Las Caletas: the Mexican “Garden of Eden”

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     In a secluded piece of paradise, along the southern shores of Banderas Bay, lies what many in the area refer to as their “Garden of Eden” and after visiting during the day or the night, it’s easy to see why. Since the land surrounding it is either water, jungle, or Indian territory, the only way to get there is by a 30 minute boat ride. Originally territory leased to John Huston, a famous Hollywood actor, it is now privately leased to Vallarta Adventures, who do a great job showing off all the wonders of this beautiful cove.

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In my travels I was at one point lucky enough to experience both day and night ventures to this real-life fantasy island and after recently noticing Las Caletas made it in the top 5 of TripAdvisor’s list of top secluded beach destinations, I felt like sharing my thoughts and pictures to anyone who is thinking about visiting or perhaps just interested in the magic and majesty of such a wondrous place.

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     If you find yourself on a day trip to Las Caletas, there is a wide variety of activities offered to meet the traveler-type of anyone in your group or family, from the ultra relaxing, to the culturally enriching. For a small fee, the day is yours to enjoy the cove as you wish, and as tempted as I was to sink into an open hammock, I had only 7 hours to soak in as much of this “Garden of Eden” as possible, and I didn’t want to miss a moment of it.

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     The water activities offered ranged from snorkeling, to kayaking, to wind surfing, but being a fan of snorkeling, (and hoping to meet the time requirements to catch the cooking class) I opted for that. The guide was great and very knowledgeable, explaining about the fish and surrounding areas as we went. This was great, because many guided snorkel tours will simply drop you in an area and tell you how much time you have to explore it, which might be great for the more experienced snorkelers and less so for beginners and children.

     After snorkeling, I headed to a cooking class, where a small group of us learned to make some authentic guacamole, and then delicious Paella.

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     We worked up quite an appetite watching and smelling all of those fresh ingredients, and were happy to learn that afterward we would be served a buffet lunch with the rest of the group that would include the Paella from class! The soothing strings on the guitar meshed well with the gentle waves we sat next to as we ate the most delicious food, and talked about our days so far.

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      After lunch, most people headed for the hammocks or the spa, but I decided to follow the guide on a nature trail to see the inner workings of our jungle surroundings. The vast array of wildlife and foliage within Las Caletas is endless and beautiful. I was amazed at how many birds and orchids I saw, not to mention the old cocoa trees.

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     Yet again, the guide was incredibly passionate and knowledgeable on all the various species that call Las Caletas home, and he welcomed questions and encouraged us to interact with the plants and animals he was teaching us about. It felt so surreal to coexist with these beautiful, tropical creatures and be given the opportunity to marvel in their beauty so closely.

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     After the nature walk, it was getting close to the time to wrap things up and get back on the boat to Puerto Vallarta. Before leaving, we had a little “meet-and-greet” with an adorable monkey and beautiful parrot, to which you can take pictures with and give kisses.
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     On the way home, drinks were offered on the boat, and the guides and boat staff provided entertainment to keep everyone hyped up. Everyone working for Vallarta Adventures was extremely nice and accomodating of everyone in the group, which was rather large and ranged from honeymooners, to families. There was so much to do and see, I felt as though the chance to to see Las Caletas during the day, was well worth every penny I paid. (especially since all the things I did on the cove would have seperately equaled over $100 if booked through my hotel)

     Now for those who would like to experience a different side of Las Caletas, or simply can’t get enough, (like me) Vallarta Adventures offers a nighttime dinner show, called “Rhythms of the Night.” This is a dressier affair than the daytime excursion, but with a buffet dinner and show included, this venture costs slightly more than the daytime one.

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     The boat ride over has more of a party atmosphere than the daytime one did, with the drinks flowing, and the crew providing hilarious entertainment. By the time we reached Las Caletas, everyone was loosened up and ready to have fun. We Were lead to a giant amphitheater in the trees, where a Mayan pyramid stood as a backdrop to a wonderful fire-filled show. Afterward, we were lead to our buffet dinner along a tiki-lit shoreline, and the food was even more scrumptious than that of the lunch buffet!

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     Overall, Las Caletas is a magnificent paradise that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime, if ever given the chance. With so many jewels to offer, from its turquoise waters, to its jungle inhabitants, this natural beauty is a rare find, and it’s no wonder TripAdvisor named it number 4 on their “Top Secluded Beach Destinations” list. After spending some time here, there is no doubt in my mind that Las Caletas truly is a “Garden of Eden.”

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