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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Our Apple Vacation—Nuevo Vallarta

I’m on our flight home from Nuevo Vallarta and am reflecting on our trip through Apple Vacations. We stayed the previous week at Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta.

Here are what I consider to be the pros and cons of using Apple Vacations:

PROS

  • It’s relatively easy to put together your own trip on their website and prices are transparent. (You do have to pay for the entire trip to reserve.)

-check under flights to see when/if your airport has non-stop flights

-plug in the dates and location of where you want to go

  • Choose flight type and room upgrades.

-I only upgrade our room for special occasions or if they go on sale. For the amount of time we are in our room, a garden view is usually just fine

  • Add travel insurance if desired.

-I usually skip this as I get trip insurance elsewhere–see Why You MUST Buy Travel Insurance

  • You can add on desired excursions if you wish.

-I usually skip this as well, finding the prices on resort to be lower or negotiable

  • Apple always includes transportation in their packages.
  • I watch their sales and more often that not, they are priced better than the same trip on other travel sites.

CONS

  • While Apple does not have a loyalty program, they also own Amstar or AMResorts which offers a loyalty program for a certain group of resorts.

-the loyalty program gets presented as a way to get discounts on spa services and excursions–you just sit through a 90 minute meeting

-BEWARE–the meetings tend to last way more than 90 minutes and are pretty high pressure to sell you

-since AMResorts/AppleVacations own the loyalty program, it seems their resorts may be priced slightly better or given a higher rating. Comment below or check their link if you question which resorts are part of the group

  • AppleVacations tends to use different charters for their flights.

-bear in mind that these planes have more limited space and luggage limits (you may only have a 45lb suitcase limit instead of 50lb–do your research)

-the air upgrades may be worth it for the first on/first off perk, but for this trip (with Swift Air) it wasn’t worth it for the snacks and beverages. Even though we paid a little more for the Preferred Perks they were out of “snack packages” both legs of the trip and the cocktail selections seemed to be off brands. Additionally, there were no selections that were coffee mixable, similar to Bailey’s, Kahlua, etc

-if you’d like to see my more detailed opinion of Frontier Air, click here

Overall, I believe AppleVacations offers a good deal online as long as you know what you’re getting. You can easily price out their trips before you buy and it’s easy to find frequent sales. You may even be able to choose luxurious accommodations, but you likely won’t be air traveling in style. Additionally, beware of their group of resorts in the loyalty program. If you are lucky enough to sit through one of these meetings (regularly longer than 90 minutes) be prepared to give up some of your vacation time and either buy a plan, or end up saying no, A LOT, repeatedly, and then again. But if you’re fine with that, enjoy the freebies! You will have earned them!