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A Semi-Secret Surfing Oasis South of Zihuatenejo, Mexico

July 26, 2012 at 5:29 PM | by | ()

Less than an hour’s drive outside Zihuatenejo, Mexico (including 15 exciting minutes on a very unpaved road), you’ll find Playa Viva—a beachfront oasis amid miles of tranquil (and surfable) beaches.

Being the first trip away from our one-year-old, my wife was looking forward to lying by the pool with a good book for three days while I, the avid surfer, was looking for waves. Although Playa Viva isn’t a world-renowned surf destination like Troncones and La Saladita to the north, I was pleasantly surprised with chest-high, glassy waves each morning. Even in the afternoon when the waves weren’t as good, the swimming and body surfing was fun in the rougher water.

For land lovers, Playa Viva hosts daily adventures like yoga on the sundeck or an hour-long ATV ride into the mountains to visit a cacao and coffee farm. And yes, lying by the pool with a book is available as well.

A handful of bungalows and private casitas are nestled on this 200-acre preserve. Surrounded by basil farms and miles of open beach, solitude is a way of life here. Playa Viva’s owners have created an off-the-grid and sustainable property that is actually improving the area.

The mangrove restoration project is removing non-native plants that threaten this all-important habitat for juvenile ocean life. Gray and black water treatment systems feed gardens of fresh fruits, nuts, and vegetables throughout the property. The sea turtle conservation program has released tens of thousands of baby Olive Ridley turtles back into the wild and employs local villagers with meaningful and substantive jobs.

Despite the “eco” focus at Playa Viva, comfort and design haven't been overlooked. Palm thatch roofs fashioned from the hundreds of coconut palms on the property prove highly effective as roofing material, not allowing a single drop into our room during a heavy rain shower. Even when you’re “inside” you still enjoy the ocean breezes as all of the rooms are open-walled. Walk out of your room and you’re on the beach with its wide and gentle slope and sand.

Since Playa Viva is so small—around 20 guests max—every meal is enjoyed community style with a large buffet. The food is fresh, local, often organic and always world class. You’re sure to make new friends sitting at the long wooden dinner table each night as the sun sets and the stars appear one by one. Even better, it's one of our favorite places for sharing surf stories south of the border.

About the author: Matt Thomson is the founder of Wavecation.com, a portal that helps both beginner and experienced surfers find the best surf vacation rentals and beachfront hotels around the world. Basically Wavecation shows exactly how close you'll be to the waves. You can follow him on both Twitter and Facebook.

[Photos: Matt Thomson/Wavecation]

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