Puerto Vallarta is situated on the west coast of Mexico, on the Pacific Ocean’s Bahía de Banderas. It’s a much bigger-resort type town than I had expected, but really it’s no wonder since it’s the 2nd biggest bay in the world.
We had pretty much perfect weather for the entire week, but our only regret is that the Humpback Whales don’t come for another 2 weeks. Seeing the whales would have made this trip complete.
It was really easy to get around town using the local buses, which came every 3 minutes and saved us lots of money.
We stayed in Hotel Emperador (Old Puerto Vallarta Zone) and booked the cheapest room. As soon as we checked in, we wanted to check out – the room was noisy and literally smelled like the loo. We decided to upgrade to an ocean view room with a balcony, which was well worth it for only an extra AUD$50 for the entire stay.
I love Mexican food, but I can finally say I’m really overdoing it. The burritos and margaritas are catching up with me…it is actually amazing to see how quickly the hard wok of dieting can disappear and hide under a layer of fat. Time to calm down a little on the food front!
Most restaurants near the beach are great, but we stuck to the lower priced ones. Our favourite was a little burrito/crepe stand, right in the middle of the Romantic Zone. They do a mean burrito (seafood was my favourite) and amazing banana/nutella/peanut butter crepes. You can buy your own beer from an OXXO next door and drink it as you tuck into your food.
Another great place was Fugueroa’s. I loved the shrimp and the chorizo burrito. Prices were low, service was great, servings were big and the food was really tasty!
We also loved Mr. Jack’s at Marina Vallarta. Their seafood was to die for, specially the shrimp. I also got to taste a cactus and some chillis…highly recommended. Great staff and service.
So apart from being a beached whale and lying on the sand regretting how much I’ve eaten, we did actually do a lot. I really wanted to visit Marietas Islands, which are famous for the rock and cave formations and a hidden beach that makes for a spectacular sight.
After much searching we settled on the most expensive, but clearly the best of the tours – Vallarta Adventures. They had a buy 2, get 1 free special, so we decided on Marietas, Las Caletas and the Outdoor Adventure.
1. Marietas – The catamaran took about 2 hours to get to Martietas, which went super quick – between looking at the sights, spotting dolphins, eating brekkie and being entertained, there was hardly any time left for sun baking.
The best part of the tour was snorkelling through a cave tunnel into a hidden beach, which was incredible. We also tried some paddle boarding and spend some time lazing around in the sun.
The open bar on the way back and constant entertainment by the company staff made for a perfect day!
2. Outdoor Adventure
I have to admit I didn’t expect much from this tour. The advertising brochure showed a few zip lines and a nature walk, so I was prepared for the worst. But this day trip totally blew my mind.
After a speed boat ride and a 4WD we arrived at the ‘base camp’ in the jungle. We then got taken up a mountain by donkeys and got ready for our 1st zip line, which was about 200m long with stunning views. We were then quickly chucked into the deep end – vertical drops, absaling the waterfall, being dunked into a cold river, water-slide, tandem zip lines, comando bridges, upside down zip lines and a massive, fast water slide to finish. Being slightly afraid of heights and claustrophobic, it’s safe to say my adrenalin levels were a little elevated. All I kept saying is ‘Can’t be worse than competing at Worlds’.
There were some awesome photos, but at $60 per CD, we had to give it a miss. It was a perfect day and totally unexpected how professional, safe, fun and scary Outdoor Adventure turned out to be.
3. Las Caletas
This was the least impressive tour of the 3. Las Caletas is a beautiful island, where you are free to do whatever you desire. There are guided walks, an animal sanctuary, where you can hold parrots, monkeys and snakes (animals and birds in captivity is really not my thing), yoga, massage, snorkelling, paddle boarding, kayaking, or just lazing around. For extra money you can also swim with sea lions and dolphins, but agin, I would much rather see these animals free to roam the ocean. One good thing was the amazing food and an open bar offered on the island. The buffet was incredible!
During the whale watching season (Dec – March), you do whale spotting on the way home, which would totally make this trip worthwhile.
Originally, this was meant to be a little quiet holiday after Worlds, without training or exercise. However as soon as we checked into our hotel, we started looking for jiu jitsu clubs. After much searching on forums, we stumbled upon the newly opened VFC Vallarta Fighting Center.
Fernardo Jarero (Gracie Barra purple belt) runs BJJ classes at 8pm Mon-Fri. Fernando is a great teacher and a super nice guy and his students are a testament to this. Most have only been training for 3-4 months and for beginners they have some good basics, learn super quick and don’t spaz while rolling.
Lachie and I felt so welcomed and really enjoyed our time at the club. I got some good rolls in with Fernando, Lachie and a few of the younger boys and we even got a chance to drill before class. If you are ever in Puerto Vallarta, go visit Puerto Vallarta Fighting Centre – you will get some good rolls with Fernando and if it’s anything like our visit, they will treat you like royalty.
Our time in Puerto Vallarta is now over and we are currently on a bus to Guadalajara. We have 1.5 days to squeeze in some training and sight seeing and then we are off to see the Monarch butterflies.