There’s a sleepy little fishing village 30 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta’s airport called La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. In the year 2000, a retired studio musician from California on his way around the world, sailed into that town, put down his anchor and before long, opened what is now known as Philo’s Bar. Philo Hayward, the owner, is a local celebrity around La Cruz and his bar and restaurant are an institution on the North Shore of Banderas Bay. For the past 15 years, Philo’s Bar has been all about outreach to the local community and sailors in the bay along with lots of great music and friendships.
Philo’s is known for catering to the local cruisers. There are showers, WIFI, and a quiet room for sailors to get off their boats and hang out for a while. The atmosphere is laid-back and friendly. Being a former sailor, Philo understands the needs of cruising sailors. After starting his bar, he even continued his sailing journey. The first year he sailed to Tahiti and left his boat in Raiatea next to Bora Bora. The second summer he sailed to Fiji and the third summer to just off the coast of Australia where he sold his boat in New Caledonia.
One advantage of a bar being managed by a professional musician is the fabulous music that is offered. Philo brings in some fantastic entertainment from his days on the road as a musician and performs weekly with his own band as well. Along with the legendary Philo, the band also includes Ajim and Ali who sing and play guitar and drums and are well-known on their own as The Traveling Band. Peggy on bass and Leon, the retired school principal (on his homemade, all inclusive instrument of horn, cymbal, washboard, whistle and fast moving thimble fingers) add extra fun to the band. Oscar Fuentes (from Tucson, AZ) rejoins the band a few times a year and you can bet that the place is packed each time he visits. The entertainment is always the big draw at Philo’s, but there’s also a full bar and lots of food choices including delicious pizza and great ribs as well.
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Over the years, Philo’s has supported a lot of community outreach to local children and seniors. It has sponsored benefits for many local groups and organized community projects. Philo’s Bar has provided expats in the La Cruz area, both sailors and landlubbers alike, a wonderful sense of camaraderie and friendship. The Thanksgiving and Christmas potluck dinners are a tradition along with Santa’s gifts to more than 500 of La Cruz’s children each Christmas. There are fundraisers for La Cruz’s local seniors and special music trips to San Sebastian with fireside sing-alongs. Even the staff at Philo’s are treated like family and many have been there for years.
Philo’s Bar with it’s BBQ grill and pizza kitchen and community center is located 28 km from Puerto Vallarta. There’s always great music on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Monday is Open Mic Night. Philo and his band perform Blues, Country and Rock and Roll. There’s a large dance floor as well. Philo even has a recording studio adjoined to his bar. Philo’s Bar in La Cruz is one location that you might want to visit on your next trip to the North Shore of Banderas Bay. For more information about Philo’s go to philosbar.com.
*Vallarta Daily never receives payment or exchange of services for publishing stories featuring businesses in our area. This article is provided by an independent freelance writer in the local arts and entertainment scene.