FAQ's regarding the sale:
Q: Why are you selling?
Now in our sixties, we've decided that it's time to slow down and shed our worldly responsibilities. While we love the ranch and all it represents, it has also been a massive undertaking that has required far more of our life energies and savings than we originally imagined. We are torn about giving up on our vision, but we want to keep ahead of the aging curve by moving on to the next phase of our lives gracefully, i.e. while we're still in good enough physical shape to do so. In truth a project of this size would be better suited to either someone with deeper pockets than we have, or else a group of communitarians looking for an idyllic place, with abundant resources and existing infrastructure, that can be taken to the next level.
We want to be clear that there have been no significant problems underlying our decision other than our desire for less responsibility and a return to our more urban roots. The local community has always been exceptionally welcoming, and we have never had any problems beyond the normal challenges of a homesteading lifestyle. Many of those challenges (and rewards) are described in detail in the popular expat memoir about the first dozen years at Rancho Sol y Mar, “The Mexico Diaries: A Sustainable Adventure”.
As we sit here now, under our beautiful palapa, sipping our Sunday morning coffee, watching the ocean caressing the beach below, and listening to the chicharas calling for the rains to arrive and bring their abundance, we feel blessed to have had a truly fantastic run here. The idea of leaving is bittersweet; however, we believe deeply in non-attachment, and we are looking forward to ushering in the next phase of our lives and seeing how the ranch next manifests.
At the same time as we are preparing for the letting go involved, we remain committed to the idea of having this incredible property serve a higher purpose of being a model of sustainability and environmental consciousness. Toward this end, we will strive to make a sale possible for anyone aligned with that intention.
Q: Is the property titled?
Yes. Rancho Sol y Mar was one of the first parcels in the region to become fully privatized with an escritura (title) from RAN (Registro Agrario Nacional), a process that took us three years to accomplish. This is much different than a local ejidal title, which is also called an "escritura". Anyone looking to buy land in Mexico is advised to be well informed of the difference. RAN titles are ironclad. Ejidal titles are extremely problematic and risky. While there are always deals to be had on ejido titled properties, Rancho Sol y Mar is still one of the few in the area to be a legitimate RAN titled offering.
As a side note, most foreign-owned properties in Mexico's coastal restricted zone must be titled and held in fideicomiso bank trust. Because of its size, Rancho Sol y Mar is titled and held in a Mexican Corporation, which we fully own. Transfer of the entire corporation is possible, and it can be wholly foreign-owned.
Q: What is the overall description of the property? What percentage of the land is arable?:
Here is a rough description:
Front of 1/3 of parcel (closest to the beach): about 1/3 arable, and 2/3 buildable and/or arable, with numerous possibilities for ocean view building lots. This is where our infrastructure is (guest facilities, yoga platform, personal residence, etc. This is where water and power services come in.
Middle 1/3 of parcel: Mostly hilly, forested land. Some suitable building lots with more distance ocean views.
Back 1/3 of parcel: The back one third flattens out and has one large arable pasture of several acres and a large 75-100 foot seasonal pond. The rest is rolling hills suitable for building, orchard, or woodlot. There is a couple hundred feet of frontage on the main coast road at the very back, so bringing in additional services, or having a commercial business is another option for this part. There is also gentle slope access to several more building lots with distant ocean views.
Q: Exactly how far are you from the beach? Is the beach swimmable?
The property's front gate is exactly 300 yards from the main Mayto Beach, and about another 200 yards further to Playa Amor (Lover's Beach). The guest facilities are basically right at the front gate, whereas the two main houses and caretaker cottage are all about 3-4 minutes walk further into the property. Both beaches are swimmable in all but the roughest days.
It should be noted that while there is no undertow or rip current at our end of the Mayto Beach, it is nonetheless, open ocean. Those who prefer calmer swimming, the beach in the nearby fishing village of Tehua Mixtle, a 20 minute walk from the back gate. Tehua Mixtle is also accessible via a spectacular 45-minute hike along the cliffs and hidden pebble beach of Talpachichi (also known as Pirate's Cove).
Q: Are you currently open for guest stays or tours?
No, sorry. Our position on Covid-19 is that we are committed to being part of the solution to this terrible problem. We take mask-wearing and physical distancing very seriously, and we have no plans to reopen the guest facilities until transmission rates here in Mexico are totally under control. We are also closed to general tours; however, we are available to arrange showings to serious, pre-qualified buyers (application form available on request).
Q: What is the water situation?:
We have three sources of water: municipal, catchment, and our own deep drilled well.
Municipal water is considered plentiful due to our location at the base of the coastal mountain range, which sees consistent annual tropical rainfall.
Our own deep, drilled, registered well is close to 600 feet deep, so well protected from any potential surface contamination. It was a gusher when they finally broke through what was mostly solid granite, and when we had it cleaned initially with a 2" pump running for 72 hours straight, the static level barely dropped, so it's a virtual lake down there! The water is high in chloride salts due to our proximity to the ocean and the fact that it's so deep, so it's not great tasting, but the plants & trees all seem to like like it, and it's actually considered to be a good source of supplemental minerals for animals. We use a basic 1/2" solar pump that generates about 3-4000 liters a day which we primarily use for the drip line to the food forest, and we also have a larger, spare 1" solar pump that we've never even needed to install.
Regarding water collection, we have two dug ponds on the property, one about 15 meters diameter, and one about 30 meters diameter, which hold water until late spring, and could be lined for year-round use. There is a seasonal arroyo running the property's length, which could be used to create a diverted channel and holding pond. We also use swales in our food forest for water retention plus a second area prepped with swales but as yet unplanted, and we have a Permaculture master plan for broad-scale water collection for the entire property, yet to be implemented.
Q: What percentage of food are you able to produce at the ranch?:
This is a tricky question because our time at the property has been more focused on learning and teaching natural building rather than food growing. The answer also depends on whether or not eating meat is part of the equation. If you were to raise goats, cows, or pigs, reaching 90% within a year or two would be easily do-able. We are pescatarians, and, at our peak, I'd say we have produced close to 50% of our needs. The other part of the equation is that our food forest is only 5 years old, so many of the varieties are in the early stages of producing. There is almost always plentiful papaya, banana, plantain, coconut, various citrus, passion fruit, nopal, herbs, and moringa. We are deluged with mangos during the early summer. Other fruit trees such as lychee, star fruit, zapote, tropical pine nut (look and taste just like Italian pine nuts!), and pineapple either produce randomly or are in their early stages of producing. The gardening potential is basically unlimited for much of the year for someone that really knows what they are doing. There are also numerous stretches of land throughout the property, a rough guess of about 10 acres total, where full scale farming could take place. Being tropical, pests such as leaf cutter ants are a constant challenge.
On top of the growies, we have always had ducks and chickens, so the amount of eggs and poultry you could produce would only be limited by how many birds you decide to have. The same thing goes for goats, cows, or pigs. We have had a small heard of goats for many years that we used for milk, cheese, and yogurt. The property is all fenced so they animals can free-range.
Q: What are the existing retreat facilities?:
The four-room guest house is configured as follows:
3 bedrooms, each with one double and one single bed, comfortably spaced.
1 dorm-style room with 2 bunk beds and a single.
Please note: this is just the way we've configured it. It could easily be converted into all dorm-style rooms with 2-3 sets of bunk beds in each room if you want to max out the occupancy.
The screen casita has a queen and a double bed.
The two main houses are each one bedroom. Our primary residence, the gorgeous, artisanal "Casa Tortuga," has a King. The other principal residence, Casa Hillary, has a queen. Additionally, Casa Hillary was prepped in the construction with structural support and stairs leading to a planned master bedroom suite and rooftop terrace. We estimate that this master suite could be added for between 10-20K, depending on the level of finish.
The caretaker cottage, near our main house, is also one bedroom and currently has a queen.
Finally, we have an old popup camper with two double beds and a really, really funky and beautiful "Aroyo House" that is semi-finished. It has a built-in, queen-size pedestal bed and could accommodate a second fold-away bed. "Unfinished" means that it needs the kitchen appliances, a bathroom (there is a large closet that could be used to create a bathroom, or, our plan was always to create an exterior bathroom), plus some basic plumbing and electric work. Everyone that sees The Arroyo Houses fawns over it, and we feel that it could be completed for about 5K.
We also have 4 camping spaces with water and electric hookups, and unlimited space for tent camping.
During a couple of our larger 20+ person workshops, we included camping in the pricing, with accommodation upgrades offered. About half the participants opted for camping, and we accommodated some of the staff in our Casa Hillary and the caretaker cottage.
All said then, we have existing bed space for 24 (assuming all double, queen, and king size bed full utilized with two people each)—3-4 more with the popup camper, and 2-3 more in the Aroyo House. So, totally maxed out could be 30 + camping.
A bit more about retreats at Rancho Sol y Mar: We have hosted numerous wonderful events over the years. These include a six-week natural building workshop, a ten-day Permaculture Certification course, multi-day writing, dance, women & chocolate, plant medicine and Ayahuasca retreats, and numerous single-day courses in animal care, cheesemaking, solar voltaics, and general sustainability classes and tours.
The largest retreat group we've had was about 25, including staffing. We never became a full-blown retreat center because, as retirees, Holly and I never aggressively pursued that business model. Instead, we've been more in the mode of letting the direction of the ranch unfold organically. We believe that it is an ideal location for someone wanting to develop it into a retreat center, and we've always felt that that would be the best use of the property. We thought our own kids might pick up the torch, and one daughter built a beautiful house and lived at the ranch for several years, but in the end, they all pursued careers and romance stateside. The ranch and facilities are set back from the beach just enough to offer easy access but still have a very intimate feel. The local area has many add-on attractions such as snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, skimboarding, kite surfing, turtle release, cliff hikes, and the quintessential Mexican fishing village of TehuaMixtle, all within easy walking distance. You may know of nearby yoga retreat mecca Yelapa, which has become overcrowded and increasingly has problems with drugs and crime. We feel that Mayto, where the Rancho Sol y Mar is located, is perfectly poised to become the Yelapa go-to alternative, and in many ways, Mayto has much more to offer. Puerto Vallarta offers the perfect meetup spot for arriving participants, and van transportation to the ranch is easily arranged.
Q: Do you have a topographic survey of the property?
Yes! (available on request)
Is there any timber or clay good for natural building on the property:
Yes, some naturally occurring, highly coveted hardwoods such as brazil and Guayabillo in the middle third of the parcel, but not enough for commercial harvesting. We also planted about a fifty prima vera and caoba (mahogany) hardwoods at the front of the property about ten years ago.
There isn't any building clay due to our proximity to the ocean, however, excellent building clay is cheap and locally available. We once dug a test well in the seasonal arroyo and found that it had filled with a beautiful, grey, porcelain-like clay that could potentially be used of potting during the rainy season.
Q: Is there a surf break nearby?: Yes, there is a hidden surf break about a half-hour away. We've been told that it is rocky, so better for experienced surfers. One friend of ours, who has surfed worldwide, claims to have had his best ever day surfing there!
Q: How far is the ranch from the main coastal highway:
If you look at Google Maps, you will see that Mexico's Main coastal highway, Route 200, passes by the prominent peninsula "Cabo Corrientes" where we're located. The main town where Route 200 passes Cabo Corrientes, called El Tuito, is between 45min and an hour away, depending on how you drive. Puerto Vallarta is another hour from there. The secondary coastal road between the main highway in El Tuito and us is mostly paved, but it has many potholes, and its condition varies seasonally. Once the road from El Tuito reaches Mayto, the pavement ends, but it continues south along the coast, and eventually rejoins Route 200, about an hour south. This secondary coastal road abuts the back of our property.
The features you list are many, in light of that, what do you consider 3 of the property's greatest (practical, not implied) strengths & 3 of its greatest weaknesses?
Oh my gosh, where to begin? It truly is an incomparable property. That's not just real estate hyperbole. But the first three things that come to mind are:
1) Natural, unspoiled beauty with stunning ocean and mountain views. Perfect distance from the beach provides easy beach access while being set back enough to provide separation from the the growth that is certain to increase at the beach.
2) It is a perfect mix of flat, open arable land, rolling, easy-to-develop ocean view hills, plus the middle of the parcel with pristine natural forest.
3) This is an incredible investment opportunity seeing as it is amazing green space, smack dab in the middle between the two fastest growing tourist centers in the entire region (Mayto Beach and the rising village of Tehua Mixtle).
1) This is still a relatively primitive environment where nature rules (i.e. snakes, scorpions, leaf cutter ants, and some predators).
2) Services are still highly variable, especially power and internet. We are grid tied-solar, so have a good buffer for the frequent power outages. High-speed satellite internet has recently become available as an option that we’re exploring.
3) The road down from EL Tuito is still pretty rugged with lots of potholes, frequent washouts in the rainy season, etc.
What are some of the real challenges you & your family have confronted living there, & what have been some of your solutions? Is there an issue with narco activity in the area:
If you read my memoir, The Mexico Diaries: A Sustainable Adventure" rated 4.6 on Goodreads/Amazon/Kindle, you will get the full story. Here is a review by author Tony Cohen that sums up the experience:
"As lively and engaging an account of resettling in Mexico as you'll encounter, replete with goat wrangling, narcos, scorpions, and a rollicking cast of characters. As Dan and Holly, fleeing their stress-filled US lives, struggle to set up an eco-friendly community along Mexico's west coast, fiascos and triumphs mark their journey." ~ Tony Cohan, Literary Guild Winner and author of NYT's best selling memoir, On Mexican Time.
If we could point to one single thing has been the hardest, it would be all the crap made in China that continually breaks (pumps, tools, etc.). That and managing all the hundreds of volunteers we've hosted over the years. Holly and I both ran successful businesses stateside with wonderful long-term employees, but managing volunteers has been a whole different ballgame due to the drama and instability they often bring with them. Volunteers have given us our highest highs and lowest lows over the past dozen years.
To address the issue of narco activity: We have excellent local “intel” and are always monitoring the evolving situation, both here and in Mexico as a whole. For us, the bottom line is that those not involved in the illicit activity have little to worry about from narco-violence. Thankfully, our region of Cabo Corrientes has been very stable and "tranquilo" over the fifteen years we've been here, and violent crime is rare here. We personally have never been threatened or felt unsafe at the ranch. Again, we refer you to “The Mexico Diaries” for a broader discussion of this theme.
Lastly, we’d like to add our own general note: We believe that Mexico is an ideal place to pursue a sustainable lifestyle due to its extremely low property taxes (we pay $250U.S. per year!), nearly year-round growing climate, availability of inexpensive hired help, minimal or non-existent building codes and business regulation, and plentiful sun to be harnessed for electric, water pumping, food drying, etc. In addition, the ranch, with its perfect location near one of Mexico’s most beautiful beaches and only two hours away from an international airport, is an easy draw for volunteers, retreat participation .
Above all else, life in Mexico, especially rural Mexico, requires flexibility and a willingness to roll with its quirky, unpredictable nature. We call Mexico “tortilla soup for the gringo soul” and like to joke that life here is the sandpaper that has helped wear down our sharp, gringo edges. With the proper attitude, Mexico can be the greatest teacher of “living in the day” imaginable. It also carries with it a sense of true freedom as opposed to the freedoms we grew up indoctrinated to believe the United States had the corner on, but which, in fact, turned out to be a fallacy. We love Mexico dearly, and are pleased to consider it our permanent home.
Q: Is it Safe?
A: In general, Mayto is extremely laid back and safe, people-wise. Snakes and “Alacran” scorpions are the main safety concerns. A tent with a good zipper and common sense cautions, particularly when tromping around in overgrown areas, are the only precautions needed. Leather gloves are recommended for handling firewood. Swimming is generally safe anywhere to the left the rocks in front of Hotel Mayto but getting in and out of the break, right at the beach, can be a little challenging when it’s rough. Lover’s Beach is also safe on calm days. Swimming in TehuaMixtle, a 20 minute walk, or 5 minute drive away, is much calmer and quite safe on all but the roughest days.
For more general questions about safety in Mexico we refer you to Mexico Mikes fine website (http://www.mexicomike.com) as he tends to have the most current, big picture advise for travelers to Mexico.
We also urge prospective visitors to read and share this document:
An optimistic piece dated November 2012:
For ourselves, we feel that Mexico is an extremely friendly country and that travel is generally safe outside of drug trafficking areas such as Michoacán or the border towns. Statistically, traveling is Mexico is as safe as driving the highways or being a tourist in average U.S. cities. While the cops and narcos do their thing, life for the average Mexican or visitor to Mexico goes on about its peaceful, “tranquilo” way.
Q: Is Food and Water Readily Available?
A: Yes, however we suggest stocking up on bulk dry foods or specialty supplies in Vallarta, then you can rely on local sources for all of your fresh food needs. (Please Note: There are no ATM's or businesses that accept crdeit/debit cards in within 1 hour drive) We have a cool little veggie + dairy products truck that stops by the ranch twice a week. Mayto Village is about a mile away and has basic taco stands and small tiendas with basic supplies. The water is generally safe plus we have a UV + carbon filtration system for guest use. The fishing village of Tehua Mixtle is a five minute drive, or 30 minute walk away, and has fresh fish & oysters and frozen shrimp available, as well as several good harbor side seafood restaurants. Nearby there are a couple of restaurant options, one of which is a family owned guest house “El Rinconcito” that serves generally excellent food. There's no menu at El Rinconcito and it's group dining.
Q: What are the transportation options, to and from Mayto?
A: There are several options for getting to the ranch from Vallarta. There are inexpensive buses hourly from Vallarta to El Tuito, which is about halfway. You can either hitch (hitching is very common and accepted in this area) or hire a cab from El Tuito for about 500-600 pesos one way or directly from Vallarta (about $80-$100 one way). Our favorite Cab Driver in El Tuito is Javier (he speaks english, is very accommodating, and knows the ranch well) cell: (322) 156-9082, home:(322) 137-5973. Unfortunately there is no longer a bus from between El Tuito and Mayto.
Q: Are Pets permitted?:
A: Pet Policy: We here at Rancho Sol y Mar love animals and welcome pets that are mellow and quite. Stray, noisy, or aggressive animals are not permitted.
Pets are provisionally accepted on a case-by-case basis, however (they) will be required to leave the property immediately should their presence create any disturbance to other residents or guests, if they exhibit aggressive behavior, or if they are perceived to be a threat to other ranch animals or wildlife. All pet waste must be picked up. No dogs are permitted to be off leash beyond the garden area going up the hill. No refunds will be given should a pet be required to leave the property. No stray animals may be brought on to the property, fed, or otherwise encouraged to stick around should they show up on their own.
Thank you for helping keep Rancho Sol y Mar a pleasant, tranquil, and safe place for all to enjoy!
Q: What is included in the communal kitchen?
A: Kitchen facilites include U.V. + carbon filter treated water, stove, wash up sinks, outdoor grill, pots and pans, dishware and silverware.
Q: What should I bring?
A: Please see our downloadable packing list below.
Q: How do I apply for apprenticeship, work exchange, volunteer, or other opportunities for involvement with
Rancho Sol y Mar?
A: Please see our "Get Involved" page
Sustainable Permaculture Retreat Center Land For Sale Coastal Mexico