As I sit on the balcony of my hotel watching the waves crash against the beach, I realize how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to “get away” from the monotony of the last 9 months. I am about an hour away from calling an Uber and heading to the airport on my way back to the United States. In the past, I would be writing about all the exciting things I did throughout the week while simultaneously uploading the pictures and videos to my travel blog. However, this time was different. While I did a few things (which I will discuss further below), most of this trip consisted of doing absolutely nothing. I am not sure if it was because I wanted to be cautious with COVID, didn’t want to spend more money than I had to, or was just lazy, I spent most of the week either on my balcony or in my bed. It is not necessarily a bad thing but just the reality. As a result, this post will be a summary of the past week in Puerto Vallarta.
My first day in Puerto Vallarta I went on a city tour which I book before arriving in Mexico. I got it off of the website Viator for $29 USD. The tour started off a little shaky as I was still lying in my bed when the company called to pick me up. While the website said that the tour started at 10AM, I was one of the first people to be picked up and the driver, Carlos, arrived at 9AM. I got an “unofficial” tour of Puerto Vallarta as the van drove around and picked up several more guests. After dropping half the group off at the company headquarters (called Discovery Tours) for a private tour, we were on our way. The tour itself was a hybrid of English and Spanish and the tour guide was named Jorge. He was an older gentlemen who owned a restaurant and bird watching sanctuary in the little village that we would visit that afternoon. Our first stop was a chocolate “factory” located inside of Puerto Vallarta marina. I put factory in quotes, because it’s really a small store. There was a small 10 minute presentation about how the chocolate was made but it was mostly a sales pitch for tourists. As we were on the way to our next stop, el Centro (or downtown), Jorge explained the history of how Puerto Vallarta (formerly Las Penas) was established. We stopped and walked around the Malecon (boardwalk) for about 30 minutes with half of the time spent in a jewelry store (which I thought was pretty pointless). We then went to a leathermaking store to endure yet another sales pitch. However, unlike the chocolate store, there really was no educational value. Before we left town, 6 people of our group dropped off and so it was only me and a couple from California. The drive down the coastal highway was great as Jorge explained the history behind the various hotels. We arrived to Jorge’s village and were taken to a coffee shop where we were given a rushed 5 minute presentation on how regional coffee was made before enduring yet another sales pitch. The final stop was to a tequila factory inside the village. Here we were offered the opportunity to buy lunch. I came in thinking it would be expensive by local standard, something like $10 USD per plate, but had thoroughly underestimated the gullibility of some of these tourists. We were given a presentation of various seafood plates with the cheapest plate being $30 USD. I just walked away which might have been a little rude. We were given a presentation on tequila which I actually thought was pretty decent. Although I don’t normally drink alcohol, it was cool to try the various products sold by the store. While I had no interest in actually buying the products, I did think the presenter did good enough to warrant a tip. After the tequila factory, Carlos took us back to town and dropped me off near my hotel around 2PM. Overall, I thought Jorge and Carlos did a great job but the tour itself was a giant sales pitch and I expected more considering the price. If I had to go back, I might have just done the free walking tour and stayed in Puerto Vallarta proper.
On Tuesday, I decided to hike one of the local attractions, Mirador de La Cruz. My original plan was to hike up early in the morning and catch the sunrise. Considering the route, I ended up taking, I am glad I slept in. Prior to going, I did some half-ass research on Google and along with remembering some instructions given by Uber driver upon arriving in Puerto Vallarta, I decided that I knew the route. I left my hotel around 11AM and started walking towards the base. I got to the point where I had the choice to either walk up some steps or go up a ramp. Thinking that the steps led to the actual trail, I started walking up the steps. It was not long until the steps stopped being steps and I ended up in an old Mexican man’s back yard. I had to ask him where the entrance to the lookout was and he told me to continue going up. I kept going and had come to realize that while the trail was not well defined, there was enough openings to be able to figure it out. However, had it been pitch black like my original plan, I would have been in a world of hurt and would have possible ended up in a ditch. I’m in average shape now, so it took me about 25 minutes to navigate the trail and I eventually arrived at the top in which I had to hop the guardrails to get on to the structure. The views were pretty nice as I could see up and down the coast of Puerto Vallarta. I hung out on top for about 20 minutes before making my way back down the official route. Turns out, while much safer, the official route probably would have been much more strenuous considering the amount of steps. Overall, I would definitely recommend checking out Mirador de La Cruz if passing through Puerto Vallarta.
After hiking Mirador de La Cruz, I pretty much took it easy for the rest of the week. I did take the bus to Playa de Los Muertos for the sunset only to realize how insanely expensive it was to rent a beach chair. Even eating out, I was satisfied with the pick of street food vendors right outside of my hotel and did not really feel the need to eat in the upscale restaurants in Puerto Vallarta’s Romantic Zone more than once. Yesterday, I decided to get a haircut for $150 MX Pesos (about $9 USD) and I bought a shot glass as a souvenir for $40 MX Pesos ($2.25 USD). Overall, I only spent about a $100 USD in cash for the whole week I was here (in addition to putting $50 USD on my credit card). All-in-all, it was a nice trip. As I prepare to go to the airport, I hope the next time I travel, the world will be in a much better place.