To go to Chacala from Puerto Vallarta, a taxi is easiest and costs $80-90, one-way. (It’s a 90-minute drive.) Or for a fraction of that you can take a bus from the airport up Highway 200 to the neighboring town of Las Varas, then catch a collectivo vehicle to Chacala. Or you can rent a car at the Puerto Vallarta airport; all the major rental-car companies are there.
Chacala Vacation Rentals, 760-300-3908, www. casapacifica chacala.com. Several luxurious houses in the gated Marina Chacala development are available for short-term rental, from $150 (for a one-bedroom unit) to $625 per night (for Villa Tesseri, which includes a house and guest house, sleeps 10 to 12 and features a swimming pool and a commanding view).
Majahua, on the beachfront (011-52-327- 219-4055, www.majahua. com), has four “suite” units (one has two bedrooms and two bathrooms) in a pair of buildings on a jungle slope down to the beach. Uneven paths make it risky for children and anyone with mobility problems, but the secluded setting and spa attract yoga groups and other escapists. Breakfast included. $110-$300 per suite nightly.
Mar de Jade, on the beachfront (800-257-0532; www.mardejade.com), has 30 units, neighbored by garden, pool and beach. Units have no phones or TVs, and most are fan-cooled, although air conditioning will be added to a few rooms this year. Family-friendly. Spa facilities. Three kayaks. Meals included in rates. Winter rates $110-$135 per person per day, based on double occupancy, or $135-$180 per day for singles.
Casa Chacala (Golfo de Mexico street, 011-52-327- 219-4057; www.casa chacala.com) opened three years ago with six units and a pool. Has air conditioning (a rarity), and word is that televisions are coming. Doubles begin at $50.
Several other hotels fall into this general class, the largest and newest being the 18-room Hotel Paraiso Escondido (also on Golfo de Mexico; 011-52-327-219- 4098, www.paraiso escondidochacala.com). Doubles start at $70.
The Techos de Mexico program (www.techosde mexico.com or www.chacala budget rentals.blogspot .com) has rooms priced at $22.50-$60 nightly. Most include kitchenettes and terraces with ocean views; all are within five minutes’ walk to the beach, but housekeeping, telephone access and billing practices vary. Not much English is spoken.
Majahua has no roof and a pebble floor, but it’s the fanciest restaurant in town, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Main courses $6-$13.
Las Brisas, beachfront, is a favorite with English speakers. Main dishes $5.50-$18.
Mauna Kea Cafe, on Los Corchos, just off Islas Marias, is a breakfast spot (8-10 a.m.). Prices $4.50-$7.