Kim and I just got back from Puerto Vallarta. We were invited on a family press trip by the tourism board to experience some of what the city has to offer.
Going into the trip I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I assumed it would be an overly touristy city but I was happy to find out that this was really not the case.
Puerto Vallarta seems to blend in a good mix of new & old, touristy & local to make for a really enjoyable destination to visit. The key to get the most of a visit is to not just get stuck inside an all-inclusive resort. While the area isn’t overflowing with things to do, there is more than enough to keep you busy for a 4 – 7 day visit.
The trip got off with a bit of a hiccup due to a missed connection. Otherwise, the trip was a lot of fun and we met a bunch of other very nice, like-minded individuals.
Since this trip was a family press trip, I tried to keep in mind what things would or would not be good for kids.
Here are some of our favorite experiences from our visit.
We took an evening taco tour with Vallarta Food Tours. When I saw the taco tour on our itinerary, it was definitely up there as one of the things I was most excited to do.
During the tour we made eight stops- 6 taco stands, a Mezcal lounge and a churros stand. Considering that I’m a picky eater, I have to say that the tacos were incredible. What was great about the tour was that each stand we visited served a different style taco. Who would’ve known there were so many varieties?
Besides the great food, our tour guide was awesome. He was very friendly and it felt like we were wandering around with a friend. He also knew a lot about the area so it wasn’t strictly a taco tour, we also learned a bit about other things related to Puerto Vallarta.
Since this was an evening tour, it definitely isn’t good for little kids. However, they do also offer day time tours where they cover local other kinds of foods- not just tacos.
We took walks along the Malecon during the day and at night. The Malecon is something like a stone boardwalk. It is a pedestrian only area which is great and it offers great ocean views on one side with the other being lined with shops and restaurants.
While walking you’ll come across some very interesting statues and if you go closer to the ocean side, you’ll see some pretty impressive sand sculptures. This is a great place to wander around for any age!
I’ve always wanted to do one of those dolphin interactions but have been a bit more unsure about them in recent years. Since a visit to Dolphin Discovery was part of our itinerary, I figured that it was worth seeing what it was all about.
We started off by seeing a show with sea lions and then dolphins. While the show was good, it was a bit too long for me to sit in bleachers…
Next up was our dolphin interaction. The trainers gave us instructions for different hand signals and then it was time to get in the pool. I have to say that it was really crazy having these speedy creatures swimming right next to us. They pushed us by our feet, we took a ride by holding onto their fins and we also got some hugs and kisses. It was an interesting experience that I’m happy to have tried but I’m not sure that I’d do it again.
We also had a quick sea-lion interaction. The massive sea-lion, Pepe swam slowly by and we got to pet him. We also had a little water fight with him before posing for an almost kiss. Pepe was pretty funny, he also stuck his tongue out and smiled at us for photos!
Dolphin and sea-lion interactions are definitely fun for kids but if Lucas was on the trip it wouldn’t have been for him. For a child to participate, they should definitely be comfortable in the water (Lucas is still a bit hesitant).
A nice thing about Dolphin Discovery is that it wasn’t only about the animal interactions, it’s also a water park. The park has huge slides, zip lines, a rock climbing wall and more.
I also liked that it wasn’t full of tourists. Many locals were there and some even buy season passes.
We woke up early for a very full day visiting Yelapa & Majahuitas. The tour was organized by Vallarta Adventures.
The tour is done by boat which holds a ton of people. This wasn’t an issue besides when it came to the lunch line!
The first stop on the tour was the waters of Majahuitas. The main thing to do is snorkeling which is what Kim and I did the whole time. Others also took out kayaks for a paddle. There were loads of fish in the water which made snorkeling a lot of fun. We saw (from what I recall) around 4-5 types of fish and visibility was very good since the water isn’t too deep.
There were a bunch of kids snorkeling so this is definitely child friendly, it just depends on the age and their comfort level getting in the water. Life vest, snorkels. masks and fins were provided.
Our next stop was the fishing village of Yelapa. You can only reach it by boat so it is definitely not an over built or overly crowded place. It has something like 900-1000 residents.
While on Yelapa, you could go for a hike to the waterfall & wander around the village or relax on the beach. We opted for the hike. While Yelapa does cater to some overnight tourists, this is still a very local kind of area. The architecture was interesting since most buildings are built along hills. (FYI- this is not a stroller-friendly area.) The waterfall, which is the furthest point on the hike is worth a visit and is nice but not something I’d consider amazing. Overall, I really enjoyed wandering around Yelapa. It maintains that small village charm.
One of the most impressive sites to see is the sunset in Puerto Vallarta.
This shot was taken from the Malecon and the colors were a really awesome sight to see. There are great views all over, including from our hotel’s pool & beach area. Another great place to go to view the sunset is at the top of the lighthouse. This isn’t your typical lighthouse, rather than it being on the water, it’s actually up on one of the hills.
We spent a couple of hours checking out the Old Town Farmers Market.
I had heard the market was pretty touristy and it did seem to be mainly filled with tourists. However, this didn’t take away from the experience at all. This market is very impressive. It even reminded of a market I’d stroll though at home.
The main items you’ll find are arts & crafts like paintings and jewelry and a variety of food items.
Kim and I enjoyed looking at the different booths and bought a picture but it looks like we left it at our hotel. Considering we were up around 3:45AM for our flight, this isn’t so surprising.
We also sampled and bought a few items from some of the food stalls. One of the best stands sold flavored peanuts and peanut butter. The couple that owned the stand told us how they got started and it was a great story! There are also some tasty dessert stands. I’d also recommend visiting the juice stand and getting the hibiscus since it’s super refreshing!
Overall, Puerto Vallarta really impressed me. This isn’t a city with nothing to do besides visiting the beach and partying. (If you like those things, they are available too.)
Kim and I found Puerto Vallarta to be a great family travel destination option with lots to do which should appeal to most ages.
I want to thank the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board for inviting me on this trip. We really enjoyed exploring an area in Mexico that we hadn’t ever considered.