Meet Mexico’s Best Kept Secret Community Careyes

Tigre del Mar

From Acapulco to Playa del Carmen to Los Cabos, there is no shortage of beautiful beach destinations in Mexico. However, these Americanized hot spots can often be overrun with tourists. If you’re looking for a lesser-known escape along the lines of Tulum or Sayulita, allow me to introduce you to Careyes. Located on the Pacific Coast in between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta, Careyes is a posh community that savvy Europeans have been visiting since it was opened by Italian entrepreneur Gian Franco Brignone in 1968.

The casitas at El Careyes

Fifty years ago, after viewing the coast via plane, Brignone purchased 20,000 acres of inaccessible paradise; having never set foot on the land, he bought it on a whim. The bon vivant set out to create a sustainable, eco-friendly resort that respected and rejoiced Mexican culture. The first home, Brignone’s residence, dubbed “Mi Ojo,” was an eight-room estate on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Today, the beautiful seaside community is home to 68 villas, 40 casitas, three bungalows, the recently opened El Careyes Club & Residences, seven restaurants, a polo club, foundation, pueblo, turtle sanctuary, and four annual events that attract globe-trotting jet-setters. 

El Careyes Club & Residences

The easiest way to experience Careyes is to book a suite at El Careyes Club & Residences. The 35-resident beachfront club was built by famed Mexican architects Alberto Mazzoni and Diego Villaseñor in 1976. Their timeless design features earthy materials, brick walls, cobblestone walkways, and a sunset-inspired color palette of burnt oranges and dusty pinks. Frame motifs play a significant role in the construction.

A room with a window that frames the ocean at Tigre Del Mar

Whether it be windows that showcase a breathtaking stretch of sea, a dark corridor that leads to a fragrant tropical garden, or two buildings that form a perfect rectangle pointing toward the five infinity pools, everywhere you look, you’ll find a vignette meant to encourage relaxation and an appreciation of the earth’s natural beauty. Although it’s a residence club, the rooms are serviced twice daily by the resort’s staff. El Careyes sits on a small bay, and the water is ideal for swimming or sports—stand-up paddle boards and kayaks await guests on the sand.

Tigre Del Mar, a private villa in Careyes

For a more private experience, book a fully-staffed villa or casita. The villas are massive and gorgeous architectural delights. No dwelling is the same, but all are multi-room houses with swimming pools, lounge areas, majestic views, and charming Mexican decor. With vibrant blue walls and plenty of space for revelry, “Tigre del Mar” is a 13-bedroom home on a cliff with two swimming pools and private beach access. “Sol de Oriente” has six rooms and an out-of-this-world infinity pool that wraps around the entire downstairs. The top floor is completely outdoors, and a sexy lounge space sits under a massive palapa—a traditional Mexican A-frame thatched roof.

A private terrace in one of the casitas

Although there is no grocery store or market in Careyes, the community boasts unique restaurants, from the club’s poolside eatery La Duna, that serves classic Mexican cuisine to Punto Como, an Italian-Argentine style grill and pizzeria in the pueblo’s plaza. Also in the town square is La Coscolina, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant that serves fresh sushi and hearty salads. For a high-end and memorable dining experience, book an outdoor table at Pueblo25. The home-like eatery, with just 24 seats, features local seasonal produce and fish. The handwritten menu changes nightly, but items you might find include perfectly poached octopus on thin pieces of jicama, fish with confit potatoes, or homemade pasta with shrimp and tomatoes. Pueblo25 also has an extensive list of mezcal and wine, so come thirsty.

Sol de Oriente, a private villa at Careyes

If relaxing in the lap of luxury has you anxious to give back, visit El Careyes Foundation in the town square. The nonprofit oversees an assortment of programs that better the local neighborhood: English classes for kids, bike workshops for the community, and enrichment for all through arts, music, and film. The organization also runs a sea turtle conservation center that ensures just-laid eggs are harvested and protected from dangerous predators until they hatch. In 1983, only ten turtles laid eggs in Careyes. Today, more than 2,000 sea turtles visit the private beach to lay eggs.

Aries, a private villa

Visit Careyes for its natural beauty or come for one of its annual parties. The Brignones throw a Chinese New Year celebration, a film and arts festival and polo tournament. In November is Careyes’ most well-known event, Ondalinda, an art, music, and wellness festival that rivals Burning Man. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax in the Mexican sun or enjoy a dazzling cultural experience, you’ll find it at Careyes.

Photos Courtesy of Uribe Krayer, Bibiana, El Careyes Club & Residences, and La Costa Careyes.