A Canadian Enclave

Bucerias, Bahia de Banderas, Nayarit, Mexico

By Madeline Milne
Originally Published In Mexi-Go! Magazine

Located about twenty minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, Bucerias is the second largest town (after Vallarta) on Bahia de Banderas. It runs along the northern bend of the Bay between La Cruz Huanxactle and Nuevo Vallarta.
Founded in the 1930’s, Bucerias is home to some 17,000 residents. Most noticeable is the large number of long-term foreign residents from Canada & the US. A quick study of licence plates will show you people from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and points east have all made the move to Bucerias. Some days every person you meet on the street will be from Canada. A mention of Flin Flon, Red Deer or Kamloops doesn’t raise eyebrows but rather has you asking if they know your cousin’s wife’s brother, Bill.
The town’s name is derived from Buceo which means ‘diving’ as the original inhabitants were oyster fishermen who dove for their catch. You can still watch the divers each morning along the beach with their inner tube floaties and white buckets in hand. Fresh oysters are served daily at many of the local seafood stands. Payo Mariscos in the plaza is a favourite with locals and comes highly recommended, though watch out for the chili sauce – it’s hotter than you can imagine.
Bucerias is a typical sleepy Mexican village with the traditional plaza and church and a thriving Mexican community that is very comfortable with the foreigners who have moved in. For eight kilometers along the clean sandy beach you will find almost no one to interrupt your relaxation. There are few vendors and those that are around seem to be less ‘pushy’ than the ones in Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas. There is only one all-inclusive resort along the beach at the far south end of town with the rest of the beachfront real estate mostly made up of large homes and about a half-dozen high-rise condominium buildings. The Golden-zone, as it is called, has excellent upscale dining, shopping and gorgeous vacation homes.
Most Tuesday evenings in the plaza will find you amid a roaring group of hockey enthusiasts. A lack of ice is no deterrent as men and women stick handle their way around the “rink”. Sticks are supplied by the local Pizza-Sports Bar, Yo-Yo Mo’s. After the settling of scores everyone retires to the bar for cold cervesas and the best pizza in town.
Thursday evenings are slightly more high-brow with the famous art walk, where art lovers are invited to visit the galleries along the main strip as they serve cocktails and snacks. Be sure to stop at Casabor for their famous Tequila Punch and then visit Sandrina’s both for wonderful food and excellent shopping! Bonus: Sandrina’s is owned by a Victoria, BC native.
Each fall through to March, the Humpback whales migrate south to Banderas Bay and it’s common to witness spectacular displays of breaching whales from your beach chair. There are plenty of charter boats in the area that can take you on whale watching tours, most with the guarantee that you will see whales or your money back – clearly indicative that you’ll cross paths with whales during the peak months.
Sea turtles come ashore June through December to lay eggs. There are many conservation efforts in place to protect the turtles which were almost hunted to extinction, it is illegal in Mexico to kill sea turtles. Many in the former turtle harvesting communities turned to conservation and eco-tourism in the face of these relatively new laws. Just south of Bucerias, on the beaches of Nuevo Vallarta, there is a turtle nursery that has near daily turtle releases that are open to the public for a small donation. If you spot a turtle coming ashore or find a nest, it is important to mark off the area and alert the authorities. The local police who cruise the beach on ATV’s can be of assistance, as can most locals.
There are many other activities around Bucerias to enjoy, such as championship golf, horseback riding, birdwatching, ATV tours, snorkeling, diving, sailing, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, wind surfing, kite surfing, beachcombing etc. There are a plethora of philanthropic opportunities as well, with the local orphanage, animal rescue, sea turtle conservation and more. Investours (www.investours.org/), a local tour company, provides a unique experience, with street-tours of Bucerias that introduce you to the Mexican community and use a portion of your admission fee to support local vendors through no-interest loans.
Bucerias is a laid-back and casual town with excellent seafood, clean, safe beaches and amenities that cater to a down-to-earth market of budget conscious Canadians who appreciate the open spaces and quiet evenings so removed from the all-inclusive resorts of Nuevo Vallarta or the night clubs of Puerto Vallarta. It feels like a small town in Canada, just with better weather, colder beer and less time commitments.

3 comments

  1. Please send me a list of possible community aid groups with which I might be able to volunteer during my stay in Bucerias. I will be in Bucerias for 3 weeks, beginning February 10, 2014.

    Thank you.

  2. Madeline,

    I cannot remember back my mother telling me to learn to amuse myself, however, I can my wife Loretta telling our three daughters that they have to learn to amuse themselves and stop asking her every minute to amuse them.

    In your other post regarding your seven places in Puerto Vallartqa where you spend time yourself, and your request your readers to suggest seven also, the following are my seven:

    1) Dinning. Food is on everyones plate , three times a day. There are so many great places to eat in PV that the list is ever changing. Our concern in the U.S. is the ingredences that chefs and growers put in our food, that when we dine out, it usually is a serve yourself resteruant that we go to to pickout what we feel safe with.

    2) Tennis. As a tennis pro, tennis is always on my mind whether professionsly or for fun. Since my best stroke is my serve, I use it to win my serving gane with four serves. The most consectitive serves in a match has been nine. Heck, the opponent often gets lucky.

    3) Shopping. Shopping until you drop is the call of the avid shopper. The hot sunny days in PV and walking on the cobble stones and uneven sidewalks, will make most shoppers soon feel that they will drop. I go until I can find my treasure – in the four days that I have been here, includes six blue amber pendants, fiive in red, and two in honney colored amber.

    4) Water. Somewhere back in a prior life I must have been an acqatic animal, for I am drawn into water. The pool, the bay, the river, the jacuzzi, and house shower; but the most by the bubbleing brook and waterfalls, for ther invigorating negative ions.

    5) Reading. Good books are the food for the soul . Set me down by the pool with the Vallarta Tribune or a good book, and I am a happy vacationer. Todays book is the Books of Enoch and Noah. Noah saved the animals from the great flood, and Enoch was one of the three prophets that left Earth in a firey rocket , and never come back to Earth. Where did Ecnoh, St. John and Eliza go – to the Moon ???

    6) Meeting people. I spend my three weeks each year in PV meeting people. I think that I have gone into most shops in town and talked to the shop owners and staff, the venders on the beachs, and around the pool. I learn so much, and find many great people,

    7) The stage shows. Perhaps this has been my personal favorite since I can remember. It began in the circuses of old… the ladies on the trapeses, and now the ladies dancing on the stage. OK, so I am girl watchinhg. Also around the pool. But I have to admit that the creator and the fashion designers got something right!

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