I got back this past Monday from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. This is the slow time of the year for the tropical destinations and I got a pretty good deal on an all-inclusive trip. It rained one night and the rest of the time it was warm/sunny/humid. I got so dark some of the vendors were speaking to me in espanol thinking I was a native - ha!
Anyway a few thoughts/recommendations:
Puerto is a bay so the water is not the blue you dream of. You have to get outside of it in order to get the Pacific blue water. The beaches range from rocky to fine sand depending on what part of the bay you visit. On the plus side, we were surrounded by the Sierra Madres (the Rocky Mountain extension into Mexico). Real amazing and dramatic views when driving around the bay.
The downtown is beautiful and it still has a touch of old Mexico, unlike commercial areas such as Cancun. Cobblestone streets, old chuch cathedrals and a nice palm tree laced boardwalk facing the bay. A lot of the eateries are open air and facing the water. I munched on some fish tacos for the first time at a place close to the bay and it was quite good.
I met a Cali - by way of W Hollywood (ritzy part?) - lady who moved there about 2 years ago and decided to stay. She was very nice and helpful. Of course I peppered her with questions about the area as well as what made her jump ship from the states. We were drinking a little Chilean red wine, listening to some jazz and watching the waves when she gave me the full scoop - maybe too much. For those of you interested, she bought her 1 bdroom condo 2 years ago for 110k. It now appraises for 180k. It is a nice condo with, again, an ocean view, a gated community and a pool the size of a Vegas casino pool (I remembered the name and I could probably send you a link via PM if any of you are interested). The whole neighborhood was American and at the very end was an American hospital. I checked the local real estate sections and from what I saw 150-225k could get you a condo on a golf course or a mountain/ocean view. The area is booming in terms of construction and Mexico is really catering to Americans. Aside from the reasonable real estate, food/groceries didn't seem all that much different from the states in terms of price, likely due to the touristy destination. She also recommended Mazatlan and Playa del Carmen (which I would second) as two more cool places along the coasts to visit.
I did a full day excursion into the Sierra Madres - a canopy tour similar to what you see in Costa Rica. We reached the top of our mountain apprx 2200 ft up by way of narrow trails on top of a donkey although I called him a jackass for stopping several times. He didn't mind. We reached the bottom via zip cords and rapelled next to a waterfall. Beautiful scenery and excellent guides. One line started out in below the waterfall. The constant erosion from the water left a smooth, rock slide for about 20 feet followed by a drop with another pool below. We slid down the rocks and when the drop came our cords picked us up until we splashed into the pool below. Good times.
I met a lot of senoritas, mostly from Guadalajara (spelling?). Very pretty and a lot of fun. Any of you guys in search of pretty latinas go to Guadalajara
I found out that June is a major travel month for the natives so our resort was about half natives/half Canadians/Americans. It is a much different experience watching the Wold Cup with them vs. back home. They tend to take soccer very seriously. I also met a lot of cool people from Calgary, Alberta.
This was a last minute sort of trip but I had a great time and I can't wait to go on another one. I will probably post a pic or two once I have a little more time. Moving sucks :P Hope all is well with everyone.