Copala Things to Do
You'll come here for the beach . . . miles and miles and miles of unterrupted and almost "virgin" beaches lined with coconut plam groves. You'll find yourself wandering off for day-long walks and encountering one fascinating "find" after another. You'll also not want to miss the fascinasting rock formations along the coast, nor the abundant wildlife in some of the small, shallow, tidal pools. Lots of bird life for those of you interested in that.
There are a dozen or so beachfront restaurants in Playa Ventura, but none really stands out head and shoulders above another. Most motels have a small restaurant where fish and maybe a meat dish are served.
Favorite Dish: Depending upon the time of year, you may have to wait awhile for food as a slow moving staff prepares it just for you. Everybody sells beer, hard liquor is bought at the 2 or 3 convenience-type stores (which is where you also buy chips, cookies, snacks, etc.).
It's not likely that the food around here will be anything you'll be writing home about, or bragging about to friends. It'll get you from day to day.
Whatever nightlife there is in Playa Ventura is usually centered in one's home, or, in the case of travelers . . . on the beach where they're staying or in their room. There are, however, a couple of times each year when the area fills with visitors celebrating the Easter or year-end holidays, and, then, the Playa Ventura "disco" opens its doors for business.
Dress Code: This is a laid-back place, so don't expect much in the way of diversion provided by others. People wear as few clothes as permitted. Typically, and understandably, beach wear is the norm. However, in the "disco" one will likely want to wear long pants, jeans, of some sort (maybe not, check locally).
Almost without exception, foreign visitors get to Playa Ventura by bus and/or taxi (and a combination fo the two). The beach is reached by a well-paved road connecting to Mexico's Pacific Coast Highway, MX Hwy. 200.
Guerrero's Costa Chica sees few foreign tourists as compared to other parts of the Pacific Coast - it's sort of the "Wild West". Estrella Blanca offers the principal bus service up and down the coast between Pinotepa Nacional, Oaxaca and Acapulco, Gro. - and it's likely you'll be coming from one of these two principal coastal transportation centers on your way to Playa Ventura. Most of the service is "second class", but don't let that deter you - travel in this region of the country is best described as "rough" (but, I add, enjoyable - if you're an adventurous soul!).
No matter which direction you're coming from (N or S) just ask the bus driver to let you off at the Playa Ventura "T" junction where the road accessing the beach intersects. Coming from Acapulco, it'll be about 5 minutes S. of Copala. Coming from Pinotepa Nacional (and S), it'll be about 10 minutes N. of Marquelia. The intersectiion is well-marked.
Once off the bus walk over to a small covered shelter on the NW corner where pick up truck-type taxi's take people to the beach town every 1/2 hour or so - 6 a.m. to about 10 p.m. (it's better to arrive before 6 p.m., however). There are no busses that connect directly to Playa Ventura.
The only "shops" in Playa Ventura are two or three "mini super" convenience-type food and liquor places. Period. You'll not find stores selling anything else.
What to buy: Bring with you things you deem essential for your enjoyment.
What to pay: Locals tend to gouge the foreign tourists, so bargain the best you can.
Copala Tourist Traps
No different than any other coastal areas where tourists show up, the people at Playa Ventura are adept at getting you to pay the highest prices possible for everything - if they can get away with it.
Unique Suggestions: Try to familiarize yourself with what things generally cost elsewhere in Mexico so you can then try to bargain a little. In the end, however . . . it becomes a "take or leave it" proposition.
Fun Alternatives: Locals have "it " and you want "it." Do you want to spend 45 minutes going into Copala to buy something, or is paying a US$1or $2 more in Playa Ventura worth the convenience. The answer, thought we may not like it, seems simple.
Such attempts to overcharge tourists ***-off Mexican visitors more than foreigners, so we're not alone!
Copala What to Pack
Luggage and bags: Travel light because lugging heavy bags on and off busses and onto and off pick-up taxi's, etc., and then carting them to/from hotels which may be 1/2 mile away can wear you out - ask me, I know!
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: For Playa Ventura: t-shirts and shorts - you'll need little else.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Good mosquito repellant. I was there in October 2004 and didn't have repellant with me and when the power failed and I had to open the windows and door to my room or suffocate, the mosquitos came in by the hundreds and when I awoke I was badly bitten. I don't know if mosquito's are a year-round problem here, but, just in case - in case you need protection . . . bring some!
Photo Equipment: Bring your own film. I didn't see any internet connections where one can upload photos taken along the way. Oh, bring extra batteries also.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Many places will let you camp or sleep in a hammock - there'll be a cost involved (very little) or you'll be asked to buy your food/drink from the place. But, this is a fantastic location to be outdoors!
Miscellaneous: If there's something you just can't "live without" when traveling, bring it along with you to Playa Ventura - the small stores there don't sell much more than snacks, beer, milk, bread and some food stuffs . . . little else. You can, however, travel the short distance into Copala for other things. Telephone service at the beach is limited, but there is a small shop where they'll place calls, anywhere, for you and you pay a reasonable price. No cellphones!
Copala Off The Beaten Path
I really preferred the more isolated areas of Playa Ventura, reached by walking along a dirt road fronting the beach for 5 miles. You come upon coconut grove after coconut grove and there's very little development. There are, however, some limited tourist services available where you can rent a hammock, pitch a tent (with permission) purchase food and beer, etc. This is a truly remote part of the Pacific Coast of Mexico destined for greater popularity in the decade ahead.
Favorite thing: Hey, this is one of the "most excellent" Pacific Coast destinations you'll find, so relax and enjoy your time there.
Remember, there aren't too many "creature comforts" here, but enough to make the stay enjoyable.
Fondest memory: This is a spot for travelers seeking something "off the beaten path" (one doesn't just "stumble across" the place, you have to really want to get here. Enjoy it while you can, because it's bound to be "discovered" in the next decade.