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Lake Chapala

Lakeside Activites
Fun things to do during your medical or dental getaway

Lake Chapala

Patients come from around the world to Lake Chapala to undergo treatment with our professionals and benefit from the before, during, and aftercare.

DocTours connects clients with the best affordable doctors, dentists, and plastic surgeons in Mexico, including the most affordable anti-aging therapy with stem cell and HGH treatments. (For more information on any of our Sentient Treatments, just click on one of the tabs directly above.) We also can give you leads on wellness travel in Mexico, in our own neighborhood on Lake Chapala.

Visitors and locals enjoy the water sports. You can see them out on the lake most weekends, canoeing, kayaking, sailing boats, riding jet skis, and racing speed boats. The more serious boaters have formed a yacht club, el Club de Vela de San Cristobal Zapotitlan.

The yacht club in San Juan Cosula has the big Batar party boat that has generated many fond memories.

Medical tourists have plenty of play options. Spend your increased energy hiking, pedaling, playing golf, tennis, practicing yoga and meditation, eating right, getting expert massages, dining out at four-star restaurants, or dancing the night away to live music. Even if staying just a week or two, one can fit into the happy hum of activity generated by the local community.

Whatever you choose to do, the weather is almost always perfect for doing it. See here the ideal climate you're missing. Not bad, eh?

Sailing on Lake Chapala
colorful dress
Dancing in the Street


Meal With Friends

Boyish Contemplation

Dress that Endures

Great Food & Music

You can find a number of four-star restaurants throughout the Lakeside area. Dining out is probably the premier pastime for tourists in Mexico. The Chapala environs—with its huge cache of fine restaurants—is no exception.

One cosmopolitan venue has international chefs who have created a menu of unique dishes to satisfy the most discerning palates and cater to different moods and occasions. There are also restaurants that cater to eating right and providing live music for those enthused enough to dance the night away. Paintings from local and international artists adorn the walls to create a mystical and romantic ambiance. Singers and musicians from all over the world perform nightly.

You may have read about the healing power of singing. La Bodega Restaurant & Bar has an Open Mic. All are welcome to sing, clap, or sit in and showcase your talent with an audience and live accompaniment. Adelita's Bar & Grill, besides delivering popular American music that gets everybody up on their feet, also some nights sponsors a jam, meaning please see the guys before the gig to go over keys and tunes. Reservations often are a must.

Manix Restaurant & Bar entertains with improv jazz, The Bistro with funk and surf music, Bar La Tia and El Patio with country music and country dancing, and Roberto's Restaurant with singers and dancers. La Sima (can mean 'precipice') offers, besides food and live music, the best view of the lake with its glorious sunsets. You might want to have a camera with you.

La Mision Restaurant, in the theatre district, serves a superb meal, with attentive waiters, reserved seating indoors or outdoors, and also soothing, live chamber music, such as a duo of violinists.

Music is almost universally healing and uplifting. No matter what your taste may be, you can sing, listen, and dance to—nearly any night of the week.

The biggest performance venue in the Chapala Riviera is The Auditorio. They garner some of the bigger names among music and dance performers including Mexico's Ballet Folklorico.

The Centro Cultural Gonzalez Gallo in the Old Train Station stages familiar classical music and pieces by accomplished Mexican composers such as Manuel Ponce. Usually admission is free.

According to National Geographic, Lakeside has the second best climate in the world.

Lakeside Theater

Where do retired actors, lighting pros, directors, and all the other folks who it takes to put on a great play go when they retire? Well a lot of them found Lake Chapala. Lakeside Little Theater Group—Mexico's oldest English-speaking playhouse—just started its 51st season. The Naked Stage and Bravo! Theatre present plays and offer classes in acting, improv classes, and dance.

Budding Artists

Parade on Mardi Gras

Hot Springs Spa and Hotel in San Juan Cosala Balnearios

For daytime relaxation and healing, there is a hot spring. Soaking in hot mineral water:

  • increases your body temperature, killing germs, including viruses;
  • increases hydrostatic pressure of the body, thereby increasing oxygenation;
  • increases the metabolism by stimulating at the same time secretions of the digestive track and liver, thus helping digestion.
Toblandia, Water Park in Ajijic

Located in the Lakeside town called San Juan Cosala, the spa has two large swimming pools, many smaller pools, two Jacuzzis, two different flower pools, a coffee therapy pool, a "soup-of-the-day" pool with apple vinegar, red wine, soy milk, oatmeal, or others, and a more conventional mud bath. Steam baths are housed in igloos made out of volcanic rock.

The spa has from five to seven masseuses on staff. For children of all ages, there is a water slide. Visitors can stay for meals in one of several restaurants on the grounds.

Thousands of people have visited this hot spring during the forty-five year existence of the spa and hotel. Daytime passes are available and overnight stays. Reservations must be made a week in advance, even two months in advance for Easter.

Come to the Spa

More Fun Activities

If you like great views and don't mind walking uphill for a few kilometers, there are marked trails on the high hills behind the lakeside towns.

The people-watching lets you appreciate our species in many varieties.

The antiquing and bargain-hunting for unique works of art and craft make it sensible to go back home with more prizes than you arrived with.


Art in a Gallery

Art welcomes one

Art Welcomes One

Art: carved sitters

Carved Sitters

Back to sedentary: if you want to take in a movie, either American or Mexican, in either English or Spanish, you have a choice of cinemas.

Some events take place annually. American Legion Post 7 celebrates Mothers' Day. There's an annual Chili Cook-Off. The Aero Fest Chapala swoops in and the boldest among us go on helicopter rides and even skydive (putting all that new great health at risk :)

Aero Fest Chapala

Dresses outside

Handmade and Embroidered Dresses

Serapes Outside

Table Covers and Wall Hangings

San Luis Soyatlan, across the lake


Day Trips Out of Town

Cross Lake Chapala on a 'water taxi' from the Ajijic pier to the new malecon ('seawall') in San Luis Soyatlan, taking about 35 minutes. It ferries tourists over Fridays through Sundays. The boat can also be chartered for parties.

A top-recommended lunch destination is Los Crotos Bed & Breakfast and Restaurant. It's a pleasant, leisurely 15-minute walk through the quaint town, or you can request a land taxi from the boat captain. Just off the central plaza at the purple awnings, ring the doorbell to begin a gracious and leisurely meal. Use the binoculars there to get a spectacular view of the north shore. Be sure to look for the Mexican eagle in the mountainside.

Ocotlan, a nearby picturesque town

In a small town, you won't find movies, malls, fast food joints, but always pretty fountains, old churches, and a new Mom and Pop restaurant to stumble across if lucky, and people living their Mexican lives. On the highway from Lake Chapala leading into Ocotlan (on the way to Morelia), there are furniture factories with large showrooms. The stores make home deliveries. Prices are much lower than in a big city like Guadalajara.

Lake Patzcuaro, a Town with
Pre-Columbian Roots

A few hours out of Lake Chapala on the highway to Morelia is Lake Patzcuaro. At an elevation of 7,200 feet in the highlands of central Michoacan, the region has rainy, green summers, blooming flowers in Fall, and crisp, dry, mountain air all winter. In the 1320s, the Tarascans founded the town on the lakeshore. Patzcuaro became their capital and later their ceremonial center. Two centuries later, the Spanish took over. Patzcuaro has retained its colonial and indigenous character. The United Nations named the municipality both a "Pueblo Magico" and one of the 100 Historic World Treasure Cities. Given all the water fowl and others, birders record sighting a dozen and more different species.

Lake Patzcuaro

Birding at El Estribo on Lake Patzcuaro


Overnight Trips

Coastal Jungle

Old Man by the Sea

Morelia, Michoacan's capital

Another old beautiful city. The downtown area has wide boulevards, large parks, plazas, fountains ,and loads of sidewalk cafes set under large overhangs (like large covered verandas) perfect for sipping a cupachino while people watching. Lots of upscale as well as middle class type stores. And many sidewalk soft-serve ice cream places. The indigenous there entertain with a unique and rousing song and dance.

Comala, near Colima

An easy drive 2.5 to 3 hours, great road. Nearby are an archeological site and a mask maker in Suchitlan. In Nogueras, a museum in an ex-hacienda has work by Alejandro Rangel, contemporary of Frida and Diego. A coffee farm sits on the side of the volcano—lake in the crater, absolutely beautiful views, and great coffee. You can keep going to Cuyutlan for lunch on the beach.

Beach Towns—into the setting sun

Will your medical or dental vacation include a swim in the warm Pacific Ocean?

Puerto Vallarta is the nearest major beach town with markets, titanic cruise ships, and a major airport. It has been very modernized. Just to the north of PV are Sayulita with its annual film festival and San Francisco (Pancho), originally a planned town for the powerful, where visiting presidents stayed. Just to the south is Yelapa, a car-free village that can be reached only by boat.

From Lake Chapala you'd travel through Guadalajara. There you could go by car, bus, or plane. Luxury buses in Mexico are very plush and affordable. The highway is new and is being extended. By land, the trip is a bit more than four hours. By air, of course, it is quite quick to Puerto Vallarta, departing from the airport in Guadalajara.


If ancient ruins mesmerize you and you are willing to spend a night out of town, Mexico has some of the biggest pyramids on the planet. The twin pyramids of The Sun and The Moon—a bit north of Mexico City—are climbable. What else is amazing is that the city which existed at their base was an international religious city. It lacked defensive walls and pilgrims of every nation ('tribe') could worship there in peace. Peace be to us all.

If you enjoy traveling with another, familiarize them with this site, too. They may enjoy joining you for getting an expert massage, practicing meditation and yoga, dining out, or many of the other activities that are offered at lakeside. Oh, and, before joining us, make sure your passport is up to date.

Traveling Companions