Yelapa – way across the bay!

Since being in Banderas Bay I have wanted to visit Yelapa, however, after listening to the horror stories of the other boaters I was not tempted to take my boat over.

The sea shelf at Yelapa drops precipitously from 0 feet on the beach to over 300 feet deep within a few dozen yards. The drop off is incredibly steep and when boaters drop their anchor and it lands – they think securely on the bottom – in fact it is resting on the slope of the drop off.

Boats near shore but in 300ft of water


During the night as the strong tides come in and out again, it drags their boat and their anchor out with it. The anchor slides down the steep slope and suddenly at 2:00AM there is great consternation in the anchorage as boats that are now floating freely all bang into each other. And sleepy sailors are having to deal with that crisis in the dark.

So I decided to take the official ferry across – which is actually a high speed panga – and spend the night.

I went online and had a chat with a person that was renting out her top floor “with a fabulous view”. I agreed to take the suite for the next night.


No “roads” to Yelapa or on Yelapa – just ATVs


Delivering water and garbage collection done by ATV in the narrow streets

The next day I clambered on the bus and sent up a quick prayer that this would be a fun trip – and uneventful. I have had enough adventures without looking for them!

I showed the bus driver my map and he nodded knowingly. After about 45 minutes he called my attention at a bus stop and vigorously indicated that I should jump off RIGHT NOW and run for the bus ahead of us. Which I did.

I clambered onto that bus and showed the driver my map and he nodded. After 25 more minutes he indicated to me that I should get off now and walk down to the beach 2 blocks down.

I bought a ticket for the panga and inadvertently bought a $21 “tourist tour” ticket. I thought at the time it was expensive because the guide books said it was about $3 for the ride.

Helpful sign

It soon became clear that I was on a tour as Ernesto our guide starting giving his spiel. Once at Yelapa he walked us all to the waterfall, and through the tiny unadorned church. That basically ended the entire tour of Yelapa so Ernesto then herded us all down to the beach and settled us on beach chairs. He said we would be catching the 4:00PM ferry back.

I told him I was staying and he offered to show me the casa where I was to spend the night. When we got there it transpired that a couple had arrived and paid for a whole week, so she had simply bumped me.

So I took the 4:00pm ferry back.

Fishing pangas

I must admit 2 days on Yelapa is overkill although the view of the tiny town and fishing boats, with a back drop of jungle and mountains, is quite lovely.

Downtown is 2 small restaurants and a tiny gift store.


Narrow streets


The roads are narrow cobbled pathways, so narrow that only ATVs can traverse them as they deliver water to the handful of homes, and pick up their garbage.

There are tiny tots and hordes of little children playing with abandon, with no obvious supervision. Clearly children are really safe in Yelapa.

A vendor selling jewelry approached me and offered to give me a free joint if I bought something. Now that’s a sales gimmick that I haven’t heard before.

Lounging on the beach was very restful. Two young teenagers in front of my beach chair decided to swim and ran down to the water. Five steps in and they were already chest deep. They paused, looked at each other, and exited. They told their Mom that the bottom dropped off steeply and they could feel the undertow, so they decided against swimming.

Relaxing on the beach

Boaters have come to that same conclusion.

Yelapa – been there, done that. Skipped the T-shirt.



Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: