Have you ever considered ecotourism, aka eco-travel, aka green-travel, aka traveling like a hippie? Eco-travel has become a trendy new way to approach all angles of the jet-setting experience, but many cut the cord when it comes to their accommodations. Sure there’s hotels who reduce water usage by only washing towels left on the floor, and resorts who stock recycled paper products, but there’s a place in San Pancho, Mexico that takes it to another level and you’d be surprised how much you might love living out of your comfort zone. Checking in – Tailwind Jungle Lodge!
Since we don’t have international phone plans, Ben & I began our journey from Puerto Vallarta to San Pancho in the most adventurous way possible – by navigating the 1 hour drive with nothing but hand written directions, a map and a compass. Anyone over 50 is probably laughing at me right now. Once we were out of the city, the two lane highway became somewhat of a tropical tunnel with brief flashes of the Pacific Ocean, local fruit stands and elaborate Mexican cemeteries.
Our trek wasn’t over when we arrived in San Pancho. Tailwind Jungle Lodge is —for-real— in the jungle. This part of the drive is not on Google Maps – as a matter of fact, it wasn’t on any other map I looked at. Thankfully we had step-by-step directions from the owner, Tamara, who reassured us that we were on the right track when we ran into the “DO NOT LITTERING” sign. After 15 minutes on a dirt road roller coaster, we finally made it. We navigated our way to our private jungle home via scavenger hunt – a trail of handwritten letters from Tamara, one of which notified us of our upgrade from Casita Tejone to Casita Pumita. This pleasant surprise was not only a caring gesture from Tamara, but also a perk of being the last guests of the season – I will be sharing another post about why I love to travel in shoulder season.
Our favorite things about TJL: Ben and I got to enjoy a few days alone on the property – aside from Tamara and her tender-hearted lab, Paris. The jungle has a raw kind of quiet – one where you realize how much can be heard (inside and out) in silence. A 15 minute hike down the jungle trail to the lodge’s private beach is outrageously rewarding – both physically and visually. Our unit, Casita Pumita, had rooftop seating which overlooked the ocean and unfiltered views of the stars. Tamara and Paris made wonderful hosts and activity guides. Tamara introduced us to kayaking in the ocean, and I often invited Paris to enjoy the comforts of our cool kitchen floor while I made breakfast. Tamara’s holistic lifestyle, tenacious spirit and energy for adventure are contagious. She is writing a book about what she has learned as an entrepreneur in the jungle and I can’t wait to read it!
Our favorite things about San Pancho: We got a chance to explore neighboring beach towns, but what we loved about San Pancho is how homey it felt. Unlike other beaches, most of the sunbathing and surfing was done by locals or regular visitors. No one tried to sell us anything while we ate dinner or lounged on the beach – something I can’t say about nearby Sayulita where the soliciting is as sketchy as it is incessant. The bright colors of Mexican culture truly pop in San Pancho – from flowers and fruit to architecture and gold dusted waves. Finally, one of our favorite things about San Pancho was the town’s efforts to protect and conserve local resources and wildlife – click to read about Project Tortuga and EntreAmigos.