Along this captivating stretch of Pacific coast, where the jungle meets the sea, a global village of surfers, cowboys, expats and celebrities gather in a laidback paradise.
Author Jordan Heller Photography Kevin J. Miyazaki
DAY THREE | The sound of the ocean crashing on the beach roughly 30 yards in front of your screen-walled casa gently stirs you from sleep. When the staff at Imanta tell you they’ve literally built the place from the ground up, they’re not kidding. The casas and casonas, 15 in all, are made of a desert-colored granite-in-process (that’s granite somewhere on its way to becoming limestone) unearthed from the ground the resort is built on.
You order in coffee and enjoy a long, leisurely swim in your pool before heading to the Imanta Observatorio, a small outdoor restaurant overlooking the beach. The shrimp and flounder ceviche melts in your mouth like a lime slushy. It being Sunday, you head into Higuera Blanca (1), the sleepy cobblestoned village that sits outside Imanta’s gates, to take in a Novatos baseball game. Just beyond the thatched roofs of the dugouts, food vendors pack the foul lines. They have everything: tacos, tostados and, of course, cerveza. You take a seat and pay close attention to the shortstop, a hulk of a man they call “El Tamarindo.” He’s got a rocket for an arm.
After a day among the people, you decide to wind up your trip communing with nature. So you head north to San Pancho to find Frank Smifi, a Californian expat who has been running the Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde (2) here for nearly 20 years. From June to the end of December, Smith and his team patrol the beach protecting turtle nests from poachers who sell the contents as chicken eggs. Smith collects the eggs, and looks after them in his nursery. After they’ve hatched, he brings the babies back to the shore where they dutifully crawl into the ocean. “These guys will go through a sixty-foot hurricane wave with a grin on their faces,” he tells you.
The sun is setting, and it’s almost time to head back to the airport, but as you watch the hatchlings crawl into the ocean in the late afternoon light, you’re reminded of an old Mexican proverb: “A donde fueres, haz lo que vieres,” which, roughly translated, means “Adapt yourself to the local customs.” With that, you walk off to take one last swim in the Pacific.
Brooklyn-based writer JORDAN HELLER greets all comers with a Jalisco Jiveshake and a smile.