Paradise in Puerto Vallarta

Day 1

  • 3:00pm – We arrived in PVR on (3/26) during Spring Break. It’s approximately a 3 hour and 15 minute flight from SFO. $10 by just hopping in the cab and paying in the booth once you exit the airport.  (cheapest option) to go directly to your hotel. It’s approximately a 30 minute drive (in traffic) through which you’ll pass the central part of town, the old town of PVR which is lined with cobblestone streets, and gorgeous cliff side villas with ocean views.
  • 3:30pm: Arrive at the Gran Fiesta Americana (Adults Only) Resort. We got an amazing discount for this hotel through during BlackFriday. For three nights, we stayed in the Junior Suite (Ocean-View) for a total of $130 . In typical all-inclusive Mexican resort fashion, service is impeccable. Everyone is friendly and more than willing to bend over backwards to make sure every request is fulfilled. Overall experience: Simply Fantastic.
    • Food Quality: (8.5/10)
    • Room: (9/10)
    • Drinks / Bars: (7/10)
    • Staff (9/10)
  • 5:30pm: Tequila tasting at Grand Lounge. Favorite Tequilas: Don Julio 70, Don Julio Anejo
  • 6:00pm: Cocktails at SkyBar. This place makes you feel like you are at a rooftop lounge in Miami. We grabbed some micheladas and a seat at the hot tub while watching the sunset with our friends we met from Chicago.
  • 9:45pm: It’s Saturday night, head into El Centro and check out Mandala, one of the coolest night life spots downtown. It’s a nice nightclub offering bottle service and plays your mix of Top 40 and house. There are actually several “Mandalas” in Mexico (playa Del Carmen, etc). Cover was $12 but there are many other bars to check out in the general area here, and it gets pretty busy here during the evenings. There are many bars / clubs to choose from that line the beach like Zoo and Vaquita which are always popular.


Day 2

  • 7:30am: Book a boat cruise through Quick Tip: Once you arrive at the Marina, you’ll have to pay a 2 dollar port fee and a 2 dollar national park fee. It’s cheaper to pay this in pesos if you have it.
  • We departed at 8am and reached Las Islas Marietas at about 9am for some snorkeling and kayaking next to the islands. Tons of fish, albeit not as colorful as in Hawaii or Turks&Caicos. After this, we took a small boat of 10 people to the infamous “Hidden Beach” which is a 200 meter swim through a cave. You arrive at a beautiful beach inlet with a view of the tunnel you just swam through surrounded by Agave plants. After spending 15 minutes there, lunch was prepared on board and the crew took us around the island to explain its history and we had a brief birdwatching tour which involved seeing the the rare blue footed boobie bird whose only other residence is in the Galapagos. On your way home, the bar on the boat is open! You’ll cruise through paradise and the crew will put on a hilarious show on the front deck of the boat that may or may not involve a break dancing competition, a MC Hammer cover duet and their rendition of “Sweet Child of Mine”. After that, we returned home around 3pm.


  • 7:00pm: Head into town and go to Playa de Los Muertos and walk along La Malecon for  a mile / mile in a half long stretch adjacent to the beach where you will find street performers, beach bars and restaurants, shops, bars, outdoor dancing, street food vendors, and virtually every souvenir shop. This part of town is also lined with resorts so it will naturally be bustling with people. We went on Easter Sunday so had the opportunity to see part of a mass in the gorgeous church, Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. A walk to the end will be about 20-30 minutes depending on what ships you stop in and a cab back to the resorts near Gran Fiesta should cost you 90 – 120 pesos (under $10). Quick Tip: At night back from the clubs, cabs are $20 flat rate. Paying taxis in Pesos will always be cheaper given the exchange rate they quote you.


  • Day 3
    1:00pm: Head back to the Marina for the half day Zip Line / Canopy tour. Quick Tip:  All the tours / excursions in Puerto Vallarta are put on by Vallarta Adventures, the one large tourist tour company in the city. They are all pretty fantastic, well organized and efficiently run, as long as you are comfortable with a group of 30+ people or so. These excursions can be booked pretty much anywhere in the city, including your hotel, but we just did it in advance through This one specifically was $100 for a 6-hour tour.
    We began our trip with a 25 minute open water speed boat ride. By speed boat, I mean this thing was fast! You could feel every wave (wouldn’t want to be on it on a windy day). From there, you take the “yellow limousine” to the canopy). By limo, I mean a Jurassic Park 4×4 that you’d only see in a movie. Bumpiest ride of our lives, referred to as a “Mexican Massage” but it was quite entertaining. After that, we met our tour guide who got everyone their gear, and helped them on top of mules (everyone is assigned a mule based on height and personality!) which take you to the zip lines. After two lines that span pretty large gaps, you’ll repel a waterfall and take another line into a small lake. YES, bring water shoes, you will be soaked, but definitely worth it. After a few more lines, you’ll descend two water slides and even do one zip line upside down! It’s definitely the best one we’ve done since the guides are incredibly efficient, very funny, and do an outstanding job. You really don’t have to worry about safety at all, it’s taken care of. From there, you’ll head back to the Marina the same way you came. Quick Tip: Unfortunately, they won’t let you bring your own go-pro or camera, so we have no pictures… which is a bummer, but you can buy them there as they have a photography team snapping photos and videos.
  • 7:00pm: Before you take the speed boat home on your tour, you will be in a place called Boca Del Tomal. From here, take a taxi  to “Le Kliff”, a gorgeous restaurant covered in a tiki hut situated on a (you guessed it), cliff where you have an incredible view of the  ocean. On your drive home, you’ll see the famous Arcos de Mismaloya, which is a rock formation that looks like a sea turtle from the open sea and is actually a national park that you can take a water taxi to go and visit.
  • 9:00pm: Dinner back at the hotel for our last night at Grand Fiesta in Puerto Vallarta. They were nice enough to bring us a decorated plate of deserts wishing us a great trip back!


Day 4

  • 12:30pm: Head to PVR airport (taxi was much cheaper at 250 pesos), take the 1-hour Volaris flight to Mexico City.


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