La Cruz de Huanacaxtle Sunday Market

The guy who sold us our golf cart made a few recommendations of things to check out in the area and La Cruz Sunday Market was one of them.

He said it was the biggest and best market in the area, covering a long rocky jetty jutting out into the Bay of Banderas.

Still being in a Southeast Asia frame of mind, I suppose, Lori and I both conjured up images of a chaotic floating wet market, where people bring their livestock and produce by wooden skiff from the surrounding villages and set up shop almost on top of one another.

So, one Sunday in late November, we decided to make the 20-minute trip by taxi down to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (the town’s full name that gringos seem to find impossible to pronounce, shortening it to simply La Cruz).

There’s not a lot of good info on visiting La Cruz, and the town is just large enough, and just warm enough this time of year, to make wandering around hungry for 30 minutes with two little ones sound not that fun.

Tripadvisor wasn’t much help in this case, so I poked around close to where the market was supposed to be in on Google maps and came up with three potential spots to grab breakfast.

The first we happened upon was Ana Bananas. From the road it was hard to tell whether the place was open, fully functioning, and/or hosting some sort of event. Was it even a restaurant?

Before we could decide for ourselves, an older gringo quickly ushered us inside and sat us at one of several vacant plastic tables.

As we were getting the kids situated, we looked up and noticed the eyes of the other patrons (six, perhaps, spread out over two tables across the deck) fixed on us. Not in a particularly threatening way, but more like one would find themselves subconsciously studying an enigma.

We soon came to learn that La Cruz is a magnet for retired gringos from Canada and the U.S., drawn to the warm climate, sleepy vibe, and affordable real estate.

Lori and I got the sense that these folks don’t see a lot of young’ns wandering around these parts. At least not so far away from the beach.

To describe Ana Bananas wouldn’t do it justice. We’ll let the photos do that and I’ll try and fill in the blanks.

Ana Bananas

It’s safe to say there’s no place quite like Ana Bananas in Sayulita…or anywhere else, for that matter. It’s quirky and irreverent, with a dash of macabre.

Along those lines, it’s got quite the loyal following, it seems. So much, in fact, that a few dozen patrons have elected to have their ashes hung from the rafters of the dining room. See the purple bags in the photo above?

And that’s exactly where Barry, our octogenarian host, sat us before later cluing us in. Initiation for newcomers, I suppose.

Barry, along with his Mexican wife, Ana, run the place. Ana takes care of all the cooking herself, which is no small feat, particularly when a large crowd of tourists happens upon the place.

In addition to its off-kilter charm, Ana Bananas location also has an interesting back story.

This, now jungly little corner of town was once prime beachfront property not so long ago.

If this photo had been taken 15 years ago, Noe would have his back to the sea, within spitting distance of the beach below.

So what happened, you ask?


The entire harbor was developed into one of the largest marinas in the region. A seawall was constructed and backfilled, creating a sizable plot of dirt between Ana Bananas and the marina.

A fairly dense jungle sprang up in a matter of years, which Barry is quick to attribute to the sewage ditch that runs along the eastern edge of the property.

On the left, Google Earth imagery from 2003, and on the right, 2018. The red arrow points to Ana Bananas in both photos.

Which is sort of an interesting segue into Part II of our morning, because the perimeter of the new marina is the location of the Sunday market.

La Cruz Harbor & Sunday Market

After breakfast, we proceeded towards where we were told to look for the market.

We didn’t know it at the time, but we had opted for the longer route to the Sunday Market that involved either hopping on a boat taxi or walking another kilometer to reach the western entrance to the market.

We popped out at the Fish Market and thought we’d found what we came for. That is, until we peered across the marina and noticed a line of exhibit tents stretching for a mile along the sea.

A boat taxi rolled up, we hopped on and, a short time later, found ourselves in the heart of the action.

It’s clear most people don’t access the market this way.

For one, the main parking lot is all the way around the other end (most folks seem to get here by their own four wheels). Two, there was no health check tent on this side.

But the boat ride was a fun little bonus, and the boys liked it, of course.

As you may have been able to determine by the photos already, the La Cruz Sunday Market is just a bit different than what Lori and I had in mind.

I’d liken it closer to an artisan foods and crafts market in a trendy, up-and-coming neighborhood in the U.S., just transplanted into the tropics in this stunning location.

Really, you can’t beat the location. Gorgeous views, a nice steady breeze, water on both sides, and lots of sunshine.

The market itself is excellent as well. Clean and well organized and the products appear to be high-quality and locally made.

I won’t lie, Lori and I were looking forward to something a bit more chaotic and rough around the edges (with a hint of adventure). But we’re not complaining. La Cruz market is a top notch event that we definitely recommend visiting.

We always love poking around marinas, and this one has no shortage of interesting vessels to look at. Noe’s favorite may have been this very unusual interceptor vessel. Apparently La Cruz is one of Sea Shepherd’s home ports.

The view of Puerto Vallarta from the market, across Banderas Bay.

Playa La Manzanilla

Given the exorbitant cost of taxis around the region, we figured we’d also take this opportunity to scout out beach options for future visits.

Exiting the market on the west end, we walked not 50 meters before running into the main beach, stretching away from the main jetty.

It didn’t seem like a particularly swimmable beach for the boys, but we were otherwise happy with our discovery. Here it was, Sunday, and we more or less had the beach to ourselves.

…except for the occasional toy touts, which the boys thought were the funniest thing ever…

…didn’t ask for anything of course. Just kept repeating “No, gracias. No gracias,” to the two men, who must have thought our boys were either insane or heavily medicated.

The headland in the distance intrigued us for its lush vegetation and colorful buildings all stacked on top of each other, so we continued west along the beach.

There appeared to be a protected cove just over a small dune and we were excited to check it out. Could this be the holy grail of swimming that we had hoped to find?

We crested the rise and our jaws dropped. La Cruz had struck us as refreshingly sleepy away from the bustling market. Walking around, it felt like a ghost town. Suddenly, we realized where everyone was.

An otherwise perfect little white-sands cove, completely inundated with people (mostly kids) soaking up the sun.

Even before Covid we would have been shocked by this sudden turn of events. A sprawling and otherwise bucolic little beach town in which 99% of visitors and residents seemed to be concentrated in an area the size of a football field.

Not really our bag, especially given that we already live in a beach town that swells with visitors on the weekends.

We’ll try returning midweek one of these days and see if the vibe is a bit more relaxing.

Back to Sayulita…

Not hard to find a spot on North Beach on Sunday night, even if we do have to share it with a gaggle of Youtubers and Instagrammers.

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