Possibly the only downside to living in San Miguel de Allende is its waterless location. Sure, there’s a sizable reservoir and a few paltry streams, but being 6,000 miles up in the high desert means there are no white sand beaches and crashing waves a la Puerto Vallarta or Tulum.
It’s only been three weeks since I left my seaside hometown in California, but I’m already missing the water something fierce. I knew there was a hot springs just outside of San Miguel, but it wasn’t until my sister visited that I actually discovered it. For a mere 110 pesos ($8.50 US, and two for one entry every Friday), we felt as though we had been transported to a tropical island, where warm turquoise water beckoned beneath fluttering banana palms.
There were only two main pools open that day (a third was drained, but is surely functioning in the high season), each surrounded by a fringe of lush grass. Children are welcome at La Gruta, and I happily played with my eight month old niece as she splashed in the pool for the first time.
The star of La Gruta is the rock enclosed grotto, accessed through a long, half submerged cave. The water temperature steadily climbs as you make your way deeper through the murky tunnel, and I couldn’t help imagining less than pleasant creatures lurking in the depths. But persevere and there really is light at the end of the…you know. A domed oculus illuminates the immense circular grotto, where scantily clad people patiently wait in line for their chance under the spring fed waterfall.
Once fingers and toes begin to prune, indulge in an après swim Piña Colada at the bar (or even better—get one delivered pool side) or a plate of spicy enchiladas at La Gruta’s outdoor restaurant. There’s also a playground for the kids, a game room and a day spa to round out the day.
Sure, it’s not quite the ocean, but La Gruta gave this California girl a much needed day at the beach.