Chamela Bay often gets passed up by cruisers heading between Bahia Banderas and Tenacatita. It’s a shame, because this charming, if sleepy, beach town, and the bay beyond, has a lot going for it. Multiple anchorages, good snorkeling, beach exploration, surfing, water play and a selection of good restaurants and provisioning options. Give it a try! FYI: The anchorage that most of us refer to as “Chamela” is really off the town of Perula, while Chamela proper is a small fishing town just inland from the panga landing at the south end of the bay (which we call Chamela – South in this guide).
Make sure to give the rocks off Punta Perula good clearance when turning the corner, entering between this point and the north island (Pajarera). Once clear around the surging, sometimes visible last interior reef/rock off the point, turn and make your way into the anchorage off the beach.
Plenty of room here in anchoring 15-30 feet over good holding sand. There are some private moorings/floats close to shore, and a few fish traps out further to avoid. The palapa bars can be quite loud, in particular those near the channel in the NW corner of the bay, so you may want to scooch down the beach a bit if you prefer more quiet digs. Otherwise, settle in and go for a swim.
Landing a dinghy on the beach here is a classic surf landing, requiring timing and speed to do it successfully. If this is your first attempt, its a perfect place, as the surf isn’t (typically) TOO bad, and it’s all soft sand everywhere. We typically land mid-beach in front of one of the open lots. It’s a wide flat beach, so mark the tide and make sure to pull the boat up far enough. The other option is to dinghy into the channel (newly opened in 2018), and beach the boat around the back. Many prefer this option.
Ceviche and people watching on the beach. It’s a family vacation destination for Mexican locals, and some days the beach is crawling with swimmers, kids playing soccer, vendors selling ice cream, floaties and every trinket you can imagine. It’s a feast for the eyes, and goes down well with a pacifico and that ceviche. Viva Mexico!