Once a fishing village, Ajijic was first settled by Nahua Indians in the early 1400s. Its cobblestone streets were built during Spanish rule. Ajijic is the focal point for foreigners living at Lake Chapala, and the Lake Chapala Society is located just blocks from the charming plaza.
The center of Ajijic is best explored on foot, and you can spend days discovering beautiful homes and gardens, narrow lanes, shops, galleries and restaurants, and stunning views of the lake. Restaurants abound, and Ajijic offers some of the finest dining experiences on the Riviera. From Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Greek to Italian, German, Spanish and traditional Mexican, you'll find an astonishing array of choices. Ajijic also has some of the best variety for shoppers.
From houses in the city center to gated communities, there’s a variety of Mexico real estate in Chapala. Prices tend to be reasonable, especially in areas on the Libramiento or “Bypass Road.” The Country Club in Vista del Lago, ten minutes east of Chapala, appeals to golf fans. The wide central avenue leading into town is divided by a landscaped median. It continues past the carretera that links Chapala with Jocotepec, and ends at the picturesque malecón and pier.
A gracious neighborhood developed in the 1960s and ’70s, La Floresta is immediately east of Ajijic. Stately ficus trees are its hallmark, and they form a shady canopy over the carretera, the highway from Chapala to Jocotepec.
Within La Floresta, wide avenues and big yards are the norm. Weekend homes for the Guadalajara elite grew up around the Camino Real hotel, today the Real de Chapala. Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, who was president of Mexico from 1964 to 1970, owned an estate here.
San Antonio Tlayacapan
One of the most popular locations for Chapala lake side living, San Antonio Tlayacapan is a delightful mix of tradition and modernity. Its commercial area is a busy center of activity all week long. The town itself, like most Mexican towns, has a plaza with an ornate bandstand and lovely flowers. The stately church on the square is dedicated to San Antonio – Saint Anthony of Padua.
Located between Ajijic and Chapala, San Antonio’s real estate choices feature the widest price range on the northern shore. Many of the gated communities here have swimming pools. But by and large, homes here tend to be less expensive than in Ajijic village.
San Juan Cosala
Not all that many years ago, each tiny town on Chapala’s northern shore had a unique identity and personality.
Located in the municipality of Jocotepec, San Juan Cosala was famous for its geyser, and its thermal springs are renowned. Heated by underground volcanoes, the mineral springs are believed to have curative properties. Spas and balnearios (swimming resorts) grew up around them. Some offer private pools and masseuses as well as public pools, dressing rooms and restaurants.
In addition to the swimming resorts, San Juan Cosala is becoming the focus for extreme sports on Lake Chapala. Hang gliding, wake boarding and rappelling as well as sailing, rock wall climbing, mountain biking and more are offered.