria Hoey
LOCAL LORE Back in the '60s, Yelapa was a popular getaway for such hipster celebs as Bob Dylan, Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, and Dennis Hopper. And don't be surprised if Brangelina's or Captain Jack Sparrow's mega-yacht suddenly weighs anchor in the cove.
WHAT'S GREEN No cars. One spotty road. They just got electricity here about a decade ago, and they're still figuring out what to do with it. The donkey-paced life in Yelapa will make you wonder why you have a job, a car, a television, or anything at all. Why not just fish and hang around on the beach all day forever, right? Sure, it's only a fleeting vacation fantasy, but it's a very ecofriendly one.
WHAT'S NOT GREEN Lack of roads equals lack of recycling. Nobody seems overly anxious to retrofit the weekly trash barge; they're too busy enjoying their sunset cervezas.
PLANET SAVING OPPORTUNITIES
Umm, what planet? Oh yeah, sorry. It's easy to forget about the rest of the world out here. As you cruise with dolphins, tread lightly among the turtles, and warm up to raicilla's sustainable buzz, your vacation footprint will wash away with the tide. —Nathan Myers