Puerto Vallarta – The Other Side of Mexico

Mexico has many facets, including great ocean views, mountains, and all-inclusive resorts. Puerto Vallarta, located on the western side of Mexico, is an excellent way to experience all three of these scenarios. The water isn’t as clear on the western side of Mexico as the Gulf side, but the walkable beaches and beautiful sunsets make up for the lack of turquoise waters.

My husband, Randy, and I fell in love with all-inclusive resorts when we travelled with high school children because the resort provided them some “freedom” and all the food they wanted whenever they wanted it. When my husband and I travel we still love all-inclusives because we can simply relax and enjoy. We stayed at the Riu Vallarta which is located in Riviera Nayarit, about 30 minutes north of Puerta Vallarta. PV has many choices of all-inclusive hotels from luxury to inexpensive (relatively) and from jungle to beach. When we arrived at the resort, we were met by wild coatimundi that ran from the brush to provide entertainment and be fed by all the tourists.

Check in was fast and came with the standard welcome cocktail. There were enough dining places at this particular resort to give us options, from buffets with food theme nights, a steakhouse, a Japanese restaurant, and a Mexican cantina. Some required reservations while others we could just walk up. We generally do get tired of resort food, no matter how good it is, and wander off-site for at least one meal during a week’s stay.

The resort, in conjunction with downtown merchants, gave us a free, full-day tour of Puerta Vallarta. We were picked up in a slightly aged, but still comfortable and fun, party bus complete with leather couches. The tour guide took us to the Church of our Lady of Guadalupe as well as the mile-long boardwalk, El Malecón, with its picturesque backdrop of mountains and the Bahía de Banderas (Flag Bay). Our guide shared stories of the history of the city as well as interesting things to see and do. Next visit we want to spend a few nights in the town itself so that we can experience the nightlife there.

Our trip included a lunch at a local seafood restaurant where my husband and I shared a fantastic seafood plate for $13 that fed us with enough left over to feed at least one more person. We visited
local markets, other seaside areas and a Don Tadeo Tequilería before being deposited at our hotel,
just in time for a quick swim in the beautiful pool, a drink at the swim-up bar, and dinner.

Because I have difficulties sitting still, we went to Dolphin Discovery the next day to swim with the dolphins. The visit was my early birthday present and a great experience! We chose to go on a Monday so there were very few people in the park. I zip-lined and rode the water slides multiple times with little or no line and lots of fun. You do have to have special sunscreen that protects the wildlife, but, of course, they will sell it to you! The dolphin experience itself was great. I am not athletic, but I even managed to stand on the dolphins’ backs and ride around the pool. (There are also plenty of places to sit and watch or a lazy river to enjoy if there are non-risk takers in your group.)
We traveled to Puerto Vallarta during the first part of December and had wonderful weather. Puerto Vallarta is a wonderful escape from winter weather or a good place to visit anytime of the year. My only disappointment was that we had too little time to see more. We want to go back and do a tasting tour, explore nearby towns, experiment in a cooking class, take a trip to the sea turtle reserve, join a whale watching expedition, and visit the Hidden Beach in the Marieta Islands (https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/hidden-beach-playa-del-almor ).
Have you been to a beach town in Mexico? Do you stay at an all-inclusive or rent a home? Please share your trip or questions with us!


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