Careyes, land of turtles, is a sui-generis stretch of coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Mexico that started off as the vision of Gian Franco Brignone, a crazy Italian financier, in 1968. Today, a few hundred palapas stand tall along the cliffs’ edge overlooking the deep, blue waters, keeping the secrets of all fascinating characters that have swum before them. Here’s a Costa Careyes travel guide, a lesser-visited beach town in Mexico.

Every detail about this place has a reason for being and every element of its formation is surreal: rooms have smooth, rounded corners; every window and terrace has been designed to frame the ocean; the colors of the houses play tricks on your subconscious and inspire pleasure (I’m not even kidding); odes to man and women, like Copa del Sol, can be found in remote corners, and nature preservation is religion. Houses have hidden architectural gems like a hand-woven nest that is perfect for reading; a hot pink, circular patio built just to appreciate a colossal boulder, and mischievous trails that have no purpose other than to make you walk through a beautiful ambush of lavish bougainvilleas.

complete Careyes travel guide

There’s no such thing as clubbing or shopping, only moonlight dinners and dancing around bonfires on the beach.

There are no hotels. only a hundred or so houses, bungalows, and casitas of all sizes, shapes and colors scattered around the coast that you can rent.

There’s no ‘town’, only a little plaza with two restaurants, an art gallery, and a massive white wall where all kinds of silent, nature videos are projected.

complete Careyes travel guide

complete Careyes travel guide

Careyes is the ultimate party for the senses. Here’s a complete Careyes travel guide!

4 full days of your life are needed (at the very least) to absorb Careyes

How to get to Costa Careyes

Take an hour and a half flight from Mexico City to Manzanillo, rent a car and drive an hour up the coast to Careyes. You can’t get lost, it’s almost a straight line there. International flights arrive in Puerto Vallarta but the drive to Careyes is 3 hours long so the layover in Mexico City is worth it!

There are no addresses in Careyes, only house names. You will never lose your way though – the staff of the houses know every single name there is to be known and they have their numbers in case you have friends are staying elsewhere!

complete Careyes travel guide

Where to Stay in Careyes

Careyes is truly surreal. And all the houses you can rent are managed by an impeccable concierge. Prices range depending on the season and the size of the the house but it starts off at $350 USD a night for a beautiful one or two bedroom casita with the whole five start treatment: an ocean view, daily cleaning, making your bed and serving you breakfast. There are also four bungalows directly on Playa Rosa which depending on the seasons start at $320 USD per night.

The private houses and ocean castles that have 360° infinity pools and a full staff so that you don’t have to lift a finger, fit anywhere from 6 to 14 people and they start at $3,000 USD per night.

You can’t go wrong no matter which house, beach bungalow or casita you rent as they all have incredible views of the ocean. On a good day, during whale migration season (mid December till end of March) you can even see the whales swimming from your bed.

Careyes is so small (8 kilometers) that location is not a problem, you’ll always be central.

complete Careyes travel guide

complete Careyes travel guide

Getting Around Careyes

That car you rented from the airport is all you need! You also don’t need an SUV or anything like that – just four wheels to move from A to B. Nothing takes longer than 10 – 20 minutes by car.

Taste (Food in Careyes)

Home-cooked meals are the most delicious choice as all the houses come with a fantastic cook. However, to spice things up you have a few alternatives!

Have lunch one day at Playa Rosa – it is spectacular. A bottle of rosé and freshly made pasta with shrimp alá Tres Chiles is a must.

For healthy salads and paninis or a hearty breakfast, La Coscolina, in Plaza de los Caballeros, is the place for you.

If you’re in the mood for meat or pizza, Punto.Como is where you want to head. It’s across the square from La Coscolina.

If you’re in the mood for a fresh Asian food menu with a Mexican twist on the beach, head over to Cocodrilo Azul. You’ll eat on the beach and dance around the bonfire after dinner! Make sure you ask the concierge first as they’re not open all year round!

Dress up a little to go out – the hippier chic the better!

complete Careyes travel guide

complete Careyes travel guide

complete Careyes travel guide

Careyes travel guide: What to Do in Careyes

Head down to Playa Rosa before breakfast for a swim. There’s no better way start to the day! There’s also a pink bar you can’t miss right there on the beach where they make fresh fruit juices every morning.

You can also start the day with a yoga class in Casa Corazón surrounded by the jungle. This costs 200 MXN or $12 USD.

Rent a boat for a few hours, which of course the concierge will sort out, for $ 80 USD an hour. Witness Careyes from the sea! Get picked up in Playa Rosa after breakfast, go to Paraiso (beach), and come back for lunch.

About 20 minutes away from Careyes there’s are a few beaches called Careyitos, Piratas and Arroyo Seco where you can go surfing. Remember, it’s the Pacific – the waves are perfect for just that!

Drive over to Copa del Sol to watch the sunset and get ready to be awed. Don’t forget to the most important element: a cooler with drinks! I also love to get take out at night from one of the restaurants and drive to La Copa to see the stars.

Teopa is a 6 km-long virgin beach with nothing and no one. Afternoon walks there are surreal, you’ll be the only one there. Make your way to the turtle sanctuary located on the left hand corner of the beach. When the eggs have hatched the newborns are released on the beach to make their way to the sea at around sunset. You’ll see hundred of baby turtles!

You can’t leave Careyes without seeing Mi Ojo, Tigre del Mar and Oriente – three of Careyes’ most iconic houses! The concierge organizes all of this for you, for free.

Spend the day lounging on the palm tree mats with a book in Playa Rosa.

I also love to just spend the day by the pool sipping margaritas de Jamaica listening to music and chilling with friends!

complete Careyes travel guide

complete Careyes travel guide

Go horseback riding on the beach around sunset – Careyes has over 80 polo ponies. The ride costs $100 USD and it’s very much worth it.

If it’s polo season (during November, December and Easter) head over to the polo fields, located just before Teopa, after lunch. Have a drink and mingle! There are usually dinners and parties organized in the horse stables and in some of the houses, that everyone is free to join – they’re very fun and a great chance to take a peek inside.

Careyes can be as active or as chill as you want it to be. The great thing about the concierge is that they make everything happen at the snap of your fingers and if it’s Easter, Chinese New Years, December or something of the sort – there will be parties or drinks or dinners happening somewhere every single night and everyone is always invited. It’s also Mexico – meaning you can arrive late, confirm attendance last minute, not confirm, go for five minutes, or sleep over(kidding not kidding).

complete Careyes travel guide

complete Careyes travel guide

complete Careyes travel guide

What happens in Careyes, stays in Careyes – it’s our golden rule!

The author of this article is Andrea Wild Botero, who runs the site The Bird in Space. Devout art lover, art historian by education, gallerist/dealer/enthusiast by profession, writer and traveler at all times. She’s Colombian by birth and a nomad to the core who is currently based in Mexico City (although I’ve never lived more than 5 years in one place)! Her blog, The Bird in Space, was born in 2012 and it’s is series of alternative travel guides for first-timers & local art-minded, aesthetic, ever-curious nomads. It’s where you come to discover the world with different eyes because she believes that travel changes lives and art prolongs it. Connect with her on Instagram.