Those who can call La Ribera de Chapala (Lakeside) home, definitely don’t lack of activities to make them happy and keep them busy. The natural scenery and the environment offer a wonderful opportunity to participate in physical activities, whether it’s group sports or individual activities.
There are also numerous gatherings amongst locals that are dedicated to enhance the mind. The intellectual, social, political, cultural and religious groups are but some of the many organizations here at lakeside. Many of these groups have members from all over the world, creating different and interesting perspectives from different points of views. Such reunions often take place weekly or monthly and are easy to find and join.
Retirees find that keeping occupied is not a problem; the only dilemma is finding the time to do all the available activities. With over 200 existing organizations in the area, there is a variable of “things to do” year round. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of activities in the towns of La Ribera de Chapala to keep you entertained and participating in this beautiful community.
This is a brief list of some of the activities, places and organizations, which are not numbered in any particular order. Hope this is of great help for you.
Let’s start and have some fun!
1. SHOPPING IN THE TIANGUIS
Tianguis comes from náhuatl “tiānquiz(tli)” which means ‘market’, and it was the traditional market that existed in Mesoamérica since the prehispanic period and that has been changing throughout the years until becoming what we see nowadays.
Wednesday mornings are the “tianguis” day in Ajijic, where the vibrant colors and the aromas can be perceived all around. There is a great variety of products, art, fruits and vegetables that are truly fresh, fish and seafood. As well as candies of all colors and flavors, a great variety of jewelry, shoes, clothes and crafts.
And of course the food stands cannot be left out! Tasty foods and drinks, like the delicious “tejuinos” (drink made out of corn), pizza, tacos, tostadas, tamales and much more.
A walk through the “tianguis” is a way to enjoy the culture, gastronomy, art and traditions of this beautiful town of Ajijic.
2. WALKS THROUGH THE TOWN’S “MALECON” (Pier)
The strolls through the malecón in any of the towns of Lakeside are filled with color, natural beauty and a great variety of good things to eat. Chapala has a charming malecón with a market where you can find crafts, typical clothing, garrafa (hand-churned ice-cream done in a stainless-steel cylinder) ice cream, Mexican food, amongst many other things.
Families get together and just enjoy a nice day out, listening to musical groups, mariachis, and maybe a good singer with his guitar. In both the Chapala and Ajijic Malecon you can find on certain dates the performance given by the voladores de Papantla (a ritual done by indigenous Mexicans where they tie themselves to the top of the pole with a rope then launch themselves backwards from the pole, beginning their elegant descent towards the ground) which is a beautiful experience.
3. HORSEBACK RIDES
In Ajijic, in “La Floresta” community, by the main street, there is a special site to go horseback riding as well as a spot where you can rent horses and stroll through the town of Ajijic or along the lake’s shore. No need to be a pro, the horses are well trained and very tranquil, it is not uncommon to see a 5 year old riding one by himself. You can also get a guide who will take you to many different points of interest. Riding on the lakeside beach is very rewarding, you can actually concentrate in sightseeing and see among other things birds that you have not seen ever before.
4. PLAY GOLF
It could be any golfer’s dream! In the Ribera de Chapala you can practice it 365 days of the year with very accessible prices. There are two golf courses: The Chula Vista Country Club course with 9 holes but you can play 18, and the Vista del Lago golf course with 18 holes.
With one of the best climates in the world, the perfect weather conditions allows golfers to practice year round.
5. TRY THE EXPERIENCE OF A TRADITIONAL “TEMAZCAL”
Temazcal means “house of the hot stones”; in náhuatl language. Tetl=stone, Mazitli=hot; Calli= house.
The Temazcal is a purification ritual of Indian prehispanic spirituality, which is to heal physical sicknesses and psychological too, it’s similar to a sauna. A Shaman is in charge of conducting the ceremony. After a Temazcal you not only feel renewed but you feel a special connection to earth and all natural powers that abound at lakeside.
6. THERMAL WATERS IN SAN JUAN COSALA
In the town of San Juan Cosalá, there are thermal waters below the ground. This town is about 10 minutes west of Ajijic.
Balneario San Juan Cosala is the oldest spa at Lakeside, it has many pools, hot water Jacuzzis and just about any kind of spa you can think of, it is situated on the water, all water is thermal and has many healing properties. A day in the spa is a must on your trip to lakeside. Special discounts for groups are offered during different times of the year.
Monte Coxala is a spa resort with world class prehispanic décor. Inside its facilities there is a replica of a pyramid in which you can swim in. Monte Coxala has various pools with thermal stones in the outdoors with a beautiful lake view. Plus also a restaurant and a separate facility for massages and spa treatments. There is also a sculpture of a prehispanic “Olmeca” head and inside it there is jetted tub. With its prehispanic touches, it is one of the spas/ hotels lakeside that you simply can’t miss.
7. TOUR THE ART GALLERIES AND COLORFUL MURALS
Ajijic is known for being an artistic town, and you can see this through the many murals that adorn the house walls, some government buildings, store facades and galleries, sometimes even also including the plant pots and light posts. This makes Ajijic very magical, colorful and unique! The ideal site for artists!
You can also take just about any kind of art classes in the many distinct galleries of this town.
8. GET TO KNOW “THE LAKE CHAPALA SOCIETY”
This estate right in the center of town, was donated by Neill James, also known as the God-Mother of Ajijic. The LCS is a non-profit organization and is lakesides biggest with over 2,000 members. The LCS offers more than 40 services to its members, such as Spanish classes, movie nights, tours to go shopping in Guadalajara, some medical and immigration services, etc. It also has the biggest English library in all of México.
The LCS participates constantly with the Mexican community imparting art classes, English and computer classes to name just a few.
Here you can also admire the incredible botanical garden with colorful plants and different species from all over the world, and also a pond with vibrant colored fish.
Visit their page for more information: https://lakechapalasociety.com
9. TAKE A TOUR OF THE DIFFERENT TOWNS ALONG THE LAKE
Getting to know the different surrounding towns and its customs, traditions and crafts is an experience that you can´t miss out on. Lake Chapala is the biggest lake in all of Mexico! There are plenty of things to see and do in these towns that have a touch of magic in them: Jocotepec, El Chante, San Juan Cosala, Ajijic, San Antonio Tlayacapan, Chapala, Santa Cruz, San Nicolas, San Juan Tecomatlan, Mezcala, only to mention a few. The warmth of the people is one of the reasons why many retirees have chosen lakeside to live. Each town has its own characters and personalities that are distinct from a town only a couple of kilometers down the road. Take your time and have a stroll, a coffee, or simple sit on a bench in each of the towns plaza, you will immediately find the town that moves you the most.
10. GO ON A BIKE RIDE
There is an existing cycle path that runs along the Chapala-Ajijic-Jocotepec highway where you can roam on a bike in this near perfect weather of ours. Rent a bike or even an electric bike in Ajijic and take a ride to Chapala heading east or to San Juan Cosala heading west, this is one way you can truly get a feeling of lakeside’s big foreign community. Or just get on your bike and go to the malecones (water boardwalks), do some exercise and at the same time enjoy the natural beauty of the scenery.
11. THE AUDITORIUM OF THE RIBERA, YOU CAN ENJOY WORLD CLASS SHOWS AND EVENTS
Dance performances, theatre, classical music, singing, orchestras, Tangos, Mariachis, Ballet Folklórico; are just some examples of the great variety of events that you can enjoy in the Auditorium of the Ribera de Chapala which is conveniently located in Ajijic. During the winter months the auditorium has 2 to 3 performances a week, get your tickets early as it is not uncommon for shows to fill up.
12. TREAT YOURSELF TO A MASSAGE AND RELAX!
The Lakeside area has many spas for massages as well as professional masseurs that were trained outside of Mexico for very reasonable prices compared to the US and Canada. There is a great selection to choose from, many different kinds and many different prices. Find the one that is to your liking and give a couple of spas a call, many include different services so comparing prices can actually be difficult. Remember, a masseur can come to you too, for many this is the way to go, just remember, during the winter months try to plan ahead of schedule as many snowbirds will be getting their massages.
13. DO YOU LIKE TAKING PICTURES? THIS IS THE PERFECT PLACE FOR IT!
The sunsets and sunrises in Lake Chapala are something magical! The lake and its mountains offer sceneries that you will not be able to resist taking a picture of. It is not necessary to be a professional to be able to capture a beautiful shot. So take out your camera or cellular phone and start taking pictures!
14. DELIGHT YOURSELF WITH OUR RESTAURANTS
It’s amazing the amount of restaurants that there are at Lakeside. There is no other place in Mexico and maybe North America with the diversity and quality of food in such a small town. Ajijic with only 5,000 inhabitants has well over 100 restaurants, many of them with better reviews on tripadvisor than restaurants in the neighboring city of Guadalajara with 5 million people. Here are some of the different types of foods found lakeside: Mexican food, Argentinian food, Thai food, Chinese food, Japanese food, Italian food, Arab food, Hindu food, Delis, Bistros, Fine cuisine, etc.
But if you’re one that wants to explore Mexican food a little bit further try out the street tacos that are practically in every street corner throughout Mexico, a strong stomach is a must. Made with handmade tortillas, spicy sauces and many more Mexican delights they are truly, delicious!
15. GO ON A TOUR TO SEE THE MANSIONS OF LAKE CHAPALA “BEHIND THE WALLS TOUR”
Big walls around Lakeside block viewers from seeing some of the prettiest homes in the state. With Ajijic being an artist colony, you can only begin to imagine what lies on the other side of those big walls, visit these beautiful mansions while you visit Lake Chapala, this is your chance to admire their architecture, décor, perfectly good tastes and see their exuberant gardens, some of them created with the finest details. It is also a good occasion to collect ideas to build your new home, remodel or just add some fine decorations to your current home.
For more information about Lakeside visit: Lake Chapala Towns