For hotel-style lodging, go to Coconuts-by-the-Sea (tel. 314/338-6315, www.coconutsbythesea.com , $75 d low season, $90 d high). Owners Bob and Clessie Jones offer four spacious kitchenette guest rooms with fans, air-conditioning, king-size beds, fans and air-conditioning, satellite TV with HBO, and hot showers with plenty of water in a big hillside house. It features view verandas, hammocks, a pool, and just a short downhill walk from creamy Boca de Iguanas beach.
Second choice goes to nearby Camping Trailer Park Boca Beach (Km 16.5 Carretera Melaque–Puerto Vallarta, tel. 317/381-0393, fax 317/381-0342, bocabeach [at] hotmail [dot] com), with about 50 camping and RV spaces shaded beneath a majestic rustling grove. In 10 years, friendly owners Michel and Bertha Billot (he’s French, she’s Mexican) have built up their little paradise, surviving hurricanes and a 1995 tidal wave by trying harder. Their essentials are in place: electricity, water, showers, toilets, and about 40 spaces with sewer hookups. Much of their five acres is undeveloped and would be fine for tent campers who prefer privacy with the convenience of fresh water, a small store, and congenial company at tables beneath a rustic palapa. RV rates run about $17 per day, back from the beach, $26 on the beach, $500 per month for motor home, trailer, or van, including electricity for air-conditioning. Camping runs about $7 per day per group; add $3 for two kids.
The original Boca de Iguanas pocket paradise, Camping and Trailer Park Boca de Iguanas (Km 16.5, Carretera Melaque–Puerto Vallarta, P.O. Box 93, Melaque, Jalisco 48987), got everything started here by succeeding where the big old hotel down the beach failed. Instead of fighting the jungle, the manager has coexisted with it. A big crocodile lives in the mangrove-lined lotus marsh at the edge of the trailer park. “When the crocodile gets too close to my ducks,” the manager told me “I drive him back into the mangrove where he belongs. This end of the mangrove is ours, the other side is his.” (At this writing, the big crocodile has disappeared; but another probably will soon appear to take his place.)
The trailer park offers 40 sandy, shaded spaces for tents and RVs, including electricity, well water for showering, flushing, and laundry, bottled water for drinking, and a dump station. A loyal cadre of American and Canadian regulars stays here all winter. The trailer park includes an “authentically rustic” run-down kitchenette bungalow that sleeps four for $28 per day. Reserve by mail, generally necessary only during Christmas or Easter week. Rates run about $14 per RV for two persons. Add $5 per additional person. Tent camping runs $5 per person.