The BEST way to get from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido

The BEST way to get from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido

Getting from Oaxaca City to the popular beach town of Puerto Escondido, Mexico is surprisingly difficult, considering it’s only around 140 miles. This is due to the dense jungle clad mountains lying between the two, meaning that you either need to take an 11 hour coach ride around the mountains, a bumpy 6 hour minibus through the mountains, or, as we did, opt for an adventurous 30 minute flight over them.

A quick Google search brought up a couple of old blog posts from travellers who had tracked down and flown with the elusive AeroVega. Since there really wasn’t a huge amount of information around the flying to Puerto Escondido option when we were researching how to get there, we decided to write this blog post to help anyone else who may be facing the same dilemma we did. 

Flying from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido (or vice-versa) is the most expensive choice but it’s also the fastest, arguably the most comfortable and definately the most adventurous. If you’re on a budget, have lots of time or like overnight buses then you should absolutely take the road option. If like us, you prefer to spend more time in your destination and like a bit of adventure, read on!

There are actually a couple of options for flights from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido. The first is the small airline ‘Aero Tucan’ who operate daily flights.

The second is the option we took; ‘AeroVega’

I never managed to find a website but eventually I tracked down an email address for Señor Vega who is the pilot, CEO, baggage handler and every other role you can think of. I emailed him with our dates and then waited patiently for a reply. We’d set our minds on flying we were worried that he might be booked up or unavailable but we needn’t have feared, a few days later I received the short reply that yes, 2 persons to PE, 2000 pesos each. Excitedly I replied to confirm details and several days later, again received a brief reply saying to meet at 8.45am in the ‘general aviation’ building (next to the main terminal). Nothing resembling a ticket was provided. Just the email.

Oaxaca airport 'general aviation' building

Reassured from reading the experiences of others that this informality is totally normal, we arrived at the airport in good time, and waited. There was no security, no X-rays, no desk. We just sat in a small waiting area and waited. Eventually Señor Vega turned up around 9.30am and we were asked to write our names down on a piece of paper. He took our backpacks off us and after another 15 mins we walked out onto the tarmac and were lead to our single propeller, 4 seater plane.

inside the plane to Puerto Escondido

Which looked like something that had seen better days! I laughingly tried to reassure a slightly panicked looking Steve that although it was about the same size as the 1985 Fiat Panda I used to drive, it was undoubtedly a ‘good runner’ that had made the trip many times. Apart from the four seats, there was a small space in the back where our backpacks were stored and that was it. 

back of the plane with aero Vega

Steve and I sat in the two back seats while another passenger had the privilege of sitting in the co pilots seat next to Sen Vega. As the engine started and we bounced along towards the runway, we looked at each other and wondered if this was the end…. 

And then we were up!

The tiny plane felt every breath of wind and turbulence as we went through the clouds but the views over the jungle mountains were spectacular. It’s not often that you get to feel like a bird soaring in the azure blue sky. The lack of cabin pressurisation unfortunately meant that my ears hurt like a MF for the last part of the flight but it was all over pretty quickly.

views from the plane flying from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido

Finally we could see the coast, and then the runway of the small Puerto Escondido airport coming into view. Trusting that Señor Vega, having made this trip a few thousand times, knew what he was doing, we nevertheless found the steep angle that he took to land rather disconcerting. We needn’t have worried, he landed the tiny plane like a dragonfly on a leaf.

After we ‘exited’ the plane and removed our bags from the back we all walked towards the airport building together. We didn’t even have to go inside! Just handed over the $4000 pesos in cash and were let out through a gate at the side of the building which led straight to the entrance. From there we were able to find a taxi to take us to our accommodation. Easy as pie.

I hope this helps anyone who is trying to work out their options for getting from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido. Would you have done as we did and taken the flight? Or do you prefer to take the longer, cheaper route?

 

Aero Vega

Cost = $2000 MEX per person (single trip) cash on arrival

Journey time = 35 minutes

Adventure points = 100

How to spend 5 days in Guanajuato

How to spend 5 days in Guanajuato

Ah Guanajuato. Charming, quaint and rather hard on the legs! 

On our recent trip to Mexico we spent 5 days in this picturesque, colonial city in the heart of the country. Overall we loved it but it wasn’t all roses and unicorns. In this guide we’ll share the things we did and what we loved about Guanajuato, plus the stuff we didn’t love quite so much, in case you ever decide to visit. Which you absolutely should.

We went during June and the weather was, well, perfect. The 6600ft altitude meant that whilst the days were hot and sunny it wasn’t humid, and the night temperatures were cool enough to sleep without air con. Heaven. Having come from the unrelentingly steamy west coast we were very grateful for the respite.

Where to stay in Guanajuato

We stayed in a private room at Hostel Casa De Dante, partly because it came highly rated and partly because we were ready to meet some other travellers. We try and do that every now and again so we get to speak with other people and don’t and up killing each other; one of the challenges of couple travel when you live in each others pockets. 

Overall it was pretty good. Our room was comfy enough and the staff were helpful and friendly. The breakfast was the best we’ve had in any hostel anywhere so far in Mexico with fresh juice, fruit and a hot dish each morning. We even arrived back one day to find a Union Jack flag on our balcony, which was a cute surprise.

Our hostel balcony in Guanajuato, decorated with a Union Jack flag to help us feel at home?

Can you guess which room was ours?

 

What we weren’t quite prepared for was the location. Although clearly stated upon booking that ‘the property is located on the top of a hill and is accessed by a long, steep stairway of 150 steps’ we really weren’t prepared for what that actually mean’t. Because of the way the city lies within the mountains, the steps were VERY steep, uneven and 150 felt like a lot more than it sounds. At the high altitude and carrying backpacks, it was tough!

the steep steps to reach our hostel in Guanajuato

 No need to go to the gym in Guanajuato!

 

Plus side, we got awesome views from the roof terrace. Downside, we had to walk up and down the stairs anytime we wanted to go out which, sadly, due to the patchy wifi or desire to use the cooking facilities, was pretty often.  

Unless you’re staying right in the heart of the Guanajuato (in which case you are probably going to get a lot of noise) this is a city that requires a lot of walking and up and down steep steps. If you’re young and/or fit, lucky you! We found it quite a lot of hard work.

 

Things to do in Guanajuato City

So apart from getting a decent leg workout, what else is there to do in Guanajuato? Thanks to the University, one of oldest in Latin America, this is a city with a cool, laid back, youthful vibe. There is an energy and a diversity that gives it a modern feel, which seems a bit at odds with the strong colonial architecture and history but adds to the city’s uniqueness.

 

Wander the streets and marvel at the beautiful architecture

Established in 1548, Guanajuato was an influential colonial city due to it’s abundance of mineral wealth. Some stories from the pre-hispanic era report that gold nuggets could be found just lying on the ground and that the Aztecs established a presence there to collect metals for their religious elite.

Once the Spanish found the gold they soon sent soldiers and started mining the rich veins. One of the mines was so rich that, at it’s height, it was responsible for two thirds of the worlds silver production. The wealth of the city at that time resulted in the construction of particularly magnificent churches, some of which are considered to be the most beautiful examples of Baroque architecture in Central and South America, influencing later buildings throughout central Mexico. Wander around the city centre and you can’t really miss two of the highlights; Templo de la Compañia and Bascilica de Guanajuato

 

One of the finest baroque churches in latin America,Templo De La Compañía, Guanajuato

Templo de la Compañia is considered to be one of the finest examples of baroque architecture in Latin America

 

Hard to miss! The basilica de Guanajuato

 Strikingly yellow hued Bascilica de Guanajuato

 

Guanajuato is a city of brightly painted houses that spill down the mountainsides in a kaleidoscope of colours. The old mining tunnels, now turned into roads, criss cross below a city that appears deceptively small. Definitely the best way to appreciate Guanajuato is to just walk and get lost in the steep, narrow streets. When you’re not sure which way to go, just head downhill and you’ll eventually reach the town centre.

Old mining tunnels now used as roads and Pipila statue above the city of Guanajuato, Mexico

The maze of old mining tunnels, now roads, help keep the traffic off the streets in the centre.

 

Hang out at Jardin Unión

At the centre of Guanajuato is the main square ‘Jardin Unión.’ Here you’ll find the usual assortment of restaurants, bars and hotels surrounding a densely shaded plaza which, in the evenings, also plays host to numerous mariachi bands that vie with each other to play for the tourists. This is also the location of Starbucks, worth knowing if you need decent wifi, like we did when in Guanajuato. 

 

Enjoy dinner and mariachi music in El Jardin Unión 

 

Ride the funicular and visit ‘El Pilpa’

Overlooking Jardin Unión is the monument of local hero ‘El Pilpa.’ He can be reached either by a 15 minute hike up the steep steps, or by taking the funicular train just behind Jardin Unión. We found the best option was to go up in the funicular, which only takes a few minutes, then back down the steps. As a bonus, there’s some cool street art on the sides of the houses most of the route down. Also, marvel at how anyone can live in such hard to reach places – after all, there’s no Asda home delivery here!

Give your legs a break and take the funicular for the best views in Guanajuato

Trust us, take the funicular up to the top

 

Statue of local hero 'Pipila' in Guanajuato

El Pilpa was having some work done while we were there, but still impressive.

 

Take the steps back down and enjoy some street art along the way

 

After all that effort and excitement you’ll no doubt be ready for a sit down and some refreshment. At the bottom of the stairs as you head back towards the town centre there’s a trendy little gastropub that serves good food called La Santurrona which we ate at and can recommend.

 La Santurrona makes a great pitstop

 

Get romantic at ‘El callejon del beso’

Other things to do in Guanajuato include having a snog in  ‘El Callejon del beso’ or ‘alley of the kiss’. In true Romeo and Juliet style, legend has it that in Guanajuato there once lived a girl who fell in love with a lad from the wrong side of the tracks. Unable to be together due to the girl’s father’s disapproval, the young man rented the room across from the daughter’s which, due to the very narrow alleyway meant that they could lean out from the balconies and kiss. Sadly the tale has a tragic ending, with the father finding out and killing his daughter, but tourists still flock to the alley where it’s said that if you share a kiss on the third step, true love will be yours forever.

Seal your love for 7 years with a kiss in Callejón del beso, Guanajuato

 Best not to take chances with true love!

 

Get creeped out at ‘Museo de las momias’

One place we really didn’t enjoy was Guanajuato’s premier tourist attraction the ‘mummies museum.’ Containing the gruesomely well preserved remains of some of the towns deceased residents, whose families were unable to pay the burial tax dating back as far as 1870. Due to an outbreak of cholera in 1829, cemetery space in the town was running out so the local authorities introduced a new ‘burial tax’ to enable bodies to remain at rest in perpetuity. Those unable to pay the tax had their loved ones disinterred and stored in a nearby building. Some of the bodies remained weirdly well preserved (thought to be due to the dry climate) and by the 1900’s these ‘mummies’ started attracting tourists and the caretakers began to charge a small fee to view them.

Today, the museum is one of the most popular attractions in Guanajuato and a reminder of the cultural difference in how death is reviled by us Brits yet celebrated by Mexicans. We found it uncomfortable and creepy and couldn’t wait to get out. The Mexicans, on the other hand, were happily smiling and taking selfies with the mummies!

If you’re of a sensitive disposition you may want to skip this particular attraction.

Creep yourself out at the Mommies museum, Guanajuato

Not for the faint hearted ‘El museo de las momias’

Where to eat in Guanajuato

There isn’t a shortage of good food options in Guanajuato, with everything from tasty cheap street food to high end restaurants. Some of the places we ate at and can recommend include:

La vie en rose  Owned by a french family, this gorgeously decorated cute cafe offers beautiful cuisine that’s a welcome change if you’ve had enough of tacos.

Truco 7 Authentic yet quirky Mexican decor and decent food with a good menu selection

Santo Cafe Cosy atmosphere with a good selection of affordable food, plus some vegetarian options.

 

cute cafe Santo in GuanajuatoCoverted seats at Santo Cafe 

Do a day trip to San Miguel De Allende

If you don’t have time to go and stay in the UNESCO World Heritage city of San Miguel De Allende, it’s totally possible to catch the bus and do a day trip from Guanajuato. We did just that and you can read about our top 5 things to do in San Miguel de Allende.

We used Uber to get from our accommodation to the bus station and always had a great experience, knew what we would be paying up front and never waited more than 5 minutes for a driver. Other than taking the local ‘chicken’ buses or ‘collectivo’ minivans, it’s the cheapest way to go. Just be aware that it isn’t available everywhere in Mexico yet.

 

Other stuff we didn’t get chance to do in Guanajuato

There were plenty of things we didn’t get chance to do in Guanajuato and would do if we ever decide to go back. For example, we never made it to the home of the celebrated Mexican artist Diego Rivera, which is a now a museum showcasing some of his works. Or either of the two theatres, which apparently have wonderful musical performances for a modest entrance fee. We also didn’t bother to join one of the nightly troubadour tours, which, for around £10, sees you serenaded around the city by a gang of velvet clad musician/tour guides.

Something we’ve learned on our tour around Mexico is that if we try to cram everything in each time we visit a new place, we get burned out pretty quick! Long term travel as digital nomads requires a balance of being tourists, having days off where you just chill out and watch Netflix, as well as working. So we don’t beat ourselves up now when we don’t manage to see everything. Anyway, it gives us an excuse to return one day 😉

 

So, should you put Guanajuato on your bucket list? Definitely yes. Just remember to do your leg stretches first.

5 reasons you need to visit San Miguel De Allende, Mexico

5 reasons you need to visit San Miguel De Allende, Mexico

Whether you go for a day or a month, the UNESCO World Heritage site of San Miguel De Allende should definitely be high on your list of places to visit in Mexico. With a climate often described as perfect, and beautiful colonial architecture thanks to its importance as a silver mining city during the 1700’s, San Miguel is a tasteful mixture of both Mexican and the Canadian/American residents who have chosen to settle here. Rich in history, the city also played an important role during the revolution, as the first city in Mexico to declare independence from Spain.

Still not convinced you need to visit this cultural gem? After a day spent investigating the city, hopefully you’ll be convinced by our 5 top reasons you should definitely go to San Miguel De Allende:

 

1) It was voted the Best Small City in the World

 

If you’ve never heard of Mexico’s San Miguel De Allende, don’t worry, neither had we until last year when it was picked as 2017’s best small city in the world by Condé Nast voters. Intrigued, we immediately put it on our list of ‘must visit’ places in Mexico to see if it lived up to the hype. 

So you don’t just need to take our word for it!

2017’s best Small City in the World. Fact.

 

 

2) It’s picture perfect

 

San Miguel is absolutely stuffed full of gorgeous little cobbled streets and plazas and it’s colonial style buildings maintain a consistent, tasteful theme of terracotta hues. There’s a romantic, unspoiled charm about the city, partly thanks to the laws that were passed to safeguard it from modernisation, meaning you won’t find any traffic lights or neon signs, for example.

At an altitude of around 6000ft what you will find are plenty of views out over the mountains. So, whether you’re into finding the best Insta-worthy spots for a killer picture or simply prefer to find a shady plaza to just sit and take in all the scenery, you’re going to be spoilt for choice in San Miguel De Allende.

We enjoyed just wandering around some of the streets to the south of the centre, finding tucked away boutique shops and soaking up the ambiance.

Exploring the streets in San Miguel De Allende

 

 

3) It’s foodie heaven

 

You’re not going to find it hard to find great places to eat or drink in San Miguel. We highly recommend trying brunch at Néctar . This utterly charming little restaurant offers an organic veggie/vegan menu and also has a great tea and coffee selection. Steve particularly loved the Vietnamese iced coffee, the perfect way to cool down after wandering the lanes. The food and service are top notch but what really sets this restaurant apart are the many nectar feeders decorating the courtyard which attract multitudes of hummingbirds. Who wouldn’t want to watch these adorable little birds flitting about over tea?

Have some tea at Néctar, you won’t regret it!

Later on, when you’re in need of refreshment, you can enjoy cocktails and tapas at Luna rooftop bar, located in the Rosewood building. As well as top notch food and drinks, you get the best view in the city. This restaurant isn’t the cheapest option in town but it’s worth the splurge and a memorable way to finish the day.

Views over San Miguel De Allende from Luna Rooftop Bar

 

 

4) Marvel at the beautiful churches

 

We thought we’d seen enough baroque/gothic churches during our journeying around Mexico and San Miguel has it’s fair share, but we couldn’t help but be particularly awed by the pastel pink La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel which lies adjacent to the main square ‘El Jardin.’ It even reminded us a bit of a mini Sagrada Familia. The plaza itself is the perfect place to rest out of the sun and admire the church since ornate benches lie under the dense shade provided by huge square pruned Indian Laurel trees. This is the perfect place to sit and people watch.

 

Beautifully ornate and so pretty in pink La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel

 

 

5) Shopping at the ‘Mercados’

 

I’m a sucker for hand crafted jewellery and love perusing the little market stalls that usually fill the plazas in Mexico. San Miguel De Allende has a mix of both these kinds of souvenir item, plus high end boutique clothing and art if that’s more your thing. The markets (or ‘mercados’) themselves form part of everyday life here rather than being a novelty for tourists, since locals will shop at them too. As such, there’s a strong emphasis on local ingredients and artisan crafts. Two of the principle markets you can easily check out are Mercado de Artisanias and Mercado San Juan de Dios. Both have locally made, traditional craft and food items and are open daily. They are just a five minute walk from the main square and provide a great chance to interact with the locals, as well as shop.

 

We had a fantastic day exploring San Miguel and can honestly say that it probably is worth all the hype. Whilst the sizeable ex pat community means you are more likely to hear English spoken than Spanish in some parts, something we generally try to avoid, don’t let that put you off! If we’ve managed to convince you that you really do need to go visit and you’re wondering how to get there, here are some tips to help plan your visit:

 

Getting to San Miguel De Allende

 

Because we were staying close by in Guanajuato (and running out of days), we decided to do a day trip rather then stay in San Miguel De Allende. As a small city, you can see most of the sights fairly easily in a day. That said, we could happily have spent more time there and plan on returning another time to do the things we didn’t have time to do, like visit some of the museums.

Getting to San Miguel De Allende from Guanajuato is an easy 1.5hr bus ride from the main bus station, costing around £10 per person. We used Primera Plus and got a luxury bus with comfy reclining seats, air con, movies and a loo. When you arrive in San Miguel, come out the bus station and hop onto any of the local buses that say ‘Centro’ on them and head towards the main plaza ‘El Jardin.’ It takes about 10 mins and costs around 50p. We would usually use Uber but the buses in San Miguel De Allende were so easy it was worth saving a few pounds. There are also plenty of bright green taxi’s if you prefer to go that route.

Have we convinced you to visit San Miguel De Allende? Maybe you’ve already been; did we miss anything off our list? We’d love to know what you think so tell us know in the comments.

Day Trip to Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Day Trip to Vallarta Botanical Gardens

I love a good garden. Maybe it’s a sign of my age (shhh!) but I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a day than wandering around looking at beautiful plants and flowers. Unless it’s a day that involves birds too, then I’m really in heaven! So you can imagine how excited I was when Steve agreed with me that a trip to visit the Vallarta Botanical Gardens was in order. Having read rave reviews about it we had high expectations, and we weren’t disappointed.

Having gotten used to the Mexican buses we decided to get up early and catch the one that should take us all the way there in 45 mins. I’d read several reliable sources that said the bus runs every 30 mins from the corner of Aguacate and Carranza so we grabbed some tea to go from a cafe and made our way there. The lack of any discernible sign of a bus stop doesn’t seem to be an issue here and after a few minutes anxious waiting the bus duly appeared and stopped to let us on. For 25 pesos each (£1) plus seats together that weren’t even broken, it was definitely the way to go.

We got off right outside the entrance to the gardens, made our way in and discovered that we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Even better! After the gong show noisiness of the tourist zones of PV, the peace and quiet of the gardens were like a tonic. I could already hear the exotic calls of birds that I didn’t recognise and was dying to start spotting! Ok, ok, so I’m a bit of a birder. It’s not that strange, honest!

The entrance to Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Anyway, we made our way down to the entrance and paid the 200 pesos each to get in (about £8). We were ready for breakfast by this stage and having read lots of glowing reviews about the restaurant we made our way to the main building. The restaurant is upstairs and has a fantastic view of the jungle valley. There are humming bird feeders thoughtfully placed along the terrace (although we only saw one as it’s not humming bird season) plus a feeding station within easy view. This was attracting a large variety of brightly coloured birds and we sat and had a magnificent breakfast whilst enjoying spotting these beautiful creatures. I was even able to hire some binoculars. Which was just as well or Steve would have been stoping me climbing over the rail trying to get even closer!

A tasty breakfast at Vallarta Botanical Gardens

We identified some of the birds as: San Blas Jay, Green Jay and the striking yellow-winged Cacique. Not having the photography equipment to get good pictures ourselves, the pics below are for reference only (all credit to the photographers)

Honestly I probably could have sat there happily all day. But we knew there was the rest of the gardens to explore so we set off and wandered around the some of the paths admiring the plants and more birds and just enjoying the peace and nature at it’s best.

We decided to hike one of the long trails that led down to the river and had planned on potentially swimming as it’s safe to do so at this time of the year while the river is low. The path there was great fun. Not as challenging as our hike to ‘Las Animas’ but steep and twisty in places and we hardly saw any other people either. After about forty five minutes we arrived at the end of the trail and discovered a stunning natural pool in between little waterfalls where it looked safe to have a dip. The water looked so invitingly cool after our hike, and having reassured Steve that I didn’t think there were any crocodiles around, we jumped in.

Hiking the jungle trails along the river at Vallarta Botanical Gardens

a refreshing swim in the river at Vallarta Botanical Gardens

I don’t even know how long we spent splashing around in the river. Time kind of stands still here and being able to just kick back and not worry about anything is an amazing feeling. There wasn’t any phone signal, or wifi, so no distractions. It was utterly perfect.

In the end though we did have to leave and head back to the hacienda. We choose a different trail back and again enjoyed the feeling of being explorers in the jungle and spotting more birds. When we did get back we decided to stay and have some lunch as breakfast had been so good. So we got to repeat the experience of enjoying great Mexican food whilst watching the birds enjoying theirs on the feeding station.

I know we keep banging on about how amazing everything is here but seriously, it is! We totally recommend visiting the Botanical Gardens if you get the chance. Just remember to take your swimwear too!

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Vallarta! Part 2 – Paradise Found at Las Caletas

Adventures in Vallarta! Part 2 – Paradise Found at Las Caletas

After our whale-watching and outdoor adventure days, plus a weekend jungle hike to see some beaches on the coast, it was time for the third trip we had booked with Vallarta Adventures, and our final relaxation day before a few days of hard work ahead.

I know, what a tough life.

#3 – Las Caletas

Our third of three tours booked with Vallarta Adventures took us to a private, secluded beach, just north of Yelapa. ‘Las Caletas’ was once the home of Hollywood director John Huston who apparently fell in love with the area after visiting in the 1960’s while filming ‘The Night of the Iguana’.  The story goes that although he loved Puerto Vallarta, he wanted a place even more isolated and away from the daily toil. Las Caletas was his choice for a home so he leased it in the 1970’s from the Chacala Indians and lived there for almost two decades, until his health forced him back to the USA. His daughter, the famous Oscar-winning actress, Anjelica Huston, said:

“He found great happiness there in his last years … in the jungle, beside the sea, lit by the stars.”

Since Vallarta Adventures has exclusive access to Las Caletas, we figured it’d be nice way to spend a day and to get some time on a beach without too many people, or too many ‘hawkers’ offering jewellery, ceramics, snacks, cigars, kitchen sinks etc.

paradise found at las caletas

Another early morning, and once more we arrived about an hour earlier than we needed to – the woman we booked with appears to have got all her timings earlier than they actually were. After some much-needed caffeine, we got onto a boat with around 80 other people and headed on over. The boat we went on this time was bigger than the ones we’d been on previously, and we were given some breakfast – the catch being we had to put up with the loud music and dancing from the staff…

Once we arrived, the masses piled off and went over to the restaurants for breakfast, whilst we stayed behind on a small beach area with hammocks and just sunbathed for about half hour in peace. Once the crowds had dissipated, we got some hot drinks and stumbled across some parrots! There were military macaws, cockatoos and some of the smaller orange fronted parakeets, ubiquitous to this part of Mexico. These little ones were my personal favourite. After the parrots we saw some flamingos under the little bridge area and got some more photos before we searched for a place to soak up the rays for a while, whilst everyone jumped on all the kayaks, snorkels and paddle boards.

Once these areas got a bit less crowded, we decided we wanted to try paddle boarding for the first time; it’s harder than it looks! Anthea was first to manage to stand up, whereas on my first try I didn’t even get off my knees before falling into the water. My second attempt was more successful, and I successfully stood for a whole 5 seconds, before falling off and losing my sunglasses into the water. I asked a nearby snorkeler, who had a magnificent moustache, if he was able to see them, and he very kindly dived down and retrieved them. What a guy, and what a moustache! We both finally were able to successfully stand and navigate around with a reasonable degree of efficiency, and although there weren’t many fish in the area (it was netted off around 150 yards out to sea) we did see some incredibly colourful fish shooting around.

After our reasonably successful exertion into the world of paddle-boarding, it was time to take advantage of the open bar. I started speaking Spanish with one of the waiters who I’d asked about getting some food, and before I knew it, he’d put three different types of alcoholic drinks into my hand and sent me on my way. Side note: Kahlua with cold milk and ice is incredible. Anyway, we stopped for some pictures with a random tiny parrot that was hanging around the clay sculpting stand, and on our way to find a place for lunch, I saw the flamingos out from their enclosure and being fed! I squealed a little (a lot) and hurriedly called Anthea over, who made a similar noise in reaction. We got to hand feed the flamingos, get pictures, and Anthea even got given a souvenir feather that was being shed by one of the birds.

paradise beach las caletas is a bird lovers heaven

Some more parrot play ensued, including my arm being ‘attacked’ by my two little friends; one of them got to trust me and started to happily clamber on and off me, until we got asked not to put them on my shoulder by one of the handlers that turned up. I think she thought we were picking them up and putting them on our shoulders, but I was just holding my arm a little distance away and after a while he was just jumping on – he was loving it!

We had some lunch (and more kahlua crema), then got to hold a spider monkey for a photo before being signalled back on to the boat to head back to shore. Overall, a good day, but although we were at the beach for around 4-5 hours, it didn’t seem long enough to relax on the beach after eating and trying the activities. The definite highlights were the birds and the paddle boarding. A good day all around!

 

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