Before I begin, I want to address the elephant in the room.
Yes. I am aware of the travel warning that has been issued for Mexico. I am also aware that the travel warning has been issued for the touristy, congested, popular cities that are known for being cheap and full of partying. Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Cabo, etc. I did not travel to any of those cities.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – for anyone that does not know – is on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. It is not located near any of the cities that I named, has a mild to moderate crime rating, and never once felt dangerous. If you are a Bachelor in Paradise fan, you should know that Puerto Vallarta is an hour south of the resort that they always stay at called Playa Escondido.
First let me say that this trip was chosen completely at random. We were between Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Costa Rica, and this. It came down to flight times, flight lengths, and cost. In the end, Puerto Vallarta was the winner.
While on our trip to Jamaica, we stayed at a Secrets resort (Secrets Wild Orchid). It is one of the adults only resort chains in the AM Resorts brand. We had been happy with that resort so we chose to stay at another Secrets resort while in Mexico (Secrets Vallarta Bay). It is an all inclusive resort with buffets as well as multiple different types of restaurants you may eat at. All drinks, whether in a bar or at the pool or inside the hotel, are included as well.
At first sight, the resort is stunning. It is clean, well decorated, feels very chic. You are met with bell boys, concierge, and front desk associates who all greet you by saying “Welcome Home!” which immediately makes you feel special. Like you’re home.
You must go to these resorts with someone you’re comfortable with because all of the hotel rooms are studio style. Your bathroom is open to the bedroom with the obvious exception of the toilet. They are fully stocked with a mini bar which is included in your inclusive offer. Not to mention the view was incredible. A view of the city on one side with a view of the water on the other side.
Michael and I consider ourselves spa connoisseurs because we get couples massage as often as we can. To us, this was a top notch spa. You arrived an hour before your service to participate in the hydrotherapy circuit. This consisted of a steam room, sauna, pool, then ice bath, and a hot tub. Most amazing one I have ever encountered. Then you have whichever service you chose. We got a couples massage on our anniversary + I got a facial and we loved the spa so much that we went back for a second massage the next day before our flight.
We intended to have do nothing. No excursions were booked or even really looked at prior to our arrival, but about one hour into our second day we changed our minds and quickly booked two excursions with a resort guide.
The first being a UTV (RZR) tour called the Cuale River Route at Wild Treks Adventures. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, a commercial go cart type trip or something authentic, but let me tell you.. it was as authentic as it gets. We followed a guide and two other couples in RZRs through the cobblestone streets of the Puerto Vallarta until we were on a dirt path going around the mountains of the Sierra Madre until we reached the top and stopped for pictures. Then we rode back down half way and turned into what seemed like a jungle where we reached a restaurant hidden by a waterfall. There we were able to order food and drinks, view the waterfall (some swam), and do a tequila tasting. Afterwards we rode the rest of the way back down to their office. The guides were all so enthusiastic and seemed to genuinely love their jobs which made it that much for fun for us. They were knowledgeable and had an interest in teaching us about their land and their culture. It was overall about a four hour day so we still had tons of time left in the day to lay by the pool or beach.
The following day, we went to a private beach called Las Caletas Beach Hideaway. We arrived at the marina at 730am to take an hour boat ride to the beach and spend the day there. This excursion offered snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, a zip line, a blob, waterslide, hammocks in the water, a cooking class, tequila tasting, and lunch. We snorkeled, kayaked, took the cooking class, and did a lot of relaxing the hammocks. The guides on the boat were also the guides we had during the duration of our stay on the beach, and then again on the way back. They, like the Wild Treks guides, were so enthusiastic about their jobs. They were so upbeat, happy, excited, and genuinely seemed happy to be helping you. We learned how to make seafood paella, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, and fresh fish ceviche. Then got to taste test all the items we made.
On our last night, we went into the downtown area of Puerto Vallarta which has a boardwalk. We explored for a short time before realizing it wasn’t really set up for tourists containing only a few small souvenir shops with lots of people outside restaurants soliciting you to come in for a tequila taste. Afterwards we went a few blocks back from the boardwalk to a restaurant eight stories up called El Panorama which is inside La Siesta Hotel (a conceirge recommendation). It is one of the highest buildings in the city and has a panoramic view of the city and ocean while you dine. Most of the menu option were cooked at your table for your viewing pleasure and everything was quite tasty.
Overall, everyone that we encountered was friendly and welcoming. We balanced a lot of naps and relaxing with two days of excursions + a day of exploring downtown. I would recommend Puerto Vallarta to anyone interested in experiencing a more authentic Mexico. Not the commercial, tourist attraction filled part of it. I feel like we left with a real sense of the culture instead of just seeing stores and attractions made for tourists. I am a fan.
I have linked all the places we went and things we did, let me know if you have any further questions!