La Buena Vida (cell 6572-0664, www.labuenavida.biz , US$55 s/d, US$11 more for each additional person, US$5 children under 18) opened in 2007 with just three cabañas, but the owners are planning to build more eventually. A good thing, too, as the accommodations are the nicest in Santa Catalina . It’s just down the street from Cabañas Sol y Mar , and like it, is just a few minutes’ walk from the ocean, but a bit of a hike to the nearest surf break .
It’s a cute little complex that includes a gift shop selling local handicrafts and a terrace café/restaurant that’s a pleasant spot for a meal or drink. The place is owned and operated by Mike and Michelle, a friendly young couple from Alaska. Michelle is also a massage therapist who offers massages for US$60 an hour.
The cabañas have different designs, but are equally pleasant. The split-level Bird Room sleeps four and has two double beds and a desk upstairs. The Butterfly Room accommodates up to five; its most memorable feature is the outdoor (but private) shower. The newest when I visited was the Gecko Villa, which is the most whimsical and charming yet. Geckos feature throughout, from a giant tile gecko along the shower to another one right above the bed; its eyes are reading lights.
All are spacious and have air-conditioning, a ceiling fan, screened windows, a fridge, and a private terrace and hammocks. Guests also have access to a binder stuffed with local tips about anything you could possibly ask. There are loving touches throughout the complex, such as pretty mosaic-tile designs and tree branches that have been left alone to grow in and around the buildings.