Travel Thursday: Puerto Vallarta Pride and the City's 100th Birthday Celebration
As we took our maiden voyage to Puerto Vallarta, we found the Pacific Coast city celebrating not only Pride, but also its 100th birthday. What better time to be in one of the most visited cities in all of Mexico. We could not wait to find out why so many Americans and other international tourists vacation and move to PV.
Our trip was to last from Monday to Monday, so it was divided up into two parts. The first leg found us in Nayarit, Mexico at the W in Punta de Mita. Checking out the hotel on YouTube before our arrival, we could not wait to walk the grounds, enjoy the beach, the pool, the spa, and our room which was to be our own slice of heaven.
It was a treat to wake up to this view, and it was hard to leave, but being in this part of the coast, roughly a 30-minute ride northwest of Puerto Vallarta, there were little towns and sites we needed to see. The area, Punta de Mita, is in a different state of Mexico than Puerto Vallarta know as Nayarit, where as PV is in Jalisco.
We rode through San Francisco which is known by all as San Pancho (there’s another popular SF). There was also ample time to explore Sayulita, the surf capital of Riviera Nayarit. Watching the surfers in front of Don Pedro’s restaurant.
In 1992, two cousins, Damien and Nicholas, set off from Los Angeles on a surf and culinary adventure. Making their way south, they stumbled upon a diamond-in-the-rough called Sayulita. With one phone line in town at the Paleteria and hardly any other services, Sayulita was a dusty fishing village that time seemed to have forgotten. Tucked into a jungle-clad bay with a consistent rivermouth break, Sayulita's serene natural beauty and the warm hospitality of the locals impressed the two travelers. So much that they decided to stay. And thus a dream began to crystallize - to build a world-class restaurant on the beach of this little paradise. Like many passionate dreamers, they were laughed at, told it would never work. But true to the old adage "if you build it, they will come", they did... and the people came. Over fourteen years later, they keep coming back.
After a day tour of Sayulita, we were in for a treat, dinner at Carolina Restaurant at the St Regis, one the few 5 diamond AAA award and one of the 120 best restaurants in Mexico.
While in Punta de Mita, we planned a day of complete relaxation, starting with a boat ride to the Marietas Islands - the entrance to Banderas Bay. It was the wrong time of the year to enjoy some of the world's most spectacular whale watching, but while among the islands, we saw hidden beaches and had the opportunity to kayak, paddle board, snorkel, and dive.
Feet away from our departure and landing point for out boat journey was Tuna Blanca – a spot where the views and the food did not disappoint.
Since the day was about relaxation and enjoyment, the afternoon found us enjoying the W Punta de Mita Spa – Away Spa. Note: always arrive early for your spa treatment since most spas have amenities that you can enjoy before your appointment. The joy we had in the hydro-therapy area of Away Spa was almost unmeasurable, and then we were welcomed into the spa room, which we never wanted to leave.
We had to depart the W as Thursday through Monday morning, our abode would be Costa Sur Resort & Spa (www.costasurpuertovallarta.com/lgbt-travel/). The hotel welcomed us with open arms and rainbows galore. We had a great discussion with the wedding coordinator Maythé and how the hotel prides itself on being a grand resort perfect for romantic getaways, honeymoons, and same-sex weddings and its location on a private beach just 7 minutes away from the Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta
We opted for the all-inclusive option at the Costa Sur Resort and were happy with our selection.
The Puerto Vallarta Pride Parade was on Thursday night in the Malecon section of town. We love experiencing prides in different nations as they are a refreshing break from the commercialized offerings we often have here in the United States. It was not a lengthy parade, but very enjoyable. The pride celebration itself has been growing over the years, almost doubling each time, from 1,100 to 2,500 to 5,800 to 11,600 and to last year’s roughly 24,000. Turnout was expected to be the same this year which is great for a town just over 200,000 people and also wonderful since this time of year is pretty warm in PV. Asking promoters why Pride was scheduled for May, one reason was that May was a slower tourism month, mainly because of the beginning of the hot and humid season. Living in Florida, we were used to it, except there was less air conditioning.
After the Pride Parade, we were treated to dinner at Medregal, the restaurant serving the beautiful Villa Mercedes Hotel. Besides multiple plates of yumminess, we were treated to some great unique mezcal libations. What better way to get ready for the Pride Block Party, lasting until 2 AM.
The rest of the time in Puerto Vallarta was spent doing some more relaxation as well as some touristy offerings. Here's a few.
A guided 3 to 3½ hour food and city walking tour featuring ten food tasting locations carefully chosen to highlight the best regional flavors Puerto Vallarta has to offer. Enough for a satisfying lunch, you will enjoy a sampling of mouth-watering foods at family-owned restaurants and stands, sip on refreshing local drinks and even enjoy a fresh tortilla straight from the conveyor belt. (www.vallartafoodtours.com/original-downtown-tour)
Dinner at Garlands del Río
This Majestic Bed and Breakfast located directly on the Rio Cuale is a masterpiece. Garlands del Rio bed and breakfast represents a rustic yet magical time in Puerto Vallarta. Each room has a character and personality inspired by longtime residents of Puerto Vallarta. These beautiful rooms make up a Garland of beauty and relaxation. Garlands has 17 true Vallarta-style rooms with antiquated bathrooms that span around a luscious sapphire blue pool.
Drag Derby at Amapas Neigborhood
Our view of the Drag Derby from behind the stage. Full drag, heels, and sports ... these queens meant business.
As part of the Drag Derby, contestants had to race down the side walks and, among other activities, battle against a Trump piñata. We thought we'd share some of this amazing activity.
Mantamar Beach Club Bar & Grill (https://mantamarvallarta.com/en)
Even if you are not staying on the beach, check out a beach resort. We spent some time at Mantamar. We spent a couple of hours there.
Check out the very welcoming massage boys that offer a free 10-minute foot massage.
Yep, we were a sucker and paid for a full hour and full body massage and we have no regrets.
We did many other things on this trip. Puerto Vallarta offers some great experiences, both in the restaurants, bars, and on the water.
The balance we had between Punta de Mita and Puerto Vallarta was a great one. It helped us enjoy two very different parts of the Pacific Mexican coast.
We've been invited to visit Puerto Vallarta in February before and after this Pride/birthday celebration, we will definitely jump at the chance. Our PV cherry is no more. Pride is a great time of year to go to PV as the party atmosphere is in full swing, the weather is hot, and love/lust is in the air, but we may desire a little bit cooler temps as well as a better time to see the whales and orcas as they swim off the coast. We also want more time just to walk and enjoy the city. The architecture, art, colors, and people of PV are very welcoming and deserve to be appreciated. Now that we got some of the touristy activities out of the way, we're ready to return and soak up the Puerto Vallarta lifestyle.
See you there!
Here are some more pics from our jouney.