At Km 74, a sign marks a paved road to Playas Fortuna and Perula. About two miles downhill, right on the beach, you can’t miss the bright-yellow stucco Hotel, Bungalows, and Trailer Park Playa Dorada (Perula, Km 76, Carretera 200 Melaque–Puerto Vallarta, tel. 315/333-9710, fax 315/333-9709, www.playa-dorada.com.mx ). More a motel than bungalows, its three tiers of very plain rooms and suites with kitchenettes are nearly empty except on weekends and Mexican holidays.
Playa Dorada’s two saving graces, however, are the beach, which curves gracefully to the scenic little fishing nook of Perula, and its inviting palm-shaded pool and patio. The best-situated rooms are on the top floor, overlooking the ocean. The 46 attractively painted rooms sleeping two or three rent for about $55; 15 kitchenette units sleeping four go for about $75, all with air-conditioning and parking. Discounts are customarily available for weekly rentals.
Folks who take one of the dozen trailer spaces in the bare lot across the street are welcome to lounge all day beneath the palms of the pool and patio. Spaces rent for about $18/day, $500/month with all hookups and showers and toilets.
It’s easy to miss the low-profile Hotel Punta Perula (Perula, Km 76, Carretera 200, Melaque–Puerto Vallarta, tel. 315/333-9782), just one block inland from the Bungalows Playa Dorada. This homey place seems like a scene from Old Mexico (which also means it has no pool, of course), with a rustic white stucco tier of rooms enclosing a spacious green garden and venerable tufted grove. Its 14 clean, gracefully decorated colonial-style fan-equipped rooms go for about $25 d one bed, $37 d or t two beds, except for Christmas and Easter holidays. Bargain for lower long-term rates.
Also occupying the same luscious beachfront nearby is Red Snapper RV Park and Restaurant (P.O. Box 42, Melaque, Jalisco 48980, tel. 315/333-9784, redsnapper [at] hotmail [dot] com, $14/day, $80/wk, $325/mo), life project of friendly North American owners Harry, Carmen, and Bonnie Adams. Here, what you see is what you get: a dozen largely shadeless fenced-in spaces with all hookups (including 30-amp power), showers, toilets, washing machine, beachfront restaurant palapa on gorgeous Chamela Bay, ripe for surf or boat fishing (launch right from the beach), surfing, and sailboarding. A 15-foot, 25-horsepower Zodiac is available for fishing.