August 2013 – Part 1


We arrived to PVR on Saturday afternoon with friends, surfboards for the husbands, a replacement toaster oven and a kitchen timer muled down for member of a south-side forum. The timeshare chaos in the airport was milder; the reps were in two lines, left and right of the main breezeway before the glass doors. No timeshare rep physically crossed into the main breezeway, only their cacophony of voices. As always, our Gecko car rental was left parked and waiting for us in the airport parking lot, as was our friend Bob Donald and his van to help transport the surfboards. As my husband and I approached our rental car we noticed that the engine was on, and a lady in her mid-60’s was sitting comfortably in the front seat with the A/C going! She and her husband had mistook our rental car for theirs. LOL. After quite a few laughs about the mix-up, the couple unloaded their luggage into the rental car that was waiting for them, and we loaded up our rental car to the hilt. Excited to be on the ground in our favorite foreign destination, we drove to our condo in Nuevo Vallarta and unpacked. Our first dinner was at the American & Canadian all-time favorite: Tacos on the Street restaurant in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.

Tacos on the Street, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle Mexico
Tacos on the Street, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

Yesterday began with a walk on the gorgeous 8.5-mile-long wide Flamingos beach. My husband had his morning run. There was controlled chaos in front of The Riu Jalisco. About 200 local workers were carrying buckets and backpacks filled with tools, and they formed various lines in different directions up and down the street in front of the resort. They were all all hoping to be hired as a worker for the grand remodeling. There were cars, trucks, bikes and motorcycles everywhere. We stopped by Sams Club in Nuevo to check out electronics, then drove into Puerto Vallarta to have breakfast at Coco’s Kitchen, which has lovely ambiance. Still, our standard PV favorite for breakfast remains The Pancake house on Basilio Badillo.

To clear up the misconception about how long it actually takes to get from Nuevo to Puerto Vallarta, we looked at our digital clock in the car. From Sams Club in Nuevo, which is just north of the middle entrance to Nuevo (almost smack in the middle of Nuevo), we hopped on the highway going with the flow of traffic. It took exactly 9 minutes to arrive at the stop light in front of Neptune’s Plaza in Marina Vallarta, and another 9 minutes to the beginning of downtown (Centro), where we love walking the Malecon starting at the north end and continuing south. So in LOW SEASON it’s 18 minutes flat. Maybe it’s because we’re Californians that this short travel time seems like a hop, a skip, and a jump. This same trip takes us about 25 minutes on average in the HIGH SEASON. So we are literally in and out of PV, Mismaloya, Boca de Tomatlan several times a week, while at the same time to the north we frequent Bucerias, La Cruz, Punta Mita, Sayulita and San Pancho. Rincon de Guayabitos is considered a “drive” for us!

After breakfast at Coco’s Kitchen, we walked the beach south of the new Los Muertos Pier. Then as tour guides for our friends, we hopped in the car to show them around. Their personalized tour included Gringo Gulch, the Iguana Bridge, and several wooden hanging bridges crossing over the Rio Cuale. When driving by Aquiles Serdan, we saw the sign for Que Pasa and decided to pop in there to see what this place was all about AND satisfy our craving for blended Margaritas and pina coladas. Only two patrons were seated at the bar, and the one waitress working was super friendly. Unfortunately, we found out they do not serve blended drinks, so we politely let her know we would make an attempt to come back later in the week for a meal plus Margaritas on the rocks. So we continued on to Paso Ancho toward El Rio BBQ, which we were already aware was closed for the season. My husband just wanted us to get an idea of the bike route he took in April with a group of local cyclists he hooked up with through Velo Bike, the Specialized Bike shop in Galerias Vallarta Mall (across from the Maritime Terminal). This group of local cyclists meet up with their mountain bikes by McDonalds at the north end of the Malecon, and continue up to Paso Ancho, with Paso Ancho marking the “beginning” of their intense ride. It’s an intense and steep uphill climb beyond Almacenas, where biking is on a dirt road up through the awesome jungle. On the return trip back to town, my husband followed the pack of young cyclists as they literally flew down the cement steps of the Rio Cuale Flea Market Area on their bikes going top speed. For him, as a tourist of 50 years old, joining the local young guys on their Saturday morning ride (Rodada Sabatina) and keeping up with them neck to neck was an incredible experience! But I’m digressing…

For us girls, we found our delicious blended drinks (beers for the guys) at the AWESOME Cuale Paradise Restaurant and Bar located under a bridge, and right beside the beautiful Rio Cuale. If you’ve never been there before, you’re really missing out on something truly special. Their address: Manantial No. 372, Buenas Aires, PV. Their Pina Coladas were the best we’ve ever had. Even our husbands who we offered a sip said WOW!!! So PV tourists, add this place to your must-do restaurant list.

We continued with our explorations of the area, then headed back to Nuevo Vallarta where we changed into swimsuits and floated in the gigantic infinity pools on water hammocks. We planned to have dinner either at Fajita Republic in Nuevo, or pop into our favorite Punta Mita restaurant, Peppers to take in the sunset while dining on a beautiful bluff overlooking the ocean. But our first stop was to check out the great live music at the Drunken Duck in Bucerias, which was great fun. While there, we just opted to cross the street to eat pizza at another favorite, Canadian-owned YoYoMos.

Yesterday was filled with more explorations, as well as side trips to Home Depot in Puerto Vallarta, as well as Sams Club, Walmart, and finally El Tio Sams (the nice appliance store across from Marina Vallarta) where we bit the bullet and purchased a beautiful beverage cooler with a clear-glass door and glass shelving. The friendly and helpful customer service people at El Tio Sams delivered the beverage fridge to our condo the same day!

This morning we may pull out the kayaks from our storage unit and go in search of a dolphin sighting, or maybe load up the surfboards, beach chairs, umbrellas and ice chest and head north to Sayulita. After all, no vacation to the Banderas Bay area would be complete without several visits to the fun Bohemian surf town with the awesome happy vibes. Sayulita is a very special place! Tomorrow we’ll pop back into Puerto Vallarta to take our stereo for repair at the Panasonic shop on Candelaria, then check out a different PV restaurant that we’ve not yet been to! If you’ve enjoyed this trip report, I’ll keep them coming. We’re here until September 8.

– BeachOceanSun