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Pasitos de Luz- An Amazing Puerto Vallarta Charity

Pasitos de Luz - Helping Children in Puerto Vallarta

Soon after MayanRental exploded into a successful business, John and Linda decided to seek out a charity in Mexico that needed privateyolanda the founder support.  The moment we met Yolanda, the passionate founder of Pasitos de Luz and saw their work serving disabled kids from low income families in their humble facilities we knew we had found our connection.   Yolanda recalls John leaning against her office wall and saying “We are going to help you”  She says she didn’t really believe him..

The death of her sister from an incurable disease stirred that  passion in her that is still burning today    She has now been joined by her son , Arturo, who helps with finances and operations.  And others of her family are also working  there as well. 

What Is Pasitos de Luz?

.pasitos de luz logo Pasitos de Luz is translated to “Little Steps of Light”. Yolanda and a team of employees and volunteers passionately serve the desperate needs of mothers, including many single moms, with children who have disabilities.  Over more than 20 years, this fully registered charity grew from its humble beginnings to now caring for almost 130 children with as many and more on a waiting list for the services that are provided free of charge.

Covid 19

 Like everyone else, things came to a grinding halt during the pandemic.  They converted to supporting the families of the disabled children in a number of ways. 

  Pasitos de Luz quickly adapted and partnered with the community to ensure help for as many people in need as possible. They went from helping the children at Casa Connor to supporting their entire families as well as our staff and their families. Their foreign foundation partners were some of the first to step up.   Anne-Marie Haynes and Lars Jan Aberg from the Canadian Children’s Shelter of Hope Foundation began providing food parcels for 30 of the Pasitos de Luz families. Chris Amo from the Children’s Shelter of Hope Foundation in the United States also began purchasing and providing food and necessities for another 30 families. They worked together with their new pandemic partner, the Vallarta Food Bank, in putting together dispenses for 100 families. In total, they worked with all their partners, helping approximately 700 people.

What is Casa Connor?

When John and Linda first visited Pasitos they were in a tiny , poorly equipped facility in the heart of Puerto Vallarta.   It was an impossiblecasa connor task. Peter and Teena Oudman saw this need and decided to do something.   In honor of their grandson Connor, who died at a young age,  they conceived of a beautiful facility to meet the needs of all these children.  

Peter & Teena started the patronage pre-construction of the facility and they  started looking for people and altruist companies that wanted to invest in helping Mexican kids in their therapy and education. 

Today, Casa Connor stands finished and equipped, complete with a critically needed therapy swimming pool.    It is a beautiful facility, bu

connor story

Connor's sister's painting of Connor just before his death

t medical equipmentthe needs of more equipment and operating expenses are real.   They currently are using only a fraction of the facilities capabilities due to the need for funding and volunteers. 

Fortunately, Casa Connor is designed with pretty spectacular energy efficiency, so that does help.   We at MayanRental have chosen to donate to operating rather than to the building, since operations (like diapers and food) is less glamorous and therefore receives fewer donations.  A donation of $5 or $10 per month from several donors  would go a long way to enabling them to serve more children.

Pasitos runs on a largely volunteer basis and provide amazing services to dozens of struggling children.  

They provide:

  • Physical therapythereapy-pool
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Nutrition
  • Family education
  • Hygiene
  • Language therapy
  • ... LOVE !!

They are providing this to a number of kids on a shoestring budget with volunteers.  The problem is that they have 150 kids on the waiting list. But they have big dreams.

YOU CAN FIND MORE EXTENSIVE INFORMATION IN THIS PUERTO VALLARTA MIRROR ARTICLE. Just scroll down to “A Charity We Can Call Our Own”

 

MayanRental Presents Riverfest 2022riverfest

check presentation pasitosIn addition to yearly support, MayanRental was proud to be a major sponsor of Riverfest 2020 and the naming sponsor of the tenth Riverfest in 2022.  Riverfest is a fundraiser  at El Rio BBQ Bar.  In two days,  the tenth edition managed to raise an incredible $653,225 pesos ($32,000 USD).

 

 

 

 

 

How You Can Help

Pasitos de Luz is a registered non-profit charity that provides care, therapy, nutrition and wellness, education and more for children with disabilities from low-income families in Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay.  The good news is that you can donate  and get a tax deduction.     Amy Welch /  Banderas Bay Charities gives you an American Tax deduction.  Just add a comment that your donation is for Pasitos de Luz.   Mexico’s Canadian Angels and Canadian Children’s Shelter of Hope Foundation give   you a Canadian deduction. Just visit https://mcangels.org/ or http://ccshf.ca/ to donate. Mexico’s Canadian Angels does not charge processing fees on donations.   Our Mexican friends, can donate directly on Pasitos website.

If you are in the Puerto Vallarta area, you can  now arrange for a guided tour of the new facility any weekday morning.  Email: [email protected] .

We would encourage you to donate .   American and Canadian dollars go farther with the sad state of the peso, but donations from our Mexican customers are gratefully received as well !   Pasitos dream is that it will be largely funded by Mexicans.

We wish the best to our friends at Pasitos de Luz and will continue to offer our financial and prayer support.  Many challenges lay ahead for Pasitos de Luz as they strive to serve more kids and make a meaningful difference to their lives.

 

 

Giving Back to Mexico

As we say in our About Us page, we believe we have a strong responsibility to give back to Mexico.  We began our research looking for an organization that was doing God's work in the  Puerto Vallarta area that was underfunded.  Our hope is that many fellow Vidanta members and our guests will feel the same way and want to contribute.

If want to join this worthy effort , again,   here are some valuable links:

HOW YOU CAN DONATE

 HOW YOU CAN VOLUNTEER

HOW TO TAKE A TOUR TO FIND OUT MORE

 

We will update this post as we get more information, but that wraps up our review of Pasitos de Luz in Puerto Vallarta. 

Vidanta World Nuevo Vallarta Update

VidantaWorld Theme Parks

It has been a long time in the making, and it has gone several iterations of reinvention or reimagining, but it does seem like Vidanta World theme park (or dream parks as they are calling it) will open it’s first component in the next year or two.   Notice I specifically did not try to predict an actual date.  If you are more of a video person, we have a video that shows some of the Vidanta World concepts and current construction.  

Cirque du Soleilfood at cirque

While the original vision of a park with an entire Cirque du Soleil theme did not come to cirque performancefruition, there will definitely be a permanent Cirque dinner theater like the one in Riviera Maya.  Having been to the Cirque du Soleil dinner  theater in Riviera Maya called Joya,   the food and the entertainment will both be of the absolute highest quality.   You can get a preview of the Cirque by renting a week at Vidanta Riviera Maya . Be sure to do the dinner theater, it's worth the price. 

 

 

The New Vision

Current plans have expanded so that in addition to the Cirque du Soleil, Vidanta World will cover over 800 acres and will include multiple different theme parks.  You can get a taste at the Vidanta World website.   While short on details, it seems there will be an aquatic experience park that will likely be the first component to open.  There is also to be an immersive fantasy theme park and a Nature Deamvidanta theme park Park (whatever that may mean)

This all sounds a lot like a Mexican Disneyworld  and one very promising sign, is that they claim to have Disney’s former master planner, Wing Chao, working on The Parks design.  However, Vidanta is emphasizing immersive experiences that promise to take “The Parks” to a whole new level.  Beyond Disney type entertainment features, the descriptors that keep popping up in the news reports are that the Parks will be filled with “immersive” and “experiential” entertainment, not just the typical thrilling amusement park rides, “all planned, designed, and executed by the most accomplished experts in the field”. 

Vidanta says it will be “culture-shifting” and will “fuse luxury with imagination, creating a fantastical world where adventures leap to life."  Even if this is hyperbole,  it seems like we are in for a whole new entertainment experience.

VidantaWorld Hotels Suites

kingdom of the sun bedroom

Kingdom of the Sun bedroom

cascades living room

Cascades living room

 There are to be three different hotels built inside “The Parks” .   Kingdom of the Sun, The Cascades, and Celebrate Park.  Looking at the models, the Cascades are similar to updated Mayan Palace in size and design.  The Kingdom of the Sun suites are similar to updated versions of the Grand Mayan.   I have yet to see the Celebrate Park units, but I am guessing perhaps they will be like the Grand Bliss.    Please leave a comment if you have seen the Celbrate Park units.  Vidanta has been selling timeshare contracts for each of these in-park hotels over the last several years. 

 

skydreamSky Dream Gondolas

In order to create anticipation,  the SkyDream gondolas that will take visitors from the current Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta beach area to VidantaWorld are up and running.  Here are a few views of the gondola and views of the park construction from the gondola.

The SkyDream runs 2 miles each way.  It  includes 5 stops—3 at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta and 2 at the forthcoming VidantaWorld.  It reaches a height of 160 feet and reaches a maximum of 16 feet per second, which is 10 mph.

Location of the Park

The park is located at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta between the resort and the highway and spreads over the highway along the Ameca River.  Our guests at the resort will  have access to the park for a fee.   Some of our member contracts will  have free access !

The Dream Parks and Current Construction

The opening date for the first component, which seems like it will be the water theme park, is now in 2023 or 2024.  Here are some photos comparing the vision with the current construction.   Work does seem to be continuous again.  It seemed to slow during the pandemic.  We are all looking forward to the theme park called Vidanta World or simply "The Parks", complete with Cirque du Soleil.

vidanta statue

Vision for Vidanta statue

current vidanta statue

current vidanta statue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kingdom of the Sun construction

kingdom of the sun

Kingdom of the sun from the highway

kingdom of the sun

kingdom of the sun vision

A Secret Perk at Vidanta Luxxe

Relax for an Hour for Free

Imagine an enclosed outdoor area filled with tropical plants and areas designed for stress reduction.  Change into your swim suit and provided luxury robe and begin your vacation in earnest.

Be Our GuestVidanta Luxxe Spa

It isn’t advertised but all our guests that rent at the Grand Luxxe level, including Spa Tower and the amazing Lofts can reserve an hour at the outdoor area of the Luxxe Spa.   This is available in Nuevo Vallarta and in Riviera Maya.

Welcome to Paradise

The outdoor are is a paradise setting with a separate women’s and a men’s dry sauna,  a cold pool to follow the dry sauna if you are brave enough,  a steam room ,  a Swedish shower and finally a huge co-ed jacuzzi tub area.  Scattered through the paradise are private nooks where you can drink naturally flavored waters, and relax on a lounge chair and absorb quiet and feel your stress melting away.  This can be added on before or after you have a massage, but I also do this as a separate relaxing day activity.  

My Personal Routine

You can use one or all of facilities.  Here is the routine I do when I visit the outdoor area.  Scroll down to see photos of this area.

  1. 10 to 15 minutes in the dry sauna until I feel so hot I might roast
  2. I personally like the rush of plunging into the cold pool, but you can skip it if you must
  3. Next the steam room is a great unwind from the cold pool plunge
  4. I sometimes hit the Swedish shower, sometimes not.
  5. I follow with moving around in front of various jets in the co-ed jacuzzi tub
  6. After the cycle of 1 to 5 above, I love to recline on a chaise lounge in the paradise setting. 
  7. An optional second trip to #1 and #2 sometimes completes my hour.

You have no social media here.  You can soak in quiet and peace and let the stress drain out of your body here.   And the cost is …… free !!

Book your Luxxe level suite now !

 

 

La Cruz Huanacaxtle Sunday Market

Experience an International Festival of Food and Crafts

We have been to a lot of markets in Mexico and around the world.   The La Cruz Sunday market is , by far,  one of our favorites .  It is all outdoors and open during COVID with precautions in place.  Honestly every time we are in the Puerto Vallarta area, the two things we don't miss are Jo Jack's for Mojitos and the La Cruz Sunday Market. Click Here to scroll down for a photo gallery. 

Getting There

 A short  half hour taxi ride from Vidanta Grand Luxxe on any Sunday morning will  bring you to an amazing Sunday Market at La Cruz Huanacaxtle  (don’t ask me how to pronounce it,  just tell the taxi driver La Cruz or La Cruz Mercado)  If you drive,  don’t go all the way to the town center, instead turn toward the water as soon as you get a few blocks into La Cruz. 

A Cornucopia of International Food

Spread along the waterfront and onto the public pier you will find an explosion of foods from all over the world.  Of course, there are lots of options from pre-Hispanic and more modern Mexican fare , but there are expats from all over the world that bring their unique experiences.  This includes Indian curries and middle eastern specialties.    In addition to ready to eat food there are many take home staples such as honey , herbs, and various baked goods.    There is also a large contingent of the health food crowd with multiple organic options.  If you are trying to watch your calories on vacation,  I recommend leaving your myfitnesspal app closed on this Sunday.   It would be criminal to pass by the sweet baked goods.  

street food

Our Favorite Food Stand

 

Craft Extravaganza

In addition to food options,   there are craftsmen from all over the area as well as expats from around the world.   Glass blowing is done on site.  The welded millennium falcon replica blew me away !! 

This is the place to find hand crafted jewelry from funky bohemian to elegant and classy.  I often have to stop and go back to find my wife stalled at an especially attractive jewelry stand.

 I personally bought a replacement wedding band.  It is a very cool casual style made of    .95 silver with an 18 carat gold strip.   It was made by an weddingItalian craftsman that lives in San Sebastian (also called San Pancho) which is just up the coast from Sayulita.    

 

There is a working loom as well as the usual sun catchers and  an unlimited variety of jewelry.   Be sure not to miss the glass blower and all his delicate, beautiful work.  Most of the craft prices are negotiable.   A few are not, but it doesn't hurt to ask politely.  

Live Music Bonus

Every time we have been to this market there has been some local live bands.   They have all been super high quality and it is great to grab some hot street food and sit and soak in the relaxing music while you  people watch as a fascinating mix of friendly people goes walking by.   

Here are a three videos of live music  Scroll down farther for a photo gallery

 

 

Photo Gallery

Le Petit Chef - Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta

Le Petit Chef

There are many restaurant options at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta,  but the Le Petit Chef show at the venue that was previously the Ameca Social le petit chefHouse is truly unique. It is an intimate environment with only 4 groups for each sitting.   After a somewhat drawn out introduction, the show begins.   The meal consists of 5 courses and 6 paired drinks.  Each course is accompanied by a 3D show with the 6 inch tall, virtual Petit Chef standing on your plate as the emcee.mezcal cocktail  It is virtually impossible to describe, so I am including  pictures throughout to illustrate.  

An interesting mezcal cocktail started off followed immediately by a crazy appetizer.  It was a tomato stuffed with a type of guacamole over a bead of crushed blue corn.  Unique is not an adequate term. The tomatoe was accompanied by  a sad historical story about the introduction of tomatoes to the new world and  tomato acid resulting in lead poisoning back in the Aztec days. 

Artist Soup

The soup was easily the most interesting course.  Paired with a light white wine,  it started with vVarious bright colored edible items decorated a bowl.  These were then poured over with an elegant potato/leek cream soup and you are provided with an edible paint brush to customize your soup experience !   You have to appreciate abstract art to enjoy it completely.  Thankfully we do and we did.

 

Salmon Cake

salmon cakesThe next course was a salmon cake also paired with a white wine.  The cake was dense and nicely spiced.  Honestly, this was our least favorite course of the night.  Except for friend Mary, who never met a fish she didn’t love !  

 

Where’s the Beef?

The beef dish with dark, rich gravy was wonderfully tender and savory, accompanied by medallions of pureed pumpkin and whipped potatoes.  I hope it doesn’t sound to Gringo of me to say that it was a nice break from tacos and enchiladas.  Of course, the wine pairing changed from white to red for this dish.  It was anbeef unusually full bodied pinot noir.  I’m sorry to say most Pinot’s are a bit thin for me, but not this one.  If you are a vegetarian, I am sorry you had to miss this course.  That was a joke, some of my best friends and one of my sons is a vegetarian.  A vegetarian option was provided for this course, but I unfortunately, no one at our table tried it.

 

Dessert

Dessert was a mix your own parfait.  It was topped with a marshmallow cream that they torched to finish it with a flair.  Also paired with a good red wine.

dessert

Final Assessment

Le Petit Chef is certainly pricey.  However, it was, I think, by far the best meal we had on this trip and the show was well done and entertaining.  I did have some difficulty understanding the French chef.  I think maybe it was a sound system issue.  And maybe I am worried that I am getting stodgy, but I wasn’t totally into the chef’s hats handed out for final photos.  Overall, however,  it was well worth a splurge and I am happy to recommend the Le Petit Chef the next time you rent a week from us at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta.  Our two guests that attended with us totally concur.

goofy chef hat

You even get a goofy chef hat

How to Avoid Gaining Weight on Vacation in Mexico

Avoid Gaining Weight On Vacation in Mexico

Vacations in Mexico are amazing.  Perfect weather , friendly people, beautiful ocean, and fabulous food. chicken-tinga-taco The last one can be a problem.  You want to enjoy good food, but don’t want to come home with an extra few pounds.  With a bit of planning and just  little discipline you can come home recovered, relaxed and  still in good shape.  Here are some rules to follow to have your cake and eat it too,   or maybe you don’t eat it.  booking button

 

Skip the all-inclusives . 

All the food and alcohol you can scarf down is not a recipe for a healthy vacation.  buffet pic There really is no way to eat at buffets and not gain weight. The more options, the more you eat.  It is a well established principle.  .  Not to mention buffets are not healthy.  You can see our humorous post " Five reasons to never do an all inclusive." 

 

Activity Level

The majority of this post will focus on food and drink, but of course, your level of activity will have an impact on your goal of keeping pounds off.  So let’s talk about that for a second before we give you food info.

walking the beachThere is a lot to be said for time in a lounger by the pool.  We even give you tips in our MayanRental Ritual© Post.   However walks on the beach,  snorkeling or kayaking trips are also valuable relaxing activities.  Pack a frisbee or sign up for the pick up beach volleyball.  Vidanta resorts have running routes and workout gyms if that is part of your normal routine.  If you do 3 or 5 miles at home, maybe you could be happy with  2 on vacation. 

 

Food Choices

The trick to eating well in Mexico is knowing what meals to avoid and when you should substitute ingredients.  Read on for some solid guidance.  However, don’t let it come so obsessive it ruins your vacation.  You can’t say no to margaritas and nachos all the time.

Foods To Minimize or Avoid

There are two important factors to consider.  You are probably aware that fried foods are generally problematic.  The other important issue are foods with high glycemic index.  Don’t worry, choices are much simpler than it seems.  And we can help.

High Fat / Fried Foods 
  • Refried beansgiant nachos
  • Tortilla chips (if you can’t skip them, count them.  Try a limit of 15 chips)
  • Creamy sauces
  • Carnitas (pan fried pork  (but you have to have it least once, preferably with tomatillo salsa)
  • Nachos (ok, you can’t skip them, but get them with lots of veggies and share!)
  • Chimichangas (these fried critters are a tex-mex creation,  good one to skip)
  • flour tortillas (typically made with more fat and no fiber)
  • Large deluxe burrito in a restaurant has several servings of meat, rice, beans and cheese and can be 900 calories by itself
  • Flan (a Mexican dessert made from milk, eggs, and sugar, in other words calories)  
Fast Carbs

The fancy name is high glycemic index.  These are foods that your body can turn into sugar quickly. They are bad newsfast carbs for healthy eating. They cause your blood sugar and your insulin to spike causing fat storage.  Then the blood sugar crashes and you are starving again !  Of course,  sugar itself is the worst, but simple carbohydrates also cause this spike your blood sugar and fat storing insulin.  

Flour Tortillas are basically sugar in disguise and often have more fat added as well.

French fries  are high in fat and are fast carbs. 

White rice (your body can turn rice to sugar quickly)

White bread is the same.  But honestly,  bread is not the strong suit of Mexican cuisine, so this will be easier to skip in Mexico.  

If you’re sighing already, don’t worry—there are plenty of delicious and healthy alternatives to enjoy.

 

Good Choices and Good Substitutes

Black beans are a great substitute for refried beans

Cut up veggies (often called crudites, pronounced crew-dee-tays)  that you can use for guacamole and cut down on chips

Soft corn tortillas are the best choice for tacos.  More fiber, less fat.

Ceviche (fresh fish cured in citrus juices)

chicken tortilla soup

shrimp soups (caldo de camaron) soups

Pozole . a stew with pork, vegetables, and hominy (ground corn kernels).

Grilled fish tacos (on corn tortillas)  (ask for sauce on the side)

 Grilled chicken tacos (tacos are built in portion control)

Chicken fajitas are always a great option, because you can control your portions.  Meat, veggies, toppings, and tortillas are all served separately.  Load up with veggies before adding meat and go easy on cheese.  Ask for slices of avocado to add some healthy decadence.   Remember to ask for corn tortillas.

Drink Choices

big margaritaMargaritas and pina coladas can add up your daily calories quickly

Frozen drinks often have more added sugary syrups.   And true margarita lovers drink them on the rocks.   Just sayin’     Of course you have to have the occasional classic Mexican cocktail,  just maybe not every time.

 

Better choices to add to the mixology:

Anejo Tequila (sipping tequila, straight, with soda , on the rocks with lime)tres genereciones

Wine Spritzer

Bloody Mary

Gin and Tonic

Summary

So don't wait !

Book your reservation now at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta or Vidanta Riviera Maya.

Your Mexico vacation can be a celebration of delicious Mexican food and drink.  And you can do it without gaining a bunch of weight. You can avoid gaining weight on vacation in Mexico with some good choices and a little restraint. 

 

MayanRental Cares

If you have read our About Us page, we unabashedly claim that “ We Care” .  Last fall Allen and Nina, co-owners of MayanRental got

allen and nina

Allen and Nina

an opportunity to put our money where are mouth is.   After, they flew to Phoenix so they could drive south for a week at the Grand Mayan in Vidanta Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) they had a call from Sonja,  a  guest that had rented a Grand Mayan suite for the same week.   She was a single lady that was not super excited about driving the 4 hours by herself.   After checking into a limousine service,  Allen and Nina said , “Hey,  would like to ride with us?” .  So our guest rode down with us.

Amazingly, none of us have been to Penasco before.  Allen and Nina have confirmed that our Driving Directons to Vidanta Puerto Penasco  are accurate and helpful.     Not surprising , since they came directly from Jackie,  one of our Vidanta owners that lives in Phoenix and makes the drive frequently.

If you are wondering how the drive down is,  it is a pretty drive in a desert southwest desert kinda way.  After 4 hours you may have seen enough cacti for a while.  Surprisingly, the border crossing is non-stressful  non-event and you only have 1 ½  hours left to the resort. 

Desert beauty

With Allen being a golfer, the links style top rated golf course was calling, so Nina and Sophia hung out at the pool and one day they drove the half hour into Puerto Penasco for shopping and lunch.

After experiencing the multi-faceted Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta,  it took Allen and Nina a while to adapt to the  Vidanta Puerto Penasco, which is a remarkably quiet relaxing place.   So it was a mellow trio that climbed back into the rental car to return back to Phoenix.  The drive back was equally mellow,  with just enough traffic to make you feel like you were not alone in the desert.

Sonja was another relaxed and happy guest of MayanRental.  However, we will not routinely be in Phoenix to provide such a service in the future. 

 

How To Stay Healthy On A Mexico Vacation

Nobody Panic !

It is actually very easy to stay healthy on a Mexico vacation.  So, I want to start this article on staying healthy by giving you  a  correct perspective.  Any time you travel you can get mild bowel changes due to change in climate and change in water.  So first of all don’t panic if you get a little out of sorts.  True traveller’s diarrhea is typically accompanied by fever and feeling VERY sick. 

Avoid Buffets

You can get sick from buffets in Poughkeepsie as easily as you can in Puerto Vallarta.   This is one of the many reasons to avoid all inclusive resorts.  Food sitting at inadequate heat or cooling for hours is a significant risk.

Covid 19

This is written in January 2022 as the Omicron variant is spiking. We are somewhat hopeful this round will be less harmful and brief.  My personal opinion is that the most important thing is to get vaccinated and probably boosted.  You may disagree.  But in any case, resorts like Vidanta are going the extra mile to create a safe environment.   The good thing about Mexico is that the weather facilitates eating outdoors.  This will greatly decrease your exposure on or off a resort.  

Water Safety

Quite simply, water is safe on resorts and in tourist areas. This includes ice.  You can read our complete detailed post called “Don’t Drink the Water ?” 

Prevention

My wife has a more sensitive system than I do and she chooses to take a probiotic like Culturelle for a couple of weeks before and all during travel anywhere.  This method has not been conclusively proven, but she swears by it.  And I make it a policy to avoid contradicting my wife whenever possible.   I should mention that you can take Pepto Bismol 2 tablets 4 times per day as a preventative if you are really concerned.  I could not stand that wintergreen 4 times a day, but that's up to you. Just so you don’t worry, I should note that Pepto Bismol can turn your stool black,  Preventative antibiotics are not recommended. 

 

 

Restaurants

In general,  resorts and restaurants in tourist areas (with the buffet exception mentioned earlier) are very safe.  Popular street stands in tourist areas are also very safe or they wouldn’t be popular for long.  On the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta the street vendors are strictly regulated as well. On a food tour, we tried sampled a delicious coconut slightly fermented drink from a slightly dicey looking street vendor.  Again,

Gourmet Food in Mexico

since it was on the Malecon, it was totally safe.  

If you decide to try restaurants or street stands in more authentic, less touristy areas, make sure you get freshly cooked food that has not been sitting for any period.   Only drink bottled water in these places and ask for “no ice”  which is “sin hielo”  in Spanish.  If you are not on a resort do not drink tap water unless it is treated or boiled.   It is probably a also a good idea to dry off utensils,  dishes and glasses to avoid any unnecessary water exposure.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but always trust your taste and smell and skip anything that is questionable.  A good friend of mine ignored my warnings in San Francisco (California, not Mexico ) and was sick for a couple of days. 

Foods served hot should always be kept hot and cooked through the center.  Rare burgers should be avoided in Mexico as in the United States or Canada.  The same in reverse holds true for foods that are meant to be served cold. Make sure they’re as cold as they’re supposed to be.

Raw seafood like ceviche or aguachiles has a much higher chance of being contaminated, so only enjoy those on resort or in popular tourist areas. 

Places Without Running Water:

taco stand

Can't Miss Taco Stand

Think street taco stands. If the purveyor’s food preparation area has no access to running water, then reusable serving plates should be covered with a new plastic bag that hasn’t been used for any other purpose. In general, you should  avoid street juice stands except on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta or the main drag of Playa del Carmen.  

 

 

Microdyn

market

The author buying produce

It is fun to find a local market where you can get fruits and vegetables at great prices.  If you do so, you should  get to know Microdyn, available at every supermarket and neighborhood market.  It is a antibacterial rinse for produce.

Summary

Following a few simple rules will serve you well as you try to stay healthy on your Mexico vacation.  As always,  we are ready to help you get luxury accommodations a great price.  We have stayed on Vidanta resorts dozens of times and my wife, with her sensitive stomach, has never gotten sick.  Hopefully, this gives you confidence that you will have a great vacation in Mexico.  Click the blue button below for a great price on a luxury escape.  

button to make a booking

Vacation Rental vs a Hotel

Upgrade from a Hotel

You know the drill.  You finally get into your hotel room and you have two adults and two or three kids in one room, trying to get comfortable sitting on a bed watching TV.  Or maybe the kids are old enough to have a separate room and then you have communication issues trying to coordinate activities.  It is time to upgrade out of this mess.

Try a Better Way to Vacation

At a Vidanta rental from MayanRental , whether you are in a cost effective Grand Mayan suite or in the massive luxury of a Grand Luxxe suite,  all of these problems are solved.   You enter your large living room with two couches and plenty of room for everyone.   The kids can watch TV while the adults relax with a beverage on the balcony.  Suites with two separate bedrooms each have their own bathroom.  Heck, if you are in a Grand Luxxe Villa two bedroom, you will have 2 ½ bathrooms.   It is more like private luxury condo living than claustrophobic hotel struggles.  You have the option to cook in the fully equipped kitchen or eat at over 20 restaurants on site.

Vacation Better and Save Money

A nice hotel will set you back at least $250 / night / room.  For two rooms that is $3500/week and up.   If you rent a Grand Mayan 2 BR suite from Mayanrental it will be only $2190/week.  Or upgrade to over 2000 square feet of luxury in a Grand Luxxe for the same price or less than the two hotel rooms.  And you get far more space and luxury for the money.  

Now Explore the Amazing Resort

Now that you have settled into your new digs,  let’s explore the resort.   At both the Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta and at the Vidanta Riviera Maya resort you will find over 30 unique restaurants and bars .  nuevo vallarta resort grounds Enjoy happy hour at a swim up bar or just relax around one of the dozens of pools and practice our Mayanrental Ritual for starting your vacation unwind.

If exercise is part of your relaxation Vidanta has top of the line facilities with the best equipment. This includes a variety of cardio machines,  free weights,  weight machines Runners will find predefined routes around the huge resort grounds.      Or maybe you want to take it a bit easier with a stroll on the huge stretch of private beach.  There are kids exercise gymclub activities all day every day so adults can have some down time.    There are also well as organized fun activities for adults in Nuevo Vallarta  and In Riviera Maya throughout every day. 

Golfers will find high quality golf courses right on the resort.  Full disclosure:  Club rentals are a bit pricey, so take your clubs as baggage if you plan to golf more than once or twice. 

So if you are ready to upgrade your vacation in the sun, with virtually no increase in cost.  Click the blue button and check availability now.  You will never go back to a hotel for vacation. 

Check out our easy, secure rental process and you can start your new vacation life.  button to make a booking

 

 

 

How to Relax on Vacation - The MayanRental Ritual

The MayanRental Ritual©

Do you find it takes 3 days of your 7 day vacation to unwind and unstress?  Here is our time testedMayanRental Ritual process to unwind on day one.   You may want to also read our post on things to do BEFORE vacation to make it easier to unwind ON vacation

Once you arrive at the resort, it is critically important to initiate the MayanRental ritucal as soon as possible after arrival.   If you arrive late,  try for around 11 AM the next day.

 

  1. Lay in the shade or in the sun according to your preference. You can read a book, listen to music or just close your eyes and tell yourself there is no email important enough to interrupt your peace 
  2. You did leave your cell phone in the room or at least silence it,  right?
  3. Deep breath in from your belly for a count of 3, hold
  4. for a count of 5 and exhale slowly for a count of 7.  Repeat two or three times and later as needed.
  5. When you get uncomfortably warm. Swim across the pool and back.  Get out and drip dry.
  6. Repeat Steps #1 to #3
  7. Rinse / Repeat
  8. Insert a piña colada or margarita at any point in the process as needed .

 

Alternative MayanRental Ritual©

As we mentioned in a previous post, our Luxxe, Spa Tower and Loft guests in Nuevo Vallarta can reserve an hour in the wet area of the Luxxe Spa.  We suggest you phone and to this prior to arrival so you can start your vacation with this fantastic process.  Here is the approach we suggest, but feel free to modify per your preferences.   

  1. Start in the jacuzzi to start your unwind. If you cell phone is not waterproof, take it in with you  (just kidding….. sortof)
  2. Next spend  10 -12  minutes in the dry sauna.  You should feel uncomfortably warm before you get out.
  3. Follow up with a few more minutes in the wet sauna
  4. Dunk in  the COLD water tank (head and all).   You can skip this but I love the feeling.
  5. Wrap up the session with the multiple shower heads of a  Swedish shower
  6. Now you are ready to relax in a lounge chair in quiet space.  Note:  Another stint in the jacuzzi is also possible before the lounge chair. button to make a booking

lounging by jacuzzi

 

Untouristed Taco Tour Puerto Vallarta

We took the mole pozole tour with VallartaEats.com a couple of years ago and loved it .  You can read about that in our post called Mole Pozole.   So the last time wechicken-tinga-taco were in PVR, we decided to be just a bit more adventuresome and try their Untouristed Taco Tour.   What a great decision.   Be prepared for walking as you visit a completely tourist free section of Puerto Vallarta. 

Our guide was super friendly and fully prepped us on the history and details as we visited each taco location.  The only negative for our particular tour day was that a couple of our fellow “un-tourists” were not prepared for the amount of walking, making things a bit challenging for the guide to keep everyone together. 

salsa variety on the untouristed taco tourThis Puerto Vallarta neighborhood of Colonia 5 de Diciembre  has migrants from all over Mexico and you get to sample classic cuisine from different areas.  I wish I had taken better notes , but I guess you will have to take the tour to gain more education into these foods.   Besides,  information is no substitute for tasting.  Each unique cuisine we experience was produced by unique and friendly people.  And as I mentioned, many are imported  from other areas of Mexico.

There is quite a bit of walking on this tour and you will visit the heart of a working neighborhood.  We didfish market manage to sneak  off to check out a vegetable market and couple of churches. On another foray off the path, I captured the amazing photo at the fish market.  But our guide was not to be slowed down much , so enough of the photos and on to the food !!

We thought we had seen most of Mexican cuisine, but little did we appreciate the variety of meats and flavors you can put in a taco.  We experienced beef barbacoa,  birria (goat or sheep), chicken tinga,  pork,  carne asada (flank steak),  smoked marlin, and even head tacos.  Sorry, but this tour is not for vegetarians.

hot peppersThe beef barbacoa  originates from Texcoco, just East of Mexico City,  was as you might expect, similar to flavorful barbecue sauce.

I know goat in birria sounds like it could be “goaty” ,  but I am sensitive to gamey taste and the magic red chili stew that has its origins right  in Jalisco eliminates the goaty taste completely.  It was wonderful and flavorful.

Chicken tinga was our personal favorite.  A burst of flavor originally from the state of Puebla.    Not super hot, but full of spice.  By the way the Spanish word for hot spice is picante and the word for spicy but not hot I think is sabroso or con sabor. It is difficult to get a clear answer to this question.  

The pork carnitas was good as always and the carne asada from the beef raising Northern state ofa stop on the Untouristed Taco Tour Sonora was both very flavorful and tender.  I didn’t love the smoked marlin, but then I’m not a true seafood person, so my opinion shouldn’t count for much. 

We have learned in different countries that walking food tours are a great way to find great cuisine and learn from locals about the culture and the history.  The Untouristed Taco Tour was no exception and we highly recommend it.  You can find all the info on Vallartaeats.com.   We suggest you reserve your spots maybe even the week before you arrive.  Many of these tours are popular.   Stay tuned, we are planning on doing the Tasting Vallarta upscale tour in March.  We will tell you the story. 

Below is a very cool example of neighborhood art.  If you are wondering what to do next,  check out our Jewelry Shopping Ideas.  

mural

Jewelry Shopping in Puerto Vallarta

Jewelry in Puerto Vallartaring from art in amber

When I think about blog topics, jewelry almost never comes to mind. But today I was thinking of the things my wife enjoys in Mexico and buying jewelry has to be near the top of the list. To get you started we will review 3 great options to give that little glow of joy. Attention men !! There is no better way to fulfill your goal of happy wife, happy life than to go jewelry shopping with her.

Path of Least Resistance

If you are staying at the Vidanta resort in Nuevo Vallarta, finding jewlery is a simple as heading over to La Plaza. The shops there have done a good job of curating some of the finest artisan produced jewelry from all over Mexico. In addition,  there is a variety of resort wear and that swimming suity you forgot to pack.  You are on the resort, so don’t expect any bargains, but you can certainly find that unique piece that people will comment on for years to come.

Art in Amber Bucerias

If you don’t know, Bucerias is a friendly tourist town that is a short taxi 15 minute taxi ride up the coast. There are a few places in this world that attract my wife like a supercoil magnet attracts
iron man. The Art in Amber shop in Bucerias is one of those places. Ever since we discovered it several years ago, we have not made it past without at least one purchase, sometimes two.
The store is #25 Avenida Mexico between Calle Cuauhtemoc and Calle Miguel Hidalgo.
The owners are a friendly couple who have two store fronts three or four doors apart. Sofia is a warm person who is passionate about the art. She is friendly as well ! She actually gave us directions to the Toscana Mia restaurant we were looking for.

The Artist

Sofia's husband is very quiet, but he is, in fact, the artist who creates the jewelry. During the last visit weart in amber owners got the distinct impression that they were getting overworked, and a bit stressed. The price of success !! It is interesting to see their young son grow up hanging out in the shop over the years.

The Jewelry

The art is almost all in a mixed media held together with silver, the legitimate 0.925 variety. They do love amber, but no worries, if you are not an amber lover, they do all sorts of other stones, coral , shells and more. The style is a casual , classy and creative thing. We don't have any photos because they protect their creations and ask that you not take picutures !! You will just have to visit yourself, but here is a page with a few examples

Art in Amber Jewelry

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Custom Jewelry

Sofia always emphasizes if you find something, or have a design you love, they will create a custom piece for you. However, they are three or four months out in orders, so don't increase their stress ! If you want something special, contact them four or five months before you plan to be shopping in Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias.

When You Go

The store fronts are right off the main plaza on #25 Avenida Mexico. The plaza is the SECOND main exit left off the main highway, if you are coming from the Puerto Vallarta direction or from Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta. If you want to contact them email them at [email protected]  Click here for the Art in Amber Facebook Page

Cassandra Shaw Jewelry

Located in the Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta, Cassandra Shaw advertises that she has the most unique jewelry in Puerto Vallarta. We tend to agree. This place is a more elegant and formal than Art in Amber. As a bonus, there is a bench out front where men can sit and commiserate while their significant others are shopping. Again though, I believe most women love to have their men take some interest in their purchases.

About Cassandra

Cassandra is originally a Canadian and she opened her shop at Calle Basilio Badillo #276 in 2007. Her shop displays both her designer jewelry and her personal paintings. She has a penchant for chihuahuas and there always one or two around the shop.

The Jewelry

Her one of a kind jewlery features a large variety of stones, fossils and materials. Many of the designs are one of a kind, fabricated locally by hand in Puerto Vallarta and designed by Cassandra herself. The shop also provides venue for 14 other talented designers that live and produce their jewelry in various regions of Mexico.

Cassandra Shaw Jewelry

When You Go

Basilio Badillo is one of the main east / west streets in Old Town (Zona Romantica).  Head south along the Malecon.  Once you cross the river it is just a few streets down.  Cassandra's is near Jo Jack's and is perhaps 3 or 4 blocks from the beach.   You can visit the Cassandra Shaw website for more jewelry pics and  and the Cassandra Shaw Facebook page for hours, events, and directions.  

Final Tips

So there you have three great options when shopping for jewelry in Puerto Vallarta.  Note that these designer places are not like the giant shops with mounds of silver.  Cassandra and Sofia don't negotiate very much.  Usually there is a small discount for cash.  Relax, take your time and enjoy jewelry shopping that is unique to Puerto Vallarta.  

Pros and Cons of Grand Luxxe vs Grand Mayan

There are at least seven luxury levels at Vidanta Riviera Maya and Nuevo Vallarta.  For this post we will focus on the two most popular,  Grand Mayan and Grand Luxxe.

First, let me remind you of the advantages of both of these units.  If you are familiar with Vidanta, skip to the next paragraph.  All have the option of large two bedroom suites with fully equipped kitchens and balconies.  Both have huge pool areas,  access to an exercise gym, health spa and over 30 excellent restaurants and bars, excellent golf course,  and many more.    Both have great kids clubs and kids activities all day long.   In addition, Riviera Maya has the Jungala Aqua Adventure and Cirque du Soleil on site.

lazy river Grand Mayan Nuevo Vallarta

lazy river Grand Mayan Nuevo Vallarta

Grand Mayan           

   Pros

  • The biggest advantage to the Grand Mayan is less cost for A very nice suite.  Grand Mayan units

 

 

  • The lazy river in Riviera Maya is a big time favorite with guests
  • The Grand Mayan Riviera Maya has numerous small private pool areas.
  •  Use the money you save to enjoy fun tours or exquisite meals.grand mayan bedroom
  •  Ideal for those who spend very little time in the room.
  • There is a nice sitting balcony that the Mayan Palace units do not have.
  • Separate kids pool area, ideal for younger children.

   Cons                                

  • While these are very large units compared to typical hotels, they are smaller than the Grand Luxxe units. 
  • Likewise,  they are not up to the luxury amenities of the Grand Luxxe

 Grand Luxxe

   Pros

  • The Grand Luxxe units raise the bar on luxury, design and huge size.grand luxxe balcony
  • The Luxxe Villa Studios are the best value on the resort considering the size and luxury level
  • The balconies are huge and provide additional living and eating space
  • In Riviera Maya, you get access to the exclusive Luxxe Beach Club
  • Pool areas are less noisy
  • The Exercise gym and Luxxe spa really are a big step up in luxury.  Especially in Nuevo Vallarta.
  • Complimentary Coffee on every level every morning

   Cons    

  • You do have to spend more for the extra luxury and perks
  • Fewer lively activities at the pool areas, but you do have access to the Grand Mayan areas and activities
  • Perhaps a littel less family focus
  • No lazy river , but you do have access to Grand Mayan in Nuevo Vallarta and there is the Jungala Aqua experience in Riviera Maya.

Five New Features at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta

Beachland

The already amazing Vidanta resort has three new additions to make your vacation even better.main pool at beachland vidanta   Beachland is a new pool with the largest  swim up pool bar at the resort. It is open to all guests and has a nice relaxation area on the Bay of Banderas.  You can see Vidanta's intro with some photos. The Balche restaurant provides fantastic poolside food. .

Salum

The second new area, called Salum,  is in the same area as Beachland (where the Mayan Palace pool used to be).  It is a collection of authentic Mexican food trucks and casual sitting areas.   The food is supplemented by crafts from various ethnic groups throughout Mexico.  This is a great addition for those that like to stay on the resort, but would like to experience some more main stream Mexican food and crafts. It also adds a more economical option for some meals on resort. There are not a lot of pictures or information on the web for Salum, but we will supply lots of information and photos when we (John and Linda) are in Nuevo Vallarta in late February. 

 Estates Pool

The third addition is  a luxury pool and lounge area exclusively for Estates owners and their guests.  This provides a place for estates guests to de-stress on the edge of the Bay.

Puerto Manjar

When it is time for the Mexican sunset, the new restaurant, Puerto Manjar provides a place to view the colors with al-fresco dining and a huge selection of fresh seafood with a Latin American flare.  Choose from grilled oysters, tuna tartare, lobster risotto, or the fresh Catch of the Day.

Sky Dream

Vidanta has introduced an gondola system to supplement on resort transportation.  The potential of this system will be fully realized when the new entertainment park is open.  You can see the SkyDream factoids and photos here.  We also have full post on the new VidantaWorld theme park.

Time to Book

We have reserved many options for you to enjoy these new options in addition to the 20 plus restaurants and heavenly pool areas already there.  CLICK HERE for weeks we have reserved for you to book

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How to Find Cheap Flights to Mexico

Booking Websites and Timing

Of course, in your quest to find cheap flights to Mexico, one of the easiest ways to find flights that work with your schedule and your budget is to use

Dirt Cheap Airfare

a travel aggregator sitelike KAYAKTravelocitySkyscanner and more recently Google Flights .    By simply entering your planned travel dates and destinations, you can peruse a list of available flights and their prices. Other aggregator sites, like Priceline, offer deals, but often at the expense of some freedom of choice, particularly in regard to the number of stops your flight makes. Here are some observations:

Google Flights is super fast, can search multiple options at once.  It also has tools like a Date Grid and a Price Graph providing  historical data.    The down side is that it doesn’t search some of the smaller Online Travel agents or airlines, so it often doesn’t fine the lowest rates. 

Kayak is slower to give results, but searches more broadly.  Like google it has the option to search with flexible dates and you can sign up to be notified if rates change.  It has price history and price calendar options. 

Here are some general rules:

  • If your travel dates are super flexible, use Kayak. 
  • If your dates are semi-flexible use Orbitz or Travelocity. 
  • If your dates aren't flexible, consider Southwest
  • Cheap at the last minute, use Kayak, Hotwire or Travelzoo
  • For international flights also try Skyscanner or Momondo in addition to Kayak.

Every search website is a little different.  Make sure you know if you are looking at one way prices vs round trip and if fees and taxes are included.  Taxes and fees can sometimes add $100 to your trip !

 

When to Book

There many stories  that a certain day of the week (like Tuesday) is best has mostly been debunked.   For domestic flights 1 to 4 months in advance is when flights are oven lowest.   For international,  2 to 6 months is your best bet.  Jet blue releases their cheap fares six months in advance.

Start searching Travelocity, Kayak or other sites about 6 months out, then wait. You can set up an email notice if the price drops.   But only wait a couple of months, because if you buy too late you are gonna pay!

When booking with POINTS or MILES,   the best rates come out when fares are issued 330 to 360 days in advance.   Sometimes the cheap fares reappear one or two months before the trip but DO NOT count on it.  Wait only if you are looking for a spur of the moment trip. The down side is that flights will often change once or twice when booked a year in advance.

Kayak has a cool feature called "Fare history chart" (which is a link near the top left-hand corner of the search results). You can at least then make an educated guess as to whether it's a good time to book. You can also find this service with Yapta or Hotwire.

 

 

Specifics for Puerto Vallarta and Cancun Flights

First,  you need to know that not all airlines have direct flights to certain parts of Mexico. So, to simplify the process of finding flights to two of Mexico’s most popular destinations, Cancun (CUN) and Puerto Vallarta (PVR), we've made a list of which airlines actually service the airports there.

Cancun Puerto Vallarta
American American
United United
Delta Delta
Aeromexico Aeromexico
Air Canada Air Canada
West Jet West Jet
Southwest Southwest
JetBlue JetBlue starting in 2022
Spirit Spirit
Allegiant  

 

Another consideration is that there are many more direct flights from to Cancun from the East Coast and many more direct flights to Puerto Vallarta (and Cabo) from the west coast. 

Cheap Airlines

Budget airlines like Spirit and Allegiant will sometimes have amazingly low fares.   You just have to know what your tolerance for minor inconveniences are.   Also, make sure you read articles about the particular oddities of each airline.  For example, if you don’t pay in advance for your checked bag on Spirit, it will cost you as much as $100 when you check it at the airport.  If you need a humor break,  here is a story of one of our trips on Spirit with a little fictional humor thrown in.  Seriously though, here is  a complete guide for flying Spirit  with no humor added.  And here is a guide for managing the crazy check in system of Southwest

Track and Change Booking

For the truly bargain obsessive, you can read up on change and cancellation fees and then track rates manually or sign up for email updates.  Then cancel and rebook if a bargain shows up. 

Last minute

Generally, this won’t often work with our Vidanta booking, but if you find a last minute fare ,  it can’t hurt to check with us.  We ourselves have booked airfare and a Grand Luxxe both within a week of departure !!

Midweek Fares and Add on Vacation

Flying on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday is often your best bet for better fares. On United, you can see the prices in a calendar view. Just choose the ‘my dates are flexible' search. Also, Kayak has a calendar of the lowest fares found on their site.

Midweek Arrival Options

Vidanta resort arrivals are only Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday.  However,  Ocean Breeze Hotels at both Nuevo Vallarta and Riviera Maya are on the resort (RM) or close by (NV at Sea Garden up the street) and the rates on their web sites are reasonable, enough so that if I find a good airfare which is not a check in day, I would go there. Then check in is just a short distance away and we can usually coordinate with the resort.

If you feel adventuresome, you could fly down a couple days early and stay in a hotel in the "old town" area of Puerto Vallarta or in Playa del Carmen. It is wonderful, as you experience the lively city atmosphere and fantastic restaurants for a couple days prior to the rest and relaxation of the resort. It's a nice bit of diversity. We just took a cab from the hotel to Vidanta on check-in day. Keep in mind though, that Mayan resorts offer free transportation FROM the airport, not TO the airport,  and also not FROM other hotels or resorts.  so you have to add that cost in also if you arrive mid week. You can arrive on a Fri, Sat, or Sun to take advantage of that, and add days on at the end of the trip to get the lower airfare.  We are going to Nuevo Vallarta Vidanta Grand Luxxe on a Friday in February and will stay an extra 10 days in Bucerias afterwords.

Two One Way Fares

Those Rotten Overnight Flights

Consider a getaway or extra vacation at a connection, especially if overnight flights are the only option. Enjoy that area for a few days before going on to your destination. This might work well for trying to get to Cabo from the East coast!

Try Different Airlines

For example, Frontier is often the best rate out of Denver, so see if you can get to Denver cheap.   Check Jetblue right around when their schedules open so you are able to lock in the lowest fare.  (Jet Blue opens fares around 6 months in advance). Currently they only fly to Cancun, but will add Puerto Vallarta in 2022.

Getting to Puerto Penasco

Getting to Vidanta Puerto Penasco requires a bit more planning. If you don’t live in the area, you can fly into Phoenix, and stay overnight. Rent a car in the morning so you are doing the border crossing and the drive in the daytime. Also, try for a Monday check in so you are not crossing the border on Sunday night with all the weekend traffic. Plan on a 4 hour drive through the desert. Check with us, some times of the year they offer limo service from the Phoenix airport at a discount.  Here is a driving guide to Vidanta Puerto Penasco Just because we like you.  

Nine Best Restaurants Nuevo Vallarta

Check Out These Nuevo Vallarta Restaurants

People vacationing at resorts in Nuevo Vallarta will want to know the nine best restaurants in Nuevo Vallarta.   At the bottom of this post there is a map showing you how to navigate the neighborhood.  The resorts do have great restaurants, but variety is the spice of life, so read on so learn about the best. We have also created a summary of the Restaurants on the Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Resort

Getting off the Resort

The  Nuevo Vallarta Vidanta Resort folks love to have you stay on site, so getting there is not as easy as it used to be.   Check with Concierge the best way to get to Nuevo Vallarta.  Alternatively, just grab a taxi and take a $5 ride.  Here are 9 restaurants we can personally vouch for.  For some reason, we did not include the Blue Shrimp, but it deserves a spot among the very best in Nuevo Vallarta, check out our separate post.

The Nine Best

  1. Rumba
  2. Eddies Nopal Beach
  3. La Laguna
  4. Estudio
  5. Portabellos
  6. Doña Tere
  7. Barracuda
  8. Guidos
  9. Fajita Republic

Rumba

The Rumba is a simple restaurant at the Sea Garden .   It is a solid Mexican restaurant, but they deserve mention for their affordable and very respectable pizza.  It may not,  in fact,  be one of the very best, but we included it for when you are tire of spending the big bucks.  

Eddie’s Nopal Beach

Nuevo Vallarta's sunny beach boasts a good number of restaurants. One that will fall near the top of theeddies nopal beach most recommended is Eddies, which is a local landmark. This homey family restaurant is a great spot for every meal, and has something every member of the family will enjoy.

Service

The first thing you'll notice when looking at Eddie’s trip Advisor page  the number of responses from the restaurant's manager. Nearly every review left is commented on, be it good, bad or otherwise is replied to, either thanking a pleased customer, or letting anyone who was not satisfied know that their issue will be addressed. This really speaks to their attention to customer service.

History

Eddies Place at NightEddie,  the original owner was from Lebanon and you will see Lebanese dishes mixed in with the excellent Mexican options on the menu.   Eddy unfortunately passed away a few years, but his son has carried on the tradition.  Like Eddy, he is known to go, frequently, from table to table to check in on everyone's meal, and fix any issues that have arisen. Along with the incredibly helpful owner, the staff is also willing to assist, and almost all of them speak great English. 

Food

Eddie’s seafood is high quality and fresh, and served in a variety of ways, the coconut shrimp is highly recommended! If you can’t decide from the large selection, which can be overwhelming, they offer several sample platters, which can be great to share! If you have had one too many Mexican dishes, try one of the Lebanese options !   One complaint that seemed to come up was the food being over salted, but many people also noted that the staff was more than happy to fix this.  We have never had an issue and have personally enjoyed many a breakfast and dinner here.   A uniquely Mexican breakfast is the omelet with Machaca beef.

So if you're looking for somewhere to go for breakfast, lunch, or dinner make sure Eddie’s is at the top of your list.  Another fun thing is to stop in later for their amazing Spanish coffee that is flamed at the table with an amazing show.  See our video of the show                             EDDIE'S WEBSITE

 La Laguna

Our new favorite place for seafood, La Laguna is located on the main road coming into Nuevo Vallarta on the exit right after the Vidanta exit for  Grand Mayan and the Grand Luxxe.  It is on the left coming in.  It doesn’t look like much from the road, so don’t miss it.  It is probably a ½ mile before the old entrance to the Vidanta Resort.  It is a casual outdoor garden style restaurant, but is nicely decorated and sits right on a lagoon with dozens of turtles and a few crocodiles.  We went there with a group of localBirthday Party at La Laguna friends and it was a blast.   Mary one of our Gringo friend’s had a birthday and they made a big fuss over her. First they gave her brought a a cheesecake with a candle.  Then a foaming tequila and sprite, which she downed not knowing what it was !  Brave woman.

Everyone’s favorite dish was the shrimp in a blanket.  Several large shrimp, wrapped in bacon with a pineapple  Dijon mustard sauce.  Wow.  They also have the best coconut shrimp I ever tasted.  Our local friends love the whole red snapper that could EASILY satisfy two people.

The wait staff here is a friendly, fun loving bunch that make a good experience even better.

It is a fairly long walk from the resort, and there are no sidewalks, so you may want to grab a cab.

Estudio

On the edge of the marina with a view of beautiful yachts,  the Estudio restaurant is a one of our favorite options in Nuevo Vallarta.   As an added bonus this homey waterside restaurant is connected to an art studio, Estudio café is owned and operated by the family of painter artist Federico León-de-la-Vega and you can browse the art and hear the artist describe the inspiration for his painting and sculpture.

If you are staying in a classy place like the Grand Luxxe,  you want eating out to match that level.   Theestudio restaurant sign menu seems pretty main stream Mexican food, but don't be fooled.  The night we ate there , they had a mahi mahi special with mango salsa and vegetable side.  Everything was done perfectly and compares favorably with restaurants for twice the price.   The pride of the art and cooking shows in every aspect of this restaurant.

They do home cooked family recipes. Fresh, natural ingredients, preferably organic, cooked in traditional, no-nonsense ways. They adhere to the “slow food” movement for proper cooking and enjoying. During high season (nearly October through April), they serve breakfast , lunch and dinner. In low season (May to July) dinner is not served. They close August and September but  are always available by e-mail.  See the Estudio Website for more info and email address.

john and linda at estudioDuring the busy season they have live music on Sundays and special occasions. On Saturdays enjoy their art shows with local artists and “fresh out of the oven” baked goods.    Perhaps the easiest way to get there is to go to Eddies Nopal beach, make a right and walk along the water a couple hundred yards.

 

 

Porto Bello’s

Tucked into a scenic corner of Neuvo Vallarta lies Portobello’s Bistro, a restaurant boasting what patrons claim is Italian food better than if you’d flown straight to Italy!

Atmosphere

Like many of the area’s restaurants, Porto bello’s sits over the marina which allows you to see the water and boats passing by if you chose to dine on the outdoor patio. If you hit the right time, just as the sun sets, you can see the swarms of swallows returning to their home under the bridge. The inside is equally pretty as the view from the outside. The restaurant would be a good choice if you’re looking for something a little higher class, with prices that range from medium to a tad on the higher end of things.  It would be a perfect date spot, if you’re looking for something special, and since it’s a bit of a smaller restaurant, you’ll find that the staff won’t be quite as rushed. Their servers are helpful, attentive, and they know the menus well.

We haven’t happened to eat here in a few years, , but we continue to hear good reviews from folks year after year.

If you are not in the mood for a sit down dinner, people also rave about the takeout pizza  They also serve a wide variety of wines and cocktails, which are although pricey, delicious. If you have opted for some of the top of the line nearby accommodations such as the new two and three bedroom lofts,  you will be looking for the high quality of food and atmosphere to match and this restaurant will meet that need.  

Overall, there's not too much bad to say about Portobellos!  So,  be ready for an amazing night of delicious Italian food and great service with a classy and relaxing view.

Doña Tere

Doña Tere,  (pronounced  Doan-ya Teh-ray   roll the 'r") is a favorite of those spending time Neuvo Vallarta and also a favorite of the locals. With their great prices on top of the frequent promotional deals, make this a good spot for families to get breakfast, lunch or dinner! The one complaint many trip-advisor reviews seem to point out, is the closing times, Make sure you plan on grabbing dinner early so that you don’t get caught by surprise as the restaurant closes.

Atmosphere 

Casual dining and open air seating make this a good spot for a relaxed , festive night out, but maybe not the right place if you're looking for a romantic spot to have an intimate dinner date. Dona Tere is fairly new, and owned by a family passionate about Mexican food. As with most Neuvo Vallarta restaurants Dona Tere is near by most of the major shops and resorts so you won’t have to go too far.

Menu

Being as this is the spot that is often recommended by locals and frequent visitors to the area, you would be correct to assume that going to Dona Tere will be authentic local Mexican food! Their menu is host to a large range of options, and everyone in the party is sure to find something to enjoy! Their food is extremely reasonably priced, and you won’t find yourself paying an arm and a leg for a good meal. With their frequent two for one BBQ ribs special you’ll get an even better deal, and for the prices the serving sizes are exceptionally large and you will leave feeling very satisfied

So if you're looking for a wonderful place to get some perfectly priced dinner, Look to Dona Tere for something casual, but still incredibly enjoyable.  Do make sure that you look up the restaurants hours before hand, and investigate their deals in advance for the opportunity to save even more on the food they offer!

El Barracuda Restaurant

Location

When passing Barracuda, you’ll often notice people lining up outside this bar-like restaurant, This small restaurant is your ticket for fresh seafood and it  is within walking distance from most resorts, it has a beautiful atmosphere, with out door seating and a large bar.  Tripadvisor reviews state that if you'rebarracuda looking to get a beer, Barracuda is a great bet, with their good prices, and outdoor seating this could be a great place to grab a drink.  Their cocktails, however, do not get great reviews.   Many customers recommend either going early, or later on in the evening in order to avoid the crowds.

The service is a major upside to this restaurant, being both friendly and very helpful

Menu

The menu contains a wide variety, combining flavors from America, Mexico, and Italy, which although it provides many options, can make the restaurant feel a bit touristy. The food that Barracuda serves is fairly inexpensive, but tends to come in small portions. Barracuda gets all of its seafood fresh, which makes seafood dishes a popular choice. Most patrons have overall positive things to say about the food, their Ahi Tuna, and Octopus Sashimi get fantastic reviews.

Overall your experience will really depend on your expectations, and what you order, so if you do decide to go to the Barracuda, try to avoid crowds by going early, and be ready for smaller portions, and a sports bar atmosphere.

Guido's

If you're looking for a delicious pizza or pasta, but are looking for  more casual setting than Portobello’s then Guido's will likely be the place for you..) .  It is across from the Sea Garden. and near the Oxxo,guidos sign Whether you prefer to sit outside and enjoy a beautiful night complete with a acoustic ballad style singer (the outdoor dining is on the sidewalk, just like in Italy)  or at a table in the dining room, you will be greeted by a homey restaurant that will graciously offer up a lovely dining experience. Upon being seated, you will immediately notice the personable staff members. The only negative comments people make is that the service very leisurely, so don't go if you are impatient or in a hurry !  It is actually a plus if you adjust your attitude in advance.

Menu

When it comes to food, you will find that you can't go wrong. . You’ll be served generous portions of your choice of well made Italian dishes. Most people highly recommend the excellent pizza with its many options. The La-Mexicana is one such highly regarded choice.  I personally cannot seem to get away from the Pollo Pesto Pasta.   It is so good, I haven’t wanted to try something else , since we often only get to Nuevo once a year.      Their lasagna also gets great reviews.   Finally, the food is fairly priced so you will enjoy a good meal without paying an arm and a leg for it.

Viva Guidos !!

So if you're looking for a place for a relaxed family night out, or a location for a casual Italian  dinner, guidos outside diningkeep Guido's in mind. Guido's is a place with great food and beautiful atmosphere and an opportunity to linger and enjoy time spent with loved ones. You will also want to arrive early to make sure that you are able to get a great table at which to enjoy your meal. So, to enjoy a little slice of Italy in Neuvo Vallartra choose Guido's.  One final note, there are reports of Guido’s being closed sometimes during the slow summer season, so phone ahead before you go.  

Fajita Republic

Fajita Republic Restaurant 

When we first heard about this restaurant , we thought it sounded like some commercial chain. Boy,  were we wrong. Known as one of the most popular restaurants in Nuevo Vallarta, Fajitas Republic is a creative and interesting place for lunch or dinner! The atmosphere is excellent, the food is delicious and the service is great! It is not walking distance from the Mayan Resort, and it isn't on our restaurants nearfajita republic fajitas the resort map,  so you will need a car or a taxi. See the map at the bottom of this post.  The trees of the outdoor eating area are lined with bright little lanterns that flow into the restaurant. The atmosphere indoors has been described by tripadvisor reviewers as having “a warm, wonderful, magical glow that is something like straight out of a movie.” The river flows behind the restaurant and so you will hear the frogs and crickets sing at night. The restaurant is actually open-air on three sides which accommodates for a comfortable breeze throughout the restaurant on a hot evening.
At Fajita Republic, there is always a waiter, attendant or bus boy to serve you. Start with the chips and homemade guacamole which comes served on a large wooden spoon. Their chips are delicious and come in a long paper cone laid across the table for everyone to reach for. Something to prepare for when you’re ordering: ask for extra rice and beans when ordering your fajitas. Rice and beans are served on the condiment tray, so there usually isn’t enough to go along with the fajitas.

Unique Dining Experience

We have gone with a large group and they suggest giving them your food preferences and let the staff select food for you.  We did this and they kept bringing dish after dish and it was a great dining experience.   And the bill was not at all excessive.  We would do that option again. 

 

Eight Restaurants Not To Miss In Los Cabos

Eight Restaurants Not To Miss In Los Cabos

If you are planning a trip to Los Cabos and are already listing places to eat good food, drop whatever you are doing! Because we are about to answer that  very question!

The breathtaking city is located on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. It has about three district areas San Jose del Cabo, Cabo San Lucas, and the coastal highway that connects them, which is called Tourist Corridor.

People worldwide visit the city to witness the mesmerizing beauty of nature and the wondrous combination of mountain terrain, beachfront, and desert, along with the Pacific Ocean located on the peninsula’s west and the Gulf of California on the peninsulas East.  But tourism is not only what it is known for. Los Cabos offers diversity when it comes to food as the residents belong from all over North America. You can find Peruvian-inspired ceviches, tomato basil soup, Veracruz style sea bass, cheesy biscuits, and so many more mouth-watering, finger-licking dishes that will leave you wanting more!

So, are you ready? Now grab your notebook and start writing down the following names, so you don’t miss anything delicious while in Los Cabos.

Here are eight restaurants in Las Cabos that you must go to:

 

Mi Casa 

Once you walk through the door, the view will wow you. Mi Casa, is famous for its décor and appearance. The colorful tableMi casa food pictures los cabos and chair décor set the restaurant apart. The restaurant serves only Mexican cuisine, and they entertain their customers with magicians and mariachis. You will also see some large Day of the Dead sculptures and murals. The food here is delicious and full of flavors. You will find carne asada, tacos al pastor, as well as shrimp and white fish ceviche. My favorite when I was there was the unique dish called Chiles en Nogada.   You don’t find it in run of the mill restaurants. 

 

Salvatore G's

One of our timeshare owners told we we had to visiti Salvatore’s if we were in Cabo.  He said it was like walking into an café in Italy.  He was right and it remains one of the most visited restaurants in Cabo San Lucas with a good reputation and manysalvatore's italian restaurant return visitors. However, it is not only the environment, but the home made pasta and high quality of the sauces that keeps people comig back.  The restaurant offers good portions at Cabo type prices (read: not cheap).   Salvatore has a wide customer base with its popular dishes, including fettuccine Alfredo, shrimp, sausage diablo, lamb ravioli, and Italian porketta. But nothing can beat their lasagna. Rumors have it that their lasagna can feed a whole small village. Woah, Try it out already!

 

Flora Farms in San Jose del Cabo

Just when you feel like you might have taken a wrong turn and now you are going to be stuck in this dirt road, you will find yourself at a beautiful and eye-soothing view of a restaurant surrounded by acres of farmland. The architecture, aesthetic, flowers, plants, and every other detail will draw you into the place.

You will find a creative menu at Flora Farms. From their delicious silk beet soup to wood oven-baked arugula pizza to wheat berry salad and freshly baked bread. Their dishes are rich in taste, and you will find every dish sublime, not too heavy yet filling.

 

Acre in San Jose del Cabo

We couldn't get a reservation at the famous Flora Farms, so we tried the brand new Acre.   After a rough drive in the rocky desert, you will find yourself surrounded by stone walkways that lead to a path covered by palms that leads to concrete staircase. After which you will spot a bar and a large dining room with modern industrial decor. The patio chairs and wooden tables enhance the place’s beauty, and iron straw covers the kitchen. It also offers event space, twelve tree houses, farms, and a swimming pool. They have a good variety when it comes to food, and all dishes are flavorful.  Many of the dishes are a unique farm to table experience bursting with flavor.    There were a couple of dishes we did not love.  You can find our complete Acre Review here.   Another great part of our experience was our first introduction to Mezcal.    Actually, that is stimulating me to write an full blog post on Mezcal.  Watch for it in the coming months.

 

Bistro d’Anvers 

If you don’t want to go big and fancy, Bistro d’Anvers in San Jose del Cabo is the place you should go. It is a small space for around forty-eight people offering both outdoor and indoor dining with a stunning setting. Here, you will find a crazy fusion of  Belgian and Thai cuisine. The menu is loaded with different kinds of salads, noodles, soups, and curries. In addition to that, you will find starters like prime beef, stews, and all sorts of sauces to satisfy your taste buds.  The night we were there , the service was slow, even by Mexico standards, where they don’t rush you through.  We thought it was well worth the wait. 

 

Office on the Beach in Cabo San Lucas

Enjoy a casual dining experience with tables joint with beachfront. You will get delicious Mexican food here, and the view only amplifies the overall dining at the Office on the Beach. Their best-selling food items include thinly sliced tuna with red onion, jalapeno, garlic, soy sauce, tuna tiradito, fajitas, garlic butter lobster tails, fried calamari, coconut shrimp, and fresh fish. You will also their chile Rellenos, fish tacos, butterfly shrimps, and seafood scampi. We haven’t tried this place yet, but it gets rave reviews.

 

Don Sanchez 

The restaurant offers an amazing dining experience as it used fresh and locally founded ingredients that grow in Cabo San Lucas and greater San Jose. Their chefs are award winners, so you can only imagine how mouth-watering their dishes would be.  Don Sanchez offers full Mexican cuisine. In addition, the restaurant has a stunning décor and setting that mesmerizes you from the first glance.

 

Shore Bar by Hakkasan in San Jose del Cabo

Sitting under a striking, thatch roof overlooking one of the Vidanta Grand Mayan’s landscaped pools Shore Bar  is a casual,- open-air pavilion offering hand-crafted cocktails created by the Hakkasan group.  because of its impressive ambiance and a bar like a décor. You can spend a relaxing afternoon with your friends and family here. You will have the chance to enjoy a drink and good food. Also, they have live music, so it doubles the fun of sitting under a curved roof and experiencing fine dining in this open-air pavilion.

 

Takeaway

Los Cabos has lots of more amazing restaurants that you can try. However, these are eight restaurants in Los Cabos you may not want to miss. 

Summer Activities in Vallarta

Wonderful flawless sea shores, enchanting seaside towns, and fabulous summer activities are yours when you visit Vallarta in the Summer.  No matter if you are a nature lover, an adventure seeker, a family group or a city sophisticate, continue perusing as we are covering the best 10 ideas for summer in Vallarta and you will discover a little something for everybody!

Walk Around the Puerto Vallarta Pier

Generally known as the Malecon, the Puerto Vallarta Pier runs for a whole mile of continuous ocean vistas in the Banderas Bay. While one side of the promenade is lined by the perpetually emerald waters of the sea, the other one is lined with various shops, eateries and bars. Walking around as the sun is kissing the sea goodnight is a phenomenal time, as your chances for free music and dance shows increases.   During the day, on the other hand, you will want to drench yourself into the imaginative energy of the promenade, as you will likely encounter fascinating public shows.   Don’t be afraid of the street food vendors.  They are strictly regulated here.   If you want to have a little help, sign up of one of the many food tours available.

 

Attempt Wind-Surfing or Boogie Boarding at One of the Many Perfect Beaches.

As Puerto Vallarta's focal sea shore, Playa Los Muertos is quite possibly the most mainstream vacation spot around.   However,  many places , including the Grand Mayan in Nuevo Vallarta have water sports rentals.  For all committed daredevils, visiting in December may be a superior though as the waves are bigger and the conditions are more appropriate for serious surfers. Beginning surf lessons can be had in Sayulita, where the break is perfect for learning. (see below)

 

Have A Great Day at Aquaventuras Park

In the event that you are staying with us at one of the Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta suites, you should have a day loaded up with fun and laughter at Aquaventuras Park, which is right down the road. In addition to multiple water slides and rides, it also includes the Dolphin Discovery Center. So in between exploring two monstrous pools, the climbing obstacle and the zip lines, you can watch or participate in the dolphin show. In the event that you are searching a unique learning experience, make a point to book a time for swimming with dolphins and Sea Lions as well.

 

Explore the Route to Las Animas beach

With all the  lovely beach options, hiking to one probably won't be among the most obvious summer exercises in PVR.   But if you are up for a slightly more adventurous day,  the path from Boca de Las Tomatlan to Las Animas may be perfect for you.   The path runs for about 2.5 miles along deserted , isolated beaches so you can cool off as needed and enjoy continuous views.  This day trip will permit you to unwind and appreciate the beach front wilderness en route and the restaurants when you arrive.

 

Visit The Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe

church of the Virgin guadalupe

Iconic Puerto Vallarta 

Your outing to Puerto Vallarta won't be finished until you visit the iconic Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The current

construction only goes back to the 1940’s, but it is generally thought that the congregation established the first frameworks of a little sanctuary from early in the nineteenth century. Only one look is needed at the beautiful architecture and the recently repaired bell tower to be drawn inside for more information.   Devoted to the Virgin Mary, guests will find a marble focal point bearing the image of our Lady inside the sanctuary.

 

 

 

Go on a Boat Outing to Los Arcos National Marine Park

Inside the the Banderas Bay, Los Arcos National Marine Park is an unquestionably good choice for a visit. The amazing perspectives afforded by the perpetually  gin clear waters and enormous rock arch (hence the name) ascending high over the water are certainly not the only motivation behind a  boat outing to Los Arcos.  It is outstanding amongst other summer exercises to do in Puerto Vallarta. Under the serene waters, a one of a kind beautiful coral reef and exotic fish can be found.  So take the plunge in the warm waters of Banderas Bay and have an exciting submerged encounter.

 

Discover Heaven on Earth at Marietas Islands

Found nearly 4 miles off  Punta de Mita Peninsula, guests can discover a collection of islands scattered at the entrance to Banderas Bay.  resembling paradise on Earth. The islands have recently become a famous choice for visitors.  , Playa del Amor, otherwise called the Hidden Beach, is the island's gem, as a cavern with an opening to the sky. Plunging your toes into the perfect white sand and appreciating the glorious perspectives is certainly among the best summer exercises in Vallarta.  If your tour allows, this is also a good time for snorkeling, since the ocean waters are warmer.  Blue Footed and rown footed Boobies are funny birds you can find here as well. 

Unwind at Vallarta Botanical Garden

Covering a large area of land, Vallarta Botanical Garden is one of the must-visit puts close to Puerto Vallarta. While the principle focal point of the nurseries is to safeguard and develop orchids, guests will actually want to experience a giganticbotanical gardens flowers assortment of bright blossoming blossoms consistently. From monstrous palm trees to a huge desert plants assortment, the twisting ways of the greenhouse will permit you to discover harmony and calm away from the hurrying around of the city. There meandering walking paths amidst a beautiful collection of flora and fauna outside.  But make sure to take mosquito repellant and go early to miss the heat if you are going in summer time.

 

A Day Trip  to Sayulita

In the event that you need to encounter the remarkable Mexican energy and air, you should plan a road trip to the small Patricias Surf Lessonsenchanting town of Sayulita. It is best to lose all sense of direction in the middle of the back streets of the city and track down a nearby café, which serves customary Mexican dishes.  Don’t worry, it is too small to be lost for long,.  Remember to snatch a little keepsake from one of the shops to bring back every one of the great recollections once you are back home.  As we mentioned ,  Sayulita is the best beach for learning to surf.  We like Patricia’s Surf Lessons.

 

 

Deliver Baby Turtles Back To  Ocean

Last, but unquestionably not least, in our rundown of the best summer activities to do in Vallarta is delivering baby turtlesturtle release into the the bay. Local people have undertaken a preservation project, which hopes to prevent the loss of the unfathomable marine turtles. There are several organizations that participate.  Guests can go along on one of the sundown launchings.  Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta has their own program and guests there can sign up to assist in delivering the hatchlings into the sea.  The busiest times are between July and December.   

 

Summary

So pick one of your two of your favorites from our choice of ten summer activites in Vallarta  and grab some plane tickets !!

And we already have weeks reserved for you for the winter/spring.  Check it out on our AVAILABLE-NOW page.

 

Why Rent A Week At The Grand Luxxe Nuevo Vallarta

We have all had enough of this lockdown and are eager to explore the outdoors as we used to but alas, we must still wait a while before things truly get back to normal. How many of us are just longing for booking a relaxing week at a resort of our liking, sadly, to no avail; but this is where things take a turn for the better. Whether you over being stuck home by the pandemic or just  want to take a relaxing break from the tough work routine, at Grand Luxxe Nuevo Vallarta, we at MayanRental are  welcoming our guests who wish to spend a week at an extravagant location that is sure to comfort their senses and let them indulge in lavish delights, the kind that is only available at a sumptuous location like Grand Luxxe Nuevo Vallarta.

Why The Grand Luxxe?

.The Grand Luxxe is a higher luxury level that not only is larger and more luxurious , but also gives you access to the Grand Luxxe pools, Grand Luxxe Spa in addition to the Grand Mayan Water Park and the Grand Bliss Pool area.  

The stunning view of Banderas Bay only adds to what the resort has to offer.  Family sized  suites like the Luxxe 2 bedroom Villa  are remarkably large.  But there are also 3 bedroom Lofts and the Ultimate Four Bedroom Residence.    All the accommodations are designed keeping every possible comfort in mind including:

  • A complete kitchen fully equipped
  • Laundry room and services
  • Full Refrigerator
  • Free Wif-Fi
  • A dipping pool.
  • TV area.
  • A balcony with a panoramic view that overlooks the beach and the ocean, the lakes golf course or the Ameca River

Besides the aforementioned amenities, there are other deluxe family-friendly activities including:

  • A full service spa.
  • Golf club (let us know, it is often possible to get free golf rounds with your booking).
  • 2 free massages or a 2-for-1 massage come with some our units.
  • Multiple gourmet quality on-site dining choices.

The family (or just the two of you) can take a stroll down the beach, whether on foot or on a bicycle, your choice. You can also enjoy any number of watersports and even go sailing. As for the kids, there are dedicated amenities including their own swimming pools, villa-style accommodation, and finally, a kid’s club that they are surely going to fall in love with.  If there are only two of you the Grand Luxxe Villa Studio is by far the best deal on the resort with a good price and top end luxury

Besides that, you will have a number of board games along with a blu-ray player and movies to rent from the concierge.

Alongside the breath-taking overview of the Ameca River, enjoy the lavish accommodation which is nothing short of a paragon of luxury living. Imagine a week’s worth of stay in beautiful rooms with posh lofts and sweeping suits; go take a slide on the thrilling Mayan pyramid water slide, or let your worries flow away in the lazy river that winds through the Grand Mayan area of the resort. It will be an  amazing and memorable vacation, one that you will have a hard time departing from. So one week here is justified, and if you need more convincing, here are reasons broken down for your entire stay of seven days.

But Why A Week?

Good question! You are more than welcome to stay longer at the Grand Luxxe Nuevo Vallarta as many of our guests have wished in their reviews.  But a week is the minimum time that we would recommend you spend here to truly relieve those burdens and worries that keep dragging you down. After all, you have earned it to ease up your tense nerves and reward yourself with a relaxing week at a five-diamond award-winning resort.  We rent in one week blocks.  Two would be even better and three would be heaven

First Day:

Sleep in all you want on your first day wake up when you please. Missed the buffet, don’t worry; order a simple and light breakfast and open the portal to a week full of fun and relaxation. You can go to the pool and swim for a while. Or, you could just take in some sunbathing and relax. Order some nachos, have a Pina colada. Spend all the time you want here and then go back to your room. Dine at the Gong in the evening and have a first-class of your liking.

Second Day:

Start your day with a breakfast of your liking. Savory crepes at the Market or full breakfast at multiple different restaurants.  You can attend water aerobics and check if conversational Spanish lessons are being offered. Take up a class at the spa and work up that appetite. Dine-in at Chiringuito Tapas restaurant and go to bed.

Third-Day:

Now that you are getting comfortable here, try attending Jack Nicklaus Academy for a golf lesson. Or you could just take a stroll down the beach, have an elegant breakfast at the Azur French restaurant, do as you please. You can hit one of the pools, have lunch at the Peruvian Ceviche, have dinner at the Tramonto Italian Restaurant, pamper yourself, you deserve it!

Fourth Day:

After a few carefree days, time to suit up and work out a bit. Try attending the early morning yoga class or go for a run on the beach. Have a light and healthy breakfast afterwards and even spend your noon on a boogie board. Enjoy the ocean as much as you would and end the day with a dinner at the La Cantina in Nuevo Vallarta for some traditional Mexican food. End the night with some Anejo tequila and sleep.

Fifth Day:

Do the buffet one more time! And perhaps a light snack for the evening. How about scheduling a massage for today? Enjoy the fun Mexican Beach Fiesta or perhaps an Italian dinner at Tramonto? Both are excellent options, so opt for the one you like.

Day Six:

About to wrap things up? Might as well hit the spa one more time and get another massage and relax  in the Jacuzzi in the Spa garden. You will be surprised with the number of options available for each type of activity. As for what to eat, eat all you want, anything you want, eat throughout the day. It’s your last day so make it worth it! Remember all the activities that you have been doing throughout the past week, repeat them all in a single day, take it up as a challenge; how’s that for fun?

Last Day:

This is it…. But how about another buffet breakfast before you go? Have one last good look at the resort, it pains us to see you go as much as it pains you to leave this beautiful and wondrous place. Until next time….

Using Your Cell Phone In Mexico

cell phone mexico

In the 21st century,   we are more and more dependent on our phones.  So,  it is natural to ask how cell phones work in Mexico.   We have researched the main options and will present them from the easiest and most expensive Cadillac version down to the frugal Volkswagen.   Just remember,  getting free from the 24/7  phone and social media experience may be beneficial for you vacation mindset.  Be prepared to ask lots of questions.   The information the cell phone companies provide is not that clear so read the info three times and ask questions. 

You will need a place to stay while using your cell phone in Mexico.  If you want a luxury resort, 

CHECK OUT  Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta or Vidanta Riviera Maya

 

Easiest Method

If you have a high end cell phone contract like Verizon Unlimited Plans ,  AT&T  Unlimited and Mobileshare,  and T-Mobile Magenta or Essentials you can use your phone in Mexico just like the US.   Some of them throttle back to slower speeds after a certain amount of data and T-Moble Essentials only has slow 2G  speeds.  We have an inexpensive version called 55 plus Unlimited and we can use our phone with talk , text and data in Mexico.  Make sure you international option is turned on by calling your provider.  

Slightly More Difficult Methods

If you don't have one of the unlimited plans,  you can arrange for one of the add on plans.  With Verizon you can pay $5/ day and get your normal plan in Mexico.   You can also do a monthly plan for $70 or $135 if you can tolerate only having ½ GB or 2 GB for the month.

With AT&T you have to pay $10/day for a daily plan.  There are other plans, but I could not figure them out , since I am not an AT&T customer and couldn’t log in.

It looks like all the T mobile plans have talk and text in Mexico, but the essentials only  has slow speed internet.  The Magenta plans have the first 5 GB at high speed.

All these plans have some tricky parts, so read and re-read the instructions .   The Verizon Travel Pass for $5 per day,  renews every day automatically if your phone is on.   Be careful and make sure you learn how each plan works. 

More Technical Method

phone sim cardsYou can buy sim cards if your phone is unlocked or you have an inexpensive phone just for travelling.  For example AT&T sells a sim care with 22GB data, talk and text for 15 days for $35.   Local sim cards are cheaper, but I have read that customer service is terrible and it can be difficult to know what you are getting.   I have checked out websites like Telcel and they are very unclear.  Just make sure you know how much data you get.

 

Cheap But  Less Convenient Method

If you can tolerate not having phone access 24/7,  a great option is an app for both android and IOS called Whatsapp.   You can phone over WiFi to anywhere in the world.  HOWEVER,  the person you phone also has to have Whatsapp, so you need to arrange with your friends before you leave.  I have used this method and it works extremely well.  Wifi is available over much of the resort and in many restaurants off the resort. 

 

 

Free Extra Tips.

             Offline Mapsgoogle map

The main reason we need data without WiFi is google maps.  No worries, you can download the maps for offline use.   Your phone still knows where you are with your data turned off by triangulating the GPS satellites. You can find info how to download maps HERE

 

Calling Within Mexico

If you are calling a cell phone from a landline within Mexico, the number is preceded by a three-digit access code. For calls to a local cell phone (within the area code that you are dialing from), dial 044 then the 10-digit number of the mobile phone. If you are calling a cell phone outside the area code that you are dialing from, dial 045 first.  Here is a Site With More Info About Calling In and Out of Mexico.   

 

Sixteen Things That Will Decrease Vacation Stress

What?  I thought the point of vacation was to decrease stress.   Well yes, but let's be honest , it can bring a new set of stresses, especially before you successfully ensconced in a lounge chair by a pool.  Once there you we have created a MayanRental Ritual for you.  But to get there, here are 16 steps that will greatly increase the value of your vacation.

Work Related Items.

#1  Home Coming To Do List

Even if you are not a list person, taking the planning time to make a list of stuff you need to do when you get back can help you relax.   That way you don't have to think / worry about those things that you forgot or need to remember when you return.

#2 Out of Office

Set up your out-of-office message. Meaning your voicemail and your email. You can do it ahead of time and set the start and stop dates.  If you are smart ( and maybe  a little brave) you should make it clear that you will not be answering emails during vacation and give them alternative resources.  Even if you ignore my advice below about not answering emails, it will take some time pressure off. 

#3 Clean Up

clean upThis is a little bit personality dependent.  For many people coming back to a clean space helps you avoid the stress of being back from vacation.   If this is you, pay attention and clean up work and home space before you run frantically out the door

 

#4 Buffer Zone

"If you can pull it off, leave a day after you've 'officially on vacation" and arrive

buffer zone

 a day before you've announced your official return. This buys you an extra distraction-free day at both ends of your vacation so that you leave feeling better prepared and more relaxed and 

return to work without feeling overwhelmed.  If you are like many Americans, you don’t use all your vacation days, so this will maximize the value of those you do take. 

 

 

#5 Communicate

Make sure people know that you are going.  Just don’t notify everyone too early or you will keep hearing “I thought you were on vacation”.  People don't listen to details.

#6  Disconnect !

Disconnect early. The night before you head out, take the time to disconnect by not checking your phone and email  and get yourself in that “vacation mindset”.  If you have email alerts on your phone.  TURN THEM OFF.  This is incredibly difficult for many, but you ignore this advice at the cost of more stress.

 

Home and Family 

#7 Avoid Missed Payments

Pay all bills that will be due while you’re away.

#8 Air Freshener for your Refrigerator

Give away or throw away food that might spoil while you are away.  Unless of course you are trying to grow a new form of fungus to make an innovative new cheese product or kombucha.

#9  Be Considerate

Make sure important people in your life  know how to get in touch with you if they need to.

#10 Don't Advertise

No point in advertising that you are not home. If you live in an area where burglary is a real concern you might want to get one or two timers so a lamp or two turns on at night — and off during the day.  Arrange for someone to take your trash container back to the house.

Personal Stuff

#11 Double Check

Double Check Your Reservations !   This includes double checking all the dates.  From your flight to your hotel to your rental car, you want to make sure that everything is in order so you aren’t dealing with issues while on vacation. You may never have picked the wrong date by accident, but I have.

#12  Travel Documents

Have your documents organized. ID, passport, etc. should all be in one spot so you know exactly where everything is.  You DID renew your passport , right??   Nothing can be more stressful than not being able to find your ID at the airport.  Make sure your boarding passes display on the airline app or print them out.  Bonus tip:  make sure you don't have an app that blacks your phone out if you lay it down or put it in your pocket or the barcode will disappear when they try to scan your boarding pass.  Don't ask me how I know this.

#13 Charge Up !

Charge all your devices.  Whether it’s your phone, tablet or laptop, you don’t want to be mid-movie on the flight and have it die. Yes, some airlines provide power outlets…. And some don’t.  Also make sure you have packed all the requisite chargers for all your devices.

#14 Lighten Your Loadoverloaded wallet

Remove from your wallet anything you won’t want or need when traveling.  But do put them all in one place you find when you get back.  Doing this, I usually discover a stack of things that I never needed in my wallet anyway, so this serves the additional purpose of decluttering your pocket.  

#15 Where's My Car ??

If you left your car in an airport parking lot, write down exactly where you left so you can find it when you get back.  Better yet, just take a photo with  your phone of the location numbers/letters.

#16 Photo Document

 Bet you thought that taking photographs was for during your vacation rather than before you leave. No longer true. Use your cell phone or digital camera to take photos of your passport, the label on all prescription medicine bottles (you did pack your meds, right?) and anything else that you think you might need. Beats carrying around (or losing) lots of paper.   As an aside,  one of our most popular posts was 

Medicines to Take and Not Take on your Mexico Vacation , but it applies to all vacations.  

That's It

That's all the advice for this post.   Please feel free to add comments about things we forgot and share this post with friends and family.  Hope it helps make your next vacation a true stress reducer.  

A Bird Solution to a Bird Problem

It is  amusing or annoying depending on your perspective.  I’m talking about the the bright eyed, cocky little black birds (I think they are grackles) that steal sugar packets and any thing else available from your food tables at Café del Lago.  It can certainly diminish a peaceful breakfast in paradise.  What is the resort to do?   They certainly can’t send out someone with a .22 or a pellet gun.  The PETA people would have a field day and  someone could get hurt to boot.   Vidanta has come up with a brilliant and entertaining solution.   They have hired an outside contractor to bring in a Harris Hawk that is trained to fly through the restaurant to make the grackles fear for their life and clear out (at least for a few minutes) 

Free Ornithological Entertainment

It is fun to watch these magnificent birds in action.   And it can occasionally cause some excitement.   Our friend Debbie got quite a jolt when the raptor soared over her head, clearing it by about 6 inches.   It is a free show every day.   As we have said before this the best buffet in the world and the grackle discouraging Harris Hawk  is just a free bonus.  harris hawk

Book your Week Now in Paradise that includes a Bird Show at the Breakfast Buffet.  (buffet not included 😊.

 

Tacos Break Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Menu

Are you tired of sit down restaurants and just want a little Mexican street food for a great price?   

Just head to La Plaza and go up to the upper level of shops and check out the deck area withtacos break restaurants tacos, quesadillas and Mexican spiced sweet corn.   You will be impress and save some money for a high end meal tomorrow. 

Okay the name is kinda dumb.  But the food and prices are great ! 

 

Quinto Steak House

The newest restaurant on the Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta resort is on the very top of Luxxe Building #5.   There is a beautiful pool up here during the day and a fabulous view of downtown Puerto Vallarta across the bay especially at night.  .   They have a nice collection of craft cocktails and of course, some fabulous steaks.   The steaks come with the option of various sauces and I generally get two different sauces for variety and they don't charge me extra.  

It is outdoors and a magical environment.   The last time we were there some plexiglass windbreaks had been added.  this offsets the only real negative from the past , which was on windy nights.   Scroll down for the menu.   Updated March 2020.  

quinto restuarant menu

 

Tramonto Menu Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta

Tramonto is a classic Italian restaurant located in the Grand Mayan Building at the Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta resort.  It is very popular, so we recommend getting reservations when when you check in to your suite.   it does have excellent beef and seafood entrees in addition to house made pasta dishes.  This menu was updated with prices as of March 2020.  My wife and I enjoyed a quiet, romantic dinner.  There is a dress code, so don't show up in swimsuits and sandals. Buon Appetito !!

Tramonto photo

tramonto

tramonto logo

 

What's New in Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta 2020

Giant Towers

In preparation for the coming theme park, a huge gondola system is being built to run from the Park to the Beach with some stations in between. One will be between Luxxe Tower 5 and the Residence tower. The towers are all in place and guests of Towers 5 and 6 on the north side of the building will have quite a bit of construction noise. They are calling it Sky Dream and there are signs up everywhere.

Restaurant Name Changes


The French restaurant Azur has been renamed to Etonne and the Blue Fish next to Luxxe 1 Pools has been renamed to Limon y Sal. The menu seems pretty much the same for both.If you want to sample street food, tacos, quesedillas without leaving the resort, check out the Tacos Break on the third floor of La Plaza. They also have Etiques which is a delicious recipe of Elote (a type of sweet corn) in a cup with mayonnaise, sour cream and various spices added. Prices are very reasonable.

 

Lakes Golf Course

It might not be totally new , but the Lakes golf course deserves a mention. It is a creative, beautiful par 3 , 9 hole course that runs through the middle of the resort.  . It is lit for night golf and Luxxe guests can buy a package from the concierge including club rental for per 9 holes  Be sure to check what tee times are left before you buy the package.   We have created a small photo album just for this course.  Note, you might want to take a bunch of water balls with you.  They don't call it Lakes for nothing.

Shuttles Are Improved

With all the growth, suThe shuttle system seems to be very functional now. You can get a shuttle all the way to the taxi stand or valet parking , as well as to the beach and/or the Havana moon restaurant. The beach shuttle is currently #4 and runs from the Santuario.  Sorry , we never think to take a photo of the shuttles !

Construction

In addition to the above mentioned gondola system, they are putting in a beach club like the one in Riviera Maya. It looks like it will be even bigger. As a result walking access to the beach and the beautiful grounds is limited to walking down through the Punta pools area at the south end of the resort or through the Grand Mayan or Grand Bliss pools at the north end of the resort.  . The Mayan Palace and Adult pools are all closed and I suspect they will be gone permanently.  🙁  Work on the Estates continues slowly on the other side of the river.  They are supposed to be open for reservations in February 2021.  Work on the theme park, Cirque du Soleil etc seems to have stopped for the time being?? Actually there are dump trucks bringing loads of dirt, but not much else.  We have heard at least a half dozen estimates on opening dates starting with last year !!  Finally , off site, the East Cape development in Cabo is continuing and some units may be open next year.  

One casualty of construction are the tennis courts.  Currently,  there are none.  Hopefully they will be rebuilt . 

Tower 6 Royale

Tower 6 is a shorter 5 story tower that is recently completed. The units here are smaller units with Luxxe type décor. Some contracts for these units have been sold and if luxxe owners call too late for reservations , they may be given the option of a Royale unit.   We will do a complete review with photos soon.  

There are one bedroom and two bedroom units. The one bedroom have tiny balconies and only tiny fridge and tiny two burner stove. The Two bedroom has the same minimal kitchen and a small balcony that cuts into the building and has little furniture. You may be picking up that these are not my favorite units.

You Will NOT Believe What I Did in Mexico !!

The last few days of our time in Mexico on the resort was not very eventful. Just nice sunshine, time around the pool , on the beach, ate at the Best Buffet Breakfast in the World  .   REEEE-laxing. But it wasn’t all quiet and dull.

We threw a dinner party for our few of our Mexican friends at the local La Laguna restaurant in Nuevo Vallarta.  We had the whole red snapper (that was butterflied so you didn't have to look the fish in the eye and it was spiced and delicious.)   Of course we brought a bottle of our favorite Tres Generaciones tequila to share.  As usual we tried to get our friends to sip this aged tequila  instead of shots,   somewhat unsuccessfully  🙂

A Cocktail Bar called the Alchemist

The restaurant was closing and kicking us out when a few of our thirty something friends   said we needed to try out the best craft cocktail place ever called El Alquemista . Translation : The Alchemist , Alchemy is not only for Harry Potter fans, but it is one of the historical roots of Pharmacy….. and I’m a Pharmacy professor and a Pharmacist!   We had to go.

 

So What Won't You Believe?

But wait, there was a catch. The signature brand for El Alquemista  was a long dead rattlesnake in a big clear jug of liquor. A shot for everyone was on the house. Oh, well , they had done it before and not died. Gotta be in the moment, right?   So Por Que No??

SURPRISE !! It was a really smooth and dare I say delicious blend of liqours that tasted mostly like Mescal ! You could also have them shoot a squirt from the snakes head in your mouth.      Ummm…. NO !!      I have limits.

So our last night in Mexico was ….. eventful…… and a ton of fun.
If you want to go,  El Alquemista is just south of Walmart on the West side of the road between Bucerias and Nuevo Vallarta.  It is listed on Tripadvisor, but I am guessing maybe you have to go with locals before they bring out the snake, because they don't mention it. 

Joe Jacks Fish Shack

We were first introduced to Joe Jacks in Old Town years ago by friends we met on an ATV tour !!  This restaurant is  now one of our favorites in the Puerto Vallarta area. It is an iconic location in Old Town.  The owner is the cook, and the prices can’t be beat! They make a five pepper steak that is excellent. The fish and chips are phenomenal  and the burgers are huge and delicious. This place is one of our top few for food, pricing and over-all quality.  Don't forget to try the whole fish or garlic shrimp ! 

 

 

Two for One Mojitos

Joe Jack's Mojitos mermaids

Mermaids decorate every mojito

This has become a standard tradition for us .   From Noon to Five every day they have two for one mojitos.    One of those mermaids comes on each glass.  These are the best mojitos in the world.  I always start with the classic. but you really need to try the amazing ginger,  pineapple , strawberry or the recently added passion fruit.   The passion fruit is my second favorite.  Do be careful,  they are not stingy with the rum.  

Every year we have different friends or relatives with us and we always spend some time in the afternoon at Jo Jacks at least once.    if we get there later in the after noon we hang around for dinner.  If we get there early , the jicama with chil powder on it is wonderful along with homemade guacamole.  

We always eat on the second floor and usually get a table with view of the street below.   Up until the recent renovation, it was part of the adventure to navigate the uneven height steps on the way out.   Now it is a bit less exciting and a bit safer.   

The atmostphere is always fun and festive and we generally strike up a conversation with one of the many locals, tourists and expats.  Years ago our new friends made us return to Joe Jacks in the evening for the coconut pie.   Although my wife claims that this is the only dessert choice,  I have had the Butterscotch Boudin with Bacon and it is also amazing.    

In case you can't operate Google, head south over the Rio Cuale into Old Town,  after a few blcoks,   look for Badillo Basilio and you will find Joe Jack's about 2 or 3 blocks from the beach on the south side of the road.  (That's the right side walking away from the beach)  If you go there on an afternoon in late February or early March , we might see you there.

So there you have it.  Joe Jacks Fish Shack is one of our favorite traditions with great food, and two for one mojitos, and the best mojitos in the world !

Our Daugher Rachel and Husband Brent

Our Daugher Rachel and Husband Brent

 

The History of Merida, Mexico

The spirit of a city rich with Mayan culture...  You could add a two or three day trip onto your Riviera Maya Vacation and learn the History of Merida first hand

History of Merida Center

 

 

The history of Merida offers a deeper glimpse into the formation of this unique Mexican paradise. What is now the safest destination for vacationers, was once a hub of an ancient culture. And it is those roots that would shape the course of Merida's future, leaving a lasting impression.

Though much of that past has faded into history, the story still remains...

 

An all too familiar story repeated within the history of Merida...

As is the case for much of Mexico, the early beginnings of Merida will immediately sound familiar.

Before the 16th century, the current site that is now Merida found itself under a different name and house to a unique civilization. The Mayans that once called the area home had given the city the title T'ho. Within its boundaries the Mayan way of life flourished. There, great pyramids found a resting place, shaping the landscape and serving as a beacon Mayan ingenuity.

The culture that respected the study of life and a reverence for the divine lived this way until the mid 16th century.

It is then, when a collection of Spainards led by "El Mozo" would disturb that way of life, altering it forever. As was too often the case during Spanish imperialism, the new faces were not gracious guests. Instead, in the same spirit of conquering that led to their name, they would claim the region theirs.

As no city is ever peacefully surrendered to invaders, this portion within the history of Merida contains a violence that was found throughout Mexico.

With the invasion, the original inhabitants were forced to flee their home or face the defining attribute of imperialism. So as the Mayans fled, the Spanish took to claiming and reshaping the once proud city of T'ho.

 

A name not its own and a reminder of the Spanish's home...

The great pyramids and huge stone cut structures reminded the invaders of their homeland, as it recalled Roman architecture. So as yet another piece of evidence to their seizure, they renamed the city Merida.History of Merida cathedral view

While the Spanish admired the similarity to their home, that did not stop them from dismantling the very city itself. Brick by brick, the Spanish laid waste to the city, opting to use the material as the foundation for their new city. It is out of those same bricks carved by the Mayans, that Merida was fashioned.

What was once testament to Mayan architectural prowess became the foundation for a cathedral, the oldest of its type in the region. And so like this the city of T'ho fell and the new history of Merida began.

 

Over time, what was left of the original city returned, though not to be owners of their once home. Instead, the Mayans found themselves forced to work the fields and maintaining the city built over their home. This would be the end of their culture and the signal the end of their people. Though, their bloodline did carry on, as much of Merida can trace some ancestor back to the Mayan people.

 

This is the way life progressed within the white limestone walls of Merida. That is until a period of great upheaval.

 

From Spanish rule, a brief independence, and a final merge...

 Life in Merida went along as is until the turn of the 19th century. It is then that the imperialism of the Spanish was finally undone and Mexico born. Though as the country took shape, Merida and the rest of the Yucatan found itself in a brief period of self-governance. After a battle that saw Mexican forces repelled by Yucatan soldiers, the state claimed its sovereignty from the rest of Mexico. Separated from the majority of Mexico, the peninsula enjoyed this autonomy for a brief period before war would once again visit the region.

As the war between America and Mexico raged during the middle of the century, the independent state tried to maintain neutrality. Though as the conflict progressed, unrest began to take hold in the area.

Bordering on all out revolt, the leadership of Yucatan turned towards Mexico, joining the country in a bid to maintain order.  Thus modern Merida, as it is, would begin.

 

In the years since the new formation, Merida would began to build a booming trade built upon the native agave plant. As time progressed, the trade would continue to grow, making those in control of the fields a sizable fortune.

This surge of affluence sweeping through the hands of inhabitants would lead to the creation of many of the limestone buildings that still dot the city.

 

Merida as it is now...Cenote Yucatan Merida Mexico

From those periods of turmoil and progress, the beautiful city as we know it, would find itself.

Now the region has grown into becoming the cultural center of the Yucatan. In he same step, becoming a haven for visitors looking to explore its history.

As the safest city within all of Mexico, Merida is in the midst of yet another great period of change. More and more people move to the city, calling it home. As they do, they spur revitalization and growth. Projects are underway to restore much of the original architecture of the Spanish. Additionally, efforts to maintain the remains of ruins have begun as well.

 

So what began as a city built on dismantling, flourished into a place that works to preserve its rich story.

Though the history of Merida is not quite finished. It is fashioned each day and experienced by everyone lucky enough to visit.

 

If you'd like to learn more about Mexico's safest city, there is not better place than the city itself.

So, join us in exploring Merida!

 

Most Cost Effective Rentals at Vidanta

The Best Deals at Vidanta Resorts. 

We are committed to help you get a relaxing luxury vacation in Mexico.  There are literally a dozen or more options for accommodations at the Vidanta resorts.  But which ones are the best bang for the buck.   We are happy to help you figure that out cost effective.  Riviera Maya and Nuevo Vallarta have the most options and are the most popular so we will focus on those.  We will address four situations.

Before we embark on cost effective options, we should mention that if money is no object and you want the best,  go for the Loft 2 or 3 bedroom suites or the Residence four bedroom top end unit.

Note:  All rates are weekly.

The Absolute Cheapest

Some of our guests tell us that they spend very little time in their unit.  They don’t care if they have a balcony.  For them the Mayan Palace Studio or one or two bedroom suites are the best deal.  A studio for two people is only $890 for the week.  As an even better deal, you can split  two bedroom suite with two couples for even less ($1490).   Half of that is less than $750 for the week per couple.   Or you can accommodate up to six people including kids for that $1490.  The suite options is a big upgrade from typical hotel rooms.   This works great in Riviera Maya.  However,in Nuevo Vallarta, the units are newer, but there are very few of them, so try to contact us as far in  advance as possible.

 

Families of Four to Six people.

Cost Effective Quality

The Grand Mayan one and two bedroom suites   are a great family option in both Riviera Maya and Nuevo Vallarta.  There are sofas to accommodate up to four people in the living room of both one bedroom suites ($1790) and two bedroom suites ($2090).  In Nuevo Vallarta there is a fabulous water park with a big water slide and lazy river that both kids and adults will love.  We almost had to leave a friend in Mexico because he wouldn’t get out of the lazy river.

 

Luxury at a Bargain

The Grand Luxxe suites are a price bump but worth every penny if you value luxury and space.   The one bedroom suite is $2390 to $2490 for the week and the two bedroom suite is $3290 to $3390 for the week.  This gets you very upscale very large units and access to exclusive Grand Luxxe areas of the resort. Of course the level of service goes up as well with free morning coffee, one concierge for every 16 units and amazing maid service twice a day.

 Luxury for a Couple

Hands down the best deal on the resort if it is available is the The Luxxe Junior Villa  for $1890.  This type of unit is available in both Riviera Maya and Nuevo Vallarta.  This has the luxxe level of luxury and even though it is called a sometimes called a studio,  The Villa has a bedroom and a separate living area with a couch (that also makes into a bed), a TV,  fridge , microwave, and coffee maker.  It very close to having a one bedroom Suite for $500 less.  Because it is a Luxxe unit, it has the added advantage of access to the Luxxe / Bliss beach club and the Luxxe spa in Riviera Maya or Luxxe pools and Luxxe spa in Nuevo Vallarta. 

P.S.  It also has a nice balcony. 

Best Deal for a Large Group.

The four bedroom residence is the most luxurious amazing unit on the Nuevo Vallarta resort.  At a rate of $7490 for the week it seems pretty pricey.  However with four bedrooms and 5 bathrooms,  you can share it with four couples.   That comes out to less than $1880 per couple for the week for the most exclusive unit on the resort. !!    That is the same price as a Luxxe Villa Studio or a One bedroom suite in the Grand Mayan.

P.S. It has a large back balcony and a HUGE front outdoor living area/balcony.  All told, it is almost a 5000 square foot unit.   These are very difficult to get and require advanced booking .  Well worth the trouble .  We had ten family members for a week and it was a fantastic experience. 

A Perfect Week Itinerary Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Resort

If you are wondering what there is to do  for a week on the Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Resort,  read on!vidanta nuevo vallarta resort

The Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Resort is the largest of the seven Vidanta locations.   Imagine a week with a huge variety of vacation options. This post will review just a few of them to whet your appetite.  . 

Note: Be sure to read through and check with your concierge to make any needed restaurant reservations on your first day to avoid any disappointments.  

As we said in our post “A Week at the Vidanta Riviera Maya Resort,  on any given day you can substitute laying https://www.funsunmexico.com/blog/vidanta-riviera-maya-one-week-itinerary/by the pool,  reading, listening to music, and/or drinking margaritas or pina coladas for the suggested activities.   And our patented MayanRental Ritual  is a perfect template to make make relaxing easy (okay, maybe we didn't actually patent it).  .

The MayanRental Ritual©

  1. Lay in the shade or in the sun according to your preference. You can read a book or close your eyes and tell yourself there is no email important enough to interrupt your peace and quiet
  2. Deep breath in from your belly for a count of 3, hold for a count of 5 and exhale slowly for a count of 7.  Repeat this as needed.
  3. When you get uncomfortably warm. Swim across the pool and back.  Get out and drip dry .
  4. Repeat Step #1
  5. Rinse / Repeat
  6. Insert a pina colada or margarita at any point

Day One

You can opt for the quieter, more opulent Grand Luxxe , upgrade to a Loft, or take less expensive Grand Mayan option with it’s lively pool area and lazy river.  If the options confuse you, check out our Grand Mayan / Grand Bliss/ Grand Luxxe/ Loft comparison page.  After you check in,  all units have fantastic pool areas to conduct the MayanRental Ritual  and all have attentive service with great food and drink.  Try one of their creative cocktails like the Chocolate Monkey.   Or just go with whatever is on the daily  “two for one” special.   Nothing could make a better start to your vacation. You can have Ceviche or Nachos at poolside to avoid any interruption to your unwinding process.

Dinner tonight is at one of 20 top quality restaurants of every genre.  Make sure to check with your concierge for reservations.  Some of the most popular , like the Italian favorite Tramonto ,  will require a reservation. For some reason, Burgers Custom Made is our usual choice for the first night.  Maybe because we had the best cheese cake ever and keep going back to make sure it really was that good.  Don’t be fooled by the name, it is a classy place crazy burger options and some nice steaks.

Day Two

There are two 18 hole golf options,  the  Jack Nicklaus redesigned Nayar and the new Greg Norman.  If golf is on your vacation to do list, you may want to sign up for golf lessons at the Jack Nicklaus Academy right on the resort. Ask us about how to get advanced golf tee te An alternative active day is to take the day trip to Las Caletas beach with Vallarta Adventures.   It is a fabulous all day experience, complete with a monkey on your shoulder for photos. 

On resort, check out the deli  for lunch with custom sandwich’s,  crepes and really tasty salads of every variety.  While you are there scout out the other high quality foods at La Plaza bakery and grocery. 

For the afternoon, you can hang around and shop at La Plaza or stroll the beautiful jungle grounds this afternoon to unwind.

As we mentioned in our Riviera Maya post,  for dinner , one of our favorites in Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta is also The Gong.  The Asian and Seafood choices have something that will make every palate a  happy palate.   Sushi lovers will also not be disappointed. 

Day Three

  A little pampering is in order at the Luxxe Spa (the Spatium) or the Brio spa depending on which end of the resort you are staying.   You can choose a relaxing or a deep tissue massage.  If you are not used to deep tissue, ask for medium pressure or prepare to occasionally let out a few little screams.  You can add on almost any spa treatment you can imagine.  Insider Tip:   Guests in the Grand Luxxe, Loft , or Grand Luxxe Spa Tower can reserve an hour at the outdoor wet area at the Luxxe Spatium.  It has steam,  dry sauna,  cold pool Jacuzzi and showers. 

laser light show

Laser Light Show La Cantina

There are also many active alternatives to the spa like dance lessons, beach volley ball, ping pong, tennis courts and water sport rentals.  

Lest you forget you are in Mexico,  you can find some delicious Mexican food option at La Cantina.  It is great food and maybe a chance to find out if you like Mezcal.  Make sure you eat outside so you don’t miss the beautiful entertaining laser light show

 

 

Day Four

vidanta santuario

Santuario Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta

Any time you run out of things to do, you can return to the MayanRental ritual or explore your resort guide for the myriad of activities like introduction to Spanish or Cocktail lessons. 

An upscale dinner tonight could be Italian at  Tramonto or French at Azur.  Fabulous food with attentive service.   Check out what the live entertainment schedule is for the week.  This might be a good night to visit the spectacular Santuario  performance venue. 

 

 

Day Five

Here are two different paths you can follow today.

Path One: If you need down time

If this is you,  I recommend  repeating one of the previous days above.  For some people, this type of activity (actually non-activity) is a critical part of vacation.

If you stay on the resort, this evening (or whatever evening is Thursday)  you can enjoy the Mexican Fiesta on the Beach with a buffet full of authentic Mexican dishes accompanied by a cultural evening of Mexican music and dancing. 

 

Path Two:  If You Are Ready To Be More Active

Vallarta Adventures offers a huge variety of activities off resort including sailing trips, whale watching (November to early March), zip lines (also check out Canopy River for amazing zip lines, and yes that is me hanging upside down), Rhythms of the Night dinner theater, and much more.  They are located right in Nuevo Vallarta and are amazingly well run.

canopy rivier zip line

John from MayanRental on Canopy River Zip line

Another active option are the walking tours offered by Sandra Cesca.  We have done two of these and they are a great way to experience a little of real Mexico.

Finally we have to mention the fabulous food tours available (like the Mole Pozole tour we took a while back).

 

 

Day Six

Before you leave this paradise,  you really should have a relaxing walk north for a mile or so up the beach to the marina or I guess you could

work out at the state of the art exercise facilities. As mentioned there are exercise and yoga classes available daily.    

Tonight dinner could be Cuban at Havana Moon on the beach by the Grand Bliss pool.  .  Nice to be right on the ocean for your last night.   

Day Seven

If you only have seven days, make sure on this last day you go to the best breakfast buffet in the world at the Del Lago before returning to the hussle and bussle. 

 

      

 

 

 

Maybe you should have booked two weeks…

Anyway, book now to try out our one week itinerary at the Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Resort.     

 

 

 

 

Vidanta Riviera Maya One Week Itinerary

The Vidanta Riviera Maya is an ever expanding vacation experience.  Imagine a week with a huge variety of vacation options. This post will suggest a few of the best ones. 

Be sure to read through this post and check with your concierge to make any needed reservations on your first day to avoid any disappointments.  

Take note that on any given day you can substitute laying by the pool,  reading, listening to music, and/or drinking margaritas or pina coladas for the suggested activities.   And our patented MayanRental ritual  is a perfect template for any day of the week.

The MayanRental Ritual©

  1. Lay in the shade or in the sun according to your preference. You can read a book or close your eyes and tell yourself there is no email important enough to interrupt your peace andMayanRental Ritual quiet
  2. Deep breath in from your belly for a count of 3, hold for a count of 5 and exhale slowly for a count of 7.  Repeat this as needed.
  3. When you get uncomfortably warm. Swim across the pool and back.  Get out and drip dry .
  4. Repeat Step #1
  5. Rinse / Repeat
  6. Insert a piña colada or margarita at any point

Day One

You will spend much of today travelling  Check in is not guaranteed until 5 PM, so pack some cool clothes and/or a swim suit in an easily accessible place.  Ignore this suggestion at your peril.  The one time we did not do this our luggage got sidetracked by the airline and we spent the day in cold weather clothes.  

 It is important to select accommodations that fit your style and budget. We have a web page to help you figure it out.   

Dinner tonight is at one of 20 top quality restaurants of every genre.  Make sure to check with your concierge for reservations.  Some of the most popular , like the Italian favorite Tramonto ,  will require a reservation.  The good news is... you really can't go wrong.  They are all top quality. 

Day Two

If you opted for an opulent Grand Luxxe suite, you have access to the Luxxe /Bliss beach club , which is a perfect way to unwind from your busy life.   Secluded pool areas,  frequently with live violin or guitar music ,  attentive service with great food and drink and a beautiful view of the Caribbean.   Try one of their creative cocktails like the Miami Vice.  Or just go with whatever is on the daily  “two for one” special.   Nothing could make a better start to your vacation. You can have nachos at poolside to avoid interruption to your unwinding process.

Dinner tonight is at one of 20 top quality restaurants of every genre.  Make sure to check with your concierge for reservations.  Some of the most popular , like the Italian favorite Tramonto ,  will require a reservation.

Day Three

 The 18 hole Jack Nicklaus golf course with its treacherous water hazards will contrast nicely with the relaxing beach club from Day One.  An alternative active day is a snorkeling trip by boat right from the resort to view colorful fish in the crystal clear Caribbean. 

Check out the deli  for lunch with custom sandwich’s,  crepes and really tasty salads of every variety. 

Stroll the beautiful jungle grounds this afternoon to unwind or explore one of the classy shopping areas.

For dinner , one of our favorites is The Gong.  The Asian and Seafood choices have something that will  make every palate a  happy palate.   Sushi lovers will also not be disappointed. 

Day Four

  A little pampering is in order at the Spa.  Check out our post for a little massage guidance .    You choose a relaxing massage, a deep tissue massage.  If you are not used to deep tissue, ask for medium pressure or prepare to occasionally let out a little scream.  You can add on almost any spa treatment you can imagine.  There are many active alternatives to the spa like dance lessons, ping pong, tennis courts and jet ski rentals.  

Tonight you can do dinner and a show at the spectacular and world famous Joya Cirque du Soleil right on the resort grounds.   Start with exotic craft cocktails at the Nektar bar.   Dinner will be the best, most creative meal you will have all week, and that is saying something.  By the end of the evening you will see what I mean.

 

Day Five

Today is a good  day to see a bit of Mexico.  You can take a day trip to Chichen Itza , which is onechichen itza of the new seven wonders of the world or try Tuluum, which the most beautiful of the Mayan Ruins with a fun village nearby that still has a Carribean vibe.   Or you could visit one of the fun and exotic eco parks,  Xcaret or Xel Ha.  The travel agent can arrange any of these or a car rental for do it yourselfers.

After experiencing a little  Mexico today, you really should continue the experience by hitting  the Mexican food option at La Cantina.  It is great food and maybe a chance to find out if you like Mezcal from the mobile bar cart.

Day Six

For the newest activity option,  visit Jungala the luxury water park for adults and kids.  It has jungalaadrenaline pumping water slides, seemingly endless lazy river, wave pool , hot tubs and more.  For you practical types, don’t worry, there are also showers, locker, towels and an aquatic world for children.
You might even splurge and rent a cabana for the day with personal service, pampering, canapes and champagne.  Here is a photo gallery to give you a taste of what you will experience.  Check out our video of the water slides.

Day Seven

Before you leave,  you really should walk a couple of miles up the beach or you could work out at the state of the art exercise facility. There a exercise and yoga classes available daily.    Either way, follow up with a couple hours of our patented MayanRental Ritual© (see the beginning of this post if you missed it)

Tonight dinner could be Cuban with live latin music at Havana Moon.   Nice to be right on the ocean for your last night.   

Day Eight

If you only have seven days, make sure on this last day you go to the best breakfast buffet in the world at Cafe del Lago before returning to the hussle and bussle.  Maybe you should have bookedCafe del Lago Buffet two weeks. 

Check out our Video of Ten More Things To Do at  Vidanta Riviera Maya.

 

 

 

Ten More Things to Do - Vidanta Riviera Maya Video

We have made a video of ten things to do at Vidanta Riviera Maya.  These are just the tip of the iceberg.  There are more like a hundred things. to do if you rent a week or two from us at the Grand Mayan Riviera Maya or the Grand Luxxe Riviera Maya.    

Jungala Water Park -Vidanta Riviera Maya

Welcome to Jungala
The newest addition to the Vidanta Riviera Maya Resort. 

Watch the video then scroll down for a full introduction to the Jungala experience.

A fun day for the whole family in Jungala

Jungala at Vidanta Riviera Maya is a new, luxury waterpark with state-of-the-art attrhttps://youtu.be/935RTQQcFN0actions and a fixed daily capacity to reduce waiting time.

The new park provides a mystical journey through the jungle with rocky walls and tall trees, water spouting everywhere.   Visitors can enjoy native birds and other animals while exploring water rides or relaxing on a lazy river. Jungala has beautiful tropical surroundings with private cabanas, several restaurants and snack halls featuring a variety of dining options and some of the best water rides in the world.

Something for both young and old

A day in a waterpark is a fantastic adventure when you are on vacation. Jungala is the perfect place to spend a day, and the park has lots of activities for both children and adults. There is plenty of family-friendly attractions for younger visitors, including the Kids Waterslide Complex and the Aqua Play Rain Fortress, one of the worlds largest interactive play structures.

Everyone will enjoy it as soon as you arrive at the park. There is so much to do and experience in Jungala. After swimming and playing, there are still lots of fun in store. Time will fly while you create many lovely memories together.

The perfect place to spend a day

Jungala has the longest lazy river in Latin America over one kilometer long, the only one of its kind in Latin America, and one of the few wave pools in the world with natural sand and waves up to 1.5 meters high.

super slide jungalaThe park has plenty of other attractions. Paradise Free Fall lets you drop into a near-vertical tube at dizzying speeds and shoot out safely at the end. Hoop Hoop is a water slide insanely fast, you get the best of gravity with adrenalized drops, twists, and turn.

As we mentioned, in the Kids area, you find the Aquaplay Rain Fortress the largest interactive play structure in the world, and the Kids Waterslide complex. Both are low-speed, gentle rides intended for young children.

Shopping and dining

There are several boutiques and stores available, offering a wide range of clothing, crafts, and souvenirs at the Bana Cabana Shop and the Bohanna Market.  If you need a new bathing suit, you can buy in the boutiques or pick up a pool-bag must-haves or pharmacy items at Bohanna Market.

If you get hungry, Jungala has 6 food and beverage outposts from a swim-up bar to a food cart serving artisanal sausages and delicious french fries.

Consider Renting a VIP Cabana for the ultimate relaxationVIP Cabana

If you want a stress-free and relaxing experience, you can choose between nineteen cabanas available for rent at an additional cost. It is definitely worth it if you can swing it. The rent includes a lot of luxuries such as access to luxury spa pools, a welcome fruit plate, luxurious towels, fruit-flavored spa water, and assorted chef-prepared canape's.

What to pack in your pool-bag?

Preparation beforehand will make for a stress free waterpark experience.

  1. Swimsuit without metal clips.  One unusual requirement of the park is that guests must not have any metal on their swimsuits.  This is to avoid scratching the slick water slides.
  2. Sunscreen and lip balm
    It is easy to get sunburned in the water. Re-apply the sunblock every hour. And don’t forget a lip balm with SPF that can ward off chapped, dry lips and help prevent sunburn.
  3. Goggles, sunglasses, water shoes and a wetbag
    Goggles can be a lot of fun to wear. Do you know you can use baby shampoo can avoid the google steaming up? Sunglasses are indispensable protects the eyes from the blazing sun. Consider leaving your expensive designer sunglasses at home, you can quickly scratch or lose them in the waterpark.
  4. Water shoes and a wetbag
    The soil and pavement can be hot, making it difficult to walk on with bare feet. And a waterproof bag to place wet swimsuits to keep everything else from getting damp is a really good idea.

 5 benefits of spending a day with the kids in Jungala

  • Children use a lot of energy in the swimming pools, while you can relax.
  • There are plenty of opportunities to find new playmates when they play in the children's pool.
  • The family gets new experiences together playing in the water.
  • Children love to try something new with you.
  • The rush in the stomach as you slide into the water at full speed gives you something to laugh and talk about for a long time. Not the mention the photo options!

Links and information

There is an entrance fee and an extra charge for VIP cabanas.   If you book your stay with MayanRental, you are the guest of a member.  Ask your concierge about special rates as soon as you arrive at the resort and buy your tickets.  the park has a limit on the number of guests to shorten wait times.       For even more info see the Jungala Website

Check out our Photo Gallery of the Park and a VIP Cabana.    
Jungala Water Park

Can't decide which Vidanta resort?   check out our Riviera Maya vs Puerto Vallarta post.  

Riviera Maya vs Puerto Vallarta

Planning your Mexico Vacation - Riviera Maya or Puerto Vallarta?

 

Tulum Mayan Ruin-Riviera Maya

church of the Virgin guadalupe

Iconic Puerto Vallarta Church

You probably can guess my answer is going to be... it depends.  There are lots of great places to go in Mexico, but today we will give you pros and cons of the two most popular choices'.  Please scroll down for a comparison of the two Vidanta resorts, but let's start with off-resort info.

 

Getting There

In case you are not a geography buff,  The Riviera Maya is the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula that sticks up into the Caribbean on the east edge of Mexico.   Puerto Vallarta, on the other hand is on the Pacific Coast and is just far enough south to be reliably warmin the winter.

If you live on the East Coast , flying into  Cancun for your Riviera Maya Vacation is definitely easier with many direct flights available.  You likely will have at least one if not two stops to Puerto Vallarta.

Similarly,  West Coasters can fly into Puerto Vallarta much easier than Cancun, it is just a straight shot down the Pacific coast. 

Midwesterners have it made with either location being convenient flights.  Cancun / Riviera Maya have a slight edge here due to more direct flights.

Things to Do Off Resort

Activities off the resort are very different between the two locations.  Again scroll down for resort comparison.

Riviera Maya 

el castillo chichen itza

El Castillo Chichen Itza

The Yucatan peninsula was home to the Mayan civilization and there are Mayan Ruins everywhere.  Chichen Itza is the the biggest and perhaps the most popular. You can read our blog post on Choosing the best Mayan Ruin to Visit.      The Riviera Maya is also where you can do some really good snorkeling.  You can swim with turtles in Akumal.     For a fun Mexican town , Playa del Carmen is great.  If you want American chain restaurants and shopping , check out Cancun.  There are lots more , but that is a good start.  The sand is pure white and Caribbean clear and warm.  See our blog for comprehensive list of Things to Do In Riviera Maya

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is on the edge of Banderas Bay in the shadow of the Sierra Madre mountains.  So you have the added beauty of a mountain view everywhere.  The beach on the Pacific side is not the powdery white of the Caribbean.  It is coarse and brown sand, but still long strands of peaceful and idyllic sand beaches are everywhere.  You can snorkel but it won't compare with Riviera Maya.  On the other hand the mountains make for beautiful scenery and  are a playground for ATV rentals and spectacular zipline adventures.  Also, Banderas Bay is a winter resting place for humpback whales and their new calves, so whale watching tours are everywhere.  Old Town Puerto Vallarta is a cultural adventure to walk and eat and drink.  Or take a food tour !!    Also , Puerto Vallarta is in Jalisco ,  the only state where tequila can be made and called tequila.  Tastings abound.  See our blog for comprehensive list of Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta.

Vidanta Resort Riviera Maya

This resort is a bit smaller, with fewer Luxxe units.   However, it has most of the same two dozen plus restaurants that you will find in Nuevo Vallarta.  In addition, the buffet restaurant,  Cafe del Lago has live music on certain theme nights   Two recent additions supplement the already complete resort.  The new water park on site called Jungala  is a full day of entertainment.  For an evening of awe, check out theReports On Trips Around the Resorts Vidanta Riviera Maya Cirque du Soleil.   If you go we HIGHLY recommend adding on the dinner.  It was the best dinner we had all week amidst many high quality meals.  And the cocktails at Nektar , the bar attached to the Cirque are creative and delicious.  One other item, the new Luxxe/Bliss beach club is a classy place to catch some rays and enjoy some snacks and drinks.   Like all Vidanta resorts there is a Kids Club and a first class work out facility and two spas.  You can rent water sports equipment or take a snorkel trip right out of the resort.  However swimming in front of the resort is minimal due to the coral. There is a beautiful Jack Nicklaus golf course on site, but it is a par three.  Another one is in the works but probably not for a year or two.  From the Airport:  Transportation from the Cancun Airport is free if you rent from us and takes about 30 minutes  Accommodations range from the Grand Mayan to Grand Luxxe.    We have prepared a comparison page.

Vidanta Resort Nuevo Vallarta

This is a larger resort with lots of great activities to choose from.  There are multiple Luxxe pool areas and a separate Luxxe Kids Club.  The Luxxe exercise gym and Spa are huge and world class.  Like Riviera Maya there are a huge number and variety of restaurants and bars on grand luxxe poolsthe resort.  The Santuario is a great gathering place to enjoy a variety of  live entertainment.  Cafe del Lago has the best breakfast buffet in the world !  (in my humble opinion).     The Grand Mayan pool area is a more lively option and has a lazy river that runs around the whole huge water park.  You can rent water sports equipment for fun on the beach. Ocean swimming is great on the 1/2 mile of private beach.   The Mexican Cantina has a laser light show every night. There are three golf courses on site, including a brand new Greg Norman course and a nine hole course with night lighting. 

From the Airport:  Transportation from the Puerto Vallarta Airport is free if you rent from us and takes only 10 minutes. 

If you simply must have the ultimate in luxury and pampering, Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta has added the Estates and the Empire estates units.  You will likely need to plan ahead a year to get a huge 4 bedroom unit with your own butler, but it might well be worth it.  Ask Nina, at [email protected] or 616-855-4468 

 

Conclusion

If you plan to do quite a bit off resort ,  you will have to decide which options are more appealing.  On resort, I prefer Nuevo Vallarta for the variety of pools and open space.  However,  I love the Cirque du Soleil in Riviera Maya and can't wait to check out the brand new Jungala water park.  Golfers will prefer Nuevo Vallarta.  Available flights might affect East and West coast vacationers.  Bottom line, you really need to do both.  One this winter and one next winter.  Puerto Vallarta vs Riviera Maya, of course,  It depends.

 

Five Reasons to NEVER Do An All Inclusive

This is a redo of one of our most popular blog posts ever.  Remember, we are joking..... mostly   

 

Reason #1 Obesity

obesityThe 24/7 buffets sound fabulous,  but when you get back on that plane at the end of the week and you can’t fit into the seat, it might not seem so fabulous.   There is nothing wrong with having a couple of fabulous feasts and one spectacular breakfast buffet, but 3 or 4 meals a day for a week will certainly take its toll.

 

Reason #2 Poverty

poverty

 

With all inclusives you really only have two choices.

1.  Mediocre food and watered down drinks

2,  Excellent food, brand name cocktails and a  per person bill that will have you declaring bankruptcy faster than Detroit in the last recession.

 

Reason #3 Claustrophobia

claustrophobiaWith an all inclusive package it is like wearing one of those ankle devices they put on felons on parole.  If you get very far from the resort,  it seems like a little alarm in your head goes off.  You have to get back for the next big overindulgent feast.  You are tied to the resort and soon begin to feel like prisoner in  a tiny cell.

To make the claustrophobia worse,  the rooms at an all inclusive are almost always tiny little hotel rooms.  When you rent from MayanRental, you have the option of a full suite with balcony for no more money.  

 

 

Reason #4 Cultural Incompetence

mexico cultureThis is by far the biggest problem.   If you go to another country and never get off the reservation, you might as well be vacationing in Oklahoma (apologies to all you Sooners).  You will not experience the beautiful people, the rich culture, the great value of travel.  “The world is a book and those who don’t travel only read one page.”  With an all inclusive, you can only bend the page corner and peek at page two.

 

 

Reason #5 Liver Damage

pickleFor many of us alcohol and vacation go together like chocolate and peanut butter.   However,  a week in an all inclusive will have your liver looking like a dill pickle.   Green and wrinkled.  I guess the good thing is that will seldom be sober enough to realize everything you are missing from a real vacation.

 

 

Ok, Ok.  So we might have exaggerated a little.  It was all in fun, but I do hope you caught our point.

The Smart Approach: Instead of paying the big all-inclusive fees, rent from MayanRental and have the benefit of top notch food options and the additional option to go off the resort unlimited variety of food and activities.   

book your escape button

Walking tours in Puerto Vallarta

Meet the locals with Sandra Cesca

If you look for a genuine holiday experience, Sandra Cesca arranges walking tours in the local view from gringo gulchneighborhoods of Puerto Vallarta.

Puerto Vallarta has much more to offer than relaxing in a hammock weighing in the wind. The city has charm and colorful architecture with plenty of opportunities to explore. But where to start?

Sandra Cesca is a photographer and a certified guide. She has operated Puerto Vallarta Walking Tours for over ten years and besides that she earned a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence in 2018.  If you are more a visual person , we have an entire PVR walking tour photo gallery on our personal travel blog

Four Great adventures in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta has lots of cozy, authentic, secluded areas, you just have to search a little before finding them. Sandra Cesca has lived in Puerto Vallarta for a long time. She has extensive knowledge of the city and furthermore,she engaged in the local vendors, artisans, and residents of Puerto Vallarta.

There are other walking tours arrangements in Puerto Vallarta, but a tour with Sandra has advantages. Her groups are small with time for individual attention and tips. A walk with Sandra Cesca is almost like a friend showing you around in a neighborhood she loves.

You learn the captivating history of the city and get a unique opportunity to experience the local culture. Her idea is to immerse into the local culture for a few hours, so you feel more comfortable being here.

El Centro City Walk

Known to locals as El Centro, downtown Puerto Vallarta has a lot to offer. El Centro has a rich culture mixed with shops, cafes and restaurants, theaters, and art galleries. This walk covers the oldest part of Puerto Vallarta on the north side of the river.

You walk the historic district with cobblestone streets, and typical Spanish Colonial architecture, while you absorb the sights, smells and sounds of daily life.

Southside Neighborhood Walk

This is a walking tour to the other side of the river. From the patio at the Cigar Factory, you head for the Southside over the swinging Rio Cuale bridge. The Southside, known as the Emiliano Zapata Colonia, is a delightful mixture of small family businesses, residences, and restaurants. It is the second largest colonia (neighborhood) in all of Vallarta. It also has the most diverse population and choices than any other area in the city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gringo Gulch Architecture and History

Learn how Puerto Vallarta grew from quaint fishing village to an iconic tourist destination while strolling the cobblestone streets of Gringo Gulch. This area is known for its ocean views and Spanish Colonial architecture. You will have a great time on this tour, walking the charming streets of famous Gringo Gulch.

You will see Casa Kimberly, Elizabeth Taylor’s former home and marvel at famous homes and villas built during the 1950s. If you are a photography lover, you will enjoy the stunning views of the ocean and jungle.

Tropical Plant Walk

Are you interested in tropical plants growing in this part of Mexico? Walking through Old Vallarta and the Rio Cuale Island, you see over 70 varieties of tropical flowers and trees. Most important, you learn common names along with herbal, medicinal, and ceremonial uses and hear history, folklore, and stories, about the people who helped shape this colonial town.

Puerto Vallarta is part of the Western Sierra Madre. The local climate is tropical, a veritable paradise for the vegetation. The flora is abundant and diverse, and you will discover lots of beautiful flowers, plants, and trees in colors ranging from warm and bright to soft pastels.

 

Make you vacation more memorable

A report of our Gringo Gulch walking tour with Sandra

We were scheduled to meet Sandra Cesca for our walking tour of Gringo Gulch beginning at Starbuck’s right off the Malecon in El Centro Puerto Vallarta. Sandra Cesca was waiting there, and we were off.

Of course, we started with the beautiful Church of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The long history of the building and sometimes rebuilding of various architectural sections and features were very interesting. After that, we wound through Gringo Gulch which was up to the hill behind the church.

Sandra’s magic is in the fact that she knows a lot of history and more importantly is always making friends with shop owners and artists. She takes you to shops, introduces you to interesting people. She doesn’t get a commission from shop owners, she just knows the best places. it adds to the quality of the tour.

I don’t know if it happens on every tour, but with us, she stopped at the coolest little restaurant called Esquina de los Caprichos. They served us some delightful tapas for free, simple fried cheese, tomatoes with balsamic, bread with super garlic, all surrounded by beautiful artwork in a hidden garden setting in the back of the restaurant.

We also visited the Miralo gallery (miralopv.com ) with stunning mosaic mirrors and other mosaic art and also a shop called Querubines, located in the house of the first mayor of Vallarta, with ancient cherubs (hence the name) on the door.

There were a variety of handcrafted items, but the thing that was different was that Sandra explains the meaning behind the crafts making it interesting to me for the first time ever.

 

More information

Deep Sea Fishing Nuevo Vallarta

Danisha Deep Sea Fishing in Nuevo Vallarta

Bring your friends or family along for an unforgettable day on the sea. Most people like being close to the water. Why not have a good time

butterfly fish

Our Daughter Rachel Had the Best LUck

spending a day on a Danisha's sport fishing boat. Even if you are not a fisherman, you can go along and have plenty of enjoyable adventures. Swimming, relaxing in the sun, laughing and taking it easy is always a great idea.

Enjoy a Mexican fishing adventure

Fishing is probably one of the most popular sports in the world. With more than 6,000 miles (10,000 km) of coastline, Mexico is a great place to go offshore fishing. Nuevo Vallarta is known for world-class fishing opportunities, and Danisha Sport Fishing located at the marina in Nuevo Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit has a crew with only one goal: “To ensure your day with us is spent doing exactly what you want to do!”

fishing boat relaxingThe whole family will love a boat trip with Danisha Sports Fishing. You can fish all day, but you can also combine it with swimming and snorkeling in the beautiful Banderas Bay, and maybe a little sightseeing along the gorgeous coastline.  If you would like to see more photos, we have a complete Sport Fishing in Puerto Vallarta photo gallery.   

 

 

 

Are you dreaming of blue water game fishing

If you want to catch Marlin, Tuna and other blue water game fish, Danisha Sport Fishing is the right place to book a boat trip. They arrange private fishing trips for 4-6 persons. Depending on seasons and destination the trips lasts from 4 hours to 12 hours, with snacks or lunch and drinks included. But of course you can also book a customized trip.  We have gone out twice with Danisha.  We had great luck the first time and not so much the second time.  However, I think if you are serious, you really need to go for the all day trip (8 hours) that takes you just outside the bay.  I think that is where the really good fishing can be found.   

 Why not try Kite fishing

Kite fishing is an ideal way to catch tuna, sailfish, and other fish attracted to live bait near the surface. In kite fishing, a drop line hangs from a kite with the bait at the end of the line. The kite drops when the bait is taken, then it is time to haul in your catch. It is an amusing and exciting way to fish if you usually use free-lined baits. Danisha Sport Fishing also arranges kite fishing trips.  We have never tried this, so please leave a comment if you do.  

 

Is offshore fishing safe in Mexico 

The most imminent danger you will get yourself into is either sunburn or dehydration! Mexico has strict regulations about fishing. All boats and crew onshore/offshore must be licensed.

If you haven’t been on a sports fishing trip before it will be a great day out on the water with lots of exciting new experiences. The Danisha Sport Fishing crew has years of experience on the sea. Fishing, fun, and service, are their passion. A lot of the customers say that a day out with Danisha was the highlight of their trip.

 

What to do with the catch!

In Mexico, a ‘Catch and Release’ policy is encouraged. You get to enjoy the thrill of fishing, try your luck and take photos of your incredible catch. So don’t forget your camera, bye the way! After all the fun the fishes return to the sea.

If you want to taste a bit of your catch, the Danisha Sport Fishing crew can assist you in contacting one of the local restaurants.linda's small mackerel

Either way one thing is for sure. You’ll talk about your fishing adventure long after your vacation is over and the scent of the fresh salt water has disappeared.  When we got back we had a couple of large fish that the crew filleted for us and we gave to a local friend who had a family feast.  

How can I prepare for a fishing trip

If you haven’t been out on the water before, you probably better prepare yourself for a wonderful and energy consuming day in the sun.  Being exposed to a combination of sun, wind, and waves is a fantastic encounter.

You will need a high factor sunblock, lip balm, and a hat. The sun is very sharp on the sea. A pair of sunglasses is a really good idea. It is also important to remember to drink plenty of water.

In fact, water can mirror up to 100% of the UV radiation, which gives you twice as much radiation as normal. You can become red faster when you are in the water, even if you do not swim under the surface.

Grand Luxxe Nuevo Vallarta  is the perfect place to stay for a day trip with Danisha Sport Fishing.

Visit Danisha Sport Fishing Facebook page and enjoy all the incredible and funny pictures from past trips.

Read more about Danisha Sport Fishing on their website where you also can watch the latest videos and photos and learn about the boat and the trips and everything you need to know for Deep Sea Fishing in Nuevo Vallarta

Cancun - A day trip from Grand Luxxe Riviera Maya

Visiting the Grand Luxxe Riviera Maya is all about incredible turquoise blue seas and warm, sunny beaches, maybe accompanied by an occasional refreshing beverage and meals for the discerning foodie, along with fantastic activities including the fabulous Cirque du Soleil.

However, for those who want something else and want to take advantage of local sites, why not do a day trip? A good place to start would be Cancun and depending on what exactly you want to do, there are all sorts of things you can plan for. So set aside a day so that you can vary it up and not get too lost in your time in paradise. Are you into muscle cars and luxury vehicles? You can rent vehicles and race annual a track on a local track. Are you looking for souvenirs to take back home and don’t want the tired variety at the local supermarket? There are several handicraft markets in Cancun that have rows upon rows of shops. Did you forget a nice dress or some fancy shades for your beach outfit? You’ll find that here too. Below, I’ve prepared a short list of things you may be interested in taking advantage of and be able to have a fantastic time in your jaunt about Cancun.

Cancun Check List: Seven Day Trip Activities

  1. Exotic Rides. For those of you who are motorsports enthusiasts or just have a little bit of engine-envy for the cars in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, you can make your dreams true at the Exotic Rides race track, where you can hop into a Lamborghini, Ferrari or even a Maserati.
  2. Museum of Tequila. If you are looking at learning more about the history of tequila and its origins, the Museum of Tequila, located above the Europea spirits shop on the Hotel Zone, where you can do a tequila-tasting. If you are impressed, take a walk downstairs and peruse the choices in the tequila section and take home a couple of bottles home with you.
  3. Mercado 28. Also known as Market 28, this is located in downtown Cancun, where you can find numerous booths where you can pick up handicrafts from all over Mexico. Whatever you are looking for, you are surely going to find so much that you are going to be spoiled for choice, everything from ceramics and glassware to traditional Mexican clothing.
  4. La Isla Shopping Village. This a large mall on the Hotel Zone where you can find couture shops to popular retail shops and restaurants of all sorts. Whatever your budget, you can find everything you need, from a quick coffee at Starbucks to a lovely Gucci purse. If you are looking for purchasing items that are duty free, the Liverpool department store that is located there offers like makeup, perfume and watches, as well as many other product. There are also restaurants that overlook the lagoon and can offer a spot for a romantic evening or just a spot to just relax over dinner.
  5. Kukulcan Plaza. Located a little further up from La Isla Shopping Village, Kukulcan Plaza has a number of luxury brand shops and an area called Luxury Avenue. Whether you are looking for a Tiffany ring or just a quick bite to eat, Kukulcan has a variety of stores to explore. Want to purchase Harley Davidson t-shirts? Are you looking for a silk scarf with Mexican motifs? Whatever you are looking for, you can find a fancy item to commemorate your visit to the Caribbean waters.
  6. Party Center. There is a spot on the Hotel Zone called the Party Center where you can find a variety of nightclubs as well as restaurants of all sorts. If you are into dancing and nightlife, you can find your perfect spot here. Remember to assign a designated driver out of the group and have a wild night.
  7. Isla Mujeres. In case you feel like a little jaunt, why not take the ferry across the sea to Isla Mujeres? This small island has a variety of food options as well as the comfortable distance that allows for the use of a golf cart to putter around in. Drive around the island, park by the beach, have a lovely lunch with a view and then hop back on the ferry for some more fun back in Cancun. What could be more enticing?

There is much more, when it comes to Cancun so explore and have a fabulous day trip.

Overlooked Things To Pack For Mexico

So, you're finally able to take that trip to Mexico you've been planning for the last few years? 

You've already squared away your time away with the old 9-5, planned a two page itinerary of activities, and grabbed a good paperback. You've even brushed up on a few Spanish phrases to toss around while out and about. All that is left to do is find a margarita and a place by the pool, right? Well, not quite...that is unless you don't mind forgetting some easily overlooked things to pack for Mexico.

There's still the matter of packing everything you'll need to make the most of your vacation.

So, what should you bring as you head out to soak up the sun and sip a cerveza or two?
We're glad you asked.
To help you out, we've crafted this handy go-to guide for all the most overlooked things to pack for Mexico!

Can't Forget The Most Important Thing...

This first one might seem as a given but is probably the most important thing you'll need to remember.
We're talking about yours and your family's passports.

Nothing can quite ruin a vacation like stopping it before it ever has a chance to leave the runway.
So, be sure to store all the passports in your carry-on the night before to avoid any last minute searches. Doing this will help you avoid what can be a very expensive lapse in memory.

Better To Pack Than Be Caught Unprepared...

While no one really expects to get hurt or sick during their vacation, it does happen sometimes. Though, if you pack a few quick and easy remedies to the most common ailments, the fun never needs to stop.

And while you don't need to bring your entire medicine cabinet, there are a few things you should bring along.

  • Anti-diarrheal medications -  It's no fun to catch Montezuma's revenge while trying to make the most of your vacation. But that said, it can happen. So, to avoid any unforeseen, food-borne fun-killers, pack a small travel bottle of immodium for those just in case moments.
  • Superglue - No, this isn't for a spur of the moment scrapbooking session. Instead, superglue can be used as a quick suture in the event that a slip and fall ends in some split skin. Of course, this shouldn't replace medical care in the event of an emergency. It is simply for those times when an emergency room might be a little further than you'd like.
  • Hydration tablets - Let's be honest, hangovers are the worst. And though they can be avoided with a few easy-to-follow drinking habits, sometimes they still strike.
    Don't worry, it happens to the best of us.
    But to make sure you're back on your feet and enjoying your vacation, bring a pack of these along. They provide an easy way to rehydrate, helping alleviate the worst of a hangover, while still being easy on the stomach.
  • Anti-nausea medication - Between you and your dream vacation, there is quite a bit of miles. And with all that travel, sometimes you might experience motion sickness along the way.  For those moments, these little guys will save the day.
    So, pack a few and your stomach as well as your seat mates will thank you later.

 

Sensible Yet Stylish...

When loading up your suitcase, it can be easy to overlook all those timesin which you won't be poolside.
And while, hopefully, your trip sees you in your swimwear with a coconut at the ready. Sometimes you might want to venture beyond the poolside cabana for a bit of exploration.

So, it's best to pack accordingly, bringing along some outfits that might be better suited to strolling than swimming.
Though, when packing your outfits, keep in mind the area in which you might be staying. Sure, there will be plenty of opportunities for fun in the sun, but keep in mind, temperatures do dip. And when the mercury drops, it's best to be prepared.
Of course, I'm sure an impromptu beach-towel-poncho might be one way of beating the colder weather.

Jokes aside, bring along a jacket, some closed shoes, and maybe even some hiking boots if you're feeling adventurous.

 

Can't Forget To Stay Plugged In...

If you don't mind getting gouged by the airport or your resort, you can go ahead and skip this one.
Though, if you prefer to not have to shell out that extra fun money, this one's for you.

While packing for your trip to Mexico, try not to overlook packing your gadgets' chargers!

Though it might seem like a nice idea to disconnect from the world around you for a bit. It's better to always have the option of plugging back into the grid. Especially if you ever find yourself wandering around some unfamiliar streets.  Mexico power outlets are the same as US, so your standard equipment will work, but only if you take it. 

Since we are the topic, might as well remember to pack an extra power pack, just to be certain you're never caught with a dead battery.

Last But Not Least, The Final Thing To Pack For Mexico...

Most importantly, when going over your list of things to pack for Mexico, you can't forget your sense of exploration.
Mexico is a vibrant country filled with amazing folks that carry a lively culture, one that celebrates finding wonder in the details.

So, bring along your willingness to get out there and explore all that the country has to offer.
Whether it's strolls through open air marketplaces or diving into a new cuisine, every experience is just waiting to be had.

Well, since you know everything you need to pack for Mexico, the last thing to do is simply go!
If you'd like to see all that Mexico has offer, Mayan Rental is offering seasonal discounts for the upcoming months. Stop by our seasonal deals page to find the perfect place to experience all there is to be found! There are still Holy Week and Easter Week options left.

Hopefully we have reminded you of things overlooked to pack for Mexico

Top 9 Pitfalls of Timeshare Rental Vacations

How To Avoid Timeshare Rental PitfallsPitfalls graphic

Renting a timeshare is a great way to get a fabulous suite for a great price.   However there are scams out there that you need to avoid.    In this post we will tell you about the most common issues. 

Of course if you don’t want to read all this you can simply rent from us at MayanRental.  But read on  to learn the top 8 pitfalls to avoid.

#1 They may not have the week they are advertising. 

Individual timeshare owners may advertise the resort , but they may not be able to get the week you need.  Often it is necessary to pay for and reserve a specific week in advance.  The busy weeks book up sometime months in advance.   So when you decide to book, everything is full and they cannot get them.  That is why we book all the busy weeks in advance, so we have them when you need them.  

#2 It Could Be A Scam

 

While most timeshare rentals are totally legitimate,  there are some dishonest people in this world.   Trying to rent out things they don’t have .     See items 3, 4 and 5 below for ways to  recognize the most common scams and how to avoid them.  

 

#3 If THEY call YOU …. Run !

Legitimate rentals won’t cold call you and offer you a rental deal.  Don’t even think of renting from someone who initiates the call without you contacting them first.  

#4 Just Say No !  To wire transfers, money orders, and money packs. 

If any rental agents want you to pay with a non-trackable method like wire transfers, money orders, and money packs....Run like the wind.   While a few individual owners cannot take credit cards or Paypal, it is not worth the risk.  The only exception is if you know someone who has already rented with the same people successfully.

#5 Too Good To Be True

Some nefarious people will take steal the information from advertisements and reproduce them on Craigslist or Ebay.  One common clue is a fantastic price that is too good to be true.  If you are thinking “there must be a catch”,  there very likely IS a catch.

#6  RCI and II2 rentals.

Always ask if this is an RCI or II2 week . If they exchanged their timeshare through an exchange program, they are forbidden to rent them. Be careful.   Just to assure you,  we at MayanRental never rent out RCI or other exchange weeks.

#7 Terminology

This is not a scam.  It is just a common terminology confusion.    Some resorts call a big hotel room a studio.  It may or may not have a kitchen.  Some advertisers call a studio a one bedroom.   So the solution is to be sure to ask  for an exact description.  Ask if there is a separate living area.  Ask if there is a kitchen.    With MayanRental, we do call a big hotel room a studio like Vidanta resort lists them, even though it doesn’t have a kitchen.  The exceptions  are the high end Luxxe Villa studio and the Loft studio .  The Luxxe villa studio has a microwave, a fridge and a sink, but no stove.  This is the best deal on the resort.  It is like a small one bedroom suite for a good price.   The loft studios have a cook top in addition to the fridge, microwave and fridge.  

#8  Mandatory Feesfees

Some legitimate timeshare rentals have a catch.   They have a good rental price, but there is a required all inclusive fee that is charged PER PERSON.   That can make the total price much more expensive and will trap you on the resort.  Some resorts also add a resort fee, so ask about that as well.  

#9  The Dreaded Timeshare Presentation  

This is another version of the "If it seems too good to be true...."  problem  Some rentals with great rates require that you attend a timeshare presentation.  If you are thinking of buying a timeshare, this might be ok.   But be aware.  The 2 hour presentation can stretch into several hours of high pressure sales.  Just do an honest self assessment before committing.  Our rentals do NOT require a timeshare presentation, but the resort will certainly offer you incentives once you arrive.   Your participation it completely up to you.  

In Conclusion

Timeshare rentals are a great way to vacation.  Now you are an informed consumer.  

 

Vidanta App- Happiness At Your Fingertips

Happiness at your fingertips is the tagline for the new Vidanta mobile app for Apple and Android. Vidanta App Ok, so  our friends at Vidanta resorts tend to exaggerate a bit.  However,  the Vidanta app definitely can help make your vacation smoother , easier and yes, perhaps a bit happier.

You  can get the app at the Apple App store or the Google play store for androids.   You start by choosing the Vidanta location.   Currently you can choose, Nuevo Vallarta, Riviera Maya ,  Acapulco and even Puerto Penasco.   Let’s walk through useful things you will find.

When you open a location,  the first you thing you see is “Events and Activities” and “Dining Locations” .   don’t miss the menu items at the bottom.  There is a link to an interactive map,  another Dining link that is the same as the “Dining Locations” icon at the top,  a “Me” menu item to customize the app for yourself and finally  “Info”.  Let’s explore each area of the app.

Vidanta Resort Activites

Events and Activities

 

This section is a great way to find kids activities, special events at restaurants , tours, and  live entertainment around the resort.  You can directly add events right to your phones calendar.  Nice !    So what would you like to do this week?   Attend the VIP movie night,  go on a culinary tour,  watch an acrobatic live performance, learn how to make cocktails,  or any of literally dozens of other options.  This app is definitely a lot more fun and useful than paging through the resort brochure.  It also includes all the resort locations (Grand Mayan, Grand Luxxe etc)   in one place.  Very handy. 

 

vidanta restaurants

 

Dining Locations

The Vidanta resorts have a myriad of restaurants and it can get confusing.   This section of the app solves that problem by listing all the restaurants on the resort AND the complete menus of every restaurant on the resort.  Each restaurant listing gives you hours, food type, dress code and a rough estimate how expensive.    Here is an important note:   They don’t mention that most of the restaurants have one designated day per week  that they are closed.  So do be careful to phone ahead before heading out to a restaurant on the other side of the resort.   

Vidanta Resort Map

 

Map

The map tab gives you a very useful zoom-able map of the resort.  It has icons that filter to show buildings,  swimming pools,  restaurants and bars. 

 

 

 

Info TabInfo Tab on Vidanta App

The Info tab has the answers to many of the common questions that you will have while planning your trip and throughout your stay.

Pretrip Info

For information before your trip, the info tab has a weather section,  airport pickup information, Golf course and even wedding and event services.   

During Vacation Info

Once you are on the resort, you can find information on Laundry Services, Concierge, Resort transportation,  things to do in the area and lots more.   It's all on the info tab

So What Are You Waiting For?

To find your app enhanced vacation,  check out Ready to Book weeks  or Request exactly what you want.

Best Destinations to Dive in Mexico

Mexico attracts divers from across the globe annually. Thanks to its incredible geographical location there are a wealth of different dive spots on the Pacific coast as well as the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. It’s size, also means that you are able to find somewhere to dive any month of the year and wildlife sightings here have included mantas, sharks, whales, turtles, dolphins and more. Here are just a few of our favorite spots:

Banco Chinchorro

The Banco Chinchorro is probably one of the most remote dive sites in Mexico, which is what makes it so great. It’s a beautiful coral atoll spans 800 square kilometers and is located right on the border of Mexico and Belize. It’s also a protected biosphere reserve and access to the site requires a permit from the federal government. The main attractions to this site are the pristine visibility alongside its abundance of marine life. Oh, and there are crocodiles too! It’s a popular spot for wreck diving too thanks to the 200 or more wrecks that have happened in the area since the 16th century.

Cenotes

One of the most unique diving experiences you can have in Mexico is diving the cenotes.

The Riviera Maya has an abundance of these underwater caverns and caves that are just begging to be explored, around 3,000 to be exact. Stalagmites and stalactites litter these underwater gems and the incredible light that enters them is filtered by the limestone rock creating a mesmerizing environment.

[arve url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMZvNNs_leQ" title="Cenote Diving" /]

Some of the sinkholes in the region are just designed for swimming, but the likes of the Dos Ojos (Two Eyes), which stretches a whopping 51 miles, is an ideal diving spot. Though only around 30ft in depth, this particular dive is for those with more of an intermediate to advanced level and a few dives under their belt.

Another iconic cenote dive has to be the Tajma Ha, which, slightly deeper at 40ft, offers an incredible opportunity to see vast numbers of fossils in the walls and ceiling of the cenote. Diving here at the right time of day/year means you get to witness a spectacular sunbeam penetrate the water which pierces through the center of the cenote.

The Boiler, San Benedicto

If impressive marine life is your go-to when diving then you’d be daft to miss The Boiler, located in the Revillagigedo Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’re likely to spot, humpback whales, huge mantas and even hammerhead sharks. As this spot is 240 off the coast of the Baja Peninsula, a live aboard trip is essential, and it is only recommended for advanced divers.  

The Great Mayan Barrier Reef

The Great Mayan Barrier Reef is located on Cozumel island off the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It is the world’s second largest reef system and its unique geology means that there’s an abundance of aquatic life that come here to ride the nutrient laden currents.  On a good day, visibility here can stretch up to 200 feet and its warm and shallow waters make it ideal for beginner divers! Nurse sharks, Eagle rays and tropical fish all litter the area. You’re sure to find Nemo in this dive spot!

Essential Items for Your Diving Adventure

The great thing for beginners is that if you go diving with a school, you will be provided with all the gear you need. Most tours have 2 or 3 dives in a day and provide you with oxygen tanks, buoyancy aids and weights, snorkels, flippers and masks. We would definitely recommend however bringing some sort of underwater action camera like a Go-Pro.

More experienced divers may choose to take their own gear and if you have a dive computer, they always come in handy, though the guides usually carry them so that you can log your dives accurately.

Useful Resources

https://travel.padi.com/d/mexico/ - PADI has a range of information including which sites to dive during which month. You can also check out which local dive schools are in your area, so you can book a trip or even get certified as an open water or advanced diver.

https://www.girlsthatscuba.com – These girls are experts in diving and have a wealth of tips and suggestions for the best diving in Mexico.

Authentic Maya Heritage: The Essential Guide

Maya heritage is both equally diverse and interesting. The Maya were a civilization that spent several centuries calling Mesoamerica home. They built incredible structures and had many interesting beliefs and rituals. Here are just a few of the most interesting things we can associate with the Mayans.  

Xcaret Archaeological Sites

Xcaret (little inlet) is located on the Caribbean side of the Yucatan. Back in its heyday Xcaret was a central port and a hub for Mayan trade during the Post-Classic (1400-1550AD) period. This small inlet provided a natural shelter from the rough seas to traders who would deliver honey, copal, gold ornaments, and even jade to local people. After the remains of 135 humans were discovered at Xcaret by archaeologist Maria Jose. Scientists were able to analyze their DNA and discovered that their lineages were associated with more modern Mayan people and Native Mesoamericans in the Yucatan Peninsula rather than the ancient Mayans.

Xcaret was known to be a center of energy amongst the Mayan people.  Here, they would cleanse their bodies in the sacred sinkhole before embarking on journeys to Cozumel, where they would worship the Goddess of Fertility, Ixmel.

The ruins that cover the Xcaret archeological site date back as far as 200AD.Though many are that of the Post-Classic era, tourists can visit the archeological ruins, but many sites are located within a privately-owned tourist complex, Xcaret Park.

The site is built in a typical Mayan way. Because this was a coastal town, the buildings on the coast faced outward to sea they could keep an eye out for any potential attackers. The whole town was also built inside a defensive wall.

There are many suggestions that Xcaret was a major important political hub. This is because archaeologists have found evidence of marriages between P’ole rulers and inhabitants of Cozumel that appeared to be politically motivated.

Templo Mayor

Located in what is now Mexico City, the Templo Mayor (Greater Temple) is another Post-Classic period ruin. For many hundreds of years, the Templo remained lost in time after the Spanish covered it and built their own colonial city post-invasion.

Ruines Of Templo Mayor

Some of the temples were unearthed in the early 20th century along with several other sections over the coming years. However, it wasn’t until 1978 when an electrical company hit a large disc depicting Coyolxauhqui that it was decided that the full area should be excavated.

The Museo del Templo Mayor is a museum dedicated to such findings and hosts an incredible collection of Aztec artifacts, all unearthed in and around the area of the Templo Mayor they are open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm.

Founded in 1987 the museum houses some of the greatest collections found at the excavation site giving us a true insight into Aztec history. The museum is split over three floors and eight exhibits. All with a dedicated room (sala).

Room 1 is dedicated to the archeological background of Mexico City and you can find artifacts from the end of the colonial area including the basalt head of Xoloti, the Cuahxicalli Eagle as well as recent findings from the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Room 2 is all about rituals and sacrifice, many sacrificial objects are on display here and there’s a wealth of information about said rituals and even a dark insight into self-sacrifice.

Room 3 is dedicated to the commercial trades of these Maya people while room 4 is dedicated to the God of war, Huitzilopochtli.

The fifth room is all about the God Tlaloc and the 6th has an abundance of information on flora and fauna (see below) in the area.

Room 7 is dedicated to agriculture and the 8th and final room is all about the historical archaeology, artifacts found at the Templo Mayor and the connection between the post-classic people and the Spanish, post-war.

The Lacandon People

The Lacandon jungle is a rainforest which stretches from Chiapas to Guatemala and the Lacandon people are the people who live there. They are said to be one of most isolated native Mexican people, which they have said to have done on purpose, in order to preserve their traditions. They originated from the Campeche and Peten regions of Guatemala and Mexico and their religious practices have shifted incredible amounts through the ages, especially since their contact with the outside world.

Today there are only 650 speakers of their native language, which may seem minimal, but the numbers are actually on the rise after it nearly became extinct in 1943.  

The first contact with the Lacandon was made in the 18th century, they were thought to be direct descendants of the ancient Maya due to incredible similarities in their dress and their physical appearance, however, this was later debunked, and they’re actually associated with more contemporary Maya people.

Over the last 30 years, the Lacandon people have become more exposed to the outside world. In 1971 the Mexican government gave back 641 acres of stolen land to the Lacandon people and through that, they entered a trade deal over timber. However, this resulted in new roads being built, communities being developed close by to them and have caused deforestation and destruction of their native homes.

Mayan Astrology

The Mayan Calendar

Mayan people are known to be very connected to the skies and their calendar. Many Mayan artifacts and ruins signify this.

The Mayan calendar is made up of 260 calendar days in a year which is split into 20-day signs and 13 galactic numbers. Each individual person has their own day sign as well as galactic number. They represent a number of different personality traits that Mayan people believe to be incredibly accurate. You can take a look at your Mayan signs here.

Flora and Fauna

Mesoamerica has an abundance of flora and fauna unique to the area and Mayan people used them for everything from foods to medicine.

Tropical fruits such as papaya and passionfruit are commonplace in the are common in Yucatan as are mangos, avocado, and plantain. Maize was very important to the Mayan people as they associated it with the creation of human life.

As Mayan people were well known for their use of holistic rituals and healing ceremonies, they had a great connection to many of their local plants and trees.

Kapok was known as the most sacred, producing a cotton-like flower, they associated this tree with a connection of energy that linked the earth, underworld and the cosmos together.

The resin of the Copal tree was used by Mayan people for incense and Baalche was fermented and combined with honey to create a sacred drink. They even use the extract of the Trumpet tree as an effective treatment against type two diabetes.

Discovering Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan was a religious city center located in the Mexican Highlands which saw mass construction and development from AD1 – 200. In the two preceding centuries, very little was known about this place yet during the mass growth phase in the Tzacualli and Miccaotli era the city expanded to a radius of 20sq km with around 60,000-80,000 people calling it home. Teotihuacan was the sixth largest city in the world during its period of greatest prosperity, according to an estimated population of 125,000.

Developments were said to be due to population movements between regions, increase in agricultural and technological inventions and belief systems that were very appealing to residents at the time. By the 4th century AD, Teotihuacan influences were said to have spread across the whole of Mesoamerica. During its most prosperous time Teotihuacan was said to have been the 6th largest city in the world and boasted a population of around 125,000 people. An interesting part of the topography of Teotihuacan was the fact that it had no outer city walls like many other towns and cities of this era.

The Avenue of the dead (see below) was the main road of Teotihuacan, extending for over 2km in the heart of the city. Over 2,000 high walled compounds were said to be built in there, according to the Teotihuacan Mapping Project. The primary pyramid of the city, the Sun Pyramid, lies in the northern section of the Avenue of the Dead and faces West (where the sun sets) and the Moon Pyramid is situated at the very north of the avenue.

Avenue-of-the-Dead

Avenue of the Dead

The southern section for the Avenue was home to the Great Compound and Ciudadela, a large closed off area which was said to be used for the performance of rituals. It is where the Feathered Serpent Pyramid is located (the third largest pyramid in Teotihuacan).

Despite its huge prosperity and size, suddenly, at some point during the 7th century, the empire appeared to completely crumble and Teotihuacan was no more…

Avenue of the Dead

As we mentioned before, the Avenue of the Dead was the heart of the city, kind of an ancient Las Ramblas type street. It begins in the North at the Pyramid of the Moon and extends all the way past the Ciudadela in the southern part of the city. Some researchers believed it actually extended even further. All the way up to the mountains that bordered this once booming metropolis.

When you visit the city, you can definitely appreciate the planning that went into the city layout, as with any Mesoamerican complex. The Avenue of the dead splits the city exactly in half with several pyramids and other complexes on each side. The complexes are usually symmetrical on each side of the avenue and face the same way for continuity. The width of the avenue changes throughout the length of the road and ranges from 40 meters to 95 meters at different points along the way.

The densest part of the avenue is the north section from the Pyramid of the Moon to the point where the San Juan River perpendicularly crosses. The avenue is lined on either side with talud-tablero style platforms. The residential areas on either side of these are accessed by stairs with balustrades. There’s even a channel located underneath the avenue too, which gathered rainwater from the buildings and drained it back into the river.

The Ciudadela

The Ciudadela is a huge enclosure measuring in at 160,000m² and was at the heart of the city. In the city’s most prosperous point it is expected that 100,000 people would descend on this plaza at any given time to watch ritual performances.

The interior has 4 large platforms each mounted with its own pyramid; the Feathered Serpent Pyramid being the main highlight. Though it was once the most iconic pyramid in the area, it later was partially obstructed by the Adodasa platform, and people standing in the main plaza could no longer see it.

The Sun Pyramid

The-Pyramid-of-the-Sun

The Pyramid of the Sun

On the East side of the Northern part of the Avenue of the Dead lies the Sun Pyramid. You can climb the 200 stairs to the top of this for some great views over the Teotihuacan.

The pyramid was originally built with a base of 215m x 215m and a height of 63m, but the sides were later extended on two occasions to 225m. It is geographically placed in the center of the main constructed area between the San Juan River and the Pyramid of the Moon and even has a cave located underneath it; a signal of its importance.

Pyramid of the Moon

Pyramid-of-the-Moon

Pyramid of the Moon


The Moon Pyramid is located at the far north of the Avenue of the Dead, it faces south and was the primary monument of the whole complex. It is perfectly aligned with the mountain behind it, Cerro Gordo, meaning that when standing in a specific spot on the central axis of the avenue, the tip of the mountain and the tip of the pyramid meet perfectly.

Though you can only climb ¼ of this huge monolith, it still offers incredible views of the entire Avenue of the Dead and the temples that surround it.

[arve url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PibnTBi1rrQ" title="The Pyramids at Teotihuacan" /]

Top Tips for Visiting Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan is an easy bus ride from Mexico City, so you can choose to either go on an arranged tour or do it yourself. A half day is the perfect amount of time to really take in everything it has to offer, at a leisurely pace.

A roundtrip ticket on the bus from the main station costs $5 USD return and they depart every 20 minutes. If you go with this option, we recommend getting the 8am bus so you arrive with plenty of time for the 9am opening. Also, the tour buses don’t show up until around 10:30am, so it gives you a bit of time to roam the ruins with less of a crowd.

Entry to the site costs $3.50 USD per person and there are guides there that are available to show you around if you wish as most of the signs at the site are in Spanish. Depending on your bartering skills, you won’t pay more than $40 USD for your private guide. Food stalls are also available on site in case you get peckish.

A Dozen Mexico Photo Galleries

We have been exploring the Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Maya areas for years and FINALLY got our photo galleries el castillo chichen itzauploaded!!   We have 8 galleries in Riviera Maya area and 4 galleries in the Puerto Vallarta area with San Sebastian thrown in for fun.  We posted them on our Randomtravel.org   blog post .   

Just explore the menu.   Don't get distracted by  photos and blog posts from New Zealand or our recent  Israel and Jordan.   Oh fine,   Here are  some links to make navigation easy..

Riviera Maya Photo Galleries

Puerto Vallarta Photo Galleries

 Here are a few other great photos from around the world

 

A Guide to the Best Yucatan Travel Destinations - Cenotes, Merida, Uxmal

The Yucatan is one of the most popular tourist hotspots in Mexico attracting millions of visitors per year. But what is it that makes this area so great? This article will guide you through Yucatan’s most exciting destinations from ecotourism gems such as the cenotes to cultural tourist attractions like the Chichen Itza which gives us an insight into infamous Mayan history.

Ecotourism Attractions

Ecotourism is an increasingly popular activity and it’s no surprise, some of the world’s most precious attractions lie in the beauty and biodiversity of mother nature. Here are some must-do ecotourism attractions in the Yucatan.

Cenotes

cenotes

Cenotes (pronounced like say-NOH-tays) are the natural highlight of the Yucatan. There are over 3000 cenotes in the Yucatan region alone, with more than 50% of these not yet studied. Originally named Dzonot by the Maya, the Spanish who later conquered the region translated this word into Cenote which means ‘deep thing’. Stalagmites and stalactites that form here add to the magnificence of these limestone caverns by filtering the light that enters them creating a truly magical experience. Here are the most popular Cenote destinations in the Yucatan:

Cuzama Cenotes

Cuzama is home to a vast number of Cenotes and one tour, in particular, will take you to three of them in one trip. Chelentun, Chansinic’che an Bolonchoojol are the highlights of this tour originating in the town center. A short 2-mile trail will lead you to vibrant blue, clear water surrounded by unique Stalactites and stalactites.

Cenote Zaci

Valladolid, located just 25 miles east of the Chichen Itza is home to Cenote Zaci, a semi-open cenote popular amongst tourists who want to take a quick dip in refreshing azul waters. It is 150 feet wide and 260 feet deep and is home to the “lub” fish, a rare black fish with no eyes. A walkway leads you around this entire cenote, a third of which is covered in stalactites and stalactites.

Cenote Ik Kil

Even closer to the Chichen Itza lies Cenote Ik Kil, just 1.8 miles away from the pyramid. This perfectly round cenote has a stairway leading down to its “sacred blue” waters which is ideal for swimming. It also boasts waterfalls and lush vegetation. There is an admission to this Cenote, 35 Mexican pesos and it is open from 8 am to 6 pm daily.

Cenotillo

cenotes2

Cenotillo is a small town located just over 100km east of Merida and 63km northwest of Valladolid making it the perfect side trip from the Chichen Itza. The village gets its name from the incredibly large concentration of cenotes in this area. Locals report that there are over 150 cenotes in this municipality and locals are at hand to take you to whichever you choose. The most popular however are Xayin, Ucil and Kaipech.

Cenote Xcalah

This ground level cenote is another great spot to swim and is located on the Mayan site of Dziblichaltun north of Merida. The cenote reaches a depth of more than 140 feet at one end and is a popular spot for divers. It is open daily from 8am to 4pm and provides a refreshing respite after a day exploring Mayan ruins.

Cenote Dzinup

Another cenote with close proximity to Valladolid, cenote Dzinup is probably one of the most photographed cenotes in the whole region. This dark and deep cenote is lit up and has guide rope to help you get around. Swimming here is spectacular, be sure to take a tripod so you can snap a long exposure here, it’s the only way your photo will give this place justice. Or, you can grab a postcard from a local seller at the entrance.

Kankirixche Cenote

Kankirixche translates as the ‘tree with yellow fruit’ which comes from the cenote’s unique features. The stalactites and tree roots from the Alamo trees create a rather impressive spectacle. This semi-open cenote provides excellent swimming opportunities in the waters that are 33 feet deep, 90 feet long and 75 feet wide.

Celestun

pink-flamingos

Celestun is a small and modest fishing village located around 60 miles southwest of Merida. It’s very easily accessible by both car and bus (31 pesos). It is most famous for its abundance of pink flamingos that reside here between March and August. They are most active during this period as they leave their nests to feed on the plankton in the Ria Lagartos. If flamingos aren’t your thing, Celestun also as an abundance of other attractions; tours through the mangroves by small boat, crystal clear freshwater springs which are for great swimming or you can just kick back and relax at the beach for a couple of days and bask in a haven of biodiversity nestled in the peninsula’s protected southern curve.

Cultural Tourism Attractions

cultural-attractions-mexico

The Yucatan’s cultural attractions are second to none; the rich Maya history plays an important role in today’s tourism here. Here are some of our highlights.

Merida

The capital of the Yucatan has a lot of bang for its buck. Be sure to take a break from lazy days at the beach to explore what this cultural jewel has to offer. The Gran Museo del Mundo Maya is a great way to begin your stay. It provides you with the perfect introduction to the Mayan culture as well as their history and incredible architecture, a must if you plan on going to any ruins in the area. The building is modern and alongside its many exhibits also has an incredible ‘Mayamax’ room for showcasing films and short documentaries. You can even hire the space out for private use.

The Paseo de Montejo is also not to be missed. Take an hour or two out of your day to wander down this avenue and take a step back in time. Gaze in awe at the fabulous architecture before doing a spot of shopping in one of its many boutiques and grabbing a local bite to eat in one of the restaurants.

Where to Eat

taco

No stop in Merida is complete without a trip to Wayan’e. They have over 40 types of tacos to choose from but be sure to head there before noon or the locals will have taken the best!

You also have to try a marquesita. A combination of sweet and savory in one that actually works! The traditional style comes with cheese and cajeta. Stop by one of the street food vendors to grab this delicious treat.

Where to stay

For those on a budget or that love the backpacking vibe, Nomadas is an awesome hostel which has free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, a pool, parking, and even a steam room if you want to destress after a long day of traveling.

Uxmal

Mayan for ‘built three times’ Uxmal is a world heritage site and shrouded in beauty. It is located 50 miles southwest of Merida and you’re best planning to spend at least half a day there to truly appreciate it. It has a rich history dating back to the 7th century and was a popular metropolitan hub until 10th century AD. This 300-year span is reflected in the diverse architecture of the ruins, which has been excellently preserved and restored.

One of the highlights and ‘must-see’ attractions of Uxmal is the House of the Magician. Standing at 100 feet tall it is the highest building there and is perfectly situated so that the western staircase faces the sunset on the day of the summer solstice.

Other interesting buildings here include the House of Turtles which is swimming with turtle sculptures, said to signify rain. The Governor’s Palace is also noteworthy, it is a fine example of stone mosaic masonry and likely took hundreds of people to build it. The ‘nunnery’ as the Spaniards called it, is also an impressive structure and is thought to have been a training school for many including shamans, priests, astrologers and healers.  

Uxmal is open daily from 8am to 5pm.

uxmal

Chichen Itza

One of the new 7 wonders of the world, the Chichen Itza is the most famous Mayan site attracting thousands of  tourists each year. This historic site is over 1,500 years old and the site itself is divided into three distinct sections; The southern part, known as “The Old Chichen”, the central group which is believed to be from an early Maya period and the northern group, which is Toltec in style.

chichen-itza

Valladolid

Valladolid is a stunning small town located in between Merida and Cancun and is about 25 miles east of the Chichen Itza. Colonial buildings and traditional Mayan dress code are what makes this town so unique and a must for your Yucatan bucket list. The plaza is graced with local Mayan ladies selling eloquently hand-embroided dresses and other wares opposite the main cathedral. It is doused in Yucatan history; being the starting point of the Caste War in 1849. Take your time in this quaint town and spend two nights exploring its 7 churches, two cenotes and flavorful cuisine. We recommend trying lomitos de Valladolid, chicken escabeche and loganiza for a real taste of this delightful town.

Izamal

The beautiful yellow town of Izamal is our final destination that you have to see on your Yucatan adventure. Why did we describe it as yellow? Well, because it is. The entire town is painted yellow, from the market to the colonial buildings to… everything. Located around 40 minutes outside Cancun, this town was an early Mayan settlement and was said to be built to worship the Mayan God Itzamna. It is known as the town of three cultures as you can clearly see identify the three cultural influences on the town; the Maya, the colonial and of course the hustle and bustle of modern day Izamal. Be sure to stay here at least one night so you can catch the evening show of light and sound named “Izamal Ciudad Luz”. Named one of CNN’s most beautiful small towns in Mexico, Izamal is a sight not to be missed.

12 Pro Tips for Visiting Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park

Chankanaab (Mayan for ‘small sea’) Beach Adventure Park is located in the Marine National Park of Cozumel, 45 minutes off coast of the Rivera Maya. It is open Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 4 pm but the closing time is definitely flexible, especially if it’s a busy day with lots of cruise ships docked.  Ranked #7 in the top things to do in Cozumel, here’s all you need to know to ensure you make the most of your Cozumel adventure.

chankanaab-beach-adventure-park

Plan Your Route

Access is very easy for those coming from the Riviera Maya or Cancun. Hourly ferries depart Playa del Carmen every day and the ride takes around 45 minutes. Adults cost $12.50 USD and kids’ tickets are $6.25.

Once the ferry docks on Cozumel, the easiest way to get to Chankanaab is by taxi. It is a 4-mile ride and costs between $8-12 USD for 4 people.

For those already on cruise ships, you will directly dock on Cozumel Island. You can then take the taxi as noted above to get to Chankanaab.

Get some Pesos!

Though a lot of the tours that you can pre-pay for are priced in USD, be sure to take some pesos for the time you’re on the island, the rate is way more favourable than USD.

Think About Your Budget

The great thing about Chankanaab is that it caters to any budget, there are a bunch of paid and free activities to do here, more on which we have below. As well as this, there are also a bunch of services and facilities which are available at the park. Included in your ticket price you get access to: chairs, palapas, hammocks, loungers, parasols, restrooms and showers, life jackets and free parking. Paid amenities include restaurants, snack bars, spas, the tequileria, snorkel rental and lockers.

Unleash Your Adventurous Side

Fancy a bit of an adrenaline rush? The Chankanaab Zipline is waiting for you. They also offer tubing and laser tag. Prices for Zipline only start at $70 USD for adults and $58.50 for children. The kids’ ticket includes rock climbing, snorkel gear rental and the Sea Lion Show. Not into ziplining? Chankanaab also offers other adventurous excursions such as scuba diving ($72.50 USD) and parasailing ($58.50 USD)

Dolphin Discovery

One of the popular highlights of the island is the Dolphin Discovery. Prices start at $96 USD and include your park entry, so if you’re planning on going here, we recommend buying beforehand and that way your park entry fee will be waved saving you $21 bucks.

Hire a Boat and Spend the Day Fishing

Charters start from $350 USD and during the summer you can expect to catch marlin, sailfish, tuna and mahi mahi.

Hit up Some Mayan Ruins and Stroll the Botanic Gardens  

Chankanaab’s botanical gardens are home to more than 350 species of plant which are common throughout the island. Take some time out of the sun for a lazy shaded stroll through this free garden. Dotted along the route are some Mayan ruin replicas which are sure to keep the kids entertained.

See the Crocodiles

Chankanaab Park is home to a small crocodile park located just by the botanic gardens. There are two exhibits, one with the smaller crocs and the other has the adult crocs who spend their days basking in the hot sun. The exhibition is included in the ticket price.

Snorkelling

For those of you who love a good swim and want to get close to some wild marine life, Chakanaab offers great snorkelling. There are even statues at the seabed which are fun to check out. Your snorkelling can be free or paid dependent on how you do it. If you bring your own snorkel gear you can jump right in. Otherwise rental is available with ticket purchase for an additional $16 USD which includes your snorkel, goggles, flippers and a t-shirt. Alternatively, there are snorkel tours available starting at $26 USD.

Beach Bums Should Arrive Early

If you want to just engross yourself in the island vibe and spend a day chilling at the beach – arrive early! Before 11am if you’re not on a cruise, it’s the best way to snag yourself a good spot. There’re some great hammocks on the beach too which is the perfect spot to read a book and sip on a cocktail.

Take a Kayaking Tour

There are few things in life more tranquil than paddling on Caribbean waters. Jump into a clear kayak for $20 and go exploring in the nearby reef.

Don’t Forget to Eat

Chankanaab offers an AYCE buffet which works out as great value if you buy in advance as a package with the entry pass and snorkel package ($36). If all you can eat isn’t your thing there are also a couple of lunch spots on site serving fast food such as burgers, fries and chicken fingers, though we recommend grabbing a taco or feasting on some of the park’s homemade guacamole and chips at the beach.

John and Linda's RandomTravel Blog

Now that we have partners to help run the business,  John has had time to work on his RandomTravel Blog.   That means all the photos of places in Mexico that have been stored on computer for that last few years are finally in photo galleries.   

Also , we arrived in Israel today and hope to be publishing blog posts as we travel through Israel, Jordan and Greece  and photo galleries soon.  As one final bonus for those of you in the midwest, John has published his beer ratings on randomtrasel as well .  you can get it at beer.randomtravel.org 

Click on the banner below to go to the random travel blog.  Also, here is a link straight to the Mexico Photo Galleries

 

John and Linda Jamesons Random Travel Blog

Random Travel Blog

Chichen Itza - New Seven Wonders of the World

The Chichen Itza Day Trip

You really should not visit the Riviera Maya for vacation and NOT go to Chichen Itza, one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. The other ones, if you must know are The Great Wall of China,  the Taj Mahal in India,  the city of Petra in Jordan, the Colosseum in Rome, Machu Picchu in Peru and Christ the Redeemer in Rio.

chichen-itza

Chichen Itza History

The Mayan civilization was amazing for the sophistication and science and astronomic genius they brought to the world a couple of thousand years ago! The various cities and structures within the cities line up with astronomic events and markers. The size of the great pyramid (El Castillo) and other structures before the invention of mortar are amazing beyond all words. Chichen Itza rose to dominate the region at the end of the Early Classic period (roughly 600 AD). However, only towards the end of the Late Classic did the site became a major regional capital, centralizing and dominating political, power in the northern Maya lowlands.

chichen-itza-history

When building the Chichen Itza, the design and properties of it reflected the sophistication, intelligence, and relationship to their calendar and specific astronomical events that the Mayans had. For example, they built the pyramid with 365 stairs, each representing one day of the year, the four edges of the pyramid point in North, East, South, and West and on the autumnal and spring equinoxes the design of the stones are made to look like snakes slithering down the sides of the pyramid due to the shadow cast on it. The snakes are representative of the Mayan God, Kulkulkan, which the pyramid is also known as. It even has pretty amazing auditory properties and if you stand in just the right spots your cheers, claps and whistles will echo perfectly around the structure.

Chichen Itza in Modern Times

By the time the conquistadors arrived in the mid-1500s, the city had begun to fade, but it was still functioning city and was set up as a capital and later as a cattle ranching center.  It fell into disuse until the 1800s where it became an archeologic interest.  You can find a more detailed history and description at the History website.

Chichen Itza amazingly was privately owned until 2010 and is now owned by the state of Yucatan.

Getting to Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is now an easy 1 1/2 hour drive from Vidanta Riviera Maya. If you self drive, take the new toll road branch just north of Playa del Carmen. This ties into the toll road out of Cancun. Don't be fooled by the guys trying to flag you down before the entrance to the site. Alternatively, you can take a tour right from the resort.

Where to Stay

There are a bunch of great accommodation options available to you when visiting the Chichen Itza. You can choose to stay locally in a hotel close to the ruins and there are also a number of options in the nearby colonial town of Valladolid, situated 25 miles east of the historic site. Another, more popular option is to head over to stay in the coastal region of Riviera Maya. Seclude beaches await where you can enjoy the serenity of the Caribbean Sea, however, you are within a short distance of city amenities. The 5-star Vidanta Riviera Maya Resort is a no brainer for those of you wanting close proximity to Cancun and Playa del Carmen without the usual hustle and bustle of big tourist areas. Loft at Riviera Maya TerraceThe complex offers a wide array of rooms to suit everyone’s tastes and budgets, from small 1-2-bedroom family suites to the luxurious Spa Tower offering 2-3 bedrooms boasting incredible square footage and your own private plunge pool. Perfect for families and even couples who enjoy a little more privacy and space. Regardless of the room you choose, you will be equipped with a fully functioning kitchen for times when you want to take a break eating from the twelve onsite restaurants, access to a wealth of activities and entertainment and of course, full access to the four pools and Beach Club area.

Diverse Things to Do

Beyond the Chichen Itza, there is also a wealth of other diverse things to see and do in the area that aren’t to be missed. For the wildlife lovers amongst you, this area is host to some amazing birdlife and there are countless birdwatching opportunities available to tourists. If you’re looking for a relaxing day, you can head to the Yaxkin Spa for beauty treatments and rituals based around Mayan traditions. There are even cenotes, which is a perfect place to take a dip in the shade after a long day in the sun, it’s also a photographer’s dream. Finally, you can even attend several music, dance and theatre performances at Chichen Itza during the spring equinox (March 19-21), known as the Descendent of Kukulcan.

el castillo chichen itza        chichen itza observatory

Other Plans For Your Visit

It is an hour and half drive from most places in the Riviera Maya and not a lot interesting on the way. Take plenty of water, there isn't much shade. It will take you at least 2 or 3 hours to see the main features of the site. We have a video made by Abel, the guide that we used. He was knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor. We met him at the gate and he did a fantastic job. You should make sure you know much time your fee is buying you.  Our tour was only one and half hours. It was fabulous, but wish we had arranged for a bit more time. 2 or 2 1/2 hours would be better. He even taught us a cool new trick using the iPhone panorama feature. If you want to know how we did it, here is a link to the panorama trick with the iPhone. Notice that the four of us appear twice in the same photo!

chichen itza panorama trick

Finally, I have a video business card of our tour guide, who again,  we can recommend as entertaining and informative. In case you can't hear him on [email protected]. His phone number is +52 9851064757 and Instagram @pitzz4525.

[arve url="https://youtu.be/9OcpnZzioxI" title="Abel the guide for Chichen Itza" description="this is a video business card for Abel " /]

This should be enough info to get your interest and help you get there.  If you want to see a bunch of photos check out our Chichen Itza photo gallery in our personal travel blog. .  Enjoy Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World

Ten Things To Do on Vidanta Riviera Maya Resort

10 Things to do on Resort at Vidanta Riviera Maya

This post is just the tip of the iceberg. There are more like 100 things to do.  Check out the video or if you  are more of a reader, scroll down for a full description.  There is a schedule published with a variety of activities every week.  You can also get it by downloading the Vidanta App

[arve url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLSdMA9GBF4" title="Ten Things to Do on the Vidanta Riviera Maya Resort" description="Here are just Ten out of the dozens of things to Do on the Vidanta Riviera Maya Resort" mp4="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLSdMA9GBF4" /]

Beach Walking

There is probably 10 miles of pure white Caribbean beach to the north of the resort.  If you get in a groove and find yourself in Puerto Morelos,  have lunch and catch abeach volleyball cab back ! 

Beach Volleyball

 

There a dozens of activities organized by the resort.  It is common for a group to show up for volleyball and get a friendly game going.  It is a blast to play.  Heck, it’s fun just to watch.  I have to confess, the video clip is actually from Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta because my video of beach volley ball in Riviera Maya did not come out quite as cool. 

 

Pool Relaxing

Vidanta is the ultimate resort group in Mexico at making spectacular pools.  The ritual is to sit by the pool until you just a bit too hot to be comfortable,  go for a dip,  swim or cruise around,  climb out and sit in a lounge chair until you drip dry.  And…. REPEAT.

Dance Lessons

There are various dance lessons scheduled throughout the week.  You might have a chance to learn to Salsa, which seems mandatory when you’re in Mexico

Cirque du Soleil

cirque du Soleil Riviera MayaIt is amazing that there is a Cirque du Soleil in Mexico !    Click on our link to  read more, including the incredible Nektar bar with creative drinks you can’t get any where else on the resort and an attached restaurant.  We recommend the drink with mezcal and jalapeno.    Be sure to get the dinner with the show, the food is “Fantastico!”  It was the best meal we had the entire week.  And that’s saying a lot.  Oh and you may want to arrange tickets before you arrive on the resort.

 

 

Water Aerobics

There are water aerobics classes almost every day.  As you can see in the video , this activity tends to attract,   um……,  older folks.  There are also water stretching classes. 

Snorkeling

Ok, it isn’t exactly on the resort, but you can take snorkel boat trips right from the activities desk on the Vidanta Riviera Maya Resort.    We are huge snorkel fans and this trip is a pretty good trip and reasonably inexpensive. They also take scuba trips and you can a free introduction to scuba in the pools.   Again, just check with the activities kiosk on the beach.  We have an entire post on snorkelling in Riviera Maya

Luxxe –Bliss Beach Club

There is a new pool area with fun things like live music and other creative services running all the time.  You do have to be a Grand Luxxe or Grand Bliss guest to access the beach club.  To be honest, it is a bit tricky sometimes get a seat.  It is a very popular area.

Relaxing

Yes this is me !   There is an area in the jungle between the Luxxe pool and the beach.  There are hammocks and lounge chairs and it is my favorite spot on the resort. 

John Jameson in a Hammock

So what are the other things you can expect if you rent a week from MayanRental?  You can get a Spanish lesson,  do a variety of crafts,  get lessons making drinks,  do a botanical tour, join a bingo tournament,  play a fun game of blackjack.  The choices are almost endless

Top 4 Misconceptions about Mexico

"México is..."

We want to clear up some misconceptions about México that travelers often have...  Let's start with the top four.

México is one of those places that simply captivates you from the moment you step out of the airport terminal. It truly is an experience unto itself and never really ceases to surprise you.

Whether you enjoy taking in the rich culture while strolling down historic avenidas or soaking up some sun by the pool, México seems to have something for everyone.

Truly it really is like no other place.

That's what makes some of the stereotypes and misconceptions about México we often hear so disheartening. Not only are many of them untrue but they also keep people from fully embracing everything that México has to offer. Or even worse, those stereotypes and misconceptions keep people from visiting altogether.

And that's unfortunate as a lot of the things you may have heard, simply are gross exaggerations or even completely untrue.

So to give one of the countries I've learned to love, the proper chance it deserves, let's tackle the top four misconceptions about Mexico ... 

 

"México is dangerous and full of crime..."Misconceptions about Mexico Safe Mexican Marketplace

This has to be the most common misconception many people have regarding México. There is a bit of truth to it, some regions, yes are rife with local problems caused by cartels and locals do suffer.  However,  the danger to tourists has been overstated. For the most part life in México is much like life anywhere else. Yes, there are some rough neighborhoods, but I bet you'd be hard-pressed to find any large metropolitan area without some rough edges.

That said, the vast majority and especially the areas surrounding the resorts are full of friendly and welcoming faces. That would be the main trait of the people of México, they are always inviting and have a warm welcome for their guests.

The idea that México is very dangerous and rife with kidnappings is not the México I have come to know. Every one we know peop that vacation there, nothing but fond memories and amazing food await.

Though just like any other place in the world, exercising just a bit of caution will help you avoid any trouble at all.

If you still feel a bit apprehensive, it's understandable, reversing deeply ingrained stereotypes takes a little time. But by all means, know that you have very little to worry about. Though, if you still feel a bit worried go ahead a check out our last post about safety around the resorts. Or if it helps you, read these street-smart tips for traveling in Mexico.

 

"México is a third world country and rather undeveloped..." 

This misconception is probably the second most prevalent myth you'll come across. Like most misconceptions about México, there is a grain of truth, though that truth has been completely blown out of proportion. There are indeed areas that are underserved and struggling with poverty, but the same could be said about quite a few regions within the States as well.

The truth is...Misconceptions About Mexico Guadalajara

The vast majority of México is well developed and benefits from much of the same things the rest of world enjoys. This is especially true for areas around the resorts or major metropolitan areas. In fact, those that fall victim to that misconception would be surprised to find flourishing neighborhoods and a well established middle class thriving in México.

It's unfortunate that many people equate the somewhat significant numbers of people crossing the border with rampant poverty. And while a majority of folks crossing the border are looking for better opportunities, it doesn't represent México as a whole. In fact, the rate of Méxican citizens immigrating to the US has steadily declined over the years. The vast majority of people we see cross the border, come from further south.

This is due to the growing economy of México and the increased opportunities found throughout the country.

So if you hear this myth, don't be afraid to point out the reality of the situation.

 

"Don't drink the water..."

The amount of times someone has associated the water in México with a certain someone's revenge is honestly quite staggering. As well connected as we are today, this particular misconception just continues to persist.

More than likely, you've probably heard this one as well, or maybe even asked about it.

And while there are certainly areas that you may want to opt for a bottle of water. It is far from being the rule in México.

Truth is...

Most areas around resorts and major cities use purified water, as do major hotels, so you don't need to worry too much.  Even the street vendors on the Malecon walkway in Puerto Vallarta are vetted and tested for food and water safety.

Though if you are still bit reluctant to coll down with a glass of water, by all means, please check out this post in which we break down the drinking water in México.

 

"Mexican food is..."

The popularity of Tex-Mex food across the States has had some unintended consequences. Mainly it has led to more than few misconceptions regarding the cuisine of México. For the most part, ask anyone what is Méxican food and you'll probably hear the same answers.

"Tacos and burritos with plenty of chilies." And maybe a few mentions of menudo.

The truth is...

Misconceptions About Mexico Pan Dulce Méxican cuisine contains a variety of amazing dishes, each influenced by the regions they originate from. Full of spices and unique flavors, Méxican cuisine is as varied as the beautiful land itself.

And while some staples like tacos are definitely found any place a street vendor can be found. Plates like pozole, sopas, and different moles are far more common in your average restaurant and kitchen.

The cuisine itself draws from the local ingredients found throughout the country. So you'll often see dishes heavily featuring different chilies, corn, marinated meat, and of course lime. The ingenuity of the cuisine is something that has to be seen to be fully appreciated. How chefs take what is available to them and make such flavorful fares is something you have to admire.

 

"México is..."

While we have talked about a few things México is not, let's talk about some things it is...

México is a country with a rich history and culture built upon years of tradition while embracing the future.

It is a warm paradise with great weather for a majority of the year.

México is a place that continuously will surprise you each time you visit, unveiling a new piece with every visit.

Of course,  it should go without saying, México is an ideal spot to vacation. Few other places in the world allow you to see and experience so much without having to venture too far from home.

But above all...

México is a beautiful country full of warm and good-hearted people willing to share their country with you.

So if you're ready, let us help you find out what México means to you...

 

 

MayanRental Referral Program

Save on your next MayanRental Reservation!

We are pleased to announce that we are beginning a new program through the rest of this year. It’s a referral program to benefit our Renters who refer new Renters to us. Here is how it works.

If you introduce someone to Mayan Rental (who has never booked through us before) and they make a reservation through us, you will receive a MayanRental Vacation Credit for your next booking through us. Refer enough of your family and friends and your next MayanRental rental could be free!

Here are the details:
1. Refer your family, friends etc. (who have never booked through us before) to Mayan Rental.
2. When they call and make a reservation through us, they must tell us that you referred them to us.
3. We will then record a MayanRental Vacation Credit on your account that we will apply to your next booking. The amount of the Vacation Credit is based on what they book:
• Mayan Palace: $100
• Grand Mayan & Grand Bliss: $150
• Grand Luxxe, Spa, Loft: $200
• Residence, Presidential, Estate: $300
4. There is no limit on the number of Vacation Credits you can earn!
5. When you book you next luxury vacation, we will apply your MayanRental Vacation Credits to reduce your rental amount.

We look forward to hearing from you and your MayanRental Vacation Credit referrals! And even more importantly about the incredible vacation you had on the beach!

Our best wishes to you!

The Mayan Rental Team
Nina & Allen Heneveld
Linda & John Jameson

Medicines to Take to Mexico (Or Not)

How would I know what medicines to take to Mexico (or not).?  Well it turns out that, when I am not travelling to Mexico,  my day job is as  professor ofmedicines in mexico pharmacy and I have been a practicing clinical pharmacy consultant for over 30 years.   So here are some tips you might find helpful

 

 Need a place to stay in Mexico?   Rent a week at a member exclusive Vidanta Resort

 

 Prophylactic Antibiotics

DON’T TAKE:   Antibiotics are not without side effects.  And they  will mess up your colon bacteria.   Probably OK, to take a treatment dose for Traveller's Diarrhea of something like Ofloxacin (see your doctor) but DO NOT take antibiotics as a preventative.   See our article on water safety and travelers diarrhea for more information.

Probiotic

TAKE:    Your chances of serious travelers diarrhea are small in tourist areas.    But anytime you go to a different place you encounter different bacteria and fortifying your colon with a little friendly bacteria is a good idea.  There are many brands.  We use Culturelle, but there are many good options. 

Loperamide (Immodium)

TAKE IF NEEDED:  Like I said earlier,  your colon may rebel at being jetted across North America.  One or two loose stools does not require any treatment.  However , if you are one of the lucky few to get  full blown travelers diarrhea (oops, no pun intended), you can take this antidiarrheal with the Antibiotic treatment  If you have a high fever and/or blood in your stool  with diarrrhea , you could have a serious infection and antidiarrheals are not the best idea. They can hold the infection in. 

PeptoBismol Tablets

TAKE IF YOU ARE PARANOID:   taken four times a day , these pink tablets, can prevent travelers diarrhea.  If you don’t mind the taste and your dark stool color.  Not for me. 

  

Transderm Scopalamine OR Dramamine: 

TAKE IF YOU MUST:   If you have an issue with motion sickness, one of these are probably necessary.     The sedative effects don’t mix great with alcohol and they also cause dry mouth and if you fit into the elderly category they can make you a little …. Wonky.  

Acid Suppressors 

DON’T TAKE:   Omeprazole and its friends (Nexium, Prilosec,  Zantac,  etc) .  shut off your stomach acid.   The problem is that God gave you stomach acid for a reason and you might be a little more likely to end up with Montezuma’s revenge.    However if you have raging reflux,  you might not have a choice.  Just be a little more careful of your food and water sources

Antacids

TAKE:   Maalox, Mylanta or even Tums are a  better choice than acid suppressors if you have only occasional heart burn

Allergy Medicine

TAKE :   It seems allergic reactions continue to increase, at least in the US population.  It seems prudent to have a few doses of Benadryl (diphenhydramine) or Chlorpheneramine for acute allergic reactions. For ongoing nasal allergies,  Non-sedating antihistamines are less effective but also less annoying.   My favorite is Allegra (fexofenadine), but others swear by Claritin (loratidine).

Blood Pressure Pills

TAKE :   However,  be careful not to get dehydrated or you could end up dizzy or even pass out.  Especially if you take a water pill.   Lots of water and don’t be too fanatical avoiding salt.  A