TRIP REPORT: JANUARY 2014
Here is my trip report from 15 days in the PV/Banderas Bay sunshine!
The airport shark tank was more of a “dolphin tank” when we arrived. So walking through that area was mild and pleasant. A VW Jetta rental car from Gecko was waiting for us in the parking lot, so we packed everything into the trunk as well as the inside of the car. My husband had brought down another mountain bike with us that he had taken apart and packaged up in two boxes, so because of that we had a lot of luggage! We then drove to our condo in Nuevo Vallarta and were so happy to arrive and see so many of our snowbird neighbors there at the complex during high season. We spent time visiting with many of them during this trip. Our friends from California later joined us on vacation. They have a timeshare at Villa del Palmar Flamingos, which is a really beautiful resort, and conveniently it’s very close to our condo.
Early in the trip we went to Costco in PV and Sams Club in Nuevo to pick up some bulk items like flats of various drinks. At Costco I had a free eye exam and ordered a new pair of prescription sunglasses which arrived in a timely fashion. And then we picked up another two single-person kayaks at Sams Club so we would have enough kayaks for us and our friends to enjoy.
As always, we choose to eat out for most of our lunches and dinners so we can best experience all that this beautiful area has to offer. This trip we enjoyed dining in PV at several favorites including Nacho Daddy at their new location, the Pancake House for breakfast, La Playita, Los Muertos Brewing (such awesome pizzas, highly recommended), Café Roma, Rio Cuale Paradise, Gaby’s, Mole Rosa, several taco carts, visited Concepcion for his delicious Tuba Drink, and more.
In Nuevo we dined at all our favorites: Fajita Republic, El Dinomita, Porto Bello Pizza, Mr Creams Pancake & Waffles, the new location for Derby Burgers, Pepe’s Tacos, Porto Fish, Vancouver Wings, and many more. We also ate out at a few of our favorite places in Bucerias, and La Cruz.
As always we buzz back and forth all over the Bay, enjoying all the scenery and special places close to our hearts. One evening while in San Pancho we happened upon another turtle release going on there in that town. There were so many baby turtles crossing the sand and entering the ocean. On another day we visited the Vallarta Zoo in Mismaloya and the girls held the many baby animals: young lion, young tiger, newborn jaguar, newborn African lion.
We pulled out our kayaks several times and went kayaking in front of our condo in Nuevo. It was really exciting as we saw numerous dolphins and had dolphins swimming underneath and next to our kayaks. And one day while kayaking out toward a whale sighting to get a better look, my husband and older daughter Ashley encountered a pod of 10+ wild dolphins who were extremely friendly. Ashley climbed out of the kayak and jumped into the water and swam with the wild dolphins in the open ocean. Another boat filled with tourists came along and some of those snorklers jumped into the water and interacted with the dolphins as well. The various dolphins would tease individuals by getting really close, within touching distance, and then zoom off as soon as someone tried to touch them, but would then quickly return to play with and tease their new friends all over again. This play session went on for about 25 minutes.
On a few days we pulled out the surfboards and packed them into our rental van or tied them across the roof of the rental car and headed out to Sayulita with our beach chairs and umbrellas. We absolutely love that sweet Bohemian beach town.
One afternoon I dropped off Ashley and Brooke at the Galeria Vallarta Mall to go shopping and visit the casino there while my husband and I ran errands for the volunteer painting day at Casa Hogar that we had organized. We were very grateful to Vallarta Adventures for lending us ladders that we picked up and returned. And to all the American, European, and Canadian tourists who purchased paint and supplies and participated with us.
One morning we dropped off Ashley and her friend Valerie at Vallarta Adventures in Nuevo Vallarta. The two girls went FlyBoarding in front of the Marriott Hotel. Sometimes they hovered about 8 feet above the water! They had a fantastic time. In the meantime, Brooke wanted a haircut, so we dropped her off at Studio 54 Salon in the PV Marina area (Plaza Marina, Local G-17). She got a really great cut and style! From how she looked when we picked her up, the stylist was apparently aiming for a Kardashian look. LOL. While Brooke was getting her haircut and the other two girls were FlyBoarding, my husband and I zoomed into PV to a really wonderful seamstress as we had a few items that needed some quick repairing (Gracia Olivares Buendia on Atmosfera #166 in Colonia El Caloso).
For another day, Vallarta Adventures invited Ashley and Brooke to go on one of their newest adventures for FREE, as they wanted to take pictures and create a video for Surfing Safari in Punta de Mita. Brooke didn’t end up going, but Ashley did. On the excursion there was just Ashley, one Canadian young man and the rest were all Vallarta Adventures surfing instructors. As they had so many of their guides there, they gave Ashley the option of staying in the areas where they were shooting the video, or enjoying one-on-one surfing instruction for the entire day. Ashley, smart girl as she is, chose the individualized instruction and had one heck of a fabulous 5-1/2 hour day of surfing the waves at Punta de Mita!
One day we went on a Vallarta Food Tour and had a wonderful time sampling a variety of offerings from various restaurants, taco carts and eateries in the PV. We also learned some new things about the area from our very sweet and highly knowledgeable tour guide. I absolutely recommend this walking tour!
During our stay there was a big carnival going on for three days in Bucerias. It was so awesome! We walked along the streets viewing all of the offerings, and purchased some delicious street food before ducking into one of our favorite evening places for great live music: The Drunken Duck. We really favor the young 20-something band The Good Stuff. They play gigs at the Drunken Duck and also at the cute Ana Banana Restaurant in La Cruz. They play rock and roll from the 70s, 80s, 90s and today, and are really, really good.
On another evening we dropped off Ashley, Brooke and Valerie at the strip of clubs along the Malecon. As has been the pattern for them on every trip, at all of the clubs they went to they received free entrance and free unlimited drinks the whole evening. They had a fantastic night! At one club they danced inside cages, and at another they were put up on the giant lighted swing that is out towards the front of the club and visible from the Malecon. They danced their hearts out and really enjoyed themselves. During this time we parents were nearby having beverages at the Oceana and Cheeky Monkey, walked the Malecon, visited the new Los Muertos Pier, and just enjoyed the sweet and mild nightlife until it was time for all of us to return to Nuevo Vallarta.
On another day we took the Ally Cat catamaran out of the La Cruz Marina to the Marieta Islands. We snorkeled to the hidden beach, kayaked around, and enjoyed the day out on the water. What was really exciting was that we experienced numerous, and I do mean NUMEROUS, whale sightings on the way to the Marietas and back. At times people at the back of the catamaran would say “whale” and point out in one direction, while people at the front of the catamaran would do the same thing but would be pointing in a different direction. Each time the captain would turn off the motor and make every effort try to stay at a distance (as required by law), but sometimes the whales would just come up really close to the catamaran. The whales would usually be in groups of three: mother and baby with the father father out, circling them protectively. And sometimes another male would be seen trying to get near the mother. And there were so many dolphins seen that by the end of the trip no one would even bother calling out “dolphin” anymore.
So much fun is just waiting to be enjoyed by all visitors to the Banderas Bay Area. For those tourists who are doing their research and still deciding which Mexican destination to choose, I whole-heartedly encourage you to select Puerto Vallarta for your next trip. There is just something so lovely and enchanting about the whole area. Once you’ve experienced the magic, you’ll dream of returning again and again…