Despina, my late-great mother, regaled me with countless favors and gifts (I was an only child), the most significant among which was to teach me to swim, when I was four. Sloshing around in water, particularly the salty variety, has been my most cherished pleasure ever since.
I am such a nut for meaningful swims in the sea throughout the year (Mexico in winter; Greece in summer), that I’ve structured my affairs accordingly, at the cost both of stability and career. Thing is, swimming in calm waters under ideal skies has come to define me and make me happy. So, why fight it?
Over the years I have established parameters that make a visit to the beach more joyful than it already is:
— access to the water’s edge must be easy (no climbing down steep cliffs);
— firm sand and no rocks leading into the soup;
— no big waves (no surfer, moi):
— a nice, shady table to sit and watch the ocean after swimming, for a drink and a piscine snack, prepared and served by people who care to please you.
The beachfront of Las Palmas, the all-inclusive resort, scores on every count, especially the last with its seafood bar. It is open to the public (except at peak periods when it’s at full capacity with its own guests) with delightful food and tasty margaritas at very decent prices. The goodies include the entire shrimp cannon, from coconut-fried to grilled, to freshly shucked oysters to lively, lightly grilled vegetables.
Chef Jerry in his open-air kitchen presides over the plates. The impeccable service is by the very gracious Inez. I feel very comfortable in their hands.
There are two ways to get onto the beach. The easiest is through the hotel’s main entrance. If slightly more adventurous, you can try my way:
Get to the Caracol shopping center. Walk behind it two minutes towards the ocean. Cross the busy road (carefully). Walk a few yards south to a skinny pavement that is marked with an arrow as a beach-entrance for the public. Amble down a jungly path that hugs an alligator creek (I have yet to see one of the critters after many trips) and in about four minutes, voilà, the beach!
LAS PALMAS is at Pablo Picasso #126 Hotel Zone, Puerto Vallarta, 322-226-1220.