For a change of pace we occasionally head over to Stone Island for the afternoon, particularly on the weekends. It is a chance to get away from the household chores, give the dog a good run on the beach, kick back watching the Mexican families enjoying the sun, surf, sand, the ATVs and the banana boats, and sample some seafood at one of the many palapa restaurants over there.
Sometimes we use the embarcadero between the naval compound and the fish market, when we feel like walking through the town or need to stock up on freshly roasted peanuts, but mostly we take the ferry near La Puntilla restaurant at Playa Sur.
I have listed below the restaurants whose names I have seen in order of proximity to the Playa Sur embarcadero. Some of these we have been to quite a few times, others never. There are sure to be more whose names I have not noticed. The list finishes with Benji's Pizza at Goat Island, which adds another dimension to the phrase "laid back".
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El Delfin - This restaurant may have closed down as it looked deserted the last time we went past in March 2011.
Brisas del Mar - Small, basic restaurant with tables, chairs, shower and baños, but no sunchairs. We have liked it because it is often frequented by Mexicans and the food and drinks are reasonably priced compared to others. Try a coco loco for only 35 pesos or a pescado frito for 60 pesos!
Ola Marina - This restaurant may have closed down as it looked deserted and the sign was hanging crookedly the last time we went past in March 2011.
Estrella Del Mar - Medium sized restaurant.
El Texano - Smaller restaurant often frequented with Mexicans, which was why we tried it.
Puesta de Sol - Quite a big restaurant with an extensive menu, including some higher priced dishes. Rents banana boats and ATVs. Friendly staff. I have seen tour groups eat at this restaurant before being transported back to their catamaran in the tractor-pulled people movers.
Tostado - Small restaurant with lots of palapas out front.
Molokay - Appears to be a reasonably big restaurant, set back quite a way from the beach.
Restaurant to right of Molokay - Smaller restaurant.
Las Palmas - This large restaurant may have closed down as the front gate was locked the last time we went past in March 2011.
Carmelitas - Medium sized restaurant in front of the Stone Island Gardens Hotel. The tables and chairs are nicely spaced so that you don't feel at all crowded. Offers a pool table and sports on TV, and has clean showers and baños. The sunchairs are often frequented by Mexicans and gringos who like a quieter pace than Lety's (see below). One of the waiters has a connection with Martín who offers horses to ride at reasonable rates.
Pili's - Appears to blend in with Lety's, but is a separate small restaurant. I have heard that Rudy can organize horses for riding.
Lety's - Has a dedicated following among expats and snowbirds as a favorite restaurant to relax, enjoy good food and soak up the sun at the many tables and sunchairs.
Victor's - Was popular when we went there in 2003, and still gets good reviews.
Benji's Pizza, Goat Island - Take the turn to the right when you get off the boat from Playa Sur and you will end up on Goat Island. There is a nice quiet bay perfect for children to swim, and I expect the water to be warmer than at Stone Island. There is a slower pace over here - fishermen mending their nets or dogs coming up to sniff ours interestedly, and two quiet restaurants. I have yet to see anyone eating at the first one, even though it has a second storey built onto it.
The second is Benji's Pizza, which now also has a second storey, but it still has the relaxed attitude that I recall from our visit in 2003. Every waiter we have talked to there has had an interesting story to tell. Order pizza (I like to try the hot dog topping, possibly because it seems so wrong to Steve!) or seafood, kick back with a coconut, loll in a hammock, watch the activity on the beach and restaurants on the other side of the bay, and you will feel that you have, indeed, got away from it all!