Looking for things to do in Chacala, Mexico?
This fun guide will help you plan your escape to picturesque Chacala Nayarit on the beautiful Pacific coast of Mexico!
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I was going through old photos the other day, and I stumbled across a few from our amazing Chacala, Mexico getaway.
My husband and I visited Chacala shortly after moving to New York City. This quiet fishing village, which is located 64 miles north of Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast of Mexico in the state of Nayarit, was the perfect escape from the bustle of NYC.
If you're dreaming of a relaxing, laid back Mexican getaway that's off the beaten path, then Chacala, Mexico is for you, too!
Keep reading for lots of fun tips and details about this laid back village, or skip to the end of this post for the nitty gritty.
The entrance to our home base, Casa Monarca, a Chacala vacation rental.
Beautiful Chacala, Mexico
Like I said, Chacala is a sleepy little village. Have you ever visited Cabo, Cancun, or another touristy Mexican city and stayed in a big resort? I love those kind of vacations, too, but a trip to Chacala is pretty much the exact opposite of that experience.
Chacala is a set in a small cove on the Pacific Ocean and has a year round population of about 300 people. It's a popular vacation destination for Mexican families, especially around Easter and Christmas. And it has a beautiful, uncrowded beach and a low key atmosphere.
We flew into Puerto Vallarta and from there it's an easy drive to Chacala, which is located in the state of Nayarit. If you don't want to drive, it's possible to arrange an airport transfer. You won't need a car once you're there, because the village is so small.
Shortly after you turn off the highway, the paved road ends as you continue on into this charming little town.
Chacala, Mexico Hotels| Casa Monarca
Instead of all-inclusive resorts, you'll find vacation rentals and a few small hotels in Chacala Nayarit. I checked Airbnb recently and found 65 rentals, everything from studios to more luxurious accommodations.
If you're looking for a Chacala vacation rental, I highly recommend Casa Monarca. It's located a short walk from the main beach and has every comfort you could need for a relaxing vacation. We visited Chacala with a group of friends, and Casa Monarca was perfect for us! It's actually owned by a relative of my friend who was also on the trip.
Casa Monarca has two smaller suites on the lower level (each with a petite kitchen), and a larger suite on the second level (with a bigger kitchen and living/dining room, plus three bedrooms). Our large group took over the whole house, but you can rent the units individually, too.
My husband and I stayed one of the lower level suites ... you can see the doors on the right in the pic below.
It was a little overcast on our first day, but the panoramic views of Chacala Bay from Casa Monarca's rooftop deck did not disappoint!
Those beautiful palm trees and the expansive water view put me in vacation mode instantly.
The view of Casa Monarca's pool from the roof wasn't too shabby either.
I loved having access to the pool. Our group spent plenty of time in there, and it was the perfect place to unwind after spending the day on Playa Chacala ... ha!
There were some wonderful cooks in our group, so we stocked up on groceries (and lots of beer) before we left Puerto Vallarta.
The area next to the pool was the perfect spot to enjoy an al fresco breakfast before hitting the beach.
On the opposite side of the pool there was a little palapa-roofed patio with lounge chairs and a grill.
I loved the gorgeous view from here ... not to mention those vibrant, pretty flowers!
We weren't the only ones who enjoyed that view either.
This guy was huge, but thankfully, I think he was more afraid of us than we were of him ... although he did return a few times.
I guess he liked that sunny perch!
Things to Do in Chacala, Mexico
When it comes to things to do in Chacala, Mexico, most of the activities center around the bay and the beach.
You'll find everything from snorkeling to kayaking to whale watching, and even surfing. Chacala Nayarit is known for it's fishing, and there was actually a tournament going on while we were there.
Sayulita is also a short drive away, and we headed there one afternoon. It was much busier than Chacala, and had a bit of a hippie vibe. We had fun wandering the streets around the town square, checking out the shops, and walking the crowded beach.
Apart from our short trip to Sayulita, I'm not going to lie ... this was a very lazy vacation. We spent most of our time lying on Playa Chacala!
Gorgeous, tranquil Chacala Beach
Chacala Beach | Playa Chacala
There are actually two beaches in Chacala, Mexico but we stuck to main one.
The blue skies were gorgeous, the sand was soft, and the beach was lined with restaurants serving cold cerveza. What more could you want?
Chacala Beach was pretty quiet on our first day, although the crowds picked up over the weekend. It was never overly crowded though, even with the fishing tournament.
As far as favorite things to do in Chacala, Mexico, taking in the stunning sunsets ranks right up there.
Especially when viewed from Playa Chacala!
The sky seemed to turn a different color each evening, but the sunset on our first night was simply amazing.
I mean ... c'mon!
Most days, you could find our crew relaxing under an umbrella on Chacala Beach, a cold drink nearby, with nothing to do but relax and take an occasional dip in the water.
It doesn't get much more pleasant than that.
We tried a few restaurants while in Chacala. There are about a dozen, most of which are located near or on the beach.
The restaurants on Playa Chacala are very casual. I loved sitting under the palapas and eating with soft the sand underfoot!
Our favorite was Chac Mool, a cafe that's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The owners and staff were very friendly, the food was delicious, and the view of Playa Chacala was great, too.
Of course, we spent plenty of time in the water. The waves and undertow were quite strong while we were there.
I had fun diving into the waves and trying to remain upright. A few of us lost a pair of sunglasses (or two, in my husband's case), so leave your expensive sunnies at home and bring a spare just in case.
At one end of the beach, you can see Mar de Jade, a yoga, meditation, and retreat center, peeking through the palm trees. I think you can take classes there even if you're not staying at the resort.
Walking along Chacala Beach as the sun set was the perfect way to end the day.
Exploring Colorful Chacala Streets
Like I said, this was a very lazy trip. We didn't see lots of sights, and apart from going to Sayulita, there wasn't much in the way of activities. And it was perfect!
Before heading to the beach one morning though, I spent a little time exploring the colorful streets with my husband.
This ended up being one of my favorite things to do in Chacala! I loved seeing a little bit of everyday life away from the beach.
We spotted a flamboyant rooster hidden under a tree.
Many of streets in Chacala are lined with cobblestones and there aren't many sidewalks, so pack accordingly.
When I arrived in Chacala, I was wearing a pair of towering wedges. They were so cute, but I quickly discovered that I hadn't made the right footwear choice. Bring your flat sandals, ladies!
Between the boldly painted houses, vibrant flowers, and gorgeous blue skies, walking Chacala's streets quiet streets was a colorful experience.
You'll also see plenty of evidence of Chacala's fishing background.
And of course, we saw lots of palm trees, too!
The main drag in Chacala is pretty chill, just like you'd expect. It's lined with a few restaurants and hotels.
There's not a lot, but you'll find exactly what you need.
This colorful restaurant caught my eye. We didn't stop in, but maybe next time we will.
There was even a pizza shop in Chacala when we were there.
Another view of Chacala's main road ... it's located right by the beach, so you don't need too head far for a quick bite or anything else you might need.
Planning Your Trip to Chacala, Mexico
I hope you enjoyed reading all about Chacala and are inspired to plan a visit soon. After going through all my photos, I'm dreaming of a return trip myself!
Here are a few tips to help plan your trip:
- Getting There: If you will be arriving to Mexico by plane, you'll want to fly into Puerto Vallarta. From there, you can either rent a car, arrange for an driver, or take a bus to Chacala. It takes about 90 minutes to make the drive. Make sure to do your driving during the day.
- Things to Do: We came to this picturesque village for the beach! You'll probably spend most of your day there, and it's possible to arrange for all sorts of water sports ... fishing, surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, and more. Ask your hotel or rental host for recommendations. It's also fun to take an hour or so to explore the streets of Chacala. Busier Sayulita is nearby and worth checking out. And of course, you should plan on spending a day or two in Puerto Vallarta, as well.
- Restaurants: The beach in Chacala is lined with restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious meal while sinking your toes in the sand. We especially loved Chac Mool. You'll also find restaurants lining Chacala's main drag just off the beach.
- Groceries: You can find groceries in nearby Las Varas or pick them up on the drive to Chacala. Las Varas is located just north of the road you'll take to get to Chacala.
- Finding a Hotel or Vacation Rental: I'd highly recommend staying at Casa Monarca. It's great for small or large groups. Trip Advisor is an excellent resource for hotels and rentals, as well (the reviews are so helpful) and you can find rentals on Airbnb, too. If you've never used Airbnb before, be sure to use this link to save $40 on your home booking, plus get $15 to use on an experience.
- Is Chacala safe? Chacala is located in one of the safer regions of Mexico. We had no issues during our visit, nor did we feel unsafe at all. Don't do anything stupid that you wouldn't do elsewhere (buy drugs, wear glitzy jewelry, flash lots of cash, etc.), and you should be totally fine.
Looking for more travel inspiration?
If you liked reading about Chacala, make sure to check out all my travel posts here. You may especially enjoy reading my guides to Orange Beach, San Juan, or Mexico City!
What is your favorite place to visit in Mexico?
Enjoyed your post about lovely Chacala. We will return for our second stay in February 2020 with family and friends in tow, half of us staying in Casa Monarca. Can’t wait!
Hi, David! Thank you so much for reading! I actually visited Chacala again over Christmas break, and it was as wonderful as ever. Lots of changes though since my last visit, and I need to make a few updates to the post. Hope you have an amazing time during your trip!
Hello Ginnie! My husband and I are considering traveling to Chacala and we are vegetarians. Do you think we will have a hard time finding something to eat in this small town? Thank you.
Hi, Cindy! I'm so happy to hear that you're considering Chacala. I really loved my time there, and I'm actually heading back there myself this December. 🙂 I'm vegetarian, as well, and for reference, I eat dairy/eggs, but no fish, meat, etc. We stayed in a house, so we picked up groceries in Puerto Vallarta and cooked at least one meal a day. Most restaurants in Chacala are located right on the beach (or nearby) and offer fairly traditional Mexican food, plus a lot of fish (not a ton of veg choices). We ate at Chac Mool a few times,… Read more »
We are in Chacala right now.....at Casa Monarca no less!
I'm so jealous! Have a great time ... I'm hoping to return next year! 🙂
This is MY kind of vacation, Ginnie! I've never heard of Chacala, but you've whet my appetite, and I've pinned it for future reference!
I absolutely love it there, Amy! It was so laid back and relaxing.
that looks gorgeous and relaxing! we went to the riviera nayarit, near pv, but so much more "local" and after going to cabo which i didnt love, i think your type of vacay is the one for me! gorgeous photos.