Lake Chapala 101 – An Introduction to the Area’s Towns and Villages

March 28, 2009

Lake Chapala 101 – An Introduction to the Area’s Towns and Villages


Chapala 745 Jan 6 3 Kings Day 009

Chapala is the largest and the first of the villages to have been placed on Spanish maps in the early 1500′s. Among the restaurants, bars and meeting places of Chapala is the largest American Legion Post outside of the United States , with its own clubhouse, restaurant and activities.
Much of the Lake Chapala foreign population does their banking in Chapala and you will see them meeting for conversation with friends in one of the several coffee shops and sidewalk cafes.

Near the pier and the former Braniff estate (famous airline family) is the Malecon, a Mexican version of the boardwalk, which is lined with vendors of souvenirs, food and more.

Just outside of Chapala going North are the communities of Las Brisas de Chapala, Chapala Haciendas and Vista del Lago that features a the Chapala Country Club.

Riberas del Pilar

Just west of Chapala , Riberas del Pilar has 1200 building lots.

It was largely ignored for many years but is booming now. House and land prices are still low.

Chula Vista

Five minutes west of Chapala is the subdivision of Chula Vista where some of the 260 homes wind their way up the side of a mountain to capitalize on the spectacular 180 ° views of the lake and mountains.

The Chula Vista Country club features tennis courts, clubhouse and a short executive nine-hole golf course also with great views.

As is typical of much of the area, flowering trees, shrubs and plants of all descriptions abound.

San Antonio Tlayacapan

(North Americans just say San Antonio )

Just south and west of Chula Vista is the village of San Antonio . This village has remained largely unchanged with the influx of North Americans.

At first glance you may not realize there are North Americans in the village, but please. look again.

Behind the walls are lovely homes with modern appliances, beautiful gardens, and happy retirees. You learn not to judge any home by just what you see from the road.

Along the highway in San Antonio is a small supermarket featuring many North American otherwise hard to find food products called ” Super Lake “. On one side of Super Lake is a large liquor store with great wines at very good prices.  On the other side of Super Lake is “Tony’s Market” featuring US quality meat cuts.

So, if there’s some product or brand name you think you might miss by living here check out these stores, especially as you transition and learn about the local Mexican brands and products which you may find you like even better than those you may be more accustomed to.

Nearby is the Lake Chapala Little Theater where English language productions run through the winter months. Retired actors and those who want to learn are welcome.

There are several bilingual schools from K – 12 in the area if you have school age kids to consider. Why not give them an extra advantage and allow them to grow up bi lingual and bi cultural.

We have more young families moving here everyday.

San Antonio also serves a relatively new 110 home development called “El Parque” which has a pool and club house and is waling distance to the Little theatre, a 12 – K school, and to shopping at Wal Mart, Super Lake and the related shops. Not to mention a new shopping center under construction in early 2009..

La Floresta

La Floresta is a forty year old, charming neighborhood, where the trees meet over the highway to form a leafy canopy. There are many medium and larger homes on both sides of the highway.

It is a very pleasant neighborhood to explore to see the myriad of flowering plants and trees and lovely homes on wide cobbled stoned boulevards.

La Floresta, means “Where the flowers are” in Spanish, is the location of a local 445 seat auditorium where classical musical performances, folkloric dance groups, plays and choral groups are enjoyed throughout the year.


The village of Ajijic is one of the two centers of activity of the North American community. Once a sleepy fishing village on the north shore, it has since been discovered by the rest of the world.

Writers such as D.H. Lawrence came and were inspired, as did many musicians, actors and dancers. Famous stars, such as Elizabeth Taylor and Charles Bronson once came here to escape the hectic pace north of the border.

The Ajijic, Lake Chapala community is a haven for many artists who still find inspiration being surrounded by the natural beauty of Mexico .

The Ajijic village church is dedicated to San Andres (St. Andrew), the patron saint of Ajijic, and the little chapel was built in the 1500′s and is located on the plaza.

The church was rebuilt in 1749 and is referred to locally as the ‘new church’. The traditional plaza square is the center of local fiestas and is always busy with families. Especially on Sunday evenings. The cobblestone streets date back to colonial times, and provide totally recyclable paving material today.

Wednesday is market day in Ajijic, and you can find the local Tiangus (street market) complete with everything you might need.

Chapapa Area Nov 07 018

In addition to the most beautiful display of fruits and vegetables, you’ll find flowers, clothes, pots and pans, jewelry, tools, pizza, hand carvings, paintings,  and just about anything you can imagine ( even computer software).

Near the center of the village is the Lake Chapala Society which features a huge tropical garden setting, located on the former estate of the famous writer, Neil James.

The Lake Chapala Society is a non-profit organization chartered under Mexican Law as an Asociacion Civil. They currently have over 3,400 members from over 31 nations.

Throughout the village you will find many fine restaurants, hotels and B & B’s. Enjoy browsing the numerous designer boutiques, shops and art studios/galleries.

Buses and taxis are available but are sometimes held up by the occasional burro carrying a load of goods for his owner. Las Salvias, Villa Nova and Rancho del Oro

On the mountainside of the highway in western Ajijic are the charming neighborhoods of Las Salvias, Villa Nova, and Rancho del Oro.

Some of the most beautiful and grand homes in the area lie within these neighborhoods. In Villa Nova, which is marked by stone arches facing the highway, you will find the original Hacienda site of the area.

On the grounds of the Hacienda are magnificent enormous Indian Laurel trees.

Rancho del Oro is on the west side of Villa Nova and shares the same potable water system.

Gold was once mined in these hills, but be aware that the mineral rights belong to the country of Mexico, so prospecting will probably not be worth your effort.

New Developments

There are many new developments all around these villages and more coming every year. They have from 4 to 120 homes with all the latest amenities. Many of these are covered in my Lake Chapala Ajijic Orientation Tour along with the historical villages and other communities.

San Juan Cosala’

A ten minute drive west from Ajijic, you will pass the communities of La Canacinta, La Cristina, Los Charales before arriving at the village of San Juan Cosala .

Above the village is the Racquet Club, which features homes with terrific panoramic views and a wonderful club house for residents and visitors at the Raquet Club edition. The club features a very large beautiful pool, a kiddie pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, numerous tennis courtsa main club house and a large covered out door pavilion for parties.

In the village of San Juan Cosala is famous for it’s spas with thermal mineral waters. These spas are a popular mid-week getaway for local residents who enjoy the relaxing and medicinal qualities of the hot mineral waters.

As you continue west, you will pass the communities of El Limon, Jaltepec, El Chante, & Las Fuentes (The Fountains) which is a mostly North American community developed originally by a Canadian firm.

Las Fuentes has modest  homes (some with Lake Views ) to mountain top mansions with panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains.


On the western end of Lake Chapala is the community of Jocotepec, which was founded in 1529.

Misc Shots for DVD photo video 027

Jocotepec is a very typical Mexican town, and has traditionally been known for the quality serapes woven there.

It features a large street market on Thursday mornings and is home not only to a few North Americans, but also to many local residents who have worked in the United States and now have returned home.

Don’t miss the pretty plaza here where you can eat Goat Stew from one of the three goat stew restaurants on the plaza.

Try it, you will be surprised at just how delicious it is. There are also at least 5 ice cream shops in or near the plaza.

Don’t miss the 150 + year old Church just across the street from the plaza and it’s 6 or 7 story tall palm trees growing out of small iron pots.

From the west edge of Jocotepec, if you turn right on the Federal highway there and head South for about 30 minutes you will come to an Outlet mall, not unlike those you will find in the USA. 15 minutes more will put you on the West side of Guadalajara .

If instead of turning right at the highway you turn left instead  in about 4 minutes (just after passing a Pemex gasoline station) you will be at the entrance to Roca Azul.

Roca Azul (Blue Rock) which is a large development composed on Mexican weekend homes and a growing number of North Americas . Roca Azul has a wide open country feel to it. It’s flat, quiet, off the beaten path (but not too far), and while it’s not for everyone the North Americans who do live there love it.

  • Lawrence Bogdon

    Where can I get good Mezcal in San Juan Cosala???

Email for more information:

Featured Video

Latest Club Posts

Recent Club Comments

  • Catherine Ibarra: Does Handy Mail, provide FAX service? if not does anyone else"…
  • The real and only Toedeladoki: Hello and have a good day! We are a Dutch couple living for more than 11 years in Barra De Navidad. We…
  • douglas brown: How do I get more info. on assisted living or retirement homes . I have tried to find info. but…
  • Mopussyplease: But could you answer on question? If it's so safe down there, why do all of the homes have bars…
  • Mopussyplease: But if you look at the whole country of Mexico and their murder rate vs America's murder rate. Mexico's murder…
  • John: Sid, please do not write about how great the Chapala area is as there are too many Americans and Canadians…
  • Marco Duran: My name is Sofia Huerta 37 y/o and I speak english, italian and spanish I've wroked in UK and Italy…

Chapala Webboard

Chapala Club Archives

See all Chapala Club Posts

Chapala Club Topics

Friends of Chapala Club