There’s an old expression that says, “Change is as good as rest.” How true!
A quick trip to the nearest big city (Puerto Vallarta doesn’t fit the usual image of a city but it does have a cathedral – a beautiful one at that – therefore it is a city).
It’s only a 60-minute drive from Punta Mita and our home, but Puerto Vallarta (PV) feels like another world. For us, it is a 60-minute drive but PV is definitely an easy place to get to with 40 direct flights from the USA and Mexico. Wherever you’re coming from it is a fantastic place for a weekend getaway. As with some of the best things in life, this was a spontaneous getaway, a “Why not let’s just stay and relax?”, a last-minute decision.
We arrived in time for a late breakfast and were lucky enough to stumble across the Farmer’s Market held in Olas Altas Market on Lázaro Cárdenas in the Romantic Zone. It takes place every Saturday morning and offers an excellent selection of ready-to-eat food, fruits, vegetables, clothing, jewelry, artifacts and all sorts of interesting bits and pieces to “ooh” and “ahh” over!
We ended up with an eclectic assortment of bagels, bread, nuts, cookies and hot Pancetta sandwiches. Our eyes bigger than our tummies we picked at all kinds of goodies, watched the world go by and washed it down with tangy, fresh-squeezed juices. This took several hours, by which time we were actually thinking about lunch – or more to the point… margaritas!
A fun stroll along the beach in the direction of Los Muertos beach quickly made us forget what we were actually looking for – we were so fascinated with watching the beach antics unfold before us. In one section, a group of scantily-dressed clients sat in deck chairs cradling fresh cocos with flower adornments, listening to a somewhat ramshackle group of musicians, the most amazing of whom was barefoot in the sand with a brass tuba. Not something you see on every beach!
And so the show went on, We kept strolling, watching other fascinating scenes playing out along the sand.
Eventually, we decided on lunch at the Blue Shrimp. With beach-side seats, we settled in for the afternoon picking on great guacamole, fishy dishes and, of course, a few, very excellent margaritas.
Time to clear our heads… strolling back towards the car we were offered all kinds of activities ranging from paragliding to whale watching. The idea of a quick spin out on the ocean was very appealing – just for an hour or so to see the coastline and blow away some tequila webs! Presto! Along came Pedro with the perfect panga (small motor boat), just waiting by the new pier and ready to whisk us out and about.
The coastline south of the Romantic Zone down to Los Arcos is very pretty. Lots of beaches, hidden coves, incredible villas cascading down the jungle-filled hillsides, some larger hotels but all attractive and good to get reacquainted with.
By this time we were nicely relaxed, enjoying bumping along over the little waves, sun on our faces and excited to see whales and baby dolphins jumping around us. How great was this – we felt as if we were a million miles away from home.
After checking into our home away from home, the magnificent, luxurious Villa Los Arcos – we slipped into something more comfortable and made it out onto the pool terrace in time to watch the sun melt into the horizon. The staff prepared an incredible meal under the stars then they too retired to leave us for a romantic evening, the waves lapping on the rocks below us and the lights of Vallarta glittering in the near distance.
A quick dip in the pool, some fresh-squeezed juices and tropical fruits – a delicious and healthy way to ease into Sunday. That didn’t last long before we decided we needed a bit of beach action.
Ten minutes back into the Romantic Zone and we had settled ourselves at the Sapphire Beach Club – a chic little European-style bar, restaurant and beach club right on the sand at Los Muertos Beach. This is the place to see and be seen, especially if you are gay as this is where most of the gay lifestyle takes place, and the place definitely has a great vibe. We watched, fascinated, as fellow customers got authentic-looking, stick-on tattoos, bought jewelry, haggled over serapes and ordered hot-off-the coals shrimp on skewers.
With so much activity we decided to retire to the restaurant and watch the show with a chilly carafe of French Rose and some truly excellent salads. This whiled away a couple of hours and lulled us into thinking we were in a far and exotic land, which really we were, we’re just lucky enough to live up the road!
Time for a siesta and ready to check into our home for the night, located within walking distance of the beach, we were staying at the super-quaint, Casa Paraiso. The home offers all the charm we have come to expect from downtown Vallarta, but without compromising the comfort. Snacks waited in the shade of the garden and before long we were thinking about dinner.
A quick dip in the pool and then a stroll down through the Romantic Zone led us to the Malecon and more great people-watching. Whole families out for a Sunday evening promenade, local artists selling paintings, handmade artifacts, dogs, kids, music… the whole beautiful walkway bustling with life and happy people and – just to top it all off – another perfect Pacific sunset.
What an experience – unbeknownst to me we had a superb table waiting for us in the iconic Casa Kimberly. The now-swanky restaurant and hotel was originally the home rented by Elizabeth Taylor during the filming of the Night of the Iguana in 1964. The film, directed by John Huston, was what put Puerto Vallarta on the Hollywood map. Taylor and Burton met and …..We all know how the story goes… fell in love.
During the filming, Burton stayed in a villa across the road from Casa Kimberly No problem, they built a bridge between the two and you have a love story that transcends the decades.
Recently, the homes have had a multi-million dollar makeover and have been transformed into a super-luxe, nostalgic hotel with the wonderful Iguana restaurant. The restaurant serves up some excellent local food and offers a complete wine list. But the definite highlight is the magical mariachi band, Mariachi La Joya, who play 6 nights a week.
Fully-serenaded, the stars above, arm-in-arm, we strolled back through the charming cobblestoned streets.