I have just simply fallen in love with Mexico. It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve been back from our March vacation and I keep scrolling the photos of the beautiful views, authentic food and pretty beaches we experienced while in Puerto Vallarta. The best part of Mexico is it is a relaxing, easy and inexpensive adventure. Located in the Mexican state of Jalisco on the Pacific coast, this city packs a big bang for your getaway buck. PV is an great vacation spot with plenty of activities to keep you busy from water-sports to nightlife and exploring hidden beaches.
Transportation: Uber is the way to go! Less expensive than cabs and quick to get you where you need to go.
Exchanging Money: I always exchange at least $250 for tipping or for the vendors
Meliá Puerto Vallarta: Av. Paseo de la Marina Sur 7, Marina Vallarta, 48333 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
The Melia Puerto Vallarta is an all-inclusive resort, and only 10 minutes to either the airport or downtown Puerto Vallarta. The resort is family friendly and features an array of family activities. I had read many reviews prior, and I felt very disappointed right when we arrived. Upon arrival at 12:30pm our room was not ready, which was fine as we headed to the pool. We met a couple who had been there a few days and they filled us in that the beach was closed due to waste issues; Gross! Once we checked into our room, there was mold all over the place and hairs in the bathroom (seen below). We left the room and I asked the front desk to please relocate us. I need to also add the front desk was not very helpful, and had attitude about the situation. Then as we entered the next room, it was in fact occupied by a family. I was very upset, so the third room we were moved to was livable, however a 5 out of 10.
The Meila is not horrible, it is just pretty old and outdated. The pool, where we spent most of our time, was the best part. Tipping Angel was well worth it, as he kept a close watch on us daily and was a fantastic server. The food at the breakfast buffet was bland, but the fresh authentic taco's at the lunch buffet were wonderful. The lobby bar, aka the night club was not very eventful. There was a DJ, and pool table, however it was a very casual format compared to other resorts we have stayed at. The resort staff made our stay enjoyable after our horrible check in experience. I am on the fence; Would I stay at the Melia, PV again? No, but it was a quick inexpensive getaway.
Dining at Melia:
You need to make reservations for Los Azulejos and Vitrales. This can be done in the lobby at 9:30am, however we forgot one day and they got us in that evening when we showed up. Mexican was the best, as we went twice!
Mexican dishes as well as a variety of artisanal tequilas. Open for dinner; reservations are required. Snacks are available from 11pm - 4am.
Attire — Formal Casual
A la carte, romantic, Italian restaurant open for dinner. Reservations are required. Guests under the age of 8 are allowed at the 6pm and 6:30pm seatings.
Attire — Casual Elegant
Enjoy lunch al fresco with bay views and dozens of buffet options including a taco station, sushi, and freshly made pizza. Open 1-5pm.
Poolside snack bar is open from 12-6pm serving comforting favorites including hot dogs and burgers grilled on the spot
Attire — Casual
Mexico's Hidden Beach in the Marieta Islands
Playa del Amor, “beach of love” also known better as the Hidden Beach, is a secluded sandy cavern on one of the islands of the Marietas Islands National Park. About 45 minutes northwest of Puerto Vallarta or 20 minutes from Punta Mita. The Marieta Islands is a group of uninhabited islands formed by underwater volcano eruptions. It is rumored that the hole was created as a result of deliberate bombings. The islands have always been uninhabited, making the area ideal for military testing by the Mexican government. This area is now home to many different types of coral, fish, birds and more. In the colder months, humpback whales can be seen showing off near the shores. But the Marieta Islands’ Hidden Beach is the main attraction that inspires thousands of tourists from around the world to make the trip.
After a lot of research I realized this hidden beach, is indeed hidden and difficult to get to. Being a National Park, there are many rules and regulations one must follow to get to the beach; so we decided to book through Vallarta Adventures. Being one of the more pricier excursions, it is 100% worth it! There is a limited amount of people that can go on the beach daily, therefore, leaving early on a tour group of 10 was perfect. The only issue we experienced was we had the wrong address for where the boat was setting sail, and there is a few extra fees once you arrive to the port totaling about $20.
Elder, Alex and our tour guide Jorge left the marina on time and got underway with the rules and what was expected. Everything was extremely organized and allowed us to prepare for the 45 minute high speed boat excursion to the Hidden Beach. Each person was asked if they can swim as the group has exactly 30 minutes from jump in to jump out to explore the beach. Once we arrived to the island, we met another boat which had the representatives from the park. They checked our bracelets and tallied how many of us there were. We put on our life vests, helmets, grabbed our Go-Pro and away we went! The group swam well under the cave to the most breathtaking view. Even though it was small the Hidden Beach was so tranquil and stunning.
After the swim back, Jorge began the Eco tour explaining how hazardous plastics and pollution is to the ocean. We took a short trip around the island and got to see the famous Blue Footed Booby's. Following, the boat pulled up to a wonderful snorkeling area. Fins and masks were provided and the group jumped in for about a 30-45 minute snorkel. The water was extremely clear and it was one of the better snorkeling outings I have been on. Many large colorful fish, coral, and stingray. Finally, as we began our trip back to the port the crew decided to stop as there were a few boats posted up in the middle of the water. Without fail, 3 humpback whales were hamming it up for the cameras. It was one of the most incredible things to get to see in person. Overall, Vallarta Adventures hit a home run; as we were extremely pleased with the price for the trip of a lifetime. The small tour size allowed everyone to enjoy their time on the island. We returned to the port by noon to enjoy the rest of the day.
WHAT TO PACK:
Waterproof phone case
Sunscreen: can only apply before you leave the dock, as the national park does not allow it.
Cash for taxes/port fee
VALLARTA ADVENTURES HIDDEN BEACH ISLAND DISCOVERY
MALECON: Paseo Díaz Ordaz S/N, Centro, 48300 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
One of the most buzzing locations in the city is the Malecon area. Stretching along some of the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta for about a mile, the Malecon is where you can find plenty of things to do in Puerto Vallarta. We traveled from Melia in a $7 UBER with our new friends Michael and Andrea. There was not a dull moment on our stroll along the beach walk, where we found many vendors; shops with handmade clothing and leather goods, and artists with freshly painted canvases.
Half way through our walk our group was stopped by a proposal we could not refuse, "one dollar beers, free tequilia," a man yelled. We quickly headed for Chile Tequila, and we were not disappointed. We grabbed a beer, sampled some great infused tequila, and Michael made the man's day with the purchase of a bottle. After, we did a bit more flea market shopping and then wanted some lunch. We stopped at Oasis Bay on the Melecon beach walk. The restaurant had the soccer match on inside, cheap drinks and great for people watching on the patio. The shrimp guacamole was average, and the enchilada was very good. I would not go back because of the panhandlers and numerous people coming to our table, interrupting us with something for sale. The restaurant needs to monitor this more closely, but overall it was a quick and cheap spot outside.
Dining in the Marina
Second Cup: Paseo de La Marina 14-A, Marina Vallarta, 48335 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
This quaint little place in the Marina is a great spot for an iced coffee. They have small breakfast plates, and ice cream in the evening. Pretty busy and we had a nice chat with some retired men from upstate, NY.
Mr. Cream Pancakes and Waffles :Condominios Marina Sol S/N, Marina Vallarta, 48354 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
Very popular breakfast and brunch place in the area. We got there early, but by the time we left there was quit a line. For a great breakfast, Mr. Cream would be worth the wait. They have an attractive menu with varied, tasty and healthy choices. The breakfast menu is extensive and the portions are large. The waffles were delicious and the eggs benedict were very good! Be sure to arrive with an empty stomach and patience as it took awhile to get food and pay the bill.
El Coleguita Mariscos: Calle Popa s/n, Marina Vallarta, 48335 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
Located at the end of the marina, this affordable family seafood restaurant is a great place to eat authentic Mexican food at a very reasonable price. The place was packed but they still seated us no problem. You know it is a party when your table gets its own bottle of tequila to pour as you wish. The guacamole and fish tacos were great!