Cooking and Yoga in a tropical Mexican paradise

This next culinary vacation is one of my favorite finds. Combining beach, yoga, and healthy cooking at a luxurious jungle retreat on the Mexican Rivier Nayarit, this is one of those trips you could do solo, with girlfriends or your partner.  Assembled by Access Trips, this package has all the elements going for it (they had me at “margaritas at the end of each class” – my kind of place):

  • Stay in luxurious, exotic cabanas at Haramara Retreat - a stunning yoga retreat nestled in a jungle above the Pacific Ocean.
  • 8 hours of culinary classes in an open-air kitchen, taught by one of Mexico’s leading chefs, making fresh, organic and healthy Mexican dishes.
  • Four 90-minute yoga classes in one of the beautiful open air pavilions.
  • Two local market tours in nearby villages (including a tour of a coffee roastery).
  • Time to relax on the beach, hike, or enjoy massages (all included). Other excursions nearby include whale-watching, surfing, and kayaking.
  • All delicious prepared meals, including a BBQ and bonfire on the beach.

One of the two open air pavilions at Haramara

Just a few of the many dishes you will learn to prepare: fresh ceviche, mexican rice, red snapper “a la talla”, fava bean and nopal salad, pico de gallo, shrimp pancakes with mole, coconut flan, shrimp al ajillo and of course, guacamole. If this doesn’t get your mouth watering, I don’t know what will.

Classes are taught by Chef Hugo Gutierrez, one of the leading chefs in Mexico and a recent inductee to the Academie Culinaire de France. His style of food is best described as “organic, rustic Mexican”, using the freshest local ingredients.


Spread across 12 acres of jungle hillside, Haramara (‘Mother Sea’) is considered one of the top 10 yoga retreats in the world. The complex accommodates 45 persons with 16 palm-thatched cabanas (some with private hammocks) built above the Pacific Ocean.

While Haramara is only 40 minutes from Puerto Vallarta, it feels secluded and rustic (yet still feeling luxurious). If you need to be wired up with television, iPads and other electronic gadgets, this is not the scene for you…the cabanas, which are simply stunning (see photo below) are lit only by oil lamps as there is no electricity in the rooms. This is about getting back to being one with nature, guys!

Prices for this wonderful Mexican Culinary Retreat package start at $2,895 per person for six nights accommodation, double room occupancy in a cabana. Price includes: all cooking classes, all yoga classes, market tours, one 60-minute massage, all meals and and transportation/transfers (except airfare to Puerto Vallarta).

For other unique trips like this, Access Trips offers many exotic learning vacations featuring activities such as surfing in Costa Rica, mountain biking in Turkey, and skiing and snowboarding in New Zealand. What I find most appealing about their approach is their high instructor to guest ratio, enabling for personalized instruction (no itinerary is more than 15 guests). Their culinary portfolio, which was launched two years ago, has quickly become their most popular activity. Each tour provides guests with a total cultural immersion, taking travelers from remote villages to bustling city markets.

Want to do a culinary program like this in another destination? Check out Access Trips’ equally enticing programs in Thailand and Morocco. One to Vietnam is in the works!

Photos courtesy of Access Trips and Haramara. Not for reproduction. 

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