I’ve always loved the idea of a relaxing tropical beach vacation. While there I would spend my days reading steamy hot romance novels while sipping icy cold drinks. Occasionally I’d look up to stare out at the crystal blue waters, and the scent of the ocean and suntan oil would permeate the air. After a while the sound of the palm trees rustling in the gentle breeze would lull me to sleep. Sounds good doesn’t it? There’s only one problem with this scenario… I can’t sit still.
I’ve never been great at relaxing in the traditional sense of the word and my previous trips have reflected that. However I’m always up for trying something new so when the opportunity to join friends in Mexico presented itself who was I to say no?
We spent the better part of four fabulous days in and around Puerto Vallarta, and while I wouldn’t say I sat still the entire time, I did my fair share of relaxing — hilarystyle. By that I mean that beyond enjoying that lounge chair, and I promise I did, we also found time for plenty of exploring including: boating, snorkeling, ocean swimming, a trip to town, and plenty of delicious dining. I even found time to read that steamy romance novel I mentioned earlier!
Jungle meets the sea at the Real Del Mar, an exclusive resort, 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta on the Riviera Nayarit. Casa Vela, as the house was named, was perched high on the hillside overlooking the ocean.
The resort’s beach club, only a short distance from the house, included multiple oceanside pools, beach activities, and a restaurant.
Breakfast was prepared at the house each morning, and included traditional Mexican dishes like huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, and enchiladas with homemade tomatillo sauce, fresh fruit, and pancakes.
Once we’d had our fill of breakfast it was time to make the most of our days!
Both the house and the beach club had gorgeous pools with perfect water temperature and amazing views. I found my way to the house pool each morning where I enjoyed my morning coffee ritual and again each afternoon after our day’s explorations. Staring out over the jungle to the bay was absolutely dreamy.
The pools at the beach club were equally dreamy. We dipped in and out of the pools, swam in the ocean, played ping pong, and wandered through the rocks hunting for iguana.
Having never visited Mexico before I was determined to tear myself away from those dreamy pools and spend some time exploring the city of Puerto Vallarta. We only had one afternoon and chose Old Town Vallarta, also known as Zona Romantica, which is the most popular area of town.
Old Town is a quaint and lovely place to walk around. The cobblestone streets are narrow and lined with shops and restaurants.
The Bougainvillea is blooming in abundance and the colorful flags hanging from above create a festive atmosphere. I loved this street with all the adorable umbrellas and ocean view.
We stopped for a coffee and a snack and then spent time browsing in the shops.
There were many wonderful treasures, but I fell in love with these papier mache Day of the Dead skeletons.
Los Muertos the beach that borders Old Town is also home to many of the city’s hotels and this is where you’ll find the heaviest concentration of tourists. We walked along the beach boardwalk, explored the markets, and admired the art installations.
There isn’t a lot of street art in Old Town Vallarta, but there is some, and you know I did my best to hunt it down. Many of the pieces I found are part of the Restore Coral Mural Project an initiative bringing awareness to the importance of coral reefs and the preservation of marine ecosystems.
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, or Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, is located in the center of town, just one block off the water, and is a symbol of Puerto Vallarta.
Construction of the church started in 1903, but it wasn’t completed until 1952. The crown atop the tower was added in 1965, but has since been replaced twice, once due to weather erosion and again after a strong earthquake knocked it down.
A highlight of the trip was our boat ride along the coast of Mexico. We spent four hours cruising south and along the way stopped to snorkel, feed the fish, and have a light lunch.
Not all of us snorkeled. Some of us had to stay onboard and take photos!
There was a large concentration of sea foam on the water the day of our sail, so in certain places swimming to shore wasn’t all that desirable. Instead we chose to go further south and admire the many amazing houses perched on the steep hillsides.
We learned that many of them are completely inaccessible by car, and use boats for everything.
My favorite part was feeding the fish. Our Captain, Edgar, sprinkled the water with crushed tortilla chips, and within moments a school of very large angelfish appeared! There’s just nothing like seeing wildlife in it’s natural habitat!
Toes in the Sand Dining
No matter the day’s activities the 8 of us met for dinner each night. We ate with our toes in the sand every night and I highly recommend it! The combination of perfect weather, scenery, friends and food, made for experiences we won’t soon forget.
Real Del Mar Beach Club
Going directly from the pool to the dinner table we watched the sun set from this idyllic spot on the beach.
The food, service, and ambiance at Tuna Blanca, located in nearby Punta Mta, were all perfect. The pork taco was out of this world, and we all agreed it was the best thing we ate all week.
This Caesar salad, made by Octavio, was easily the best I’ve ever had. Did you know that Caesar salad was invented in Mexico?
We had an amazing view of the water from the ladies side of the table, but our charming husbands said they had the better view.
With a view like this every table at Si Señor, also located in Punta Mita, was the best table. Yet another gorgeous evening toes in the sand…
A Bit of This and That…
- Puerto Vallarta is a short 2.5 hour flight from Los Angeles.
- Many resorts will provide transportation from the airport, but getting a taxi from the airport would be no trouble. In fact there were so many taxis available it was somewhat overwhelming.
- Drinking bottled water is a good idea. This includes ice.
- The Real Del Mar Resort is a 45 minute taxi ride from Puerto Vallarta and 20 minutes from Punta De Mita.
- We used Boatsetter.com to rent the boat and we sailed out of Marina Nuevo Vallarta. Boatsetter is available in over 600 locations.
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What stunning photos! Looks gorgeous. I love the Day of the Dead figures. I thoughy Puerto Vallarta must be a short flight from the US as I see a lot of people go. I see why! X
Thank you! It was dreamy!! Why didn’t I go sooner?!
😂 I don’t know. Would you return? It’s on my list💕 xx
Yes, I would return! However, if I was coming from as far away as you are I would add a few other cities in as well. Xx💕
Would you spend a week in Puerto Vallarta or is that too long? X
For me it would be too long as I have a restless spirit, but I think people do! There is a lot to do there.
So nice to finally see more of Puerta Vallarta! It’s the one trip I ever went on with my father and step family … and we left the hotel…ONCE! 🙁 (I was 18) Apparently sooo much we missed out on! That bar on the rocks looks awesome!! #CityTripping
It’s a lovely town with very friendly people. There is a stark contrast between the local areas and the resort areas for sure. I always need to leave the hotel, at least part of every day!
My family and I have explored the centre of Mexico, but never the west coast. I have heard stories about relaxing beaches and gorgeous resorts, and I now see that they are true!
I love the idea of living secluded away in a clifftop house only accessible by boat, being surrounded by jungle, beaches and angelfish…hmmm, maybe one day 😉
I hope to see the center of Mexico one day! Now that I’ve visited I’m sorry I waited so long to get there. 😊
What a gorgeous spot – I’ve heard a lot about that stretch of coast but have never really come across anyone who’s visited it (with direct flights to Cancun, most people in the UK tend to stay along the Riviera Maya, as we did) but the Old Town looks gorgeous to wander around and I’d have loved the boat trip. Those angel fish! Glad you found some street art too. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping
It was so beautiful! The boat trip was definitely a highlight and I was excited to find out that renting a boat isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
Real Del Mar Resort looks like paradise. I’m not sure how much I would have seen if I stayed there. I like all the cities and towns along the Mexican Riviera. I did not know that Caesar salad was invented in Mexico. The last time I was in Puerto Vallarta, I took a day trip to Yelapa.
It was an absolute paradise! It was hard to tear ourselves away, but I enjoyed the city too. I hope to go back again… I’ll look up Yelapa. Thx!!
You had me laughing at the first para, because my husband and I can’t seem to stop even on a holiday either. You however seemed to relax, chill and enjoy yourself by the look of all those goregous photos. Aren’t the Angel fish striking? #FarawayFiles
Ha ha! Thank you! We did relax some, but nowhere near the way the rest of our crew did. However, it was perfect for us! The Angelfish were my favorite part of the entire trip!
Now Hilary, up until your delightful Instagramming I had never heard of Puerto Vallarta. Now I want to go! Looks like you created some awesome memories on that trip. I love the toes in sand dining in particular – everyone looks so happy!
Serious happiness was going on the entire time! I’m impressed to have introduced you to a new location. 😘Mexico was pretty special!
I am very good at relaxing but I do love exploring too and as for snorkelling and boating in that gorgeous looking sea…. This whole area looks wonderful. I don’t think I’d like to stay in the busy looking Puerto Vallarta but 40-minutes further down the coast sounds like the perfect compromise. And that hotel looks absolutely dreamy! #FarawayFiles
I had such a great time in Mexico. Didn’t do Puerto Vallarta, so wanted to see what I could expect if I ever get to visit 🙂 #farawayfiles
We also had a great time! Seems easy to do in such a friendly and beautiful place! Puerto Vallarta was nice, but I think 4 days was perfect. Would like to see more next time!
Ladies What Travel (@LadiesWTravel)
Man I’m craving some sunshine like this right now! Looks beautiful there. Never visited Mexico, a part of the world I really should venture to… #farawayfiles
I know what you mean about sunshine! It soothes the soul! So many amazing places in the world aren’t there?!
I’m with you in not being able to sit still unless I have a book in hand! I want to swim in that infinity pool #FarawayFiles
A pool like that was on my “bucket list” even if I didn’t know until I saw it! 😘
INCREDIBLE photos! I’m not very good at sitting still either, so it’s great to know there’s so much to do. I’d actually never heard of this stretch of coastline before! #farawayfiles
Thank you! It was so lovely I just couldn’t stop taking pictures! Paradise!
The house you stayed in looks so incredible!! I went to Mexico for the first time this year too – but we went to Holbox, which we loved. Next time I’d love to go explore the Pacific coast instead!! We feel in love with Mexico too! #farawayfiles
The house was amazing! It’s heavenly in Mexico isn’t it?! I’d like to see the east coast at some point. Maybe next time?
**packs bags** you had me at the pools and the street art, really. What a great place. I like resorts that are not all paradise like, and then around it…. nothing. It’s nice that there’s also lots of stuff to see and do.
Ha ha! You and I are on the same page! The contrasts in Mexico are stark, but it helps one appreciate everything they’ve got and opportunities even more doesn’t it? Lots to see and do, or not, that’s the beauty!
That looks like a wonderful part of the world, the views and the beaches look idyllic. It’s a great idea the boat trip, as like you say some of these spots are inaccessible by car.
Love the pictures, good to see you slipped some street art into the post. #farawayfiles
It was so lovely and even living in Southern California we still loved the tropical climate!
This looks like absolute paradise! I’ve never been to Mexico but it’s definitely on my list now 🙂
It was definitely a paradise! Living in California I count myself lucky, but this was something else altogether!
what a trip!