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Cancun

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Puerto Vallarta
• Barcelo La Jolla de Mismaloya
• Barcelo La Jolla de Mismaloya (rooms)
• Casa Velas
• Crown Paradise Club
• Grand Velas
• Grand Velas (Rooms)
• Paradise Village
• Riu Jalisco
• Riu Palace Pacifico
• Riu Vallarta

Punta Cana

Riviera Maya, Mexico

St. Lucia

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Puerto Vallarta


 

I had the pleasure of visiting Puerto Vallarta in November of 2008 for the first time. As with every trip I take it was a lot of work. As you can see by the amount of resorts I am featuring I was very busy. For those of you who do not know, Puerto Vallarta is located on the west coast of Mexico. The city and travel destination is located along Bahia de Banderas which in English is Banderas Bay. In the middle of that bay is the state line of Jalisco and Nayarit. You fly into Puerto Vallarta and depending on where you hotel is you may stay in Jalisco but most travel north to Nayarit. The destination is further divided into different areas. They are (from south to north) Mismaloya, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit and Punta Mita.

Mismaloya is about 20 minutes south of Old Vallarta (where the oldest buildings are of the city). Here is where movies such as Night of the Iguana and Predator were filmed. Hotels in this area are Barcelo la Jolla de Mismaloya (the jewel) and Dreams Puerto Vallarta.

Puerto Vallarta is divided up into two parts, old town and Marina Vallarta. Old Town is the south part of Puerto Vallarta. Here is where you will find Playa de los Muertos (beach of the dead) the board walk and a couple of old churches. Playa los Muertos is an area of small condos, small bars, and some restaurants. Along the board walk is a good place to go walking during the day and the night. On the other side of the street you will find bars, restaurants, and shops. Marina Vallarta is home to all the big hotels, shopping centers, and marina. When you arrive by cruise ship this is where you arrive. This is also where the pirate ship night time dinner cruise departs.

Riviera Nayarit is not a new destination but is being heavily promoted by the tourism board in the past year or so. This area begins just as you cross the border to Nayarit. It is home to a lot of hotels, endless high rise condos, shopping centers, golf courses, and a rather large marina for tours and yachts. It is divided up into two parts as well. First is Nueva Vallarta which is more hotels than condos. This area is already fully developed. Going north is Flamingos. I would say right now this area is half condos and half resorts. My guess would be that in the coming years the condo developments will outnumber the resorts.

Punta Mita is known for the Four Seasons Resort which is easily the most expensive and luxurious resort available at the destination. From what I understand travel agents are not allowed to take photos of this resort because the guests of the hotel pay a high premium not to be photographed (i.e. Celebrities). This area is still being developed with luxury condos and other resorts. I project that in 5 years the beach stretching from Puerto Vallarta to Punta Mita will be developed with condos and hotels.

Common Questions I get about Puerto Vallarta is how does it compare to Cancun. Its kind of hard to do that because like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta is divided up into different areas. On this site since I have seen so much in Cancun and there are more resorts in Cancun I divided them up into separate destinations. For Puerto Vallarta I am keeping it all on one page. I would say there are five major differences between the two destination areas. They are sand, water, mountains, tours and history.

The sand in Puerto Vallarta is brown where as Cancun it is white. That is simply a different between Caribbean and Pacific. The water in Puerto Vallarta is not as clear as it is in Cancun. In Cancun when on a boat you can easily see the ocean floor up to 50 feet deep with good detail. In Puerto Vallarta you can only see about 5 feet down. The water in Puerto Vallarta is only one color; a brownish blue. In Cancun you can look out and see 5 different shades of blues and greens and those colors change by the depth of the water, what is in the water at that point and how much sun light there is.

Puerto Vallarta has mountains which make for a lot of outdoor tours that are not possible or not as good in Cancun. The tours in Puerto Vallarta are much more different as well. In Cancun the transportation company picks you up from your hotel and takes you on the tour. In Puerto Vallarta you have to get to a meeting point for the tour where people from many hotels have come to meet up at the same time. Its hard to say which method is better. In Cancun it can take a lot of time going hotel to hotel to pick each person up. However in Puerto Vallarta you have to pay to get to the meeting point. The reason for this is that the taxi union in Puerto Vallarta pushed for a law that stated this is the way it was going to be.

It can be argued that Cancun has more history than Puerto Vallarta because of 1000 year old ruins. However as a city Puerto Vallarta has more. Thirty years ago no one lived in Cancun and the only reason why people live there now is because of tourism. Whereas Puerto Vallarta was a city long before it was a travel destination. Originally it was Old Town Puerto Vallarta which has two old churches and older cobblestone streets. Later came Marina Vallarta and the other areas with the influx of tourism. This gives Puerto Vallarta more of a traditional Mexico feel where as the Cancun Hotel Zone can feel like Daytona Beach or Panama City. On another note after living in downtown Cancun (where few tourists go) and seeing Puerto Vallarta they have the same feel to me. They have the same construction methods, same architecture and the same problems with public services.

A vacation to Puerto Vallarta is a lot more than just sun sand and swim up bars. Of course if that is all you are looking for then you will definitely find that. Puerto Vallarta has so much more to offer. Since there are mountains there are a lot of zip line tours which after doing the "La Vista Canopy" tour myself I highly recommend trying one of the many options they have. In addition to zip lines they have all the normal water sports and water activities. If you are a die hard fisher or really like boats and yachts go to the Marina at Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta and you can charter boats from $400 a day to $4,000 a day and probably higher. The truth is that there is just so much to do here that if you are interested in taking some tours ask me to send you a list of all the tours I can book for you. Id be happy to send that you to so that you can prebook or simply know more about the place you plan to spend your vacation.

Puerto Vallarta has one of the best restaurant sceens in Mexico. The city hosts a number of great gourmet restaurants. I had the pleasure of eating at Vista Grill. We arrived just after sun set and from our table could see all the lights of the city from Mismaloya all the way to Punta Mita. The view was spectacular and the food was amazing. This place has won a 5 star award and four diamonds which are not easy things for a restaurant to do. There are a couple of other places that are of this caliber in Puerto Vallarta. Be sure when on your vacation you do not eat at the resort every night and that you try some local gourmet restaurants as it will greatly enhance your vacation experience. You can expect prices to run about $50 per person for a 3 course meal not including alcohol, tip or transportation. Trust me when I say it is worth every penny or every peso.

 

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