Stunningly sensual architecture, a luxurious approach to true bohemian life, outstanding art & culture and a generosity of spirit are just some of the things you will find in Costa Careyes, Mexico. This seaside utopia is a splendid marriage of Mexican flavor, vibrant colors, and wild international elegance. It is safe to say of all the places I have seen on the planet, this jewel on the sea called Careyes is the place I could easily spend the rest of my life.

Take a flight into Manzanillo (south of Puerto Vallarta) and drive an hour north to Costa Careyes! It’s one winding road to paradise. There you will find nature in all its wild beauty: treacherous cliffs and crashing ocean contrasted against sensuously modern homes painted in bright gem tones, enormous thatched palapas and infinity pools reflecting the glorious sky. By now there have been many replicas of this look but Careyes is the original original of this style.

Careyes is not only a place; it is a way of Being. Careyes is a culture unto itself. Here a passionate love of life and nature is complimented by incredible sophistication, daring eccentricity, and a love of community that’s reflected in the many cultural, ecological, and public health initiatives aimed at the local population. What’s also great fun is that the longtime residents have a tradition of elaborate themed parties (they celebrate Chinese New Year in incredible style), and they embrace originality and glamour in the truest sense of the word. Those who populate Careyes possess an astounding confidence in their ability to mix unexpected elements like modern art and native materials; wearing a kaftan with a top hat and no shoes to a dinner party here would be completely normal. Basically, anything goes as long as it is unique and created with love.

Only an experience of Careyes will convey all the incredible facets that exist there. These are my recommendations for the full experience:

FLY INTO MANZANILLO, NOT PUERTO VALLARTA.
If you can help it, do it! It makes the difference of a 3 hour drive or an hour and a half drive. Either way, Careyes is well worth the wait!

RENT A VILLA OR CASITA.

You can view the villas, casitas and “castles” on www.careyes.com.mx
If you are on a budget, one of the Playa Rosa Bungalows is a great option. Renting a casita with an infinity pool will give you a different experience, and make you feel like one of the locals. If you’re a high roller, gather a big group and rent one of the mind blowing Castles. My personal favorite is Casa Mi Ojo, which was the first house built in Careyes, as the home of the founder and creator of Careyes, Gian Franco Brignone. It’s a rambling electric blue modern mansion with incredible outdoor spaces, an enormous palapa and a suspended bridge that takes you to your own meditation spot high above the sea. For reservations, consult the website here.

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A COOK AT YOUR CASITA.
The Careyes way is to enjoy time at the Casita as well as to spend time on the beach and dining out. There are no markets nearby so you need to have your own staff to procure the groceries and prepare meals. We like to wake to an incredible breakfast of fresh fruits, yogurt, huevos rancheros and coffee, followed by a big late afternoon snack of fresh guacamole and chips, quesadillas and margaritas to hold us over for a late dinner. It is possible to arrange a cook through the Casitas de las Flores reservations office.

EAT YOUR FIRST MEAL AT PLAYA ROSA.

The charming beachside restaurant is the central hub of Careyes. Nestled on a gentle bay and surrounded by the cliffside homes and the rainbow colored Casitas de las Flores, the restaurant has a relaxed barefoot vibe but feel free to wear something fabulous too. A turban with diamond earrings and a bikini would be completely fine here! As for the food, they provide Italian/Mexican fresh deliciousness, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. People mill about on the grass and enjoy lazy long lunches. In the mornings you’ll see fishing boats unloading their fresh catch of the day directly to the restaurant and by evening you might find a bonfire and some candlelit tables under the stars.

RENT A BOAT AND SEE THE COASTLINE FROM ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE.

This can be arranged through reception or at Playa Rosa restaurant. It’s a great way to see the coastline and visit some of the castaway beaches that surround the area.

CHECK OUT THE CULTURAL PLAZA.

The beautiful ART CAREYES gallery has become a hub of international art and culture, showcasing exhibitions by artists like Retna and Kenny Scharfand. Charming shops have begun opening there. Enjoy a meal at Punta Como, the Italian restaurant where you can enjoy outdoor dining in the Plaza and perhaps also a movie in the outdoor theatre.

TRY YOUR BEST TO GAIN ENTRANCE TO THE CUIXMALA PRESERVE.

Cuixmala is an enormous ecological preserve and a spectacular jewel within the area of Careyes. For years this place was open only by invitation or through a connection to the Goldsmith Family, whom own the property. Last year they opened a restaurant called Casa Gomez which serves all organic and local food culled from ingredients grown in their gardens, coffee from their plantations, coconut water from their groves. If you are lucky, you might stumble upon a crocodile, zebra, or catch sight of a majestic hawk in the skies above. You can inquire about this directly with Cuixmala, for information click here.

BOOK A TABLE AT THE COCODRILLO RESTAURANT AND OUTDOOR DISCOTHEQUE.
For a glamorous evening, go for a late dinner and stay for the disco under the stars. Kick off your heels and enjoy the beach bonfire with lapping waves just beyond. For book and more information, visit this site.

CHECK OUT A POLO GAME.

Polo is the big local sport, so there’s a professional field and stables with stunning horses that can be taken for a guided ride along the nearby coastline. Inquire with Casitas De Las Flores reception. Photo courtesy of visitlamanzanilla.com

After the Polo, you should…

MAKE A PILGRIMAGE TO THE COPA DEL SOL.

A short drive from the Polo field there sits an enormous tribal-futuristic sculpture, La Copa del Sol, which was built as a monument to womenkind. It’s an astoundingly powerful experience; the size of it is overwhelming and it’s location, situated on a piece of land jutting into the Pacific, is breathtaking. Climb the rickety ladder to the top and walk it’s circumference at sunset, then enter the bowl from it’s spaceship-like hatch opening at the bottom. Take the time to sit, breathe, lay down. Feel the power of the structure from inside and listen to the air above you as glorious birds fly overhead. The acoustics are so awesome that you can hear the beating of the their wings above. This is by far my most favorite part of Careyes.

EXPERIENCE THE MIGRATION OF THOUSANDS OF BABY TURTLES INTO THE SEA.

Just near the Copa is the wild and stunning Playa Teopa where the Sea Turtle Protection and Conservation Camp, one of the central ecological passions of the founding Brignone family, releases hatchlings into the sea. They have been singlehandedly responsible for exponentially increasing the population of a nearly extinct turtle breed. Seeing the little babies making their way into the sea is a reminder of the fragility and beauty of life.

For more information about Costa Careyes, check out the links below:

GO TO CAREYES WITH AN OPEN HEART AND A WILLINGNESS TO HAVE YOUR MIND BLOWN… xxx, Leah

Photography by Amir Magal and Leah Forester.

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