Isla Magica? Mexcaltitán island in Nayarit


Experience Mexcaltitán – the tiny Venice of Mexico.

Thus continues our quest to better document the Pueblos Magicos of Mexico.

If you’re at all familiar with “Vallarta” as a concept in luxury living – try adding to that the concept of pueblo mágico or “magical town”. Nice?

About 2 and a half hours north of Puerto Vallarta – up the long road that affords occasional but magificent glimpses of the Pacific Ocean – you can arrive at the Island of Mexcaltitán very near to San Blas – the northernmost point of infrstructure development in Nayarit. This is actually a very early infrastucture project as the island is actually man-made – in the fashion of better known man-made islands at Xochimilco – and which made up a good part of the land beneath Tenochtitlán, the precursor to today’s Mexico City.

With the often flooded streets laid out like the spokes of a wheel, Mexcaltitlán is every bit as charming, thought provoking and striking as it appears in the photo above.

The name dates back from the Mexicas and some say it means “home of the Mexicas or Mexicans”, others mention that it comes from the word Metztli, the moon goddess of the Nahuatlaca people. And one final story is that the Aztecs are rumored – or mythologized – to have actually originated in this island before departing in 1091 to later found the city of Tenochtitlan in 1325. See for a more complete history of the island.

This small island relys economically mostly on fishing for shrimp, so you can imagine the number of dishes prepared with as fresh as it gets: shrimp. It is common that residents leave their doors open, inviting visitors to come in – and locals love to share the stories and myths about this island Pueblo. And there is no shortage of great history.

Tourism is increasing, but the island is not swamped with visitors, and the few that visit are normally from other parts of Mexico rather than international tourists – so you may very well have the place virtually to yourself.

How many islands do you know that are actually “just in from the coast” ?

Guided tours of the Island of Mexcaltitan go for about US$60/person and they include a boat to and from the island, a tour to the sites where you can see the wildlife and mangroves, meals and beverages and a good tour could last all day.

Now doesn’t this sound like a great way to spend the day?

Want to know more?

Derek’s Travels includes a good history of the island and some more nice photos. And author, Paul Kekai Manansala, reprints in full a (difficult to find) Jeremy Schwartz/Cox News Service article on the academic and immigration-rights argument over the place of Aztlán in history, mythical or otherwise.

The Nayarit state government is paying serious attention to the island’s needs and they are investing several million pesos into improving the roads taking tourists to the island from the coastal highway, rehabilitating the environment and painting many of the islands few, charming and priceless buildings.