By Marissa Isgreen
COLORADO-The seven-day streak of single-digit winter weather is wearing on you. Each time you throw on an extra coat, double wrap a scarf around your neck and trudge out to start your protesting car, you curse your decision to move to Colorful Colorado.
It’s time for a vacation.
Cozumel, Mexico, is nice this time of year, but it’s littered with tourists. Arizona is warm, but your idea of a vacation is farther then a state away. What about getting off the beaten path and trying the tiny town of Lo De Marcos, Mexico?
Lo De Marcos is a small town of about 2,500. Quaint cobblestone streets wind west through town to the mile-long curved beach.
Conveniently located just an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, Lo De Marcos makes a perfect home base for a trip to Riviera Nayarit, a 200-mile stretch of coastline between San Blas and Nuevo Vallarta. It’s located on the main highway, buses come into town to pick up passengers and it’s close to many other attractions. The tight-knit community is a healthy blend of retired snowbirds from Canada and the U.S., tourists from inland and the locals of Lo De Marcos.
Traveling Riviera Nayarit can be a tourist trap, or a wonderful window into the local culture off the beaten path. Here are five activities you should experience while visiting Lo de Marcos.
Watch the sunset beachside in San Francisco (San Pancho)
People from around the world travel to this village exclusively to watch the sun dip below the crashing waves. A combination of dangerous waves, jagged rocks, and a latitude of 20.9 degrees north produces vibrant pink and orange sunsets– and a sun so close you could snatch it out of the sky.
Don’t forget to plan for transportation home because the buses will have stopped running by the time the sun sets.
Go whale watching… with a local
Sure, you could hire a professional whale-watching company, spend at least 100 bucks per person and maybe see a whale. Or, you could sit on the beach enjoying a Pacifico, watch a whale breach the ocean and hit up that local boatman who’s been asking if you want to go whale watching for a week now. The locals go out on your schedule, know where to find the whales and will give you an insider’s perspective. Plus, it’ll cost around 300 pesos per person, that’s about $22.
Breakfast at Olivia’s
Olivia’s is a quaint little palapa restaurant centrally located on Lo De Marcos’s beach. The menu is conveniently printed in English and Spanish, and the servers graciously help their customers practice Spanish by ordering off the menu. One of my favorite Olivia’s dishes is chorizo-style scrambled eggs accompanied by fried potatoes, refried beans and handmade tortillas for 26 pesos, or roughly $2.
Spend the day at Playa de Los Venados
Only located about one mile from Lo De Marcos, this secluded beach is perfect for a day trip. Getting to Los Venados is an easy hike on a country road to the next headland. The beach is known for its enormous waves and scarcity of people. Venture to the north end of the beach and view tiny ecosystems living in the rock’s crevasses. Amidst the small striped fish and camouflaged crabs, tiny fluorescent blue fish can be spotted darting out of sight.
This beach has one family-run restaurant serving fresh fish caught every morning. Indulge in a coco frio made from fresh coconut, and don’t forget to sample the fish tacos. Which brings me to…
Eat street tacos
Street tacos are an authentic, traditional Mexican food bursting with flavor. My favorite was a hole in the wall place that serves the best “tacos al pastor” in all of Nayarit. The shop is located on the right side as you’re walking towards the beach on the main drag in Lo De Marcos. Look for an outdoor cooking setup with a large beehive shaped piece of meat on a rotating vertical rod.
The meat is shaved off the surface and served with fresh tortillas made right in front of you. One kilogram of meat costs 80 pesos and includes fresh tortillas and homemade salsas. That’s a lot of tacos for six dollars.
Time to plan
Book your plane tickets, reserve a bungalow and brush up on your Spanish because Mexico is calling. Tacos, secluded beaches, beautiful sunsets and warm sunny weather, yeah, I’ll take that over scraping my car’s windows any day.
Getting to Lo De Marcos is simple. Fly in to Puerto Vallarta and catch a taxi or bus north. Or, rent a car and take Highway 200.
Where to stay
Lo De Marcos has a few small hotels as well as bungalows and RV parks available for rent.
The best time to exchange money is before leaving Puerto Vallarta because the exchange rates are much lower. ATM cards or debit cards will work.
Foods to try
Fish tacos, al pastor tacos, coco frios, fresh bread
Phrases to know
Por favor hable más despacio // Please speak more slowly
No comprendo // I don’t understand
¿Habla Usted inglés? // Do you speak English?
Sólo estoy mirando
// I’m just looking
No gracias // No thank you
¿Cuánto cuesta? // How much?
Dónde está el autobús? // Where is the bus?
La Cuenta, por favor // The check please