active family travel,  Travel

Snorkelling in Yelapa Mexico with Mosquito Jellyfish

When the mosquito jellyfish bit me I stopped short a moment, treading water, breathing and wondering what just happened. Am I hurt? Did I imagine that? Should I bail?
I am far from an adventuresome swimmer. In fact, truth be told, I almost drowned once in a wave pool. Michael Phelps, I am not. But my kids swim beautifully and are well on their way to summers filled with pool parties and maybe even jobs as lifeguards. Today I am snorkelling in Yelapa, Mexico with my daughter and some travel bloggers. Living the life, admiring the view until this happens….
In a cove in Banderas Bay, I look for my daughter, Payton. From the boat that dropped us off I hear: “Paula, she’s over there.” And in fact she is 100, maybe 200 feet away. Should I swim to her, or paddle back to the boat. While I am sitting there bicycling my legs in the water to stay afloat, I feel another bite on my leg.
I start to swim to her and change my mind. I hear others saying: “Ouch, something bit me.”
Payton is safe across the bay swimming and snorkelling and she scarcely looks up to see where I am. She is embracing the experience, the water and the beautiful sliver of time in paradise. This day has barely started. We are in a bay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She has already zip lined and rappelled at Canopy River Tours Puerto Vallarta.  One afternoon she rode a donkey and another day she swam with dolphins at Dolphin Discovery.
Did I really expect her to be phased by some tiny jellyfish nips? Still, I am concerned. I know nothing about this. Back to the boat it is. I find a tour guide and tell him. “I got some jellyfish bites. Are they dangerous?” Two little letters – No. I pause at the foot of the boat thinking I will get out and sit and wait for the others. It is the cautious choice, perhaps it’s best.
Around me, others are quitting and one or two other bloggers are also weighing their options. Out of the corner of my eye I see the brave Deanna Tousignant of Maple Leaf Mommy. We were both a bit nervous about this to start. Our first time snorkeling. But there are many still in the water.
One more chance, I think and I make my breath slow down enough to negotiate the snorkeling mask and the goggles. After all how many chances in life might I have to go snorkeling in Yelapa Mexico? I can do this, I think and I look down, face immersed, breathing through this tube and I spy a school of clownfish.
[tweetthis]Yelapa is a gem and a must see when you visit Puerto Vallarta. #travel[/tweetthis]
It is magic. Pure perfection, unlike anything I have done and I instantly find my brave side. Swimming out away from the boat into the blue bay that is a warm embrace in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. When I stop looking I find my daughter swimming near another group and together we take turns telling each other what kinds of fish we see.
Someone here comments to me on how good this child is at snorkelling. For a few weeks two years ago I took her and her sister to a kid’s scuba diving class. I have all but forgotten. Wrapped inside a Canadian winter, they swam and pretended to find schools of treasure like these. It was a diversion from regular swimming lessons inside an old brick YMCA downtown in London, Ontario. This experience couldn’t be less like that, but somehow her brain remembers and she reminds me.
We squeal together when she sees something she swears looks like an eel, then a pufferfish. Sky, waves, caves, boat, perfect water, my daughter, and me trying brave on. I think to myself, like I always do now: somewhere my Mom is watching. In the last 14 months, I have learned that hearts heal a little bit more each day. Puerto Vallarta, Yelapa, snorkelling, swimming, travel, sun, sky wide open. All the feels.

This is the best thing I have done since we got here on this Puerto Vallarta media trip. This is the memory that will be balm for the winter months inside a snow belt area of southern Ontario. And this is the activity I will want to do again, safely with my entire family. I know we will all go snorkelling in Mexico.

It is so brilliant, I instantly wish to transport everyone with here. As I swim around getting more comfortable each passing moment, I get another mosquito jellyfish bite. And another. And again. Suddenly, they like me again. It feels not unlike a mosquito in the water, but with a tiny shocking jolt. It is the realization that you cannot see what it is biting you that freaks you out most. But we are safe, I tell myself and we keep swimming. Love is a little like this. And adoption is like this too. A leap into something bigger.


Around us a few people are kayaking. Still enchanted from the clown fish, I make my awkward mermaid-like fins work. Tour operators eventually call us all back to the boat, for lunch, lemonade and a tour of a secluded fishing village called Yelapa.

Together we dry off and hike through town. Stray cats and dogs wind around our feet as we snap photos every couple of steps. There are so many things to see. Merchants selling scarves, plates, ceramic skulls and jewelry.

After we finish snorkelling in Banderas Bay, Mexico, we toured the Yelapa area.

We wind our way uphill through women selling things, babies crying inside houses and the sound of water trickling through outdoor pipes above our heads. It’s too much money for a scarf but I pay not anyways. Together we reach a waterfall, an outdoor bar and the oddest bathroom I have yet to see, shower curtain for a door. Here the water is cold but we each pose for pictures before moving on to the next spot.


Another hike, a few more pictures, we travel past a makeshift shrine, some homes and a bar here in the mountains that makes us all chuckle. On the sign, is a QR code and a notice that free WIFI is available. On the cobblestone street, a tourist giggles as she trots along on a donkey, and finally just past a school and across a stretch of beach, we reach the most picturesque beach I’ve ever seen.
This is Yelapa. The vendors are a bit aggressive. There are half a dozen fishing boats lining the shore and a man splits open a coconut to bring my daughter a lemonade made with coconut water for about $2 Canadian. The effort of splitting the coconut open alone is worth that much.
It’s a bit more of a walk from here.

[tweetthis]In Yelapa you can buy coconut water lemonade and potentially swim the afternoon away. #travel[/tweetthis]
On the boat ride back past the Sierra Madre mountains I sip a Margarita and sit in the shade hugging my daughter. We watch the silly crew perform their Mexican Kiss routine. My daughter tapes it on her iPhone and I strike up a conversation with the American couple beside us. This is the memory I wish everyone could have when they are sick, or sad, or struggling through an endless January. This is a perfect Mexico day etched in my memory. When I am old and frail and unable to visit magical places like this I hope I can summon these memories, hold them close like pearls and remember how brave we once were, and how much we loved.

On Snorkelling in Yelapa and Our Visit To Puerto Vallarta

This was the Snorkeling and Hiking tour in Yelapa. You know those tours you go on sometimes when you travel and you actually wait and wait and then see none of the things promised. This is not that tour. I saw more than I imagined and recommend it highly. It was hosted by Puerto Vallarta Adventures.

You can read the rest of my posts about Puerto Vallarta here:

Dolphin Discovery (my daughter’s favourite part of the trip.)
We were guests of the Puerto Vallarta tourism board which means we received flights, accommodations and food in exchange for honest coverage here. My opinion is all my own and it is also truthful. This post also contains affiliate links as a service to readers. If you make a purchase I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.