My 8 year-old son and I decided to make the best out of Passover break in April and headed to Mexico. Sayulita! A small town located just 2 hours south of Los Cabos, Sayulita isn’t anything like Los Cabos. We flew into Puerto Vallarta, then drove an hour to Playa Escondida, a charming boutique hotel. Playa Escondida consists of bungalows perched in the middle of the jungle, and is truly a hidden gem. The private beach in front was at times a little rough with its rolling waves but emerged as our own little paradise to watch sun rise and set.
No air conditioning in our bungalow got me worried for my city kid. However, the temperature was perfect and there was absolutely no need for AC at night, even becoming a bit chilly (we even threw sweatshirts on!). No screens on the windows meant nothing between us and the thick green jungle outside our room. We were told not to leave food out since the raccoons would get to it and that got us little scared. I even put potato chips inside the refrigerator. Paranoid mom!
First on our agenda was visiting Islas Marietas. The Islas Marietas are a group of small uninhabited islands a few miles off the coast of Nayarit. They are very popular tourist destinations because of the abundant marine life populations due to the islands being protected from fishing and hunting by the Mexican government.
In order to properly explore Islas Marietas, the hotel recommended we go on the Chico Loco tour which took place on a giant and colorful catamaran. I was a bit apprehensive to take my son on what involved all you can drink, but the tour was great fun and the crew were more than helpful. I just had to watch out for other travelers who were there for the unlimited booze and got sloppy as the trip went on. I had to cover my son’s eyes and ears a couple of times. But all and all it was a super fun tour, including water slides, paddle boarding, jumping off the tip of the catamaran, snorkeling, tubing, and the highlight was when we swam through cold water to reach Islas Marietas. Within a 1 mile radius of Isla Marieta, you can find 97 species of rare birds. We learned that the Mexican Government will be shutting down tourism to this island after May, 2016. I was so grateful that Odin and I got to see this natural wonder first hand.
Like other some Mexican towns, Sayulita is a hub for Artisans. We discovered a shop called Evoke the spirit, which was to die for. The store was started by an ex-New Yorker and curated to perfection. I was drooling over all the items in the store and walked away with a ceramic cow head. The detailing of the thread takes an Artisan 4 days to complete. They had a demonstration in the store and I couldn’t believe the effort that goes into creating such a special piece. I wanted to take a class to learn how to make them, but that would definitively been pushing my son’s patience, so I decided against it.
Sayulita is also known to have the best right waves for long boards. We took surf lessons and my son Odin caught some good waves and started to feel super comfortable in the water. He is so lucky have started it so early in his life!
As someone who has stayed at the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton level of hotels, I’ve often found them lacking culture, nature, and adventure. More and more, I find myself seeking out smaller scale hotels and the hidden gems of the world. I find that I feel more fulfilled by these more personalized hotel experiences and come back inspired and replenished. I am just so lucky to able to do this with my son (and other friends) and am looking forward to many more adventure-filled mama + son trips.
Take a surf lesson (Ask the hotel)
Visit Islas Marietas
Go shopping at Evoke the Spirit
Buy pom pom decorated goodies
Eat and Drink:
Ceviche from Playa Escondido
Fresh Coconut Water from Roadside Stands
There are 196 countries in the world and I plan on seeing as many as possible, therefore I rarely repeat locations. But Santa Teresa is an exception!
My son Odin and I headed there for his spring break. My son’s first time and my 3rd time visiting this paradise. Spring break is not the best time to travel but I was eager to show my son this magical place and willing to fight the crowds and price. After 5 1/2 hours on a large commercial plane (65 Uno games), 30 minutes on a 12 seat puddle jumper, and a 50 minute car ride on a bumpy dirt road without my luggage making it, we finally arrived in Santa Teresa. Luckily, all of the traveling irritations melted away after one dip into the pool.
As I was getting out of the pool, I noticed a family of howling monkeys migrating to a nearby tree. The father monkey was guiding the entire tribe of 5 or 6 monkeys. And then… I saw it and was thinking it, but it was my son who yelled out “Mama, look at the size of his nuts!” Sure enough, the father monkey had sack of cojones that could pass for dos mangos! We laughed for a good ten minutes until the last monkey exited out of our sight.
My 8 year old son Odin is a city kid – born and raised in Manhattan. Towards the beginning of the trip, he was asking for the bug repellent, sunscreen, air conditioning, and iPad. Actually mostly for his iPad. But as the trip went on, he merged into nature. Soon he had no shoes, no shirt (there were no mosquitoes this time), tacked on back of my ATV like a little monkey, having the best time. Instead of sweating the little things, he was sweating his balls off and having a great time! That is what I love about taking him to places like Costa Rica. Turning the city kid into that kid from the jungle book is one of my proud mama moments. We all need nature, even city kids who don’t realize it!
We had encounters with a snake, lizards, ate mangoes off the trees, climbed and swam in the Montezuma water fall, and surfed from sunrise to sunset. I have to say the highlight was building a bonfire to make s’mores by gathering rocks and wood from the beach. The cherry on top was when he actually commented on how my ATV skills were improving.
I really loved every min of this trip. I bottled it and kept it in my pockets. If life ever has dull or bad moments, I am going to pull it out. My son running around the flaming bonfire as the most beautiful sunset spread through the waves … I couldn’t help thinking – life is great.
Spring break was a massive success and I can’t wait to come back here and – even though I don’t often repeat destinations – do it all over again.