27. Barra de Navidad, Mexico - The Lesser Known Beach Resort

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April 13, 2007

The sign on the post behind the water taxi desk said "If you need a taxi after midnight flick the lights 3 times".

These instructions are emblematic of the small town charm that can be found in Barra de Navidad, a beach town (pop. 7,000) about 30 kilomteres south of Tenacatita and 50 kilometers north of Manzanillo (but only 10 minutes north of Manzanillo´s airport).

The water’s taxi destination - the five-star Whyndham Grand Bay Hotel, Isla Navidad Resort and its boutique neighbour, Hotel Meson Dona Paz - are emblematic of the luxury that many vacationers are seeking in Mexico.

In other words, Barra de Navidad offers something for everyone.

Our first evening in Barra we toured the main narrow street, crammed with small restaurants, bars and inviting shops.

We ate on the street-side patio of Camela´s Club Diner, and had one of the best meals of the entire trip - caesar salad with fresh prawns followed by chicken and spinach crepes. At $8, all included, Camela´s creations were mouth-watering.

After dinner we walked the short malecon, stopping on the way back for Choco-Flan", a delicious dessert made partly of flan, partly of chocolate cake.

As we consider choco-flan to be an integral part of Mexican culture, we feel it is our duty, to sample choco-flan throughout Mexico. Not easy work, but necessary to get the true cultural experience.

On our second evening we took the aforementioned water taxi across the lagoon to the hotels. Arriving 30 seconds later, we walked through the garden, past the meandering, cascading pool and into the base of this Wyndham resort hotel. At the top of the hotel the restaurants and lounge offer stunningly views of the lagoon, the town and the attached marina crammed full of luxury yachts and smaller sailboats. The green mountains framed the picture.

We in fact didn’t stay in Barra de Navidad but rather in its sister town, Melaque, two kilometres to the north. The towns share a bay and, at their closest ends, are only a 20-minute stroll along the beach apart.

(We spiced up the walk on the beach by buying "mangoes on a stick", which are traditionally sprinkled with chile powder and served like a popsicle - a healthy alternative to a cerveza in the mid-afternoon heat).

The campsite in "downtown" Melaque was full due to the lingering Semana Santa crowds, so we had headed to the town's edges where there is an average hotel - Laguna del Tule hotel - with an above average parking lot that doubles as a scenic campsite: we were sandwiched between the ocean on one side and a large lagoon, full of migrating birds, on the other.

Key Facts & Figures:

-Laguna del Tule hotel campsite: $10/night
-Choco-flan, cake lady: $1.50
-Crepe dinner, Camela´s Club Diner: $8