Travel Information for Yelapa, Mexico

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Phone: 011 52 322 209 5035 (from US &Canada ) or 209 5035 from PV
Email: casasirmayangel@gmail.com

Location: Welcome (Bienvenidos) to Yelapa!   To get to Casas Irma y Angel García’s, you arrive at the Village Dock, on the right hand side of the bay. There’s the Café Bahia right at the dock. From here turn left and follow the path under a house foundation. When the path turns right,  take your first left which crosses a little stream with a small stone bridge. Follow this as it turns right and passes the laundry mat and then comes to a T-Junction. The store  Tienda Yure is at the right here, but turn left. Follow this main road up the hill. At the top of the hill, there is a red brick house on “stilts” (2nd floor built, no main floor). Go up these stairs, and behind the red brick house is a Yellow House. This is Irma and Angel’s.

Supplies and Services: The apartments/rooms should have an extra blanket or two in case it’s cold. Ask if not inside. Some people want a mosquito net. There are not many or any mosquitoes in the dry season, or rarely. However, some people are sensitive. If you really need one, we can supply one. Fans also work to keep insect pests away, which can also be made available if not in your room. The bathroom should have towels, and we will supply new ones when needed. Bathroom paper (papel higenico) should be available in the unit and abundant, but please ask if you run out. DO NOT throw paper in the toilet bowl or anything else. All garbage should go into the garbage can. As these fill, tie up the bags and place in the garbage can outside your door. Cleaning supplies should be there for clean ups. The kitchen should be supplied with small containers of oil for cooking, salt, sugar to get you going, and some cleaning supplies. There’s a broom and dust pan for each unit or floor. If you need a mop please ask. Maid service is not provided, but if you’d like an occasional cleaning, we can make this available at a cost to you. Irma will do a weekly change of beddings and towels at no extra cost. Water in the apartment will be purified from the water factory. DO NOT drink or even brush your teeth with tap water. You can use tap water to boil 3 minutes minimum or longer for cooking or drinking.

WiFi and Computer: We offer complimentary WiFi service and an internet computer station.

Climate: In the “dry season” (our winter), both cold nights (50-60 F) and hot days (70 - 80 F) are both possible, and sometimes a few days of rain (very rarely a week or so).  Evenings can be chilly from early December to mid-January.  Days are hot and hottest in July – August (hot humid) and March - May (hot dry). September is the rainy month. October can be less wet; with occasional tropical storms and even a rare hurricane moving through the region (here it mostly results in more rain). November is hot and humid, and very green, but not usually rainy.

What to Bring

Vitamins, minerals, etc as there is NO drug store. Very limited medical supplies. Dictionary – Latin American vocabulary included
Sunglasses Sunscreen (high SPF avail in P.V., not in Yelapa
One pair long pants/skirt  and shirt for bugs at night Mosquito repellent (non-DEET Autan best locally sold, except scarce in low season)
Flashlight (or can be bought here) Camera – lots of photo ops
Good walking shoes (lots of trails) Enough $$$ cash, no ATMs exist, Traveller’s cheques can be cashed at Victor’s Casa de Cambio by Tienda Yure
Sandals (for upriver trips, easily removed, water-proof Snorkel, Fins and Mask
Dressy dress/skirt or shirt/pants for “occasions” Hat (strong sun in summer)
Bathing suit Beach towel or buy sarongs (pareos pah-ray-ohs)
Ear plugs (there is loud music, roosters, dogs, mules) Binoculars

 

Re medications: There is a medical clinic, but Brand Names are different.  Medications are available in Vallarta and are inexpensive and non-prescription (except sleeping pills!)

Arrival in Puerto VallartaWhere to?

Local buses (costs 7 pesos – $US 0.55 ) can be taken from the airport (left exit out of Customs) to “El Centro” downtown. All Centro or Olas Altas buses will take you to the centre of the Old Town, south of the Bridge, where most of the tourist services are located. From there it’s about 3-4  blocks to “Los Muertos” dock for Yelapa water taxis.

Taxis at the front door of the Airport. Charge to downtown should be about 215 pesos (about $20US). If you’re heading directly to Yelapa, ask for “el muelle (moo-ay-yeh) de Los Muertos (Los Moo-air-tos)” .Everyone knows the place.

*All boat times listed below are subject to slight changes, or reduction in frequency during the off season. 

  • From Los Muertos dock – in Zona Romantica (or Old Town):  Boats leave A.M. 9:30 a.m. (Marbella), 10:00 (Carey – better service than earlier),  11:00 a.m. (Rayando del Sol or Beautiful Sea), 11:30 (La Güera), 12:30  P.M (Marbella); 1:30 (Elektra), 4:30 and 5:00 (Rayando del Sol  or Marbella – Jack’s Water Taxi), 6:00 (Prieta Linda).  Cost about 120 pesos one way. (Ticket sellers with commission $250 pesos return). If you just want one way be insistent.
  • From Boca de Tomatlan (20 min by bus south of PV, 10 in taxi) – There are several boats daily, mostly leaving on the hour.  To Boca from the airport – if you flight comes in later than 4:00, and you really want to be in Yelapa that night, take a taxi (about 350 pesos – about $30) to Boca, since the last boat leaves at 5:30 p.m . (This is usually only an option during high tourism season, however, private charters are available from Boca).  To Boca by bus -  go to where the Mismaloya /Boca bus (green buses) stop is at Basilio Badillo at the Insurgentes intersection in the Old Town (south of the bridge). It’s a 20 min bus ride to Boca, and a one block, steep walk down to the beach.

- Boats leave at 9:00 a.m. (Nayeli), 9:30 (La Gaviota), 11:00 a.m (La Mas Cariñosa)., 1 p.m (La Cascada), 2:00 p.m. (La Mas Cariñosa), 3:00 p.m. (Nayeli),  4:00 (La Güera) and 6 p.m  (La Cascada)

Yelapa Boats Return to PV /Boca

To Los Muertos Dock in PV - 7:30 a.m (La Güera), 8:30 (Marbella or Jack’s Water Taxi), 9:30 (Marbella or Beautiful Sea), 10:30 (Marbella), 12:00 noon (Elektra);  3:00 p.m. (Rayando del Sol or Beautiful Sea), (if busy 3:30 also – ask), 4:30 (Carey), 4:45 (Prieta Linda)

To Boca de Tomatlan beach (20 min south of PV)  A.M.- 7:30 (La Güera), 9:00 (Rayando del Sol or 10:00 (La Cascada), 11:30 (La Mas Cariñosa), 2:30 p.m (La Güera), 3:30  (La Mas Cariñosa), 4:00 (La Cascada), 5:00 (La Gaviota), 5:30 (Nayeli)

Water Taxi Costs - $250 pesos round trip (about $20US) return  PV-Yelapa OR $60 pesos one way to or from Boca

Charter a boat – Several Captains offer charters to/from PV for about $100US or $125 US depending on location. Trips from Boca about $70US. Please ask.

Health :  Sanitation and hygiene have improved remarkably over the last 20 years due to a very proactive campaign in the schools. Illnesses from foods are not commonly reported, however, precautions should be taken with any products open and left out all day. Water is bottled in Yelapa and safe most restaurants and homes. DO NOT DRINK nor BRUSH YOUR TEETH in TAP WATER. There are precautions to take that are common to travel in tropical countries. Any travel guide or travel clinic will summarize these. 

There is a Medical Clinic (Centro de Salud) in Yelapa. They don’t charge you for treatment and medications. This is paid by donation.  Give generously. You know what this costs at home! There are generally one or two doctors and a local nurse who are available for most health concerns (A resident doctor lives below the clinic, and if the head doctor or nurse are in, they live further downhill – at the Hotel Buenavista). There is now doctor with a small pharmacy (Yeimi – Jamie – who is near the old public telephones) who charges per visit and has supplies.

Vaccinations and Medications:  This is not a malarial-zone; however, there are mosquitoes, both those that come out in the evening and those that are day-time pests. The day mosquitoes can cause Dengue Fever (Break-bone fever). It’s not a common illness although there have been confirmed cases in Yelapa this season.  Each November they spray Yelapa and there are almost no mosquitoes of either type.  There are 4 strains of the mosquito carried virus and infection by one sting builds up immunities, but if you should be infected by another strain, you can develop hemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal. Medical attention is required. Check the Health Canada or Center for Disease Control websites (below).

Dengue fever (DF) is an acute viral illness of varying severity. It is caused by one of the four strains, or serotypes, of dengue flaviviruses. Dengue fever is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Aedes aegpyti, the most common mosquito species that transmits the dengue virus, is a day-time biter and lives in close proximity to humans in urban areas. There is NO vaccination for dengue fever. For Health Canada recommendations about the prevention of dengue fever, visit the disease information page on dengue fever at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/pphb-dgspsp/tmp-pmv/info/dengue_e.html.” General information about immunizations recommended for travel outside of Canada, visit the page at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/pphb-dgspsp/tmp-pmv/236_e.html.

A tetanus vaccination is also a valuable precaution, since there have been reported cases in the village. Check with your doctor and update this vaccination every 10 years.

Ways to avoid Dengue infection: The government sprays most areas of the village after the last summer rains in early November. Mosquito numbers are very much reduced as a result. If you’re there in a high mosquito period, use insect repellent/sunscreen combined. You’re covered for everything. Wear long sleeves, especially in areas around vegetation and water sources. Sleep in a mosquito net. Most places will have one. If not, ask them to supply one. Wear light colored clothing covering the body, and repellent for exposed skin. Health Canada indicates better control with DEET –containing products, 10% for children, and up to 50% being effective control for adults. There’s a very effective NON-DEET product in Mexico called Autan, and is available in Yelapa in the high season, everywhere in PV.

Other hazards: Other potential harm could come from scorpions (“alacranes”). Depending where you stay, there are more or less of them (closer to the jungle edge, more scorpions). You learn quickly to think before reaching under logs or stones, or dark places; however, sometimes the worst happens. Pretty much everyone survives. Anti-venom is expensive (about $80 each vial) and at present not readily available in the village. It is not a bad idea, especially if you have children or if you’ve a compromised condition (heart, liver problems, etc.) to buy the anti-venom kit and an extractor (available in pharmacies in Vallarta). The Medical Clinic in Yelapa has anti-venom and if you do not have your own and are stung, head straight to the clinic.Best to have someone with you, or transport as it’s best not to increase circulation of the venom.  Injection is intravenous. Poisonous snakes and boa constrictors exist but are not common in the village.  Also see clinic for treatment.

Travel Documents – Passports for Canadians are now required for travel with stops in the United States. This means if you’re traveling with airlines which have to clear Customs in-country, you’ll be checked. Canadian Passports take 30 business days if sent to Ottawa, or a few weeks in your city.  A Tourist Visa for Mexico will be provided by your travel agent with your ticket, or on the plane for a 3 to 6 months period at no cost. Ask for the 180 days if you need it. They sometimes comply. If you lose it, it costs when you leave. For direct charters from Canada, only photo identification and a birth certificate are required. For stays over your visa limit, you need to renew your visa at Immigration in Vallarta. If planning on more than a 2nd renewal of visa, you need to get a FM3 Mexican Visa good for a year and multiple entries.

Arrival in Puerto Vallarta - There are immediate line-ups to stamp Visas and Customs Declarations. Then a baggage pick-up at the carousels, takes a while depending on how many planes arrive at the same time. For Customs clearance, there’s a button to push that produces a green or red light, which determines if your bags will be thoroughly checked at Customs. If you’re in a rush (e.g. close to the 4 p.m. Yelapa boat departure) let them know you’re catching the 4 pm. boat to Yelapa, and they may be lax. Otherwise, if you know you’ll be rushing, try to pack it all into a carry-on.

Places to Stay in Puerto Vallarta (Calls From Canada/ US to Mexico -  011 52 322 before number) Among the commonly recommended places to stay: Hotel Yasmin   222 0087 $40+ US;  Marsol  right at the dock 222 1365 $50 at Los Muertos dock; Hotel Posada de Roger 222 0836 $55 ; Budget HotelsPosada Don Miguel 222 1569 $30 US; Hotel Azteca 222 2750 $30 US on Francisco Madero two blocks from the Cine Bahia (film theatre) on Insurgentes; There are several hotels of comparable value on this street close together (Villa del Mar, Ana Liz, Bernal, Cartagena).

Arrival in Yelapa - It´s easy to get from the village dock to Irma and Angel Garcías. There are many willing hands to carry your bags by the locals who will do so for a fee- (30 to 50 pesos is reasonable depending on the size of the bag). See directions above in "Location" section.

The boat arrives at the village dock on the right side of the bay, after a stop at the main beach. The beach stop has waves and is almost always a wet landing. The village dock is safe, usually a dry landing. Ask to get out “en el pueblo”

Money There is NO ATMs in Yelapa. Exchanging money in Canada or US to pesos usually does not give you a good rate. For your arrival expenses, there is a Casa de Cambio (Currency Exchange)  at the end of the line of car rental stands just to the left as you come out of Customs..  There are at least two Debit Card/Interac machines, both to the right from the Customs exit just about 50 meters near the exit doors .  Exchange a minimum here ($100) for a taxi or bus or taxi-van. If you’re in a rush, change money at the airport; rates not too bad, sometimes very good.  If you’ve time to compare, there are many Casa de Cambio houses en route, and some near the dock (Otherwise, exchange all money at the airport).  Ask your taxi driver to take you to a few (there’s some about 10 minutes south of airport, with decent exchanges, and three within 1 or 2 blocks from the dock. There are also numerous Debit/Interac machines right downtown Vallarta near the dock. Traveller’s cheques are always wise, and can be cashed in Puerto Vallarta AND in Yelapa (just a bit less than exchange rate in Yelapa).

The Yelapa exchange house (Victor’s by Tienda Yure in village, where there´s a big marine mammal mural on the store wall outside) cashes traveler’s cheques and changes US$ usually about 0.5 pesos less per $. The Canadian exchange given is not very good, best exchange in PV.  US $ cash works well anywhere, however, at a slightly lower exchange rate, usually less than with Victor! Canadian currency can be exchanged in Puerto Vallarta easily at Casa de Cambios and banks, BUT only at Victor’s in Yelapa. THERE IS NO ATM DEBIT MACHINE IN YELAPA.  Many banks are open 6 days a week in P.V (Saturday half day).  In Yelapa, very few restaurants take credit cards - Hotel Lagunita, La Galería, Chico’s and the The Oasis.

Security -  Puerto Vallarta has a pretty good reputation for being a safe place, and Yelapa has too, although there are occasional thefts, so be sure to keep money and valuables in a  safe place (locked secure room or with you). If you’re in Yelapa for an extended stay, be sure you have a secure store room, or store your money and passports and other valuables with the hotel/house owner. If you use porters at the dock, be sure to tell them where you´re going (Irma and Angel García) and be clear about costs per bag (from 30 to 50 pesos/bag depending on weight). If you use the young kids who like to carry bags, select only 1 or 2 and send the rest away or you’ll be flocked and they´ll all want payment. 

Communications –  There are telephones in Yelapa. Most places have a contact number; just ask. There is internet and several Internet Cafes in the winter season. Cell phones do work in Yelapa from several locations.  If you’re travelling with a crowd and want to keep in touch, bring walkie talkies. Ask for the phone number of your hosts or some contact number for any emergencies.

Gifts - General – In the village there are a ton of kids. If you’ve room in your bags and your local charity can donate recycled kid’s clothes, there’s a real need all the time in most families. Recycled warm clothes (sweaters, fleece) are needed in the cold December – January ‘winter’ period. Even a Dollar-store treat will put lots of smiles on their faces.  Giving gifts makes a difference. Beware of creating the impression that you’re a rich gringo by shelling out pesos every time a child asks for one, because the line-up does not end, and it never goes away. Something novel (transfer tattoos, paints, toy cars, balloons, hair novelties.) can brighten their day and make you a lasting amigo.

Donations – There are a number of institutions that are under funded or run on charity donations.

  • The Veterinary Clinic – Dr. Pamela Rojas works on many animals, often on a charity basis to the local population, with minimal payment often received. Then there are many animals such as beach dogs or wild cats and kittens that need spaying and neutering, with no one covering the costs. Stop in for a visit (stop at the Shambhala sign). Please make a contribution; any amount helps!  We desperately need to trap and neuter wild cats, since the problem has reached astronomical proportions. When we neuter/spay them we’ll continue feeding them, so donations for food are also needed.
  • Centro de Salud – Medical Clinic – The medical clinic lacks some of the essentials. These items or donations will help immensely!  If you have access to medical supplies, please ask and I’ll get the latest from the Doctor on their wish list.
  • La Escuela Secundaria y PrimariaThe High School has a very active folkloric dance troupe which is in constant need of funds for dance costumes. They also have a real winning girl’s basketball team which is strapped for travel funds or uniforms. Generally the school lacks money for balls, sports equipment, computers, software (Spanish language preferred). The same can be said for the Primary School!! The Primary School lacks the basics for sports (e.g. balls, skipping ropes, games) and lacks funds for supplies (pencils, pens, coloured pencils, paints, scissors,).
  • Donations for Sterilization Program for Cats and Dogs – There are many feral cats in Yelapa. We need to control this population. Many kittens are often dumped at the clinic, often shortly after birth, since the feral mothers will otherwise hide them. Owners of dogs often cannot afford to sterilize them, however, there has been an effective campaign for over 10 years and we’re seeing the positive effects. Either donate to the veterinarian, Pamela, or if not available, donate to the Yelapa English Spanish Institute (YESI) above Casas Irma y Angel.

Several years ago, I spent a month in Yelapa in a Spanish immersion program. As part of the program, I rented one of the rooftop apartments with the meal plan from Irma and Angel. The time I spent with Irma and Angel was simply wonderful. Every morning and every evening Irma would cook the most fantastic meals for me. Many times, Angel would catch a snapper in the morning, and Irma would cook it up that evening for dinner. There are plenty of places to dine in Yelapa, and I ate at all of them, but none were as good as Irma's home cooking. She is probably the best cook in Yelapa.

The location and the layouts of the apartments are the best in Yelapa. They are right in town at the top of the hill above the rooster tree and have breathtaking bay views also get plenty of afternoon sun. I especially enjoyed my afternoon siestas in the hammock on the rooftop terrace.

The only practical way to get to Yelapa is by riding an open panga from Vallarta, about a 45 min trip. This makes Yelapa a very safe place to visit; you can truly relax here and feel comfortable bringing your kids here too. I do not know of anyone who has ever had a bad time in Yelapa; it's that kind of a place.

If you are planning some away time in Yelapa, I would recommend, without reservation, staying with Irma & Angel. You will be safe, very well fed and probably have the best vacation of your life.