Montepío, Veracruz
The Best Beach on the Gulf Coast!

Photographs and Text by John Todd, Jr.

For years I had looked at Montepío on the maps of Veracruz and wondered what it looked like. One time on a flight from Miami to Mexico City, I could see it down below at the mouth of a river next to Lake Catemaco. It is remote.

About 8 months ago, they finished paving the last stretch of highway from Nueva Victoria to Montepío and I decided to give it a try. What I found was one of the most beautiful beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.

How to Get There
How to Get There
With the new paved road all the way to Montepío, it is still about a 3 hour drive from Veracruz.

People used to drive to Lake Catemaco first, but now it´s more direct if you take a left about 5 miles after Angel R. Cabada.

That way you miss the climbing the mountains to Santiago and San Andrés Tuxtla, and down to Catemaco which is still way above sea level.
Ian´s Map of the Area
5 de Mayo Weekend 2005
Several weeks ago, I was contacted by Ian who is a retired American who lives full time in Catemaco.

Over the weeks we talked back and forth about the area around Montepío, Veracruz. He has a beach house in the nearby ejido of Dos de Abril and invited me to come down and take a look.

Two Ways to Get There
From Veracruz, there´s two ways to get to Montepío.

One is, from what I´ve heard, a picturesque rough dirt road down the mountains to the coast from Catemaco.
Passing Roca Partida
The Other Way
The other is to take a left just after Angel R. Cabada towards Cinco Chorros and Nueva Victoria.

Last year on trips to Playa Hermosa on Easter Sunday, and about a month later on a tour bus trip

Up until last year, the road was paved until Nueva Victoria, and after that it became a rough dirt road. I had gotten as far as Playa Hermosa which is about 6 km. from Montepío.

Last last year, I was told the new highway is finished all the way to Montepío and decided to give it a try.
Highway Beach
Looking Back
The Church Built in 1903
About 3 Hours From Veracruz
A little after Nueva Victoria, you arrive at the coast and the road follows the Gulf of Mexico past many beautiful secluded beaches.

There aren´t many people living in the area, and most people still ride horses.

I arrived at the end of the road in Montepío about 3 hours after I had left Veracruz.

The original buildings in Montepío are a church with the date "1903", and across the street is the ruins of an old abandoned hacienda, which people tell me was a sugar cane refinery.

It looked like it was from the 19th Century.

The area around Montepío must have been very remote and lonely in those days.
Ruins Overlooking The Beach
A Haven for Pirates in the Old Days
At the same time, it kind of looked like a good haven for pirates during the 300 years when the annual Spanish gold and silver fleets sailed from Veracruz to Spain.

I parked the car and followed the people down to the beach expected it to be packed.

There were 3 or 4 tour buses with people from Puebla where they celebrate 5 de mayo in a big way.

They were mostly families, and were quiet and well behaved.
The Old Sugar Cane Hacienda
Uncrowded Beaches
They looked like they weren´t from around here, especially the children were really excited about seeing the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

I had expected the beach to be packed with people down for the holiday, but it wasn´t full of people.

There were a couple of beach restaurants, but there was lots of room for the kids to play around on the beach.

I didn´t see any Americans or Europeans here.

This must be one of the places the local people keep to themselves.
Road to the Beach
The Beach
Fresh Seafood
Like a Beach Ought to Be
Time was important, and I need to go look for Ian in the ejido Dos de Abril.

For a 4 day weekend like 5 de Mayo, I had expected a lot more people.

After the crowded beaches of Veracruz and Boca del Río, Montepío was refreshing.

It´s like a beach ought to be.
Ruins Overlooking The Beach
On to Dos de Abril
Then I remembered I had to meet Ian and it was time to go look for el Ejido Dos de Abril.

I walked unhurriedly back up the hill past the old ruins of the sugar cane hacienda and past the church built in 1903.

Ian had told me it was easy to miss Dos de Abril, but it was 2 km. before you get to Montepío, so I backtracked looking for the sign "Restaurant Casita."

It wasn´t hard to find, and I pulled off the highway towards the beach and parked in the grass beside the restaurant.
The Palapa at La Casita Restaurant
A Cold Refresco
When I got to the restaurant, I asked for Ian. They told me he had been there earlier, but they thought he had gone back to Catemaco.

I had missed him! I should have left Veracruz earlier!

But, it was time to sit down and have a cold refresco, so I took one of the empty tables and sat down.

Under the palapa there was a slight sea breeze and it felt cool.There was one other family quietly eating and talking to themselves.

It was nice and the view was great.
View from the Palapa
Two Fresh Water Streams
Across the way you could see the little town of Montepío, and then nearly empty beach.

It was at the mouth of two fresh mountain streams.

So close to Veracruz and so far from the rest of the world!

Nearby was a hammock wrapped around one of the poles.

I´ll bet on a slow day, which is most of the time here, they would let you unroll the hammock for a short siesta.
Camping out on the Beach
One of the Busiest Weekends of the Year
It was hard to believe this was one of the busiest weekends of the year.

As I sat at my table drinking a coke, I took some pictures and walked around the restaurant for awhile, not wanting to go back to Veracruz.

I imagined Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco must have looked like this at one time.

View from the Palapa Restaurant

Boat Stringing out Fishing Nets in Montepío, Veracruz

Under a Palapa Where Two Rivers Meet the Gulf of Mexico

Campers Near Playa Hermosa
On the Road Again
On the road again down the coastal highway, I was looking at the little nooks where I might want to do some camping the next time I´m down this way again.

After Salinas, I began to get hungry.

In this remote area there wouldn´t be many restaurants, so I wondered if I could wait until getting to the main highway at El Tropico or drive onto Angel R. Cabada.
Tortilla Service
"Antojitos Karla"
In the little town of Nueva Victoria, I passed a lady pushing a tricycle and tooting a bicycle horn.

I don´t know if Veracruz is the only place that has the custom, but it usually means someone is selling fresh tortillas from an ice chest.

Then I passed a sign that meant fast food. Karla´s Mexican Snacks . I stopped the car and backed up and parked on the street in front.

Since I was the only one in the restaurant, I knew the service would be good.
Restaurant Karla
Memelas and Tacos
The First Memela and a Coke
I wondered what "Memelas" were and asked the man behind the counter.

He said a Memela was a large tortilla smeared with black bean paste, and your choice of an additional ingredient like chicken, ham, or beef.

I ordered a chicken Memela and waited to see what it would be like. The first Memela wasn´t bad, so I ordered a another.

The green sauce wasn´t all that hot so I added another dab, just enough to make it taste right.

I sat there planning my next trip back to Montepío.

Next time I go, I plan to go during the week, or when it´s not a crowded 4-day weekend.

This time, maybe I´ll spend the night and enjoy my morning coffee on the beach under the palapa at the Ejido Dos de Abril.

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