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San Blas, Mexico

Playa Hermosa

A wild Hollywood resort thwarted by mosquitoes. 

The Playa Hermosa was first discovered by American celebrities in the 1950s, and quickly began a 20-year stint as the ideal location for heaving drinking, drug-fueled benders and steamy love affairs.

The resort was built in 1951 and opened to a grand ceremony presided over by the President of Mexico, Miguel Alemán Valdés. Valdés saw an opportunity to turn San Blas into one of the most premiere resort towns in the country, attracting tourism from around the world. While standing in front of the impressive and elegant hotel to give a brief speech, President Valdés was overwhelmed by mosquitoes and no-see-ums, forcing him to abandon the ceremony entirely.

Despite the foreboding bug problem, Playa Hermosa opened its doors and quickly became a hot Hollywood hangout. In the 1950s, Lee Marvin made his way to San Blas for boozy fishing trips on the coast. During that time, Playa Hermosa began to gain a reputation as a free-for-all, and other celebrities came in droves. Liz Taylor and Richard Burton even ventured to San Blas to escape the media during their turbulent relationship in the 1960s.

The most notorious of the Playa Hermosa’s clientele was the lead singer of the Doors, Jim Morrison. Allegedly, Morrison spent a drug and alcohol-fueled vacation in 1969 in one of the hotel’s rooms, and penned the lyrics to L.A. Woman.

Morrison’s stay was the apex of Hollywood’s involvement in San Blas and the Playa Hermosa, and shortly after the hotel began to fall into disrepair. Horrible mosquitoes drove away glamorous celebrities and the hotel entered a new phase, mostly housing ex-pats during the 1970s and 1980s.

Since then, the Playa Hermosa has continued to decay, and is now only a washed out relic on the beach. There are no substantial plans to restore the hotel, and its ruins are surrounded by a fence. Still, adventurous visitors armed with bug spray can peruse the outer regions of the infamous hotel by walking about a mile from the main plaza in San Blas.

Know Before You Go

Down a sandy road in San Blas, easily found by asking locals or consulting a guidebook