Tenacatita is one of those places that sucks you in, where the days pass easily with as much or as little activity as you might choose. Where things slow down, life simplifies, and you really feel like you’re in a mellower world. That’s not say there’s not plenty to do. Watersports, bocce on the beach, raft-up pot lucks, fishing, spotting ring-tailed cats in the trees, volleyball on the beach, estuary tours, a distillery tour, happy hour at the palapa on the beach. This place is summer camp for adults. You’re welcome.
The Tenacatita that cruisers know is not Tenacatita proper, but the second bay inside, formally called Bahia de Los Angeles Locos. Seriously. The outer bay is good for a beach stop, or to snorkel at the “Aquarium,” but you will find more restful nights, and much more camaraderie, at Tenacatita’s inner bay. Approach is easy and clear if you choose to leave Center Rock (large visible haystack rock .5 miles from the headland) to port. If you cut between this rock and shore, favor the rock side, as there are reports of uncharted rocks in this area, with at least one hard grounding in the last five years.
Tenacatita is a large, open bay with plenty of room for 50 boats or more. During the season it’s common to have 25-35 on any given day, with lots of turnover. Best protection is tucked in toward the headland in the SW corner. It’s nearly 10 feet deep almost to the rocks along the bluff there, but the closer you get, the more likely you’ll deal with bugs. The only other hazards to worry about are the rocks directly off the estuary channel, and getting too close to the surf zone to the north of the channel. Make sure you’re anchoring in 25ft plus if there is substantial swell predicted. Pretty much everywhere is nice firm sand in 20-40 feet.
At first it doesn’t look like much. But maybe that’s the point. One palapa restaurant (La Vena). One hotel resort at the end of the beach. Good Dog Beach for a place to take the pup, the channel, and the surf break (when it’s happening).
Getting ashore by dinghy is easiest (NEW INFO, Winter 2022-23) by lining up just to the right (NE) of the breakwater next to the river channel. Storms in Summer 2021 moved A LOT of sand here, and it’s not clear if surf will be reforming along the beach, but currently this is a wide sandy strip with rocks on either side (see aerial image). Timing with swell for dinghy landing is important, of course, and should not be attempted at all if it’s rolling through (or go to Chicken Beach to the W of the river channel). You can also take a dinghy into the channel and around the back side of the camping area to the shallow sand landing area back there, but timing with swell and tide is necessary.
Bocce Ball on the beach is a long-time tradition here in Tenacatita, with “World Championships” contested nearly every day. Open to all abilities and levels of seriousness. Typically followed by libations and lie-swapping at the palapa bar. Makes for a rough afternoon. Also, the typical “dinghy jungle tour” has been recently augmented by a popular Raicilla Distillery Tour.