Things To Do In Nuevo Vallarta Mexico

Last month we were in Nuevo Vallarta Mexico and participated in some of the excursions available there. What we found on the excursions we took, is that in this part of Mexico, service is pretty top-notch. Even though we didn’t get to do absolutely everything, I’d think it’s safe to say that you will have an incredible experience on pretty much any of them. I was also impressed by the prices which were incredibly reasonable.

Rhythms of the Night–this was hands-down my favorite. You cruise on a huge catamaran over Banderas Bay, enjoying the sunset, to Las Caletas. The island is lit only by candle light.

You enjoy a romantic outdoor dinner next to the beach. The buffet-style dinner was of unbelievable quality and offered shrimp, fish, chicken and beef along with many accompaniments and desserts. After dining, you may have time to go relax in a beachside hammock or you may proceed up to the amphitheater for the “Cirque de Soleil” style native show. (The performances were pretty impressive!)

After the show, you are entertained by your crew and dance under the stars on your catamaran ride back to Puerto Vallarta. It was worth every penny for the 4+ hours of entertainment, but maybe not worth the extra cost to upgrade the tour.

Pegaso Whale Watchingthis was an incredible, all-day excursion. You depart early in the morning on a sailboat going the opposite direction across Banderas Bay. On the ride to Las Marietas, you watch for whales and you may be lucky enough to witness them breach or see a Momma and baby.

You then arrive at Marietas Islands marine preserve for some snorkeling. When you re-board the sailboat, you are served a delicious “brown bag” lunch, and begin the sail home with cocktails. The crew does a great job of accommodating everyone’s tastes for lunch and keeping a cocktail in your hand.

This is a very relaxing trip, but is an all day affair that packs a lot into your day. It is, however, a great way to take in all the scenery of Banderas Bay.

Puerto Vallarta City Tour–this was another fun, full-day excursion that allows you the chance to experience the local culture by bus and on foot. You begin the day by visiting local landmarks and monuments such as City Hall, the Guadalupe church, and the Malecon boardwalk.

Sightseeing is interspersed with shopping opportunities until you re-board the bus and head south into the rain forest where you will enjoy a delicious lunch and beverages of your choice.

After lunch, you will walk around the corner to a small tequileria, where you will learn the history of the family business and process for making the tequila.

The process is pretty interesting and it’s nice that you are allowed to taste the different flavors and grades of tequila. Even if you don’t typically like this liquor, you will likely find one you do like.

The tour ends with one last shopping opportunity and that includes buying bottles of tequila before your ride back to your resort. We also learned that tequila is good for marinating and cooking with so we brought home a bottle of almond tequila and use it to marinate shrimp.

We found that every excursion we embarked on was somewhat educational, a lot of fun, and provided quite a bit of culture. Service on each of them was exceptional, which I believe to be consistent for most excursions in the area. There were other activities that we would have liked to have done as well, but we ran out of time. But on our next trip to Nuevo Vallarta, we will be checking those out.

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Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

Last month we finally got to head to Nuevo Vallarta, in Riviera Nayarit Mexico for a little fun and relaxation in the sun! I was kind of concerned that I may have pulled the trigger too quickly when booking this one, because I hadn’t done much research prior. When I checked Trip Advisor after the fact, it seemed like there were quite a few, not glowing, reviews. Here’s my feedback of our winter getaway:

Nuevo Vallarta–LOVE THIS PLACE! IMG_1716I think this is my new favorite destination in Mexico. Nuevo Vallarta is a small town just up the road from Puerto Vallarta and down the road from Bucerias. One thing I love about the whole area around Banderas Bay, is that it’s a conglomerate of numerous other small towns.  Nearby is Sayulita, which is known for it’s restaurants and souvenir shopping, the town of Yelapa is a small fishing village at the foot of the mountains and can only reached by boat, and the town I was dying to see, but ran out of time for, San Sebastian, which is a small, UNESCO World Heritage town frozen in the days of silver mining. Most of the towns were so beautifully colorful.IMG_1932Nuevo Vallarta was a part of Mexico that felt very safe. In the early morning hours, while on our balcony watching the sun rise over the Sierra Madre mountains, I would see people getting their walks or runs in on the street and sidewalks below. IMG_1727Our resort, which shared some of it’s amenities with a condo complex, was within walking distance to a farmer’s market, casino, and numerous restaurants. A lot of the snowbirds staying in the condos said they were able to walk or take a taxi to most places they needed to go.IMG_1736The local people were so friendly and accommodating. It seemed like everywhere we went, we had no trouble finding English speaking locals, which only meant my Spanish practice was again put on hold! Service, whether it be at the resort or in town or on an excursion, was top notch every where we turned. Everyone was just so nice, even those who wanted to step into the political discussions of President Trump’s policies.

We also befriended a couple of Canadian expatriates who were very elated to now be living there. They said that all they had to do to for temporary residency was prove that they had access to income the equivalent of 300 days worth of living at minimum wage (US$1400). For permanent residency, you would need to have an income the equivalent of 500 days worth of living (US$2,325). They had established a temporary residency and were living very comfortably in a 2 bedroom bungalow with all their monthly bills covered, along with the “typical” Mexican home conveniences of a cook, housekeeper, and a gardener. They were also in the process of establishing their own business of a fleet of sailboats for whale watching tourist excursions. IMG_1933They estimated that within 3 years their business would be thriving in the Mexican economy, especially with the good exchange rate of $19MXN to the $US1.

The only drawbacks on this trip, is that I wouldn’t consider the restaurants to be the caliber of the “unlimited luxury” that the resort boasts. The buffet restaurant was comparable to any other all inclusive resort and accurate to the Trip Advisor reviews–lukewarm and redundant food choices. The a la carte restaurants were pretty good–but, for instance, the steakhouse did not serve prime grade steaks–which is what I would consider unlimited luxury.

It was the little details that the resort was missing the target on. In contrast, I loved the soups served at the restaurants and you can read that post here.

The other disappointment in our resort was how the staff–almost all of them–kept pushing the “Unlimited Vacation Club” meeting. You can read more about that here. If the staff had spent half their time paying attention to the little details of the resort, instead of the time they spent trying to convince us to attend the meeting (we had already attended an AMResorts meeting last year in Huatulco). I may have been able to consider this a top of the line vacation. Who wants to be cooped up in a 2 hour meeting while on vacation? I don’t. And once I said no thanks, I really didn’t need to be asked again.

Would I return to Nuevo Vallarta again? Most certainly! In the future, I would like to spend about a month in the area, so I would have the time to see what I didn’t get to on this trip and get more familiar with the area. Would I stay in the same resort again? Uhhh, probably not. But I would consider renting one of the condos on the other side.

Riviera Nayarit It Is!

I’m cold. It’s winter and I’m cold. Yesterday, we saw the temperature hover between 2 (-16C) and 12 (-11C) degrees Fahrenheit with wind chill factors of -10F (-23C.) For those of you who live in warmer climes, you have no idea how cold that is. When you walk outside even for a brief moment, you lose your breath!winter-3088579_1920

Thinking warm thoughts and listening to the reggae station are not warding off the cold. There’s not enough hot cocoa. We’re just going to have to head to the beach for a brief respite and to rejuvenate enough to get through the rest of winter.

I found a really good deal to Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta in Mexico. I know it seems like we spend a lot of time going to Mexico, but we can be there non-stop from St. Louis in 4 hours. Nuevo Vallarta is in the Mexican state of Nayarit, which is on the Pacific side and is a part of the country we’ve not yet visited before. The closest we’ve been on that coast is Huatulco which is 547 miles away, so not even very close.

I don’t yet know much about Nuevo Vallarta but I plan to do some research before we get there. It seems to be an up and coming area located between Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias, that is attracting the crowd that’s not interested in the hustle and bustle of Puerto Vallarta, but would like all the luxuries of a resort area.

It looks like there’s a lot to do in the area on land or in the sea. There are numerous small villages to be explored and shopped all within a 30 minute drive, and there are a lot of beach areas in Banderas Bay. Whether we want to spend the day on a secluded beach, check out some of the “walking beaches”, or even try our hand at surfing, there’s a beach for it. I’m also hoping that we can see some of the humpback whales who winter there, frolicking with their babies. (I just loved seeing the whales in Alaska, check out Juneau, Alaska.)

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Whale in Alaska

While the resort touts itself as an unlimited luxury all inclusive, which to me usually means great food, some of their Trip Advisor reviews beg to differ. Even though I only take the reviews with a  grain of salt, there is usually a bit of truth to them. I’m trying to keep in mind that the people who did not have a great experience tend to write reviews more frequently, and I’m hopeful the resort has worked out whatever kinks were getting in the way.

Would we cancel the trip or change resorts because of negative reviews? Probably not. Maybe if this were an important wedding, anniversary, or group trip I would reconsider going there. But this is just a mid-winter vacay for hubby and I. We’re pretty laid back and will roll with whatever we find at the resort.

If you have ever stayed at this Dreams and have anything negative to say, please post a review on Trip Advisor, don’t comment on this post. I’d rather go in as uninfluenced as possible and form my own opinion based on what we experience. If you have anything positive to say, feel free to do so in the comments.

Regardless, I’m cold. All I am really worried about is getting out of this cold and taking a break on the beach and seeing some of that side of Mexico. After that, winter won’t seem quite as long and I’ll be able to get through it better upon our return.