More Adventures Along the Mexican Gold Coast: Dakota in Tenacatita

Our time anchored in Tenacatita is one of the highlights, and probably our first or second favorite anchorage (tied with Isla Isabel). Not only was the sail down lovely (and uneventful/stressful), the anchorage itself was perfect. Quiet, protected, spacious, *not rolly*, close to shore with plenty to see and do, and we could surf and paddle right off the back of the boat! There was lots of marine life surrounding our boat, dolphins all the way down (and we think some sneaky dolphins swimming in the anchorage at night) and lovely boat neighbors (who once rescued our down duvet after it fell in the water off our boom while we were out exploring in La Manzanilla!)

But first, let’s start with this . . .  as we were preparing to leave Chamela for Tenacatita, anchored near our friends Me Too and Beach Flea, these dolphins gracefully and gleefully swam and jumped inside the anchorage between our boat and our friends, SV Beach Flea:


I mean, SERIOUSLY!  I know, I know, we’ve posted a lot of pics (and some videos) of these amazing creatures throughout our journey. But it simply never gets old. It just doesn’t. I’m so thankful that we’ve had the chance to really show our boys the beauty, brains and grace of these creatures in their natural habitats.  There is nothing like watching the dolphins zip around the bow of your boat while you’re underway. And there is nothing like seeing them jump for joy in an anchorage. NOTHING.

The passage down from Chamela to Tenacatita

Here on the boat, like many other cruisers, we keep a log of each passage, keeping copious notes of the date/time of the passage, what the conditions were like, whether we motored or sailed, what our burn rate is (fuel), etc.  And now, as I look back on these passages and try to document them for both you and us, it’s been fun to relive the memories and talk about the adventures as a family.  Like last night, we had a good chuckle about the insanely wet and raucous ride back from the snorkel spot in Bahia Chamela and couldn’t believe our luck in locating our lost dinghy oar (forgot to mention that one!).

So today, as I sit here writing the blog post about our Tenacatita passage, I’m loving seeing my notes: “Dolphins galore! Before we pulled up the anchor @ Chamela (Playa Perula), while we went out and again on the seas! Great passage down–got school done, mama worked out, lunch and good family time” — I’m so glad we kept this log! I have a vision of the boys flipping through this log at some point later in life and, hopefully, recalling the fond memories of this amazing journey.

But I digress . . .

Our time in Tenacatita

So, Tenacatita. This is the kind of anchorage that cruisers dream of when they are wistfully thinking of going cruising. White sand beach, miles long, low-slung palapa-roofed restaurants lining the sparsely populated beach, turquoise-blue waters perfect temperature for swimming and lovely snorkeling conditions (at the “Aquarium” next anchorage spot over). Plus, the jungle river tour (done on your own dinghy for most cruisers), a lovely town available by taxi (La Manzanilla) and surfing/paddle boarding available in the anchorage. What’s not to love?!

Paddling to the surf spot in Tenacatita
Jungle river tour

We loved it there so much that we stayed for almost a week! In fact, the only reason we left was the nice weather window to get down to Barre de Navidad. Oh, and the need for a bit more water–we had been on the hook for almost 2 weeks at this point and without a fresh water maker on board, we were starting to worry about our supply running down. Meh, details.

The Estuary River (aka “Jungle”) Tour

So, one of the highlights of this anchorage is the well-known estuary river tour down Estero Verde.  The mouth of the estuary is just near shore and meanders 2.5 miles west through lush, green jungle scenery before ending in a large lagoon (coincidentally across the road from the next anchorage, the “Aquarium.”) The estuary is home to crocodiles (eek!), red-clawed mangrove crabs (so cool!) and fish who live in the mangroves. Depending on the current, it is possible to glide down the estuary without your outboard on, but we ended up slowly meandering down the river with our engine on low most of the time.

A few tips for first-timers:

  • I’ll tell ya what we were told, by way of directions (because the river ebbs off in different directions from time to time)–always go left on the way out. Whenever you hit a fork in the river, go left!  It worked for us and I can only imagine that it’ll work for you too.
  • Be cautious when rounding blind corners–there are panga tours that zip through the estuary at pretty high speeds (we thought) and there are parts of the estuary that are quite narrow.  Obviously when your outboard is off, no problem, you can hear them coming. But a couple of times we were surprised to see a panga coming barreling at us down the narrow river full speed and ended up rushing over to the mangroves, ducking to get below the pokey branches.
  • Bring bug repellent. This is probably obvious, it’s a jungle tour. But I found (and I’m a person who gets bit pretty bad in even the most innocuous places) that the bugs congregated pretty heavily in the lagoon at the end of the estuary, and particularly where you land your dinghy. So if you have the same “sweet” blood mosquitos and jejenes (no-see-ums) like–get your stuff ready before you land your dinghy and BOLT out of there. (Hopefully, like me, you have a partner who is a bit more immune to bug bites and can park the dinghy while you run away!)
  • Bring your snorkel gear. It may be unnecessary to suggest this — if you’re a cruiser and you have all the same cruising guides we did– you’ll know that the Aquarium (the infamous snorkeling spot in Tenacatita) is your reward at the end of the river tour. But if you, like us, don’t get the chance to anchor there separately from the main anchorage, you’ll want to snorkel here at least one time before departing Tenacatita!

And now, a little peek at our estuary tour:



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