Mexico Trip Part III: Yelapa

After our time in Puerto Vallarta was up, we began the journey to Yelapa to attend Nigel and Jolene’s wedding in the Mexican jungle. The couple had tried to find a private island to get married on, and instead settled on Verana, a resort outside the town of Yelapa. They rented out the whole resort for their guests, so between Verana and neighboring El Jardin, all 40 or 45 of us spent Thursday through Sunday together, celebrating Nigel and Jolene.


Our journey to Yelapa was an adventure in itself. We took a very long cab ride to a quaint marina, Boca de Tomatlan, boarded a fishing boat with several other wedding guests and made the very bumpy ride across the bay to Yelapa. It’s not quite an island, but it is only accessible by boat, which makes it quite remote.


From the boat landing, our bags were taken up the hill by donkey while we sauntered our way along a steep cobblestonish path through the jungle. By the time we made it up to the main area of the resort, the staff had prepared us all lemonade and offered us damp towels to clean ourselves up. The spa staff welcomed us by providing a short head and neck massage too! It was quite a lovely introduction to Verana, the resort where we would spend the next three days.

{donkeys unloading our stuff - the workers at the resort piled 4 suitcases on their backs and hustled up the cobblestone steps to drop them off in the appropriate room}
{donkeys unloading our stuff – the workers at the resort piled 4 suitcases on their backs and hustled up the cobblestone steps to drop them off in the appropriate room}

Now I’ll try to paint a picture of Verana for you. Imagine you’re in the rain forest or jungle on a steep hill with several acres up and down that is dedicated to the resort. All you can see is lush, green foliage and some cacti, complete with a sweeping panoramic view of Bandaras Bay off in front of you. There are about 12 different bungalows spread out across the expansive property. It seemed like the bungalows were typically either built into the side of the slope or hidden by the hill. Each bungalow is distinctly different and quite discreet and private from the rest of the resort. The bungalows mainly have two walls and then a straw roof overhead. They all have a bed with mosquito net, their own bathroom and private entrance. The open-air bungalows were really beautiful and very close to nature.

{view from the mid-point of the property}
{view from the mid-point of the property}

We stayed in the Studio house, which was one of the only houses with four walls. We had two concrete walls and two walls that were all glass. When you walk into the Studio it is quite large and open, the bed is right in front of you – complete with mosquito net – and then a nice sitting area to gaze across the bay at the incredible view.

{the view from the front door}
{the view from the front door}
{view from our room}
{view from our room}



Then, you walk to the other side of the room and go through the doorway {no door} into the “bathroom” which is entirely outside. The shower was enclosed by three walls, while the sink was completely exposed. The toilet was in it’s own four-walled structure, complete with a door. The bathroom was fully stocked with handmade soaps, shampoos, scrubs and creams that were made by the ladies in the spa. We had two lovely sitting areas outside, as well.



{the stone shower}
{the stone shower – notice all the handmade spa products}

Just up the hill from our house was the main hang-out area where we were served breakfast and dinner and where the bar is located. It is a flat space that overlooks the bay and the lush property. The tables were always set with bright colored linens and the main area and pool area boast bright orange umbrellas to shade people from the scorching sun.


Up about 500 cobblestone steps from the main lounging area is the infinity pool, which of course also overlooks the bay and property. It’s a hike to get up to the pool and the yoga palapa, though!


Despite the sheer beauty of the location we were staying in, Alex and I were both way out of our comfort zones. We enjoy camping and being out in nature, but I think the knowledge of scorpions and gigantic spiders being on the property, and the fact that we were in such a remote place in a foreign country really made us a little anxious about our accommodations.

{taking a walk through the jungle... watch out for scorpions!}
{taking a walk through the jungle… watch out for scorpions!}

We certainly weren’t going to let our anxiety ruin our trip, so we adjusted our attitudes and had a really great time. Still, though, there was always a little voice in the back of our heads saying “shake that towel vigorously” and “remember to zip up your bag and not leave your shoes out” or “keep your eyes out for scorpions!” It helped that we came prepared with headlamps and really good bug spray. The bugs never bothered us, except for when our room got infested with thousands of ants on Saturday. That was a bit much, but the staff at the resort took care of it quickly.


Every morning we were awaken by the beautiful red sunrise over Bandaras Bay. Once we peeled our way out of our mosquito net we sauntered out the “door” and found a tray of coffee and pastries awaiting us on the outside table.


We had a pretty incredible view to enjoy our coffee in front of, which made that time a major highlight, until I realized that my body rejects Mexican coffee {maybe they used tap water??}.

{two of the mornings we were joined by a jungle cat! he looks so similar to Henry, too, so it made us miss our animals quite a bit.}
{two of the mornings we were joined by a jungle cat! he looks so similar to Henry, too, so it made us miss our animals quite a bit.}

Our mornings were spent drinking our coffee, then walking up to eat breakfast with those who were awake at a reasonable time, then doing yoga. Shannon, one of the other wedding guests, is a yoga instructor and she volunteered to lead a yoga class every morning.


I just got into yoga about a month ago and have been loving it. Practicing yoga overlooking the ocean really set that in stone – it was a lot of fun! And, the best part is that Alex participated in the yoga classes and loved it too!


On our first full day in Verana we took a hike into the town of Yelapa right after we finished up with yoga. It was a good 30-40 minute walk/hike into town, and it was gorgeous. The first half of the walk was through the jungle, then the path led us down to the beach where we had striking views of the little cove that Yelapa is situated on.




From there we walked through the town. It was such a pleasure to see a real Mexican town. It was quite run-down but Yelapa just oozes character. The people were really friendly, too.



Eventually we made our way to a waterfall and some people stopped to take a dip in the pool beneath the falls, while others got a drink to sip on. It was really fun to check out the town and get some incredible views of the area, but I was ready to not hike anymore by the time we returned.



The afternoons were spent primarily hanging out around the pool together. People sort of did their own thing and somehow managed to meet up by the pool eventually. I was really surprised at how many people at the wedding we knew and who were from Seattle. The couple had some immediate family, but otherwise it was mostly their friends. And the amount of friends they had at the wedding speaks very loudly at their character. The fact that they had around 35 friends willing to travel to the Mexican jungle for their wedding is pretty incredible.


Another highlight for me was getting several days to catch up with my friend Tania. Tania lives in Mexico and dates one of Alex’s friends, Justin, who used to live in Seattle, but now moved to Mexico to live with Tania. Tania is one of the sweetest most enjoyable people I know and I really enjoy spending time with her. Her English is far superior to my Spanish, so we mainly spoke in English, but I did get to practice my Spanish a little bit.


On Friday afternoon I took a break from the crowd and headed to the resort’s spa for a relaxing massage. It was amazing! Then on Saturday afternoon we took a salsa dancing lesson with a few other couples. Salsa dancing is not as easy as it looks, particularly if you are not Latin!


The evenings at Verana were very nice, as well. The resort provided us all of our meals and we ate very well. We all ate dinner together in the evening, then one way or another ended up doing karaoke, some dancing, chatting and a lot of drinking.

{everyone had to be careful walking home, as there were approximately 9,342 steps to take}
{everyone had to be careful walking home, as there were approximately 9,342 steps to take}

Alex and I got many opportunities to catch up with old friends who had moved away from Seattle, and also to get to know some friends of Nigel and Jolene’s that we hadn’t previously met. It’s safe to say that they’ve got really nice friends!

{Alex with his friend Chris, who recently “retired” from his job where he worked with Alex}


Saturday was the wedding day! The weather was gorgeous – the best of the weekend. The ceremony and reception were both held outside at Verana, with the ceremony being at the very top of the hill, overlooking the resort and the bay. Their ceremony was lovely – short, sweet, to the point and full of love and aspirations for the future.


From there, we made our way back down to the main hangout area for cocktails, appetizers and chatting before dinner. The feeling of the evening was similar to the previous nights, just with a few extra fun events, like speeches, assigned seating, a little more formal dinner, photos, and a champagne tower. Nigel and Jolene also brought in a DJ that night, so we enjoyed an evening of dancing. One of us enjoyed the dancing so much he twisted his ankle! Oops!



{Alex in his guayabera, a traditional Mexican wedding shirt}
{Alex in his guayabera, a traditional Mexican wedding shirt}

It was very apparent throughout the whole weekend that Nigel and Jolene are very happy together and have a wonderful supportive network of friends who stand behind them. It was a great way to celebrate their new life together.


The trip as a whole was really incredible. We had a great time being adventurers in the Mexican jungle and I think it’s good to get out of your comfort zone every once in a while. Both of us are really glad we went.


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