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Los Ayala: undiscovered gem on the Nayarit coast

Christina Stobbs

Los Ayala is situated at the foot of the Sierra de Vallejo Mountains. An undiscovered gem, Los Ayala is an authentic Mexican beach town and a fishing village. It is just now beginning to be discovered as a tropical beach destination by foreign tourists. The setting for the town is reminiscent of the Garden of Eden. The surrounding vegetation is dense and thick, including a thousand shades of green, hundreds of dancing palm trees, giant lime trees, mahogany trees, and an abundance of papaya, mango, banana trees.

Los Ayala is also a bird watcher's paradise where flocks of green parakeets soar above the many variety of palms. Common to the area are amiable pelicans, frigate birds, prancing egrets, inca doves and white doves, tropical king birds and even the occasional lone eagle.

The half-mile long beach of Los Ayala is a palm fringed cove, perfect for swimming with soft, silky gold specked sand, a gradually sloping shoreline and crystal clear waters. Most days, the waves lap gently at the shore and, with the right weather and tide conditions, the blue Pacific water takes on a Caribbean green hue, and the calm water resembles a lake, offering perfect snorkelling conditions. Locals say with pride that Los Ayala has one of the most beautiful swimming beaches on Pacific Mexico's coast.

At the south end of Los Ayala beach, the shoreline is rocky and dotted with caves that tempt visitors to explore a little. Los Ayala is said to be named after a group of bandits who sought refuge here many years ago (Los Ayalas), and the locals speak of a "Golden Door" hidden within a cave entrance, behind which lies a lost world and a magnificent treasure, still to be discovered. Los Ayala used to be called "Beach of the Mermaids," which seems a more fitting appellation for this tropical oasis, far removed from bandits.

A ten-minute swim around the south end of the beach takes swimmers through some passable snorkelling, ending at the secluded and beautiful beach called Playa del Beso (Beach of the Kiss). If you continues swimming and head around the next bend, you end up at Playa del Toro (Beach of the Bull), an even more secluded beach where your only companions are birds, fish and the odd fisherman. Snorkelers frequently find themselves gliding through schools fish. If swimming is not your forte, it is an easy ten minute hike to Playa del Beso, and just another twenty minutes to Playa del Toro. The hike to Playa del Toro goes through the beautiful Nayarit rainforest.

The beach of Los Ayala is generally quiet and tranquil, but it has been a favourite with Mexican families for decades and still bustles with activity on weekends, holidays, and especially Semana Santa. "Holy Week" in Los Ayala is not for everyone, as the beach is packed and competing bands play music day and night, but it is definitely is off the beaten path and worlds away from the more heavily touristed beaches. The shore is lined with palapa restaurants serving delicious blackened fish and prawns cooked in a hundred fashions. It is very inexpensive to eat here and a pleasure to dine barefoot on the sand at any of the restaurants. Beach vendors sell pineapples stuffed with fresh fruit, and the locals carry large trays of muffins and sometimes even more tempting donuts on their head, displaying perfect posture and balance. The beach bustles with fishermen selling fish to the locals early in the morning, while the tourists delight in watching the amiable pelicans vie for the scraps.

The small town of Los Ayala even boasts an internet café, a coffee shop serving great cappuccino and espresso, and a disco called "Green Please" which features female impersonators.

Los Ayala is a magical Mexican beach town. Come, stay a while.

Published or Updated on: September 29, 2009 by Christina Stobbs © 2009
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