Offer to Locals- Residents of the Costa Alegre area- Ukulele

Learning on Vacation invites residents of the Costa Alegre to join our classes. Pre-Registration is encouraged so we are prepared to host you well.

For Ukulele Fans- Nov 9-16th, 2019


We are pleased that Ben Hassinger, founder of Mighty Uke Day and an esteemed Ukulele teacher, will be leading a week long course in Melaque from November 9-16th, 2019.  Participants are coming from across Canada and the USA (a small group) for a package deal that includes hotel stay and meals.


If you will be in the area and would like to join for the classes (and strums/jam’s) only, you are welcome if there is room (this will be determined in September 2019). Register for the whole package (4 2hr classes and at least 4 evening jams for 1000 pesos). A single drop in class is 300p and the jams are free and open to all – participants and listeners. Our jam schedule will be posted in November.

If you may be interested in learning with us, please contact Dawn at so she can contact you in September to confirm availability.

Local participants will also have the option of joining for meals if this is arranged in advance.



Ukulele Vacations, Yoga Vacations

Activities with Learning on Vacation

For a small town, Melaque and surrounding areas offer a lot of activity options.

The activities listed below are just some of the fun things you may want to do.

(all activities are optional of course)

Local Activities include:

Hiking with Lola (Dawn’s dog) to the Mirador – a lookout approx. 30 minutes from the hotel. This hike is on a dirt road with an easy slope. Some community members chose to jog or cycle up the road.

Biking – bikes are available for rent and are an excellent way of getting around and seeing more of the area.

Yoga – a local yoga teacher offers a class from 6-7:15pm. Participants might chose to walk or bike to yoga. 90 pesos (approx. $6) per class.

The beach –  walk, sit, meditate, enjoy a coffee…

Birdwatching – up the mountain, by the lagoon, or just outside your window.

Optional Afternoon Excursions

Bike trip to Pinal Villa/ Jaluco – This ride will take us out of town and onto the back roads where you will see farmer’s fields and small communities.

Lunch in Colimilla – This outing includes taking the local bus in Melaque (you can think of it as a tour bus as it will take us all over town) to a nearby town, Barra de Navidad. From Barra we will take a short boat ride to a restaurant in a village called Colimilla.
We will enjoy a leisurely lunch there, and then return to Barra. Barra has excellent shopping, a small museum and some great café’s and restaurants. People will have free time to roam in Barra for a few hours, catch dinner and enjoy a Barra sunset. Return to the hotel by taxi (buses stop running in the evening) at the cost of 90 pesos ( approx.. $6 )for up to 4 people.

Other recommended destinations/excursions/activities:

Cuastacomates, a nearby beach town, has a lovely beach and snorkeling. There are reastaurants along the beachfront with umbrellas. All are welcome to relax and enjoy table and chairs under the umbrellas, unrushed, even just with the purchase of a drink. A nice option for a beach afternoon.  Early morning, it is a great walk to Cuastacomates (approx.. 45 minutes each way).

La Manzanilla is a nearby town that is reachable by public transport (12 pesos/$1 CAN) or by taxi (180pesos, approx. $13). La Manzanilla is known for it’s crocodiles, arts community, and long beach.

A Sunset Mangrove Crocodile and bird watching tour available in La Manzanilla. Approx. 400p (approx $20) per person.

Boca de Iguanas  is at the far end of the La Manzanilla beach. There is a boutique hotel/restaurant there (not much else) accessible by car or by a long walk on the beach. A beautiful spot with good food. Canadian chef.



Horseback Riding

Skim Boarding


Paddle Boating


Yoga Classes



ask Dawn for more information and to help arrange any activities you are interested in.

Ukulele Vacations

Recommended Flight from Toronto

If you are able to fly out from Toronto, we recommend flying with Aeromexico with 1 stop over in Mexico City. (easy to book at

If you are flying from anywhere else, we recommend you fly to Mexico City and join the group for the second flight (from Mexico City to Manzanillo).

In view of the detrimental effect of flying on the environment, we would like to encourage you to consider purchasing carbon offsets for your flight. There are many ways of doing this, including through some airlines when you purchase your ticket, and through independent organizations. Molly and Norman are donating to an organization based in Switzerland with high standards,, that has a calculator to tell how much carbon your fight is producing, and how much to offset it. Please note that the David Suzuki Foundation recommends NOT using tree planting to offset. Thanks for your support for our environment.

These are the details for this flight (subject to change- closer to the date we will have the exact times).

Flight 1-

Airline: Aeromexico

Departure Time: 9:15am from Toronto

Flight Number: AM693

Duration: 4 hours to Mexico City

Arrival Time: 1:30pm

Flight 2 –

Airline: Aeromexico

Departure Time: 6:05pm

Flight Number: AM2568

Duration: 1.5 hours to Manzanillo

Arrival Time: 7:30pm

You will be picked up at the airport and driven to the hotel. A late dinner will be served at the hotel.

Returning to Toronto, we recommend:

Flight 1

Airline: Aeromexico

Departure Time: 12:08am

Flight Number: AM2565

Duration: 1 hour 20 min to Mexico City

Arrival Time: 1:40pm

Flight 2

Airline: Aeromexico

Departure Time: 5:35pm

Flight Number: AM616

Duration: 4 hours to Toronto

Arrival Time: 11:30pm

If you are coming from somewhere else and it is easy to make your way to Mexico City, try to join the second flight (AM 2568 departing Mexico City at 6:05pm). People joining from other flights will likely need to taxi to the hotel. Please discuss your plans with Dawn.



Mike Kane 13

We hope that these Q and A’s will be helpful. Feel free to contact Dawn at  if you have a question that isn’t answered here.

  1. What should I bring for my sitting practice?

Please bring everything you need to be comfortable. This may include cushions, a bench, mats. It may not be easy to find what you need in Melaque. Please come well prepared. The meditation area is a multi use area so you will need to set up (and clear your belongings to the side) at least once each day.

2. What else should I pack to bring down?

Please bring comfortable light clothing, toiletries , sandals and walking shoes, a beach towel or two, a bathing suit or two.

Some optional stuff include- camera, snorkelling equipment, school supplies to donate, clothes to give away, bicycle lights (if you are interested in renting a bike and riding at night).

3. What is the climate like in late November?

November is a great time to visit. The rainy season (August-October) leaves a beautiful sheen of green. Warm sunny days, warm nights.  Weather in November . Daily high temperatures 86-83°F (30-28 C)- Daily low temperatures 74°F – 70°F (23-21 C)

4. Is there WIFI in the hotel?

Yes. Please note that internet access is sometimes sporadic here,  but it should work most of the time.

5. What about sheets and towels?

Sheets, pillows, blankets, and hotel towels are provided. Please bring your own beach towel/sheet if you like to lie on the sand. Most commonly people sit in plastic chairs at the beach. It’s popular to use a “pareo” as a wrap around, towel, beach cover – they are made of light cotton and large enough to lie on comfortably. They are for sale all over (for about $10) or maybe you have one?

6. What can we expect regarding the food?

You are in for a treat. Mexican food is delicious. Some put lime and chili on everything. We will leave it on the side for those who want to take the right amount for them. The food is fresh and tastes more delicious in Mexico. Our chef will use only the finest vegetarian ingredients and introduce you (if you haven’t enjoyed them already) to vegetarian versions of local dishes including and not limited to….tacos, tostadas, tamales, …. We will also respond to the specific preferences of each person (one of the benefits of being a small group). We guarantee the food will be generous in quantity, fresh and delicious.

For dinners, we will make restaurant recommendations. A few restaurants will offer vegetarian dishes prepared especially for our group. Of course, you are welcome to adventure and find new delicious spots.

7. Should I bring cash/ get pesos ahead of time?

If it makes you comfortable to have some Mexican currency from the get-go, by all means change a small amount; however, the best exchange rate available is at bank machines. There are a couple in town. Most venders prefer pesos. We can make a visit to the bank on the first evening so you are comfortable with how to find it (and how to switch the machine to English if your Spanish isn’t strong).

8. What about tipping?

This is a personal choice and depends on the quality of service. I would personally recommend 30 pesos (approx. $1.50) per day for the hotel room cleaning- either daily or as a lump sum at the end of the week.

At restaurants, similar to home, I leave 15-20% based on service. For inexpensive bills I often leave more than 20%. Tips are not expected but they are very appreciated. Especially in November (the end of the low season) workers have very little money and it makes a huge difference to them and their families.

The one service that I do not tip for is taxi service. It felt strange at first but I often find the driver raises the fare anyway, so I figure their tip is included. Once again, a personal choice.

9. Is it dangerous?

I feel very safe here (even safer than Toronto and I feel safe in Toronto too). The same basic safety rules apply. I believe you will feel very comfortable here and be surprised at how friendly and warm the local people are. Melaque is very family oriented. You will see many children out (even until 10-11pm) and children are welcome everywhere. If you have any specific safety questions, please let me know.

10. What about the water?

It is recommended not to drink water directly from the tap. Even the local people use filtered water and definitely all restaurants use only filtered water and wash fruits and vegetables carefully.

Filtered water will be made easily available to you. Almost everyone here uses water from a “garafon” – a large plastic container. Full containers are sold from trucks that drive around the neighbourhood. The hotel will provide all the water you need. Feel free to fill up water bottles at the hotel.

It is fine to shower in the tap water.

11. What gets flushed down the toilets?

Because of different plumbing – only organic material (pees and poos) get flushed. Toilet paper is to be thrown into the garbage beside the toilet. This can be strange at first. Please make an effort to remember as paper down the toilet will clog the system. Having said that, I have forgotten on occasion.

12. Do the local people speak English?

Some do, but the majority do not. If you make an effort (even just using “Por favor”- Please and “Gracias”- Thank you) you will notice how friendly and patient most people are. It’s is easy to get around without Spanish- those in the service industries at least know to help you get what you want and need.

13. How much spending money should I budget for?

You will need money for 6 dinners. How much you spend on dinner depends on where you go (given a variety of choices I would estimate dinner costing between $5-$20 each night).

You will also want money for drinks and snacks between meals. We request that no alcohol be brought into the hotel. Those who wish to drink during free time are asked to do so moderately. Alchohol is less expensive in Mexico.

You might also want to buy gifts. There are many beautiful things. I personally love the textiles. There is also jewelry, ceramics, carvings, ….

For someone who chooses less expensive meals, buys a few small gifts and a moderate number of drinks I’d say that $200-250 will cover the week (plus Dana).

Ukulele Vacations

Ukulele Party

Join us for a great party! Enjoy a week in a tropical paradise. Play in group classes, prepare new material to share at open mic performances, and enjoy the company of like minded musicians.

The Ukulele Party week will include lots of time for rest and relaxation. Enjoy the surf and sand on Melaque Bay just one block from your hotel.

For active types, there are opportunities to hike, take yoga classes, swimming and water sports, bike riding, horseback riding and more.

Breakfasts and lunches are included in the package. Delight in delicious Mexican meals prepared with the freshest ingredients with love. For dinner, venture into town for a variety of delectable options at local restaurants and food stands.

For more information contact