Fly into Guadalajara and take a 30 minute taxi ride for $420 MX pesos to towns that live alongside Lake Chapala: Chapala and Ajijic. Find a little boutique hotel or rent a temporary home, don sturdy walking shoes and a wide-brimmed hat and start exploring. Lakeside on the malecons is for people watching. Ajijic’s malecon is one of two town centers where everyone, local families and expats alike, get out to stroll, dog-walk, picnic and play. Chapala makes room on its malecon for a couple of carnival-type rides and any number of vendors. The town squares are shaded with huge trees, circled with cafes and graced with classic Spanish churches and chapels.
The lake is for fishing. People with pop-bottle hand-lines hang off the end of the piers and walkways or fling nets from waist-deep. but they are clearly outfished by the egrets, herons and pelicans that stand on lake edge, pilings and boat rails or skim the lake surface with deep bills.
Ajijic, with its large expat community, is artistic and yummy. Street art hints at the art, crafts and unique clothing waiting inside the gallery doors. There are over 100 restaurants with cuisines representing most of the wider world, including Thai, Sushi, Italian and Spanish.
Finally, there’s nothing like ambling through the golden hour and sitting lakeside to watch the sun set over the water and the Sierra Madres.