What was supposed to be a big family vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico turned out to be a trip just with us three. FYI - dont wait too long to get your plane tickets or else the price goes up exponentially!
We were fortunate enough to get tickets from Alaska Airlines far in advance so although we wish the rest of the family was there, it was a good week just to relax by the pool and on the beach.
When you think of Mexico, what comes to mind? For me it's TACOS!! We live in San Diego so we have some of the best tacos in the world, but there's something about eating tacos in Mexico that's so satisfying.
The beach. Mexican beaches are beautiful. Puerto Vallarta (PVR) in the fall and winter is the best time to visit. The water is 74 degrees, the weather is 85 and there's sunshine all day.
Adventures. In PVR there's no shortage of adventures. Snorkeling. Scuba. Sailing. Ziplining. Horseback riding. Surfing. Swimming. Food tours.
We decided to go on a pirate ship for Essie. This was so much fun. For a whole day, you take a "pirate ship" out to sea. You can choose from snorkeling, swimming, canoeing, hanging on the beach and many others. They feed you breakfast and lunch - and I have to say, the food was awesome. Chilaquiles, pancakes, fruit, coffee, water juice and for lunch, a choice of salmon, chicken, steak and shrimp and vegetarian. You take the boat out in the morning and the pirates perform on the ship. There's a mutiny and some of them have to walk the plank (which actually really scared Essie haha). But don't be scared, the good pirates win in the end! Yay!!
The best part of the trip was watching Essie find the hidden treasure on the beach, which is on a private island we stopped at. When she found it, a pirate was asked if she was a good pirate or bad pirate. If she was a good pirate, she would share her treasure with the other kids. We were proud that she shared all the gold coins with the other kids.
This week was also the week of our 8 year anniversary so we took Essie to our favorite restaurant - Barcelona Tapas. A beautiful restaurant built on top of the chef/owners house, this 4 story restaurant offers beautiful views of PVR. Go before sunset and sit close to the glass railing. We sat on the balcony and enjoyed the warm breeze as we watched the sun set. We had to keep Essie busy so we brought her journal and pens and let her draw.
A lot of the days we got breakfast in the hotel (Sheraton) and then went to the pool. I also cooked breakfast for Stacy for our anniversary. For lunch we just ordered food at the pool. But every night we went out to eat.
One of our favorite restaurants was The Barracuda, right on the beach and on the edge of the old town. Fresh fish, craft beers and cocktails and very reasonably priced. Definitely check it out. We ordered tacos, which we both enjoyed.
Tips: Essie is 4 and half and gets bored easily. We've found that she loves to do things with her hands. She's creative. She likes to build legos, draw, work on writing, play with dolls and to stay active. For the plane ride, we downloaded the Alaska Airlines app and she watched a movie for free.
But she also spent time drawing in her journal and asking us how to write names - Dad, mama, Erin, Lady etc. She absolutely loves flying and likes to see the Alaska Air planes when they fly over her school in Point Loma.
Packing tips: Pack twice as much as you think you need in tropical places. You'll sweat through one pair of clothes during the day. If you're out adventuring, you'll sweat. Be ready. If you're at the pool or beach and can stay in your bathing suit all day, then you'll be fine. But pack a lot. Stacy and Essie shared a bag because we took Essies car seat down (we got dropped at the airport in a Lyft) to save on the amount of bags we dragged around.
Suggested restaurants and activities:
- The Fiesta at the Sheraton (we went on Thanksgiving and they had an amazing Mexican buffet, American Thanksgiving food and an open bar). $$$
- The Pirate Ship Vallarta - fun day with an open bar on the way back. The boat does rock slightly so be aware. $$$$
- Barcelona Tapas - classic Spanish tapas in a beautiful setting. The food is amazing. $$$
- Walking the Malecon at night - enjoy the breeze and the shops
- Drinks or dinner at La Palapa and Vista Grille - both fine dining on the beach $$$$
- The Barracuda - a fish forward restaurant on the beach serving fresh plates and tacos, craft cocktails and beers. Good prices $$
- River Cafe - fine dining restaurant on the river. Enjoy the sounds of the river with a fine dining meal $$$$