Three accommodations serve travelers near Chamela Bay 's El Super corner: an emergency-only motel on the highway, bungalows, and a “camping club,” Paraíso Costa Alegre (Km 72, Carretera 200, Barra de Navidad a Puerto Vallarta, tel. 315/333-9778 or 315/333-9777, www.paraisocostalegre.com.mx ). The owners of Paraíso Costa Alegre, who live in Guadalajara, don’t call it a campground because, curiously, in the past their policy has been instead of allowing campers to use their own tents, to rent out one of their stuffy, concrete, tent-shaped constructions. Unfortunately these have fallen out of repair and are unusable. Nevertheless, it’s worth asking about it, for Paraíso Costa Alegre would be a beautiful tent camping spot, where the beach and bay set the mood: soft golden sand, island-silhouetted sunsets, tranquil surf, abundant birds and fish, sometimes whales and dolphins, and occasionally great manta rays leaping from the water offshore.
Even without your own tent you can still enjoy staying in the outdoors by renting one of Paraíso Costa Alegre’s several recently renovated open-air oceanfront Swiss Family Robinson–style cabañas, each with a cooking and eating area and toilet and shower downstairs, and a pair of thatch-roofed bedrooms with soft floor-sleeping pads upstairs.
In addition, you could rent one of the 15 shady spaces in its trailer park with all hookups, right next to the communal showers and toilet. Moreover, the lovely palm-shadowed complex has two tall, elaborate palapa restaurant/bars, a minimarket, drinkable water, hot water, communal showers, toilets, and a laundry.
A minor drawback to all this, besides there being no pool, are the somewhat steep rates: the open-air cabañas go for the same price as a hotel room—about $45 for one or two, $100 for four; the trailer spaces go for about $20 per day or $600 per month. These prices, however, are subject to bargaining and discounts any time other than peak holidays.
Right across the lane from Paraíso Costa Alegre stands the Bungalows Mayar Chamela (Km 72, Carretera Puerto Vallarta, tel. 315/333-9711). The 18 spacious kitchenette- bungalows with fans (no a/c) surround an attractive inner garden and a palmy banana-fringed pool and patio. Although the blue meandering pool and palmy grounds are very inviting, the bungalows themselves have suffered from past neglect. Look inside three or four and make sure that everything is in working order before moving in. If so, the bungalows’ pool and garden setting and the long, lovely Chamela beach just a block away might be perfect for a week or month of tranquil relaxation. If you’re passing through, it might be worthwhile to take a look. Rentals run about $40 d, $75 for four; monthly discounts are available. For reservations (usually not necessary), contact the owner, Gabriel Yañez G. (Obregón 1425 S.L., Guadalajara, Jalisco, tel. 33/3644-0044).
Note: The late summer and fall season is pretty empty on the Chamela Bay beaches. Consequently, food is scarce around Paraíso Costa Alegre and Bungalows Mayar Chamela. Meals, however, are available at the restaurant at the El Super corner, and a few groceries at small stores along the highway nearby, or in San Mateo village a mile south.