Phone: 616-855-4468
For Rentals

616-855-4468

Covid Safety for your Mexico Vacation

Covid Safety for your vacation in Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta. See our Vidanta Covid Safety Information  for Vidanta safety protocols. And now the airport in Puerto Vallarta (PVR) has received safety certification. https://www.vallartadaily.com/puerto-vallarta-airport-receives-health-certification-as-safe-place/ We are going in February. Hope to see you there !

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.

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 November, Christmas and Winter Options.  

 

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 restarants 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.  

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. 

 

Welcome Back Canadians to Mexico !

Our Canadian friends have been locked in their country  by the pandemic for months and months.    That has all come to an end !  

As of now,  Canadians  who have had the vaccine are free travel to Mexico.    When they return theyCanadian Flag have to get a test in Mexico before they get on the plane and be negative. When they arrive in Canada they have to get tested again. 

As of the 9th of August,  those without a vaccine  have the same rules.  The requirement for quarantine for them will be removed. 

The Vidanta resort continues to follow multiple safety measures.   We at MayanRental recommend the vaccine, but in any case also recommend eating outdoors at restaurants when at all possible.  Which is much more possible in Mexico during the winter than in Calgary.

We at MayanRental are busy reserving weeks for you to finally escape this fall and winter.   SEE THEM ALL HERE

 

 

 

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 the ones you may not want to miss. 

Puerto Penasco / Rocky Point Open To Tourists

It has been another of the many sad things about COVID.  The border to Mexico was closed to drivers from Arizona andgrand mayan puerto penasco nearby states.   This meant that  Vidanta Puerto Penasco was inaccessible to vacationers from the United States.   Great News that we got from the puerto penasco website !   You can now drive to Penasco,  although the border does close at 8 PM.   

You can now stay at the Grand Mayan Puerto Penasco and the Mayan Palace Puerto Penasco again Arizonians !!  If you need driving directions we got THESE DRIVING DIRECTIONS TO PUERTO PENASCO from a local.  

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….

Light for a Dark Situation- Pasitos de Luz

A Match Made in Heaven

For almost 20 years,  MayanRental has made it possible for couples and families to enjoy a luxury vacation by renting  out timeshare weeks that their owners can’t use at Vidanta resorts.  Very early on, John and Linda decided to seek out a charity in Mexico that needed private support and committed to substantially support them.   The moment we met Yolanda, the founder of Pasitos de Luz and saw their work serving disabled kids in their humble facilities we knew we had found our connection. 

Light for a Dark Situation

Yolanda  and her husband, Arturo Sr, raised their two sons in Puerto Vallarta and all of them have stayed close to their roots, building the charity from the ground up - a charity built by Mexicans for Mexicans. 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 with children who have disabilities.   The death of her sister from an incurable disease stirred a passion in her that is still burning today.   Over the 20 years, this fully registered charity has grown from its humble beginnings to almost 130 children with as many and more on a waiting list for the services that are provided free of charge. Over the past few years, Pasitos was able to move out of their simple facilities to a new building called Casa Connor that is designed to meet their exact needs. 

YOU CAN FIND MORE EXTENSIVE INFORMATION IN THIS PUERTO VALLARTA MIRROR ARTICLE.

New Reality

When the pandemic hit, they went from a charity providing services at the Casa Connor facility to a charity with no children on site. Like the rest of the world,  closures of schools, businesses, and

Lucero

industries created a new reality.  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. Our foreign foundation partners were some of the first to step up. Anne-Marie Haynes and LarsJan 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 have been working with all their partners, helping approximately 700 people.

MayanRental Presents Riverfest 2022

Mayanrental is proud to be the naming sponsor of the tenth Riverfest fund raiser at El Rio BBQ Bar, a

john and arturo

John with Arturo, Jr. during Riverfest 2020

large open air venue on the river that has also been supporting Pasitos personally.  This event is an absolute blast with excellent food and drink and continuous live music.  Mark your calendars for February 26 and 27, 2022.  St  In the meantime, El Rio has good food and  live music 6 days a week, so stop by!

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

HOW YOU CAN DONATE

 HOW YOU CAN VOLUNTEER

HOW TO TAKE A TOUR TO FIND OUT MORE

Of course our friend Covid-19 is limiting our options.  HERE ARE THE CURRENT LIMITATIONS

Despite the challenges,  Pasitos has been able to install a new therapy pool and the plan is to start back with 20 to 25 children per day beginning April 12. 

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. 

 

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.   

 

Our Seven Most Popular Pages and Posts

 

numbers collage

number-1

Probably the most visited page on our website after the home page is our “What’s the difference" page.    With so many different unit types to choose from ,   we simply explain each luxury level and go through the pros, cons and perks of each of the beautiful vacation options.  From the cost effective Mayan Palace up to the Grand Luxxe and super spacious Lofts and even the unbelievable 4 bedroom residence.     Insider tip:   the Luxxe Villa studio is the best deal on the resort for amenities and price  Read about the differeneces:       

 

Over this pandemic year,   the second most popular page has been  Welcome to Vidanta during Covid 19.php     On this page we  explain the extraordinary efforts that Vidanta resorts are making to create a save vacation space for you.   They have gone to entirely new level of service to allow you to relax and enjoy you Mexico escape.   Read More....

 

  We are constantly researching to provide you with travel info.    One of our most visited posts over time has been
Medicines-to-take-and-not-take-on-your-mexico-vacation.       As both a travel addict and a clinical pharmacist,   John Jameson is uniquely qualified to help you decide what medicines to take with you.   Read More.....

 

 

 

Puerto Vallarta vs Riviera Maya  post helps you decide which of our two most popular Vidanta location

s would be best for your personal family preferences.   This is an extensive post with all the details on and off the resort.  Read more to help you decide which place to try first.....

 

 

 

 

Massage etiquette: Naked with a Stranger.    Our most provocative post title has attracted a a lot of readers since we posted it a couple of years ago.  Sorry, to disappoint you,  but this is not a racy story, it simply tells you how to navigate the spa and get the most out of the pampering the Vidanta spa service will provide.  

 

One of our perpetually popular posts is "Using Your Cell Phone in Mexico"   However,  I am afraid that the contracts with the big mobile carriers has changed.   We will research the new contracts and publish a new one with the next newsletter.

 

The last of our most popular posts is titled:   "The best breakfast buffet in the world".   It might sound a bit overstated, but it is hard to oversell this buffet.    In this post we walk you through the glorious breakfast buffet at the Café del Lago restaurant.    It is over the top sushi at the buffetdelicious, with international and local delicacies.   Ask about discounts for early morning  and at the end of the breakfast hour.  Read the details here.....

Marital Miscommunication Tragedy

I am sharing a story from a couple of years ago to help you all improve your relationships.   This story is a little funny and a little tragic, so it has everything.

Our Daughter Rachel and Husband Brent

Linda and I have been going to the Puerto Vallarta area every year for.....years.   One of our favorite things is to take friends and family and introduce them to the things we love.   So it was fantastic when our daughter , Rachel and her husband Brent decided to spend a  week with us in the Vidanta Grand Luxxe .

The Back Story

The only problem is that they are young people with limitless energy.  So off we went !!  We have done the Rio Cuale zipline two or three times and they wanted to check it out.   Flying four hundred feet over a river gorge or upside down over the river is truly a blast.   That is where the trouble began.  Let me present it in dialogue form:

 

 

The Dialogue

       John:  "You know we really don't have to go with them.   They are adults"

       Linda:  "Are you kidding? We can't let them go alone.  They are new to Mexico"

       John:  " OK, hon,  no problem.  You know I am an adrenaline junkie.  I am happy to go"

 (Later on top of the mountain,  on the benches getting instructions)

       John:  " You do realize, we could be sitting at Jo Jack's drinking the best mojito's in the world "

       Linda:  " What !!!???  I thought you always wanted to go!  that's why I said we should go with them"

       John :  " What  !!??  I only agreed to go because you said we had to.  I didn't care if I went again !!"

And there you have it.  Classic Marital miscommunication.   We laughed .  It was hysterical. 

The Tragedy 

So where is the tragedy you are waiting for?   That was the zipline trip that started my wife on the road to a ruptured disc and eventual back surgery.  So friends,  don't say what you think your significant other wants.   Ask what they really want !!  

 

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.   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 quite, 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.  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 Villa studio 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 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 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 posted a one week itinerary of things to do on Vidanta Riviera Maya.  Here is a video of ten more things to do.  And there are more.  

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 attractions 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 addition 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.  

 

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.  

 

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

 

How to Sleep on a Plane

If you love to travel,  sooner or later you going to need know how to sleep on a plane.  Some people advocate sleeping pills,  benadryl type antihistamines or alcohol.   All of those can backfire in a number of ways.  They might not wear off quickly enough,  You might even try to hijack the plane in your drug induced stupor.  KIDDING!!  Anyway, this post is a review of some products and methods that we have personally tested and use on a regular basis.   Even when we have have a short flight to Mexico, we sometimes take an early flight to make sure we have most of the day to enjoy.  After an o'dark early start, we still often want to get a couple of hours sleep, so we can have energy for our first vacation day.

Links we have provided to products are not affiliate links, we simply think they are worthwhile and want to share them with our friends  (that's you ! )

Noise

earplugsThe first step is to block out the crying baby and the jet engine noise.   Foam ear plugs are an inexpensive option or   noise cancelling headphones if you like to listen to music are an even better, but more expensive option.   Either way it is the basic first step

eyeshades

 toward getting some shut eye.

 

 

Light

You may look a little silly, but the next important aid are eyeshades.   They are inexpensive and blocking out light also blocks out movement around you.  

Stiff Neck

Anyone who has tried to sleep on a plane has experienced the head bobbing and the stiff neck that results.  And no meaningful sleep.  Well there finally is a solution.  There are other products that copy it,  but we bought the Neck Support Travel pillow by Trtl .  This is truly a Trtlbreakthrough for us would-be plane sleepers.   You can use it on the left side or on the right side. They say even in front , but we haven't tried that.  We have battle tested it on an eleven hour flight.  We slept well and no stiff neck.   Nothings perfect, right?    You are, in fact, right.  The only flaw in this product we found is that it tends to be quite warm.   If it is a typical cool plane it is not a problem,  but if the plane is on the warm side it can be a bit annoying.  This product does cost 30 bucks, but we think it is well worth it.  

 

 

 

Leg Problems

If you are taller than average,you may find yourself with your legs crammed against the seat in front of you.  Your only remedy is to pay the ridiculous up-chargefoot-sling for economy plus or whatever your airline calls it. 

If you have short legs, you may have the opposite problem.  Your feet may not reach the floor and the seat bottom may cut into the back of your legs.  Well there is good news for you.  My wife Linda has this problem and has found a solution.   They make a foot sling that hooks over your seat tray.  It lets you rest your feet much higher with out the seat bottom cutting into your legs.  It runs in the $15 range.  My wife used it on out recent trip to Israel and found that it made it easier to relax, which is the goal for all of these products and ideas.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things You Might Not Think Of!

  • If you have stiff muscles like I do , make sure you stretch before you get on the plane
  • Avoid caffeine for 6 hours or so before the flight
  • Make sure your seatbelt is showing so the flight attendant doesn't have to wake you up to check.

That sums it up.  Leave comments if you have more suggestions, but those are our ideas for how to sleep on an airplane.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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.

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

 

.

 

 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.  Actually, avoiding salt is pretty much impossible with Mexican cuisine.   

Cholesterol Drugs

TAKE:   Your probably won't suddenly improve your diet on vacation, so continuing your cholesterol lowering drugs is generally a good idea.

Antidepressants / Antianxiety: 

TAKE:    You might find your mental health improves greatly on a Mexico vacation, but drugs like Celexa, Prozac, Lexapro,  duloxetine , or  venlafaxine   can have some wicked side effects if you stop them suddenly, so don’t pick your vacation to try it.  On the other hand,  you can cut back on drugs like Xanax and Ativan that you take as needed.  

Narcotics / Stimulants: 

NOT SURE:    You should always take your prescription meds in your carry on and be up front about them if asked.  But even over the counter meds like pseudoephedrine and simple prescription meds like codeine are illegal in Mexico.  In general, you will not be asked and will have no problem, but you could technically be arrested, so we will offer only this information but NO ADVICE.  

Street Drugs 

DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT -  Mexican Jails are nothing like your luxury resort and drug sentences are LONG.

Diabetes Drugs

TAKE:    Chances are you will not watch your carb intake all that carefully on vacation.  Now is not the time to leave your Lantus, Trulicity or Metformin at home.  Load up your tacos with meat and beans and eat fewer tortillas.

Sunscreen: 

 TAKE:  Ok ,Sunscreen is technically not a medicine but don’t forget it , gringo. The ocean breezes keep you cool and you won't feel how strong the sun is.   Also, don't forget that in eco-parks, cenotes and protected reefs, you *MUST* use biodegradable/reef safe sunscreen.  Be aware that they don't absorb into the skin as much, so don't rub or you'll slough it off and they often have a white tint.

Sunburn Relief: 

Products that are mostly aloe are the most effective.  Lidocaine is a topical anesthetic that is added to topical products.  Be careful, some people are allergic to lidocaine . SEE INSIDER TIP BELOW to do even better

Ibuprofen

TAKE:   Well take it with you.   You might try something physical that you don’t do at home and be in desperate need.   Ibuprofen is better than Tylenol for muscle and bone pain,  

INSIDER TIP:   Ibuprofen 600 mg or 800 mg (prescription strength) can really help a sunburn and prevent it from getting worse.

Tylenol

TAKE:     Sun , wind,  salt water,  dehydration all lead to headaches for many people.  If you are one of those people, Tylenol is the ticket.

 

Triple Antibiotic Cream

TAKE:     the occasional cut or scrape is inevitable.  Avoiding an infection will prevent vacation time wasted in an urgent care facility.

 

On that pleasant note, I will conclude my post.  Feel free to leave comments or questions.   This is my take on what medicines to take to Mexico.... or not.  

Personal Margarita from a Beautiful Señorita

jasmin the concierge

           Jazmin the Excellent Concierge

Upgrading to the Top of the Line Luxxe Loft Two bedroom suites in the Nuevo Vallarta Vidanta Resorts has it's perks.  My wife and I were sitting in bed reading on our first night in the Loft, when the room door bell rang.  I thought it must be the neighbors door, but i jumped up , put on a pair of shorts (I wished I had put on a shirt) and opened the door.   There stood a beautiful young Mexican girl  with a tray held over her head.  She said , "can I come in?"   What was I going to say?  Go away?  She breezed into the room like something out of a humorous 60's movie and presented the tray contents.    Tequila, lime juice,  simple syrup,  orange liquor and various glassware.   Our perfect do it yourself margarita,  just like in our Margarita recipe we posted a few years back  

She breezed back out the door as quickly as she came and so , of course, I got my wife up and we made margaritas.  And they were better than any we found in Bucerias on our quest for the Best Margarita in Bucerias !!

Later we learned that this was Jazmin , one of our floor concierges, (who was helpful all week)  and this was one of several special treats reserved for the platinum members who stay in the Loft.  We are not sure who gets them and who doesn't , because some of our Loft owner friends did not !!   It is not ours to question why, it is only to drink the margaritas dry.  

THERE ARE A COUPLE OF LOFTS LEFT FOR EASTER !!  SO HURRY , BEFORE THEY ARE GONE !!

You can see the details and a video of the unit here. 

Jasmin the concierge

 

 

Finding the Best Margarita in Bucerias

In our never ending quest to be helpful, we decided to research where one might find the best margarita in Bucerias, Mexico.  We may expand this search farther in the future.    To be fair we won’t order the 2 for 1 house margaritas, but will order an upscale version

To do this we felt we should create a margarita rating scale.  Here is what we came up with.

Flavor 50

Amount of tequila.15

Quality of tequila.  15

Creativity 15

Presentation 5

Total Possible 100

Sukhar 

sukharThis restaurant right on the beach has a nice open ambience.  Located. On Lazaro Cardenas near Mark’s and Karen’s.  As we were walking in a nice young woman coming out told us the margarita’s were “ lethal”.   We had no idea how right serious she was.  .

We ordered Cadillac margaritas.  (These are made with top shelf tequila and Grand Marnier.   It was 12 oz for about $8.  Not cheap !!

Immediately the tequila declares itself.  I don’t love a super sweet margarita, but this one could have used just a bit more agave syrup.  They brought extra limes and the flavor boost helped balance the tequila, One things for sure,  I am pretty sure I have never had a margarita with more “punch” to it !!

Here is the score:   Flavor. 35/50.    Amount of tequila. 20/15 and no that is not a typo.  Quality of tequila. 12/15,  Creativity 10/15,  Presentation 4/5 (pretty glass}

Sukhar Total. 81/100

Le Chiveramargaritas on the beach

is the Bar to the left of Mar y Sol as you face the ocean

We ordered upgraded tequila .  Turned out to be Jose Cuervo Tradicional.  This was a not memorable margarita with a little umbrella.  He said it would be 80 pesos and it ended up 100. (About $11 !!)

This one was a little on the sweet side. (I know, we are hard to please).  Flavor. 35/50,   Amount of Tequila. 10/15,  quality of tequila. 10/15,  Creativity. 10/20.  Presentation 2//5.

Le Chivera :  Total. 67/100

La Postal

A very casual place that turned out to have fabulous Italian food that lived up to the reviews,  We ordered our margarita with a Don Julio tequila upgrade,  Cost was abut $8, but it was a quite small canning jar. Not a great value

The taste was a bit similar to the Sukhar without the extra limes to help it along.    Flavor 35/50,   Amount of tequila. 15/15,  quality of tequila. 12/15,  creativity 10/20,  presentation. 3/5. Simple but classy.  Still haven't found the best margarita in bucerias

La Postal : Total:  78/100

Mar Y Sol

Noted for Seafood, we had the most amazing, giganic shrimp.  Oh wait, we were on margaritas.  this one was very strong in the lime , very  good flavor, a little too sweet, but really the best of the bunch.  Flavor 45/50,   Amount of tequila. 12/15,  quality of tequila. 12/15,  creativity 14/20,  presentation. 3/5. 

Mar Y Sol :  Total :   86  The Bucerias winner ( so far)

Conclusions

The first thing to note is that none of the ones we tested were made with dreadful margarita mix.  All tasted of fresh limes.   

Second our home made margarita recipe still outshines them all. 

 Flavor 48/50,   Amount of tequila. 15/15,  quality of tequila. 13/15,  creativity 14/20,  presentation. 3/5.

Jameson Home Made Total:  93/100 

 If you aren't bored of our margarita stories you can read Personal Margarita by a Beautiful Senorita   

But it turns out that the Best Margarita in Bucerias will be the one you make yourself.  

 

 

Don't Drink the Water? Safety in Mexico

Drinking and Water Safety in Mexico

It is an age old question for those traveling to Mexico or any country that does not have 100% reliable water supply.  This is because of the notorious Montezumas revenge.  So can you drink the water? Water

 

Of the course, the answer is.... it depends.

Resorts

On resorts, the water is generally 100% safe.  The Mayan Resort in Nuevo Vallarta has its own water purifcation system.  The water might taste a bit chemical, but it is perfectly safe for brushing teeth and drinking.    We prefer to head to the local supermarket for drinking water.  You can buy 1 and 2 gallon jugs for a buck or two.  You can get large jugs in the La Plaza in Neuvo Vallarta or in Riviera Maya.   Or you can use the water provided by the resort in bottles for a price that works out to about $20 / gallon.  Just like nice hotels in the U.S. and Canada.  

Restaurants

In the main tourist areas , almost all restaurants use purified water for ice and the water is safe.  If you are one of those people with who will worry and not enjoy yourself, simply ask for bottled water and don't get drinks with ice.   In mainstream areas, I never do that and I never have a problem.   Recently we did a walking food tour in Puerto Vallarta and learned that all the street vendors on the Malecon use purified water and are licensed and inspected by the City.  However, it is true that the more "authentic" the area the less likely the water is to be safe.  If you stay in an apartment in old town Puerto Vallarta or one of the small villages in the Riviera Maya,  better to be extremely cautious.  Don't brush your teeth with the water, don't drink it, don't swallow it in the shower.  Wash your own hands vigorously with soap and dry thoroughly.  You may want to take hand sanitizer as well.

Local Hotels

the rule is if they tell you not to flush the toilet paper, the water is not safe to drink, brush teeth etc. Use bottled water to brush your teeth. You may want to put something on the faucet to remind yourself.  Habits die hard.   If cooking yourself, you should soak dishes after washing in a mixture of 2 teaspoons of clorox bleach/gallon of water.  you can by products like Bacdyn to soak fruits and vegetables.  Follow the directions carefully

Two Final Points

1.  Travelers diarrhea is common no matter where you travel.  Just changing food type, a new climate, sunburn  and time changes can all cause disruption of the normal digestive process.  So , don't get too paranoid.  You definitely should not take prophylactic antibiotics, but you could see your doctor for a prescription of a drug similar to ofloxacin and also Immodium (lopereamide).    But no need to obsess about one or two loose stools.  It is severe illness and a fever that should trigger you to do antibiotic and antidiarrheal treatment.   One of my friends chews peptobismol tablets 4 times a day.   I wouldn't do it , but if you  are going to worry too much, go for it. 

2.  Don't drink a bunch of tequila shots and then try to blame the water.  tequila shots

So go forth with confidence  using this is a summary of water safety in Mexico and when to drink and not drink the water.  

 

Massage Etiquette: Naked with a Stranger?

How To Arrive With Confidence In Yourspa-entrance-vidanta-riviera-maya

Spa Etiquette

Since many of our bookings at Vidanta Grand Luxxe , Spa Tower and Loft come with free or discounted massages, I have had to learn a few things about massage etiquette.  Another way to phrase this is “how not to embarrass yourself” at the spa.  There is a tendency to feel a bit awkward and wonder exactly what to do, so here are some important pointers to ease your first time anxiety.

Pain or No Pain

massage painWhile there are all sorts of exotic alternatives,  there are two main choices for newbies.  A Relaxing Massage (also called a Swedish Massage) which is gentle and , well, relaxing.  This is the option my wife and all pain averse people choose.  I did that once and felt like nothing happened.  So, macho people like me, opt for the Sports Massage (also called the deep tissue massage)  This is much deeper with the aim of massaging out tight muscles , adhesions and , knots.   HOWEVER,  I have learned that macho only goes so far.  I only get a massage once or twice a year, so I am very tight.  I have learned to say (presion media )  medium pressure rather than letting the masseuse choose the pressure.  It was a bit like torture before I figured this out.  Also ,  don’t be too proud to say pocito menos  ( a little less).    Note that a free massage at Vidanta is only a Relaxing Massage for 50 minutes.  You will pay an upcharge for longer or for a Deep Tissue massage.

dont rush to your massage

Early or Late Arrival

I once arrived to a massage “just in time” and it really detracted from the experience.  You really should arrive at least 30 minutes before your appointment.  You won’t be rushed and you will have time for the relaxation ritual I recommend below.  One of the main goals of massage is to relax and unwind. 

Hot Tub or Cold Tub

On one of my visits, the attendant was very helpful and suggested a sequence that is my new ritual  I now use it every time I go.  Start in the jacuzzi,  then 10 minutes in the dry sauna,  a few more in the wet sauna,  COLD water tank (head and all) and Swedish shower,  If you are short on time you can skip the wet sauna..  I love the cold dunk but suspect many of you may not.  Finally,  melt into a chair to wait for your massage. 

Clothes or No Clothes  (What not to  Wear  🙂

You should wear whatever is comfortable to the appointment.  You will be given a locker and a robe.  On the man’s side, for the sauna and Jacuzzi etc, some wear swim suits, some don’t .   At least stay covered with your robe between embarrassed at the spastations. This used to be the most awkward part of Spa Etiquette for me.  Now I just act like I own the place.   My wife tells me on the women’s side , swim suits are pretty much universal.  This is a spa in Mexico,  it will  be quite different (more conservative) than those in Europe or Asia. 

 

However, when they call you for the massage, it is usual practice to put the suit in the locker (on the women’s side they spin dry it for you).  It is time to sally forth clad only in  your robe. Do be meticulous about tying it up and watch how you sit in the coed waiting area.   When your masseuse leads you to your room or cabana,  they will leave you while you disrobe and get under the sheet.   When it is time to turn over, they will hold up a sheet and discreetly turn away.    They will uncover only the part they are working on. 

 

 

To Tip or Not to Tip

If you are in Mexico, I can assure you that  your masseuse is not well paid.  I make it a practice to tip 10 to 15% of the cost of the Massage.    Since I am not sure how the tips are shared, I play it safe and make sure to put cash in the pocket of my robe.  If you forget this step,  and try to tip afterward,  you will find yourself disrupting the flow of the spa and undoing some of your hard won relaxation.   I am thinking I will put two bills in my pocket next time for the times the service is exceptional.  My last massage was the all time best in terms of releasing tight muscles.

Mobile Phone Or Off the Grid?

What??   No !!!   Are you kidding ??!!   Mobile phones are pretty much the antithesis of spa relaxation.  Most spas prohibit their use.   And since you asked me, I also forbid it.

Talk or No Talkchatty massage

From what I read, that is up to you.  I, personally,  choose to just “be” .   No conversation,  except perhaps the high pitched “ a little less pressure please”.  Spa Etiquette from the spa’s perspective is to treat you well, so you get to choose.   Also consider, their command of English may not be extensive.

Final Thought: Stress or Relax

Americans especially have a hard time relaxing.  They try to schedule a vacation for 3 or 4 days including a long flight each way.  That’s crazy.  Take a week or better yet 10 days.  Avoid work as much as is humanly possible.  And schedule in some time for just plain relaxing. If you are staying in a Luxxe unit in Nuevo Vallarta, you can schedule an hour in the outdoor area with a dry sauna, steam room, co-ed Jacuzzi, and cold plunge pool for free as an additional relaxation time on another day.  I have written this article on spa etiquette so that you won’t feel awkward and ruin one of the perfect relaxing activities.

The Best Breakfast Buffet in the World !

Let me first say, we are not buffet people.   However, we make an exception every time we are in Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta or Vidanta Riviera Maya. cafe-del-lago-vidanta The buffet at the Cafe del Lago is part of our suggested itinerary that we published last year.   Don't confuse it with other buffets.   In Riviera Maya there are a couple of buffets , including one in Havana moon and in Nuevo Vallarta there is one by Luxxe building 4 and one at the Grand Mayan pools.   These are all perfectly fine, but nothing compares to the ones at Cafe del Lago in both resorts.

Getting Started

You start, of course, with fresh juices and coffee served at your table.   From there the possibilities are endless.    You can stop at the freshly fried empanadas,   don't miss the incredible variety of salsas.   There is  custom empenadaomelet station,  with choose your own ingredients of every variety.   

Insider Tip

Due to the high demand for bacon,  the custom omelet chef doles it out on request only.

 

mangos

Main Course  

There is a large variety of fresh fruit and yougurt.   there is a section with freshly baked pastries of all varieties.  I recommend the chocolate croissants.  then the there are the endless rows of chafing dishes heaped with red and green chilaquiles,  quiche,  sausages, and dozen things I can't remember.  On certain days there will be chicken in  the  best oaxaca mole sauce I have ever had.    In another section, sushi lovers won't want to miss the nice variety ofsushi sushi rolls.  

Finale

Relax for a bit , rest up,  OK,  time for the dessert section.   You can have fresh made crepes with fruit, caramel or chocolate topping,  sweet pastries,  custard tarts and lots more.     I am pretty sure there a lots of things i have forgotten.  

Practical Stuff

This does all come at a price.   The last time we were there the weak peso had brought the price back under $20 US.   There is  discount for early morning or late (I think after 11:30)   whenever you do it , you won't be needing lunch.     One last tip,  it seems to come and go at different times of the year, but ask the concierge if they are selling meal packages.  The best deal is six breakfasts and six lunches/dinners.  For the best value, you could share the tickets with a group and use all the breakfasts for the Cafe del Lago and all the Lunch/Dinners for dinners.   Read a funny story about how Vidanta solved the bird problem

Ready to Go? Click below.

See what's available in Nuevo Vallarta

See what's available in Riviera Maya

 

Cirque du Soleil Mexico

Is there really a Cirque du Soleil  Mexico?  Absolutely !!  In addition to the visiting the  Mayan ruins (one of the new 7 wonders of the world) ,  crystal clear snorkeling , and cave and cenote exploring, you will now be able to attend a Cirque du Soleil dinner theater.

The Cirque du Soleil company originates in Canada, even though most people think of it in connection with  Las Vegas.  Actually, it turns out  there are many locations with Cirque performances. This new one in Mexico is the most intimate of the 19 venues around the world and operates almost all  year round.  Be sure to double check if they are on a break before booking your trip.  This location is the first to combine the performance with a dinner theater. The Vidanta theater was custom built overlooking a huge cenote (crystal clear pool that is characteristic of the Yucatan   peninsula)

How Does It Work?

drinks at NektarYou buy tickets ahead of time (see "How Can I Get tickets" below)  and either drive to the venue or catch a Cirque du Soleil Mexico shuttle from the Vidanta resort across the road.  It is located about 2/3 of the way between Cancun and Playa del Carmen on the West side of the road.  It is not subtle, you won't miss it.  You are struck by the funky Cirque decor the minute you arrive.  There is a great cocktail lounge with incredible signature cocktails.   I can personally recommend the Lychee martini and the the drink with passion fruit, Mezcal and jalapeno.  They wouldn't tell us the secret ingredient in the lychee martini, but we figured it out when we got home that it was St. Germaine liquor.   We recognized the totally unique flavor.  There is also a free standing restaurant outside the theater that is quite good.  

 

Is It Worth The Price??

That was our question ! At $180 for dinner and the Cirque du Soleil show, it is a little pricey.... and in our opinion totally worth it.  The dinner was one of the most interesting meals we have ever had.  Crazy frozen appetizers that pop on your tongue.  One creative, exotic course after another, culminating with a book that looked like it had Harry Potter spells in it.  Once opened , you see that it is hollow and contains four different interesting desserts.   Full disclosure, the gelato was the only disappointing moment of the whole evening.   The other three were , like the meal, fabulous.  See food photos at the bottom of this post 

In addition to fabulous food, there was a band playing that looked and sounded a lot like the Buena Vista Social Club .  That was just a bonus.  Once dinner was cleared away, the show started with an endless parade of things you are sure are physically impossible. 

What is the story of the show?

The title of the show is Joya  (pronounced Hoya)  which is about a young girl , OK, I admit I didn't pay much attention to the story.  Her uncle is an alchemist and ..... that's all i remember.   but the acts are incredible.  Those I remember.  

How Can I Get Tickets?

Good news!   These shows are open to the public.  You can phone the Vidanta reservation line at 800-292-9446 from the US or Canada or 01-800-543-7044 from Mexico. You can also book tickets and  sign up for email updates on their Cirque du Soleil website   

 

Accommodations

If you book your stay with us in the Riviera Maya in the Grand Mayan, Grand Bliss, Grand Luxxe   , you will be a short shuttle ride away from the show.  And have a fabulous resort at your disposal. 

 

Cirque Du Soleil Nuevo Vallarta?

Maybe you heard that Cirque du Soleil was in Puerto Vallarta.  Well... not yet.   The Cirque in Riviera Maya has been so successful, it seems it has spawned a much bigger idea.   Ground has broken and hotel towers have been going up for the new Cirque du Soleil theme park in Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta.  Originally slated to open this year, it seems we will have to wait a year or two  longer to experience this whole new concept in entertainment. 

In the meantime book a week with us and experience the first Cirque du Soleil Mexico 

 

Main course at Cirque du Soleil Mexico

The History of Puerto Vallarta

A city of a couple names and even more bays...

The history of Puerto Vallarta is one that echoes throughout the city and has shaped modern life to this day.

 

In our posts, we often mention the storied history of cities throughout Mexico. But we've realized we haven't spent much time talking about that history.

And it's rather easy to do that sometimes. Mexico, as a whole, has so much to offer that at times it feels like a whirlwind of experiences. There are new things to see. There's amazing food to try. And there's more than a fair of things to plan.history of Puerto Vallarta bayside view

So much so, it's rather easy to get swept up in just being present in the moment.

We were guilty of just that, the first couple times we visited Puerto Vallarta.

And probably still guilty of it in a few posts.

But after coming to know the city and its wonderful people a bit more over the years, we've come to understand its history. And once you know a city's roots, it adds a new layer of appreciation.

It's like learning to know a loved one a bit more deeply. You can understand and fully take in the way things are because of knowing how they used to be.

So in the spirit of looking a bit deeper and learning to love Puerto Vallarta that much more, let's take a look at its past.

 

A shared history throughout much of Mexico...

Puerto Vallarta, like most major cities in modern Mexico, was once Spanish occupied territory. This accounts for the beautiful Church of the Virgin and main square.  But as such, this beauty was gained through Spanish imperialism. And like many areas within Mexico, the original inhabitants did not meet such a kind fate under the Spanish's quest for land.

In a story that has become all too common throughout Mexico, Puerto Vallarta's original inhabitants were forced to give up their home due to Spanish violence.

And while not pretty, it's imperative to remember history as it is, without glossing over the ugly parts. And under Spanish imperialism, there were quite a bit of ugly parts.

Though ugly as it was and through the typical means, the Spanish took control over the area. From then, the area would remain undeveloped but occupied by Spanish sailors.

 

Back then in the 16th century, cross-ocean trade was booming. Ships sailed across the seas bringing goods from one far-reaching continent to another.  And while en-route to established trade ports, the Spanish used the area of modern-day Puerto Vallarta as a safe haven.

Ships would dock in one of its many bays, protected from harsh weather, before setting off towards their final destinations.

This is how the area existed for much of the century as the Spanish became more established within the protected bays.

 

A shift towards production...

As time went on, the discovery of silver and gold in the surrounding mountains caused the area to shift in terms of usage. Large-scale mining operations were soon established as the hunt for precious minerals took over the area.

Perfectly positioned along the coast and near ships waiting to take the precious metals, the operations flourished. And over the course of the next two centuries, the area became devoted to the search of minerals within the mountains.

Fueled by the money coming from trade, the area's population began to grow over time, though no formal Spanish settlement was established in modern-day Puerto Vallarta.

 

The birth of Las Peñas...

At the time of mining excavations (mostly silvr, the movement of salt from ships to the operations themselves was imperative. The operations relied on the mineral to process their precious metals. So of course, people were required to make the trip between the two frequently.Old Town the History of Puerto Vallarta

It was out of those frequent journeys that the first settlement began.

As the men who transported the salt began to bring their families along and create more permanent housing, the city of Las Peñas was created.

Now with a formal name and an industry to support its inhabitants, Las Peñas began to become something more than just a stop along the way to the mines.

Families grew and children were raised in the city, as such the population continued to boom. The once meager collection of shanties became a full-fledged town complete with agriculture and a budding infrastructure.

 

Soon the booming town would face a pivotal moment in its history. As the mines began to lose value due to the discovery of mineral stores to the north, the town had to shift its way of life. Luckily the area was perfect for agriculture and as many families had already established small farms to subside on, workers found a new line of work to fall back onto.

 

Las Peñas' newfound success with agriculture would find the town becoming a major exporter of goods. With this success, word of the town's beauty and natural abundance begin to spread with its goods.

Soon word had begun to make its way north of the border and spread into the US.

A new name and a new way of life...

By the beginning of the 20th century, Las Peñas found itself undergoing another drastic change or two.

For one, the town was given a new name to honor a Governor of Jalisco, thus Puerto Vallarta was born.

Along with the new name, a new shift in industries came into focus. The transition towards tourism had begun.

The once agriculturally based city started to attract visitors from all over the continent to enjoy its natural beauty and beaches. Though it wouldn't be until the mid-1960's that the area would fully shift it's focus away from agriculture and embrace visitors from around the world.

With that shift, the entire city began to change. More businesses catering to tourist and their influx of money began to spring up overnight. From there, the boom towards becoming a world-renowned tourist destination would continue until now.

Puerto Vallarta as we know it was formed during those years as locals embraced sharing their little slice of paradise with the world.

 

The rest is as they say history.

But as with all things, some parts of history are best experienced.

 

 

 

La Famiglia in Playa del Carmen

Believe it or not , I first heard about La Famiglia in Playa del Carmen in a church in Michigan.   No really!    Our pastor was using the owner as an example of someone who loved his food and wanted to share it.    So of course, we had to try it out when we came to Playa del Carmen.  Located just one block off the main drag of Avenida cinco on the corner of Avenida 10 and Calle 10 Norte.  After fighting for a parking spot and dodging a downpour we successfully arrived for our reservation on time.     La Famiglia is an Italian restaurant through and through.  Most of the main floor of the restaurant is taken up by the kitchen, so we were led to an upstairs area where there was more seating.  We ordered bruschetta , which turned out to be a little superfluous given delicious basket of bread that soon arrived.   

Irrelevant Side Track

Let's settl this once and for all.  It is pronounced Broos-keh-tah.   for a full discussion see this explanantion

Starters

After much discussion,  both my wife and our friends ordered the chef salad.  I had to be difficult and order the goat cheese on the side.  I have been trying to acquire the taste for 2 or 3 years.    Ain’t gonna happen.   The salad was fantastic, with thin sliced pears,  jicama, various greens,  some kind of sprouts, and the dreaded goat cheese, and very light and delicious honey mustard.  My wife tries to claim the goat's cheese made it perfect. 

Homemade Pasta 

Our waitress Elena, was from Guadalajara and pleasantly tolerated all of our deliberations.  La Famiglia has a wealth of Classic Italian choices, including various homemade pastas.   Our friends, Jim and Debbie,  split the jumbo shrimp with a side of homemade fetuccini arrabiata.   I went straight for the fetuccini arrabiata ,  (tomato sauce with pleasant kick} with Italian sausage added.   Linda tried the gnocchis in a gorgonzola sauce, laced with chicken and topped with walnuts.  Stunningly rich and delicious.  Maybe even a little too rich,  but did I mention delicious?   I have always thought that too rich might be an oxymoron.   But nobody finished the huge portions.

Contact

MX Number: +52 (984) 803-5350 ✆ – CLICK TO CALL ON MOBILE

 Email: [email protected]

 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaFamigliaPDC/

The Italian Grand Finale

We tried the gelato and tiramisu for dessert.  The gelato was creative and delicious flavor.  It tasted creamy but had a bit of graininess to it.  Our friends thought it was frozen either too fast or too slow.  The tiramisu was very good and not too sweet as it often is in the States.   We were settling in for the check when pretty young Elena showed up with a smirk on her face and a bottle of Limoncello fresh out of the freezer.   A beautiful, complimentary end to a wonderful meal. 

On the way out a pizza was coming up the stairs.  Bummer that this is our last full day in Mexico or we would be back for pizza at  La Famiglia in Playa del Carmen.

Puerto Vallarta Sea Turtle Rescue

The Nesting Season of the Turtles...sea turtle babies

Each summer the hotels of Puerto Vallarta welcome some special guests to their beautiful beaches. And though you might never see these guests in the tabloids, they're certainly celebrities in their own right. Each year, the arrival of summer means it's time for the resorts' annual baby sea turtle release events.

As the warmth of July draws beachgoers to the resorts, the annual arrival of the Olive Ridley Turtles also begins. Drawn to their birthplace, the marine turtles make the trip back home to nest and lay eggs. Though the annual appearance of the turtles has now become a celebrated event, their arrival also signifies something more. It marks the beginning of a concerted conservation effort to preserve one of the most vulnerable species within the area.

 

A Vulnerable Species in Need of Help...

The marine turtle as a whole is a rather small subset of creatures with only eight different species found worldwide. This makes the situation facing marine turtles especially difficult. With so few species, the threat of complete extinction is far more real than that of other reptiles.

This situation is made even more precarious when the nature of marine turtles is explored.

 

Given that marine turtles need to lay their eggs on land and have a proclivity for returning to their places of birth, any disturbance of their natural breeding ground could severely impact the species as a whole.

And this is very much the case for Puerto Vallarta's local turtles as well, the Olive Ridley turtle.

As the Olive Ridley only breeds in a few locations, they depend on these beaches, quite literally for survival.

 

This has to lead to a few problems in the past. As their main breeding ground is surrounded by resorts, the risk of disturbed nests was quite high.

Though, thankfully the resorts were able to work together with conservationists to rectify that problem. Their combined efforts would eventually become the baby sea turtle release program that many enjoy today.

As of writing the piece, the success of the conservations efforts has led to a steep increase in the number of baby turtles that are able to make it back into the ocean. Before the hotels' efforts, only 40% of newly laid eggs were ever given a chance to develop. But thanks to the hotels' programs, nearly 96% of the Olive Ridley Turtle eggs buried along the coastline fully mature.

 

Tourists Can Experience The Sea Turtle Rescue First Hand...

For those of you who would love to experience the beauty of the release in person, you're in luck.

 

 

While the best times to see the release are between July and December, you can still find a few programs even in March.

baby sea turtle release at sunset in Mexico

 

Personally, we were able to participate even as late as February. Though, it was right after our grandchildren left after vacationing with us at the Grand Luxxe Nuevo Vallarta. So needless to say, we were all a bit bummed they couldn't join. But none the less, it was an amazing experience to witness.

Each day, once the sun had settled, the staff would go a

 

bout their nightly routine.

They would set out to watch for nesting turtles paying attention to locate fresh nests. Once they spotted a few, they would begin gently removing the eggs and prepare them for their new temporary home. Once the staff would collect all of them, they would then place the eggs in little cages back within the resort. This helps keep the eggs safe from tourists' feet and hungry predators.

Once the little ones hatch and are ready to set out to see, the real beauty begins.

Every sunset, the staff allows guests to participate i

 

n bidding goodbye to the newly born Olive Ridley Turtles. As to best protect the baby sea turtles, they have to be released at sunset to avoid predatory birds. So each sunset, guests can release the little ones right at the water's edge as they prepare to journey out to sea.

And believe, it really is something you have to experience to fully appreciate. Seeing the tiny turtles swim against the waves until they disappear out to sea leaves you with a sense of awe.

Seeing the Baby Sea Turtle Release for yourself...

Though it isn't heavily advertised, you can experience the release yourself during your vacation. Just simply ask around at the hotel to find out the details.

And if you can, definitely set aside some time to join the release each evening. It simply is one of those things you have to experience while staying in the resorts.

If you would like to see the little turtles up close, by all means, head over to our booking page to book your vacation today!

 

But the turtle fun doesn't just stop there, for those that can't get enough of the cute shelled creatures, head to Akumal Bay. There, you can swim alongside adult sea turtles returning from the open waters to feed and rest along the coastline.

It's a chance to see their entire life cycle play out before you in one single trip. Which gives you opportunity to fully appreciate the beauty of these quiet locals.

 

 

New Loft Studios Available at Nuevo Vallarta Resort

Just in time For New Year’s, New Loft Studios are Now Available at the Exclusive Extension of the Grand Luxxe Lofts…

 

 It's that time of the year we finally say adios to summer and welcome the cooler months of fall. And we know, it can be a bit difficult for some of us to fully let go of the promise of warmer days.

Though, lucky for all of us not ready to say goodbye quite yet, there is a bit of warm sunshine at the end of the tunnel.

So don’t pack away your sunglasses and beach clothes just yet…

The super-exclusive Tower 5 of the Grand Luxxe Resort has just made several of its loft studios available. Meaning that you can now experience the five-star accommodations of Vidanta’s Nuevo Vallarta Grand Luxxe in a more intimate and cozy setting.

That said…

To call the rooms anything short of breathtaking, would simply be an understatement. As all of the same luxury and world-class accommodations Tower 5 has become famous for, are still very much present in their loft studios.

Experience Mexico Like Never Before…

The newly available loft studios are perfect for a romantic getaway for any couple looking to escape the coming months of winter chill. And of course are perfect for seeing a side of Mexico not experienced by many.

Once you step in, you’re greeted by a large landing complete with a bed fit for a king. The room itself spreads out to reveal a beautifully decorated interior, complete with living and dining spaces. And if the beautiful interior was not enough to take your breath away. Each studio loft has its own balcony for catching the last rays of sunlight each evening or simply enjoying the sunshine in private.

Feel free to take a look for yourself , and see a video of the beautiful interior of the Grand Luxxe Loft Studios

 

Access to Tower 5’s Exclusive Rooftop Pool and Newly Opened Restaurant, Quinto…
Rooftop Pool Loft Studio Nuevo Vallarta

rooftop pool tower five

Beautiful as the view is, something even more grand waits just above your accommodations. You’ll find that every loft grants you access to the exclusive rooftop pool perched high above the resort. Though if swimming among some of the best views of the entire coastline isn’t quite enough, even though it should be., Tower 5’s newly opened restaurant, Quinto, will allow you to experience fine dining with unparalleled views. As beautiful as the entire resort is, a sunset dinner at Quinto is something that just has to be experienced.

 Loft Studios at Nuevo Vallarta…

As with all good things in life, availability at the loft studios at Nuevo Vallarta will not be around too long. So to make the best of the opportunity go ahead and visit our availabilities page to book your own romantic getaway this winter.

Book Your Stay...

As of writing we still have three availabilities open the New Year’s holiday. And what better way to say goodbye to 2017 while starting 2018 in style than staying in the lap of luxury.  You can see all available Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Units for Christmas/New Years  including the Luxxe Loft Studios in Nuevo Vallarta

loft studio vidanta nuevo vallarta

 

 

Learning Spanish Phrases: Going Out Shopping…

Hola! ¿Cómo están mis amigos?

This time around for our Learning Spanish phrases series, I wanted to tackle something that you’ll definitely need if want to make the most of your vacation south of the border.

That, being some useful phrases that will come in handy when you find yourself out and about shopping for souvenirs for everyone back home or simply just looking to pick up some things for yourself.

Trust me, shopping in Mexico is something you have to try if you want to fully experience everything our neighbors south of the border can offer.

From upscale boutiques located around the resorts to quaint little flea markets that dot the city around your accommodations, shopping in Mexico is almost in itself a little adventure because you really don’t know what you may find until you head out.Spanish phrases for souvenir shopping in Mexico

 

Though if you want to check out the smaller shops and markets outside of the resort, and you really should, you are definitely going to want to commit a couple of these phrases to memory. Not only will they help you find exactly what you’re looking for, they’ll also help you avoid one of the major pitfalls of being a tourist on a shopping spree in Mexico, price gouging.

Though armed with these few phrases and a new confidence to speak like a local, you’ll be able to show everyone that you’re not some tourist waiting to be taken advantage of, but instead a savvy shopper who’s done this before.

So without any further delay, let’s get started and get ready to go shopping!

Or better yet, vamos a empezar y vamos de compras!

 

Spanish Phrases for Shopping in Mexico

Common Spanish Phrases for Shopping Anywhere…

Opportunities to find amazing gifts for everyone back home and more than a few awesome things for yourself are pretty much everywhere. So, if you don’t want to be the person that brings back only cheesy gifts from the resort gift shop, though still definitely grab a few of those, try learning a few of these Spanish phrases that you can use pretty much everywhere.

 

If you have a particular item in mind that you want to buy but are unsure of the best place to find it, you can ask either your concierge or a friendly local…

“¿Conoce un lugar donde venen... (whatever particular item you would like to look for)?”

*Pronounced- "Cone-no-say un loo-gar duh-own-day ven-en"

Which means “Do you know where they sell (that particular item)?”

This phrase is even perfect for use in larger flea markets where you might want find a particular stall or particular item without having to search up and down aisles of vendors.

 

Once you find exactly what you are looking for, you’re of course going to want to know how much it costs…

So simply ask “¿Cuanto cuesta?” for single items. Or “¿Cuanto cuestan?” for multiple items.

*Pronounced- "Kwon-toe quest-uh" and "Kwon-toe quest-on"

Whatever the vendors answer, be prepared to do a little bit of haggling.

This is perfectly normal and acceptable, in fact, it’s often expected as most small shopkeepers and vendors will try to get the most they can for an item. Though don’t be offended that someone is trying to make you pay more, it’s simply just how business is handled most times.

So whether you’re a tourist or local, being able to haggle well will go a long way in keeping you well under budget for your shopping excursions. So before you head out, you might want to brush up on your negotiating skills in addition to these Spanish phrases.

Engaging with local vendors...

Walking around and “window shopping” is just another part of the fun in exploring the flea markets that dot the city. Though if a shopkeeper or vendor sees you, they might try to immediately close a sale and ask you what you are looking for specifically. If you simply just are browsing and haven’t seen anything you like yet, instead of saying just “no” and perhaps blowing your cover as a savvy shopper, you can drop this phrase into the conversation in its place.

“Solo quíera mirar.” Which tells them that you’re simply just looking around and haven’t decided on making a purchase yet.

*Pronounced- "Sole-oh key-air-uh me-ah-r"  

Another handy phrase you’ll want to remember when you find yourself window shopping and browsing is “¿Tú tienes algun(a) (whatever item you might be looking for)?”

*Pronounced- "Two tee-en-s (hard s) al-goon..."

Which simply means “Do you have any…?”

If you've mastered a few of the above phrases and really want to take your haggling skills to the next level, Rease from Indecisive Traveler has a few tips for haggling on her blog that could come in handy.

Gained from her experience living in Puerto Rico and gleaned from years of travel, Rease offers these tips to sound a bit more natural when engaging with local vendors...

Drop a few phrases in the conditional tense to sound a bit savvier...

This can be a bit difficult to fully grasp as a beginner but essentially it boils down to using the conditional conjugation of Spanish verbs, often accomplished by taking the verb and adding "-ias" to the end.

For example...

If a vendor has given you a price that you feel could be a bit lower you could always ask them if they would instead giveyou a more reasonable price by saying...

"¿Me darías esta(n) por (whatever price you feel would be more appropriate)?"

*Pronounced- Me dahr-ee-us es-tah(tahn) poor...

Which loosely translates to "Would you give me this (these) for..."

This is perfect for setting yourself apart from other typical travelers while showing the vendor you're an experienced shopper.

Rease also offers a bit of advice for what to do if a vendor doesn't want to offer lower prices, which is simply thank them and walk away. The sight of you leaving might convince them to agree to a better price.

If you can practice these phrases and use them well without stammering, you'll be well on your way to becoming a savvy shopper and the owner of some souvenirs worth taking back home.

 

Spanish Phrases for Buying Clothes…

One of the most prevalent items you’ll see beyond many of the kitschy knick-knacks sold in vendors stalls is authentic Mexican clothing.

A lot of the stalls and vendors in little flea markets will often have a wide variety of shirts, hats, dresses, and anything else you could imagine, sometimes even brand name items! So if you’re out for a bit of clothes shopping or looking to add a bit of Mexican flair to someone’s wardrobe back home, you’ll definitely want to practice a few of these phrases.Spanish Phrases for shopping in Mexican Boutiques

 

More than likely you’ll probably find something you like but maybe it won’t be the right size you’re looking for.

In those cases, you could ask the vendor “¿ Hay esta en otras tallas?”  which just means if they have any other sizes available.

*Pronounced- "A es-tuh en o-try-us tie-yuhs"

Of course, it helps to tell them what size you might be looking for so…

Use “Pequeña” for small, “Mediano" for medium, and “Grande” for large.

*Pronounced- "Pee-kwen-yuh", "Me-dee-on-yo", and "Grawn-day"

 

Though if you are still unsure about a certain size…

You could always ask to try an item on by simply asking “¿Puedo probármelo(a)?” or, if you would like to be a bit more proper and polite, “Quesierra probarlo, por favor.”

*Pronounced- "Kay-see-air-uh pro-bar-low pour fah-vor"

 

Spanish Phrases for Grocery Shopping

It should come as little surprise but you’ll find Mexican supermercados are very much the same as the grocery stores we enjoy back home, though with everything being weighed in kilograms and of course being in Spanish. Though much like any large chain grocer, you’ll be sure to find a wide selection of meat, fruit, vegetables, and plenty of snacks.

And with a quick run through shopping should be a breeze, though if you are in a bit of hurry or curious as to where something may be, you could always ask an employee…

“¿Tienes (whatever particular item you want)?”

Which simply means “Do you have…?”

Say for instance you wanted to grab a bit of creamer for your morning coffee and didn’t really want to set out on an epic search to find it, just find the nearest employee and ask them…

“¿Tienes medio y medio (Half & Half) crema para café?”

*Pronounced- Tee-n-es meh-dee-oh e meh-dee-oh cr-eh-mah pah-rah cah-fey

Or better yet you could ask…

“¿Dónde está medio y medio?”

*Pronounced- Duh-own-day es-tah…

Which just means “Where is the Half & Half?”

 

Or say you wanted to try our amazing recipe for margaritas...

You could use the same phrase though substitute medio y medio for…

  • Límones (Lee-moan-es)- Limes
  • Azúcar (Ah-sue-car)- Sugar

Then simply find some tasty tequila, you’re not going to want to skimp on the best part though so get something a bit in the mid to high price range. And then find some triple sec which generally should be called triple sec even south of the border, though if you are having a bit of trouble you could ask for licor de naranjas (Lee-core day nuh-rawn-yas) instead.

After securing everything you’ll need for a killer margarita, get ready to pagar, or pay, at the register and get that blender going!

If your trip to the local supermercado requires a bigger shopping list than simply things to make awesome margaritas then simply remember a few of these common items and you’ll be all set…

  • Carne (Car-neigh)- meat, usually beef
  • Pollo (Poi-yo)- chicken
  • Fresas (Fr-es-ahs)- strawberries
  • Tomates (Toe-mah-teys)- tomatoes
  • Leche (Le-ch-ay)- milk
  • Pan (Pahn)- bread
  • Aguacates (Ah-wah-cah-teys)- Avocados

 

And there you have it...

With just a few of these phrases, you can go out on a shopping spree without looking like it's your first rodeo and still enjoy some local culture while on vacation.
As with anything, learning and perfecting these Spanish phrases takes a bit of practice so don't get discouraged and simply keep trying until you sound like a natural.

If you've mastered these phrases and want to learn some more, please head over to our other Spanish Phrases post where you can learn a few handy phrases for dining in Mexico like a local.

 

 

What Hurricane Season in Mexico Can Mean For Your Vacation

Hurricane Season in Mexico Was Mild So Far This Year.

As people across three states within the US and several islands in the Atlantic work to regain some sense of balance and normalcy in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, many of our guests and visitors have begun to wonder what hurricane season in Mexico could possibly mean towards their travel plans.

And for good reason, the recent surge of hurricanes that battered much of the Atlantic coastline has renewed worries about unstoppable natural disasters. Specifically, we have seen an influx of our guests, curious as to whether this recent surge could possibly mean that their plans to vacation in Mexico might put them directly in harm’s way.

So to help all of our visitors better understand what hurricane season truly means and to assuage worries that Mexico is no longer safe to visit, we decided to put together this piece and answer a few questions we’ve been hearing lately.

Though before we begin moving towards a better sense of understanding surrounding hurricane season and Mexico, we would like to take a moment to extend our hearts and minds towards those that were recently affected by Hurricane Irma. We would like to welcome you, if you can of course, in joining us in giving to those who need our help at the moment. That’s what we do as people, we pull together, so if you can, please visit Samaritan's Purse relief page and help those that need us.

 

Understanding Hurricane Season in Mexico…
Rachel and Linda Hurricane Los Cabos Mexico

See Cabo Hurricane Story Below

Though hurricanes are certainly not a new thing whatsoever, in light of recent events, we’ve begun to hear a few questions repeated among some of our visitors recently, so let’s explore a few of these together…

What exactly is hurricane season? What months should we be concerned about hurricanes?

For those that may be unfamiliar with the term, hurricane season is simply used to describe the period of time in which hurricanes are more likely to appear and form. During this period of time, it is probable, though pretty uncommon, that large tropical storms, cyclones, and hurricanes could form off the coast of both the Atlantic and Pacific surrounding Mexico.

Generally, the entire hurricane season for much of coastal Mexico begins from the first day of June and extends all the way towards the end of November. Though this period does cover a pretty large expanse of time, nearly half the year, it doesn’t quite mean that hurricanes are constantly forming during those months nor is there a constant threat that one may be looming just off the coast. It mainly just means that conditions are generally right during this time for a hurricane to form if one were to form.

 

Key Points:
-The formation of hurricanes is usually rather rare.
-Even when they do form they are never as severe nor as frequent as recent months have suggested.
-The vast majority in Mexico occur in September and early October.

 

More often than not, out of those five months, for only two of th

Hurricane Season in Mexico Origins

Origins of Hurricanes by Weather Underground

em is a hurricane a real probability. Those being September and October as the weather begins to shift towards more humid and warm conditions. In fact, some of the more devastating and large hurricanes to strike land in Mexico have occurred during those two months, so if you are one to err heavily on the side of caution, we might suggest picking another date for a vacation so you can enjoy your stay without any worries.

Hurricane Season in Mexico and The Savvy Traveler... 

Now that we’ve gone over a bit of what hurricane season is and when it covers, it’s probably pertinent to say that hurricanes generally pose no risk to your vacation as they don’t really occur with much frequency. Though they do happen. A quick Google search will bring up more than a few hurricanes that really devastated some resorts throughout coastal Mexico. But these examples would be closer to an exception than being the rule itself. Often times, hurricanes can just mean some rather stormy weather. And while that certainly is not much fun on vacation, the risk of major harm from hurricanes is minimal.

But whether or not hurricanes form and reach land, the risk of them forming has a profound effect on travel in quite a few ways. And if you are a bit savvy and a little adventurous, you can use this to your advantage to experience everything Mexico has to offer at a fraction of the normal cost.

So let’s explore how you can use this information to plan your vacation!

 1. Taking advantage of lower airfares, cheaper rooms, and better deals for an awesome vacation in Mexico without breaking the bank…

As some travelers are a bit more wary about heading to Mexico for vacation during hurricane season, hotels and airlines will often try to supplement the lower sales period with incentives for savvy travelers to visit south of the border.

So more often than not, you can buy your plane ticket for much cheaper than you otherwise be able to and even book rooms for less.  cheap. Which means you can get that upgrade flying to Mexico without having to hope someone in first class missed their flight.

So if you want are ready to say hurricane schm-urricanes in favor of a cheaper vacation, go ahead visit our booking page  and ask about May to October rates !

2.  Go when there is almost no chance of a hurricane.

Check out our ready made bookings For Christmas , New Years,  Winter and Spring Break !

*Mandatory Hurricane Story Alert!

Ok, well it isn’t mandatory but it certainly wouldn’t be a proper piece about hurricanes without a proper hurricane story.  So.... We should have know something was up when we saw lines of cars at the gas stations on the way to the resort.  It was September 2007 and we took our daughter to Cabo to celebrate her college graduation.  Shortly after arrival we were informed of an impending hurricane.  It was only a category 1,  so daughter Rachel and I went down to the beach to check it out.

After getting sand blasted we quickly retreated to our room and rode the storm out.   Honestly, it was not bad. It was cCrazy to see the wind blasting from one direction and an hour later, blasting from the opposite direction.   The resort gathered everybody up after it passed and served pizza and lemon drop martinis, since most of the staff had fled for home.

Only one big Hurricane has hit Cabo in many years and that was Hurricane Odile in September 2014.   In fact , most hurricanes have hit Cabo in September, so you might consider after mid  October or before mid August for your Cabo vacation and give September a miss completely .

We want you to take away something other than hurricane season in Mexico poses the very real possibility of hurricanes, however unlikely. So take away that this season could present you with a unique opportunity to enjoy everything Mexico has to offer while not having to break the bank.

 

Don't worry too much about Hurricane Season Mexico! 

 

Learning Spanish Phrases: Dining Out and About

Hola! ¿Como Estan? Seré tu camarero esta noche…

If that phrase had you reaching for your Spanish to English Dictionary or ready to recite your long studied phrase of “No Hablo Español”, don’t worry. Learning Spanish for your big night on the town is a breeze and we are here to help. 

So, by the time we are done here, you’ll be comfortable enough to leave the dictionary back at your room and dine out like a local!

 

 

Vacationing in Mexico has its own unique perks and plenty of amazing things to experience, one of those being, delicious food is pretty much available everywhere. Whether it’s small street vendors offering everything from sliced mangoes con chamoy and grilled corn, elotes as they are referred to by locals. Or even authentic Mexican cuisine in fine dining restaurants, one thing is certain, amazing food is not in short supply.

Though, if your Spanish is a bit rusty, or even non-existent, it can be a little intimidating venturing outside the resort to experiencing authentic Mexican food from the places locals love and frequent. And that definitely is understandable. Though, doing so would cause you to miss out on a whole plethora of awesome food just waiting to be had. So, to help you bridge the gap between you and authentic Mexican deliciousness, we’ve put together this helpful little guide of Spanish phrases for dining out like a local.

Entonces, vamos a empezar!

 

Learning Spanish Phrases for Dining in a Restaurant

There are so many great restaurants around the resorts. Some, a short trip off the grounds, making the distance between you and an amazing night spent enjoying some local favorites, a quick car ride away. So to get you ready for your night out, let’s go over and practice some phrases you’ll need in order to make the most of an authentic Mexican dinner.

 

Sometimes it’s best to make a reservation beforehand, just to be sure you’ll have a table ready while cutting down on your time spent waiting. So if you want to call ahead and reserve a spot, this one’s for you…

“I would like to make a reservation for (the number of people dining with you) tonight under the name (your name, of course).

“Quisiera hacer una reserva para (number of people in your party) por esta noche bajo el nombre de (your name).

Then simply wait for your confirmation.

 

Of course, once you arrive, you’ll want to let the host or hostess know that you made a reservation earlier…

Spanish Speaker Cooking Authentic Mexican Food“Hi, I have a reservation under the name (once again your name)…

“Hola, tengo una reserva bajo el nombre de (you again)…

 

 

Once you’ve been seated and introduced to your waiter, you’ll probably hear that phrase we started with that almost had you running. But not to worry “Hola! ¿Como Estan? Seré tu camarero esta noche” simply means “Hello, I’ll be your waiter for the night.”

 So to get things started, you’ll probably want to begin with a drink order…

To order a drink simply ask your waiter by saying…

“Para bebir, dame un(a) (your preferred drink order*), por favor.”

                *Unsure of how to say your favorite drink? Try a few of these…

  • A beer… la cerveza
  • A cup of coffee and milk… el café con leche
  • A glass of water… Un vaso de agua
  • A glass of red wine… Una copa de vino tinto
  • A glass of white wine… Una copa de vino blacno

 

 

If the drinks are on their way and you’re ready to eat, you could ask for your waiter’s suggestion for ideas for dinner…

“What would you recommend for dinner?Authentic Mexican Dinner

¿Que me recomienda para cenar?

Or if you prefer to see a menu, you could always ask…

“Could I see a menu please?”

“¿Puedo ver el menú, por favor?”

 

Either way, you’re only one step away from enjoying some delicious local fare, so let’s get to ordering some tasty food…

Similar to ordering a drink just simply ask your waiter…

“Para comer, dame un(a) (your preferred meal for the night), por favor.”

 

It is important to remember, that if you have specific dietary limits, always ask your waiter if you are unsure about whether or not a dish fits into your dietary restrictions.

For instance, if you are vegetarian, you could ask your waiter…

“Are there any vegetarian dishes?

“¿Tienes algún plato vegetariano?”

Or if you can’t eat a certain type of food because of allergies…

“Which dishes have no (your allergen)?”

“¿Cuáles son los platos que no lleven (your specific allergen)?”

 

Once your order is in and your food is on its way, the only thing left to do is enjoy the atmosphere while taking full advantage of your night out.

Though, when everything is said and done, you may have still some room for dessert. In which case, you could reuse some of the Spanish phrases we just learned and ask your waiter…

“What would you recommend for dessert?”

“¿Para postre, que me recomienda?”

Or even ask to see a dessert menu…

“Could I see your dessert menu please?”

“¿Puedo ver el menú de postre, por favor?”

 

As everything good comes to an end at some point, after your night out like local, you’ll probably be ready to take off towards whatever else the night has in store. So to get ready to go and pay your tab, simply catch your waiter’s eye and do the universal signal for “Check please?” by miming your signature in the air.

Or if you’re excited to continue testing your new found Spanish prowess, you could ask…

“Could you bring me the check please?”

“Trae me la cuenta, por favor.”

Then simply square away your tab and head off into the night. Just be sure to remember, much as it is in the States, it’s customary to tip your waiter 15-20% at the end of your meal.

 

And here you have it, you’ve just experienced your first night out like a local!

Remember, taking the moment to enjoy and experience everything Mexico has to offer is simply just a part of the fun. Whether it’s dining out to try some new cuisine or taking in the sun for some fun on the beach, Mexico has plenty to offer if you’re willing to see it.

 

Well, if you’re excited to take your new Spanish phrases out with you on vacation but still unsure of where to try them out, feel free to take a look at our local guides to dining out around the resorts. Whether you’re staying in Nuevo Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Bucerias, or Riviera Maya we’ve got you covered with helpful guides to the best places to grab a bite to eat and enjoy something new.

And if you’re still hungry to learn more Spanish, we recommend taking a look at this awesome Conversational Spanish course offered by Udemy, it’s simple, straight forward, and will have you sounding like a local in no time!

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Is Mexico Still Safe for Vacation?  (Mexico Crime 2017)

Is Mexico Crime making it unsafe for tourism in 2017?  The short answer is no.   Recently the State Department in the U.S.has issued some warnings about Mexico.   We will address them below.

Riviera Maya

There have been a couple of instances of shootings.  These have been in Night Clubs late at night in Playa del Carmen   We don’t recommend late night activities anyway.  We always drive at night when we are in mexico , but we don’t go to out of the way places and we don’t drive late at night.

Also, there have been some episodes of Mexico Crime, where people getting there drinks drugged and then have tulum beachbecome the victim of various crimes.   This has occurred at all inclusives and the government is pursuing these issues aggressively.  However,  the Vidanta resorts have exceptional security and there have never  been such incidences at the Grand Mayan or Grand Luxxe etc.

We are headed to Riviera Maya in November and have no concerns, other than the usual normal precautions that we take when travelling to any US city.   We will be renting a car and hanging out in Playa as usual.  We have friends who live there and they say nothing has changed. 

Puerto Vallarta

These warnings are not changed from before.   Puerto Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta  are very safe areas.   The state department says tourists should avoid certain areas where the state of Jaliscochurch-puerto-vallarta borders other states.   These areas of Mexico Crime are not  areas where tourists would normally go anyway.  Ask us if you need more specific  details

We are going to Nuevo Vallarta in March and will be renting a car as always and we have no concerns.  Similar to Riviera Maya, we have good friends who live in Puerto Vallarta and they say nothing has changed there either.

So if you are wondering if Mexico is safe for vacation on 2017,  we would say yes it is.  You can read the US State Department Warning , but read it carefully, many  Mexico Crime is a problem in several areas but in the tourist areas,  it is still safer than many US cities. 

Using Your US Cellular Phone in Mexico

cell phone in mexico

This post has been updated.  See our 2021 version of Using Your Cell Phone In Mexico.  Without a doubt, sing your US cellular phone in Mexico while you venturing outside of the US is important.  You will expGerience a unique opportunity to build lasting memories, experience the rich culture of our neighbors to the south, and have a bit of fun along the way.   And while there may be a few things to know before you grab your passport and head off to Mexico’s pristine beaches and luxury resorts, by far the most common question first time visitors ask, has to be “How about Using my US cellular phone in Mexico ?" 

To which the answer is yes…but with a few caveats.
Depending on which carrier you use and of course what type of phone you have, using your cell phone while in Mexico could be easy and free…or a bit costly and requiring some planning beforehand.
So, to get you relaxing on the beach, without any more delays, let’s jump right into exploring some of the options available to you for using your cell phone in Mexico.

Using a T-Mobile Phone While in Mexico…
If you use T-Mobile as your main cell phone carrier while back in the States, then using your cell phone while south of the border will be no problem.T mobile icon
Fortunately for international travelers, T-Mobile extended its network to cover a vast majority of Mexico, and even Canada, so your phone works perfectly fine wherever you may find yourself, as long you find yourself within range of a cell phone tower.
Though unless you are planning to go off the beaten path and taking a bit of an extreme adventure, you won’t have to worry about being out of range.
On top of the extended coverage, most T-Mobile plans, with the exception of their cheapest pre-paid option, already come with an international plan covering North America. So you can use your phone much as you would back home, without having to worry about costly roaming charges.

It is important to remember, that while using your T-Mobile carrier cell phone in Mexico is free if you are on their Unlimited Plan, you may experience slower speeds for data as not much of the country benefits from as widespread a 3-G network as the US enjoys.

Using a Sprint Cell Phone While in Mexico…sprint icellular icon
Sprint, much like T-Mobile, recently expanded its network to include large portions of Mexico, so you can feel free to text and browse the internet, though at 2-G speeds, much as you would at home.
Though you may want to think twice about calling anyone back home.
While Sprint has decided to allow customers the ability to text and browse for free while in Mexico, their international calling options are still a bit steep and will end up costing you $0.20 a minute, regardless of which plan you have back home.
Unfortunately Sprint hasn’t yet offered a plan or purchase option that will make phone calls any cheaper, though they do offer an international 4-G data plan for only $10 a week. So if you are a bit savvy of a traveler, you could purchase the 4-G plan and just use the connection to make phone calls for free, but more on that later.

Using Your Verizon Cell Phone in Mexico…
If you’re on a Verizon cell phone plan back home, then you’re a little better off than Sprint’s customers. Fortunately for you, Verizon has quite a few options when it comes to making international phone calls, and even luckier for you, the cheapest option covers using your US cellular phone in Mexico. verizon cedllular
Verizon’s TravelPass™ enables customers to make phone calls, text, and even browse the web for only $5 a day, making it a bit cheaper to stay connected no matter where you are, though if you are planning on a bit of an extended stay, that price can quickly add up.
It is important to note though, that the $5 charge merely allows you to continue using your plan while in Mexico, so your same call, text, and data rates will continue to apply.
A better option for those staying a week or two in Mexico than the TravelPass™ is to add a one time purchase of their extended international calling plan.
For only $25 a month, you can enjoy 500 minutes of voice calls, 500 text messages, and up to 1GB of data usage. Even better, the international plan expires at the end of the month so you don’t have to worry about reoccurring charges.

Using Your AT&T Cell Phone in Mexico…
While AT&T was a bit behind on the curve for adding affordable international calling plans in Mexico, they more than made up for it by introducing one of the best options for their customers.at&t cell phone
So if you are like the millions of others in America that rely on AT&T’s network, you are in for a bit of luck, as the communication giant has made using your cell phone in Mexico as easy as it to use it back home in the States, as long as you are on one of their most popular cell phone plans.
Fortunately, you can feel free to text, call, and even use your data plan, much as you would back home without having to pay any extra roaming fees or charges. Though, you will have to opt into AT&T’s roaming program, before you can enjoy any of those benefits. But opting in is pretty easy and can be done quickly online by visiting their customer service page or by simply calling their service line at 866.MOBILITY.
Though if use a different cell phone plan than AT&T’s Unlimited Plus or Unlimited Choice options, using your cell phone in Mexico can be a bit more costly. Unfortunately, you will have to purchase one of three options from AT&T’s Passport Program. And as the cheapest plan starts at $40, it can be pretty painful for your wallet.

Making Calls in Mexico Anywhere You Receive a Data or Wi-Fi Connection…
If you are bit more tech savvy and don’t mind downloading a few apps, you can avoid having to pay extra fees or charges while enjoying free calling/texting not only in Mexico, but anywhere in the world.
As long you can find a stable connection to data or can connect to a Wi-Fi network, there are several apps that will allow you to talk all you like and send as many messages as you can, without having to spend a dime.
The most popular and widely used throughout the world is a little app called WhatsApp Messenger.
Simply download the app, go through a quick start up process and you are ready to stay connected anywhere you can connect to Wi-Fi network. It’s rather simple, straight forward, and easy to use, no matter what level of technical prowess you possess.
You can download WhatsApp for your Android powered phone by visiting the Android Marketplace or if you use an iPhone by downloading in from the Apple App Store.

Another great app to try that gives you the option to make phone calls and send texts while in Mexico is Viber. Though, unlike WhatsApp, Viber only allows you to connect to other Viber users for free. Which isn’t a problem if you only plan on calling loved ones back home, but does prevent you from using your phone much as you would anywhere else.
It does give you the option of making calls to people outside of their app, though for a per-minute charge, making it less useful than WhatsApp and a bit more costly.
Though if you want to stay connected to loved ones for free, you can download and try Viber by visiting the Android Marketplace or by stopping by Apple’s App Store.

Making the Most of Your Vacation…
Well, there you have it, no matter where you may find yourself in Mexico, being able to stay connected is simple, and sometimes free, so you can pack your bags, grab that passport, and come join us in making memories that will last a lifetime.
If you are getting ready for your first trip south of the border and looking for some inspiration or activities to enjoy, please check out our Guide of Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Maya, and Los Cabos.

We also have a post to help you find cheap car rental 

As always… remember sonrisa y disfrutas de la vida !  We're sure you will be using your US cellular phone in Mexico to tell your friends what they are missing !

Mexico Vacation with Kids at the Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Resort

John and Linda took 4 of their grand kids as well as son, daughter and spouses to Nuevo vallarta.  The Vidanta resort has great resources for vacationing with kids.  In addition to the stuff discussed by the kids in the video, there are lots of other activities    SEE A LIST BELOW THIS VIDEOI   Check out the 4 Bedroom Residence featured in the this video

 

 

[arve url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-6ygAu3FhU" title="Mexico Vacation with Kids at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta" description="an interview with kids about their week of vacation in mexico. they stayed at the Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Grand Luxxe" /]

There are also sea turtle releases for  much of the year.  ,  kids clubs with crafts running all day,  beading crafts in the Luxxe pool area,  water slides,  wave pools,  bingo, ping pong, volleyball and much more.   For other ideas of things to at the resort, see Resort Itinerary Post

vidanta  kids play pool

 

You Can Save Money On Resort Food - Insider Tip

The Secret:  Room Service

The Vidanta resorts in Nuevo Vallarta and in Riviera maya have over 20 restaurants with various cost levels.  However, something you might not realize is that the fajitasmost cost effective food can be gotten from room service.   A variety of food is available including fajitas, pasta, enchiladas, pizza,  and variety of other tasty reasonably priced foods.    There is a catch.  You should order about 45 minutes before you want it .  It doesn't come quickly.    You will exhaust the choices if you do it multiple times, but it is a great choice when the kids (or you) are exhausted and don't want to venture out of the suite. 

Puerto Vallarta Walking Food Tour - Mole-Pozole

Puerto Vallarta Walking Food Tour

We are always looking for new experiences and we made the wise choice to take a Puerto Vallarta Walking Food Tour. Last month we made a very good choice and signed up for the

el mole de jovita

                                Mole being made by hand

walking food tour offered by Vallarta Eats.  Our tour leader ,  steeps the tour in Mexican history and all the food stops are tied to the history and the culture, including pre-hispanic cultures.  We will walk you through the stops and leave your mouth watering.

El Mole de Jovita

The first stop is in old town at this restaurant that specializes in the complex preparations of one or two dozen ingredients into the traditional sauce called Mole

 (Pronounced Moh -lay with the accent on the first syllable. ).  We ate three enchiladas each one covered with a different mole,  red, green,  poblano (which is brown and my personal favorite)  

Shrimp on a Stick. 

fish on a stick in puerto vallartaWe walked toward the beach for the famous fish and shrimp on a stick at Langosta Loca.  Before grilling, they are coated with a mild red seasoning.   It is ok, but really comes to life with recommended squeeze of lime and a dash of the Huichol salsa recommended by our guide,  She asks us if we want more.  Already we are wising up that the answer needs to be consistently .... no gracias.

 

 

Grilled Corn

Next we walked across the pedestrian bridge to the Malecon.   There we were offered samples of 4 different kinds of roasted corn,  Once we chose the one we liked

roasted corn on the Malecon during Puerto Vallarta Walking Food Tour

Roasted corn on the Malecon

, we were given a small plastic glass.   with corn.  If you order it "con todo"  which means with everyting, you get  mayonnaise, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, and various versions of hot peppers.   I was insightful enough to ask them to go light on the mayonnaise.  If you take the tour, this is the place to start eating half of what they serve you. That is if you you want to be able to walk at the end of the evening.  

 

 

Tuba.  Yes I Said Tuba

a few shorts steps way,  we find a genleman in traditional Mexican garb,  with a 5 gallon plasic jug an interesting piece of crockery.  He pours some half from each container and we experience a traditional fermented coconut, probiotic drink.  Ok. you only live once.   We really liked it, hey Mikey !!   He even added some cut up tuba on the Maleconapple and walnuts on top.  However, we would have never walked up and asked him for a drink without the tour.  This is when we learnsomething interesting . All the vendors in the downtown tourist area are licensed and inspected by the city government.  

Tamales and Requeson 

Next we walk up to the main square under the shadow of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.  The traditional restaurant  El Campanario that specializes in Tamales and the traditional soup called Pozole.  This is the best stop yet for some of our group.   I myself do not love tamales .  The Pozole here is the white type (as opposed to the green tomatillo type)  and a bit bland for my tastes.   but it was still interesting to try it.  The taco Dorado with requeson cheese was more up my alley.   The drink they serve is atole, it is a thick drink made with hominy corn flour, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla.   Chocolate is an optional addition.  It is quite tasty but a bit much after 2 or 3 hours of eating.  

 

Final Stop Ice Cream and Popsicles

Thank Goodness it is downhill to the final stop.   A traditional family business from the state of Michoacon serves popsicles and ice cream.  the most interesting flavor is tamarind and chile .  It is sweet, sour and spicy all at once.  

 

 

Three hours and a dozen exotic flavors mixed with history and culture  for only $55.   What a great deal.  you can find the tour on line at  Vallarta Eats website  .  The tour we took was aptly named mole and pozole.    We suspect the other tours they offer  are equally interesting and delicious. 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasitos de Luz:  Helping Children in Mexico

Several years ago, when we decided that we need to support something meaningful in Mexico we made connections and researched until we found Pasitos de Luz.  Casa Connor Pasitos de LuzWhen we met the founder , Yolanda, we were overhwhelmed by her passion for the kids.  We knew we had found the place we wanted to support.   She has now been joined by her son , Arturo, who helps with finances and operations, along with a host of volunteers.  We went to the open house for their new facility called Casa Connor and were proud to see MayanRental listed with a few donors that had donated over 100,000 pesos last year.  (sounds better with pesos )  

yolanda

Yolanda Sanchez the founder 

 

What is Casa Connor?

Pasitos de Luz translates little steps of light.   What they do is day care for children with all sorts of disabilities.  There is no charge to the parents.  The new facility can accommodate many more children, but that means there will be more operating expense.  Fortunately, Casa Connor is designed with pretty spectacular energy efficiency, so that does help.   We 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.

 

 

 

 

How Can You Help?

The good news is that you can donate  and get a tax deduction.     Amy Welch /  Banderas Bay Charities gives you an American Tax deduction and Children’s Shelter of Hope   gives you a Canadian deduction.  Apparently you have to register through http://canadahelps.org  and then go to the Candian Childrens shelter of Hope site and look for Pasitos.  Good thing Canadians are smart !!  Sounds just a tiny bit complicated.    We have followed up and confirmed that  all the money goes directly to Pasitos.   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 ! 

What Exactly is Casa Connor?

In honor to Connor, son of Geraldine Oudman and grandson of Peter&Teena, who started their mission of transcending the name of their grandson, like the special

Casa Connor

Connors Sister's painting of Connor before his death

kid that love Puerto Vallarta, Connor passed away but his love and energy stayed here. Peter&Teena started the patronage pro construction of the center and they started looking or people and altruist companies that wanted to invest in help in Mexican kids in their therapy and education. There is still a long way to go, the building is empty, and we need the therapy swimming pool and some areas that are important for the comprehensive care of these children.

This is just the first stage, the Casa Connor building will help hundreds of kids with psychical challenges and the objective is to change their lives for good.

We wish the best to our friends at Pasitos de Luz and will continue to offer our finanancial and prayer support.  Many challenges lay ahead for Pasitos de Luz as they move their operations to Casa Connor.  

Puerto Vallarta Zoo - Good or Bad?

When you read in trip advisor about the Puerto Vallarta Zoo, you find one of two responses.  It was fantastic OR it was terrible.   Which one do you believe?   We decided to see for ourselves.   Turns out there are reasons for both responses.   

Head south out of Old Town (also known as the romantic zone) on highway 200.   It will take you 20 or 25 minutes on the winding, twisting road, especially when you get caught behind the inevitable lumbering bus.   Keep your eyes peeled for a Zoologico Vallarta. Sign and take the improbable poorly maintained dirt road to the right.  There is also a sign for El Eden waterfall, which is beyond the zoo.      In less than a bumpy mile, you will see the Zoo.  
 
It is heralded by a an entrance brightly painted in jungle motif.  You are immediately faced with a tourists choice.   $10 for a normal ticket or $85 if you want to interact.  Which means play with some young large "cats" and a lemur.   It would be fun but we decided $85 was a little excessive.  If anyone reading this did the interact price, please leave a comment on how it went.
 
You are now on a one way path for about an hour or more walk through dozens of exhibits.  First we wil give you the liberal, zoo hating,  animal loving negative response.  Then we will give you the animal feeding , also animal loving, tourist, not to analytical positive response.
 

We hate the Puerto Vallarta Zoo. 

It is depressing to see a huge tiger stalking in front of a barred wall , obviously continuously upset.   Some of the enclosures are tiny and unimaginative, restraining animals that long to be free.  The emu looks depressed and half dead laying flat with head on the ground.   The wild dogs appear to  have mange.   Monkeys sit moping and depressed looking in small exhibits.
 

We Love the Puerto Vallarta Zoo.camel puerto vallarta

You buy a bag of food at the gate with instructions on who gets what. The zebras , goats, wild ponies, camel are great fun chomping the carrots from your hand.   The giraffe hanging over the railing over your head is a trip.  The long tongue taking food from you while you jump back to avoid the drool is hilarious and fun.  The variety of animals with multiple kinds of big cats is amazing.  The Tigers prowling the cage on one side of you in quest of the goats on the other side of you is amazing and a bit terrifying.  There are varieties of animals and birds you have never seen.  Massive Eland eat right out of your hand.  And the Toucans are cooler than cool and grab the peanuts as fast as you lay them down.

giraffe puerto vallarta zoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Puerto Vallarta Zoo is not safe (say the helicopter parents)

The Emus can reach right over the wall and grab you if they were so inclined.  They do have a bit of a wild look in their eye.  You can get close enough to get bit emu by several varieties of animal (mentioned above) and you can get your fingers in where a few more could grab you.  If you have young children that do nobt heed  their parents warnings they, in fact , could get seriously hurt.  
 

The Puerto Vallarta.  Zoo is refreshingly accessible.

Ok, so the gaggle of geese  following you with your bag of food is a bit intimidating, but like Mexican drivers they are aggressive but not mean.    But not being treated like an idiot that doesn't know how to be just the slightest bit careful is refereshing. Having the risk of being slurped by a camel or drooled on by giraffe is hilarious and entertaining.   Feeding huge big horned sheep and making sure the shy one in back gets some is rewarding.  All the truly dangerous animals are behind double layers of heavy fencing. 
 

Final thoughts

Just when you think you are almost through and you are out of animal food, there is a snack shop and the attendant informs you that you are 60% through.... And of course sells you some more animal food. 
leopard puerto vallarta
 
I have not mentioned,  overall the zoo is remarkably clean and well maintained.  There are two or three varieties of pig in large areas toward the end and those make you move faster due to the unmistakable pig farm smell and ready for your tour to be over.
 

Puerto Vallarta Zoo:  Good or Bad

Our answer is .... Yes.   We will leave it up to you to decide if it is worth a visit or not. The Puerto Vallarta Zoo was a love / hate experience for us. If you do go, make sure to take insect repellent.  We didn't see mosquitoes, but we did get no see um type bites that itched for a few days. And hey, if you are that far south of Puerto Vallarta, go a little farther and visit the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens !   Leave a comment about your experience at the Puerto Vallarta Zoo..

Guide to the Nuevo Vallarta Vidanta Resort Pools

 

Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Pool Area Info

Aerial view of one of the many Grand Mayan Pools

Can you Say "Relax" ?

You can find all these areas on our  Nuevo Vallarta Mayan Resort map

Grand Mayan Pools  

Grand Mayan Pools are right behind the the Grand Mayan buildings.  There is a lazy river, multiple pool areas , a Mayan Pyramid with a water slide, and two wave pools If you are our guest in the Grand Mayan ,  you can access this amazing area by simply walking out the back of the Grand Mayan building.    If you are staying in the Luxxe you will want to take a shuttle to at check out the lazy river at least once.  All guests have access exceptone of the entries to the Lazy River Mayan Palace guests.

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Bliss Pools 

Grand Bliss Pools,  walk straight behind the Grand Bliss toward the ocean and right before the beach is the Grand Bliss pool and the Chiringuito tapas restaurant.   It is open to Grand Bliss and Grand Luxxe guests.  The restaurant, of course, is open to all.   The Grand Bliss pool has a view of the ocean and is quieter than the hopping Grand Mayan water park. 

Luxxe Pools

There are three Luxxe pool areas  the Punta pools can be reached by walking straight through the Punta Pre

Punta pools

Punta presidential pools

sidential building.  Luxxe 1 pools are best reached by walking through the Luxxe 1 building lobby.   Only Luxxe /Residence guests have access.  Finally, the new Spa Tower pools are on the river side of Luxxe building 4.  

Residence Pool

There is a pool exclusively for guests of the top of the top new 4 bedroom residence units.    guests on the top of the Residence building.  

 

Where are the warm pools?

Ok, this isn’t new, but we just figured it out and thought we should share.   All the warmest pools are at the right (north) end of the string of pools at each location.  At the Grand Mayan, this is right in front of the Samba restaurant.   At the Grand Bliss pools,  go right as you enter the pool area from the Grand Bliss.   For the pools next to the Luxxe One building,  the warm pool is closest to the Blue Fish restaurant.  We didn’t get a chance to check out the Punta pools, but we are guessing the pattern might continue. Someone let us know if we are wrong

Of course, if you prefer cool refreshing pools, you want the left (south ) end of each pool complex.

That is our review of the Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Resort Pools. 

Money Tips in Mexico - Don't Throw Your Money Away

Here are some great Money Tips for your Mexico Vacation so you don't throw your money away.  

What is the best way to handle money when you vacation in Mexico?  The key is to avoid the many ways you can throw money away, so we are writing these tips to rescue you from unnecessary expenses.   First of all, it is generally not necessary to exchange money before you go. 

Credit Cards

It will save you money if you make sure you have a Visa or Mastercard without a foreign transaction fee (see the table below).  For most places, you can use credit cards..   Note, however, that not all places accept AMEX.   In fact , we at MayanRental don't accept AMEX.  due to the large expense to the seller (us !!)

Can I spend US Dollars?

Well..... yes.   While it is true that you can pay with US dollars in most tourist locations, it is also true that you will lose a ton of cash doing that.  With better places, you will lose 10% on every purchase.  For not so nice retailers / restaurants, you could lose 20% or even more if you look gullible.  So, if you plan to do things off the resort, it is always much better  to have pesos.   But be careful.  You will tend to think of pesos as play money and lose track of how much you spent.   As of now,  100 pesos equals 5 dollars,  200 pesos equals 10 dollars.   This is not chicken feed.  

Use the ATM  

The best way to get pesos is from an ATM.  If you are fortunate enough to have a user-friendly credit union, they will refund most of the fees.  If you have a bank, you will lose some money to fees, but it is far better than exchanging at the resort or spending US dollars in Mexico.  This is by far our best Money Tip for Mexico

Exchange at the Resort

If you simply go to the concierge and exchange money, you should just go to your balcony and throw some cash off.  At least that way some of the staff will benefit, rather than the big resort corporation.   That was a joke.  

The Declining Peso 

The good news,  if you are Canadian or American,  is that those $1000 US  will buy 21,000 pesos, when 2 years ago it would have only bought 12,000.    Our hearts do go out to our Mexican friends whose money is losing value.  The least we can do is spend some money into their economy.

Sadness:  Time to Go Home

One point.  How do you exchange back your leftover pesos when you go home?   No problem,  just pay your final bill with the remaining peso and then finish off the rest with a credit card.

Summary

Estimated Money that you would lose getting $1000 worth of pesos. 

Visa /Mastercard purchases                              Zero

Credit Union ATM                                            zero to $15

Bank ATM                                                            $30
Credit Card w/ Foreign Transaction Fee             $30

Exchange at the Resort                                   $80 to $120

Spending  US Dollars directly                         $100 to $150

So there you have it .  Have a great vacation and and save using our Money Tips for Mexico !!

Three Perfect Margarita Recipes - Happiness in a Glass

We are upgrading our perfect margarita recipes post from 2010.   "Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you tequila which is pretty much the same thing."

Mexican Vacation and Margarita are almost synonyms. We will give you two ways to make the perfect Margarita. Both of them come out ten times better than using ingredients for the perfect margarita recipesMargarita or Sweet and Sour Mix.

The first one is a simple recipe for use in the U.S. or Canada if you want make one at home to get you in the mood for Mexico.

  • 6 ounces of frozen limeade
  • 6 ounces of tequila
  • 3 ounces of triple sec

All you do is dump the ingredients into a blender and fill with ice. Blend until smooth.  Add a little bit of water if needed to thin it to pouring texture.

Some people like to add a little powdered sugar. I personally don’t think it needs it.

Recipe Number Two

If you want more authentic or if you are vacationing (say in a MayanRental luxury suite :-)) here is a recipe for you. If your vacation rental has a blender, there’s a good chance you’ll find a lime squeezer in a utensil drawer somewhere. Check out the picture for a little help in what to look for.   Next up is a shopping trip. For each batch you will need:

  • 2 limes
  • ½ cup of tequila
  • ¼ cup of triple sec
  • 4 tablespoons of powdered sugar  or regular sugar if you want to make simple syrup.

The Grocery Store

Look for one of the larger grocery stores and find a quality Tequila (price really does mean something). You will definitely need the sugar for this recipe , plus triple sec (any licor naranja will do) and, limes take the place of the limeade in our first recipe.  Get Grand Marnier instead of triple sec for the Cadillac version.

If you are in Riviera Maya, don't act like a gringo. DO NOT get limas. Those are only for cooking food like the Yucatecan sopa de lima. Lime soup, De Lima, get it?

The word for limes is limon (say “lee-moan”). The word for lime and lemon is the same, so you should specify limon verde (green limon). Don’t say “Vur-dee” or you will get a blank stare from the nice person in the grocery store. Say “bare-day” and they you will be on the way to the check out.

Oh and grab and orange or orange juice  (naranja or jugo de naranja)  (na-rahn-ha) if you plan to attempt the Cadillac recipe at the end of this post.

Simple Syrup simple syrup diy

If you plan to do make a few batches,  you should make simple syrup.  Just mix equal amounts of sugar and water in a pan  (use bottled water , tap water in the resort is safe, but can have a chemical taste).  Heat on low heat stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved.

The Lime Squeezer

Now for that squeezer you found earlier. We’re not embarrassed to say it took us a few tries to figure out this gadget (o.k. maybe a little embarrassed). You’ll be a step ahead. The best we can figure is those little holes aren’t for the juice to come out of; they are there so that squeezing the lime doesn’t create a suction and make it stick in the squeezer. Just cut the limes in half and squeeze them over the blender. Not too many though. 2 limes (four halves) are all it takes for ¾ of a blender of frozen margaritas. Add ½ cup of tequila, ¼ cup of triple sec and  4 tablespoons of simple syrup or 4 heaping tablespoons powdered sugar (more or less to taste). Didn’t bring your measuring spoons with you? Just give a generous guess, hey, you’re on vacation. Last up is ice to fill the blender ¾ full, then blend away. If you need to add a little extra sugar here, you still can, then gently stir or blend in. Are you more of an “on the rocks” purist? Play around with the above recipe, all the great bartenders do.

Complimentary Food

If you want food to go perfectly with our perfect margarita recipes, check out our Yucatan food post 

The Cadillac Margarita

cadillac margaritaThis recipe is still in the perfecting stage, but it is pretty close.   Use the recipe above.  Make it on the rocks.  Add a little water if the lime is too much.

BUT  use  Grand Marnier instead of Triple sec and use a  top shelf clear tequila like Azul .   and add just a tiny splash of orange juice.  Yes I said tiny splash. this is the best of our perfect margarita recipes.

if we manage to perfect it further  , we will update our perfect margarita recipes in a future post .

Seven Mistakes To Avoid When Flying to Mexico

 

flying to mexico

 #1 Thinking Price Is The Only Issue

We always try to find the cheapest way to travel possible.  BUT more than one stop will likely have you arriving considerably worse for wear.    And always look at the total travel time.  And for sure, don’t miss the fact that a flight arrives the next day and you have to stay a night on the way.  One more thing, if you arrive at the resort too late, good room locations may be gone.

 

#2 Not Learning How to Get the Best Price

We made an entire post on this topic.

 #3 Paying For Comfort Seats

First class is great if you can afford it, but a couple extra inches of leg room in comfort  is not worth the price.  This is only our opinion.  I would love to hear if someone does find it valuable.  After all, I am only 5 foot 8 inches.

#4 Forgetting  to Pay in Advance for Baggage on Spirit Airlines

Sooner or later you will succumb to an unbelievably low airfare on Spirit Airlines.    They have bizarre ways to nickel and dime you to death.    We wrote a humorous post explaining some of these.  You can also read a serious explanation here

#5 Assuming Southwest Works The  Same As Other Airlines

Southwest recently started flying to Mexico.  So far, flights we have checked haven’t been priced that competitively.  But if you do fly Southwest read reviews that are not on the Southwest website on how and when to check in.   It makes a big difference if you want to sit together with a family member or friend

 

#6 Booking on American Airlines.

They are often the cheapest but it is amazing how many people we know who have had problems.  My colleague who got a text at 4 AM to tell her that her 7 AM flight was cancelled.  Our group that got delayed by mechanical problems and nearly spent spring break in Dallas airport.   Our friends that ended up over night in a dive motel in Dallas due to a flight delay.  Our experience of booking a few months early and having it changed to terrible alternatives 5 times over 3 months, each time we spent a long time on the phone getting it fixed..  Combine that with a lot of bad attitude from employees and the money savings are NOT worth it.

 

#6 on Steroids:    Booking On American AND   Accepting a Short Layover.            

American has a ton of flights to Mexico and sooner or later you will have no other good choice.    When that happens , DO NOT take a flight with a layover less than 3 hours if you have to go through customs and  no less than 2 hours if you don’t have to go through customs.  Your connecting flight will be late and you will be stuck.  Sometimes overnight.  This is a good rule in general, but imperative on American.

#7  Staying Home.

 

 

 

 

 

Yucatan Food - the Best, the Unique and the Flavorful

Yucatan Food

Yucatan food (or Yucatecan cuisine if you want to be fancy), has developed over centuries of living off the land and in a hot, tropical climate. The dishes mix elements of spice, local animals and vegetation, influences from the Spanish, Lebanese, Dutch and the Caribbean, as well as true practicality.

If you're a foodie then Mexico is a paradise for you! And if you're not, no worries. You'll find things as ordinary as turkey and tomatoes, or as exotic as armadillos! Here are some examples of Mexican cuisine that are a must try!

El Desayuno (Breakfast)

Chilaquiles - These are often used to get rid of leftovers. They are fried tortilla strips that have been simmered in a red or green salsa and you can add beans, eggs, cheese or meat - whatever you have on hand.

yucatan food

Molletes are a popular Yucatan breakfast food.

Molletes - There are a couple different kinds of molletes, which are a cousin of the bruschetta in Italy. It consists of bolillo, or a sweet bread, cut length wise and partially hollowed out. It's filled with pinto beans, cheese and peppers and then popped in the oven until the cheese melts. It is usually served with salsa, pico de gallo, ham, bacon or mushrooms.

Huevos Rancheros - Or Rancher's Eggs, is also a traditional breakfast choice. They are basically composed of fried eggs served on fried corn tortillas topped with a tomato-chili sauce, and you can add refried beans, Mexican-style rice, and slices of avocado.

El Almuerzo (Lunch) y La Cina (Dinner)

Yucatan food

The steak tacos at Taco Árabe.

Any kind of tacos - turns out there is a much greater variety of tacos in the Yucatan than there is in America, go figure. I tried Rocket Tacos at Tacos Árabe in Mérida. These have been heavily influenced by the Lebanese and are a steak taco with onions topped with an absolutely amazing garlic cheese sauce, or crema de ajo. It's been years since I had these and I can still taste them. If I ever go back to the Yucatan I will definitely be going back to Tacos Árabe! Another great place to get tacos is Taqueria el Carboncito in Tulum, which is closer to the resorts than Merida.

Sopa de Lima - I also tried this dish when I visited Tacos Árabe in Merida. Their Sopa de Lima was also delicious and I was served a very generous portion. It's a chicken soup spiked heavily with fragrant lime juice. It's light and flavorful and wonderful.

Yuacatan food

Pibil, a popular Yucatan food is usually made of pork and has a smoky flavor.

Pibil - This is probably the most notable Yucatan food item. It came about because of the need to preserve meat on its way home from a hunt, or to save for the future. It's most often made of suckling pig, and sometimes chicken. First, the meat is rubbed with an achiote paste, marinated overnight in sour orange juice, and then wrapped in banana leaves, and cooked in an earthen pit known as the pib. The pib cooks the meat and suffuses it with smoke.

Tamales - a traditional dish made with the starchy, corn based dough that is popular in the Yucatan, and steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf. You don't eat the outside wrapper, that is just for cooking purposes, but you can add any kinds of fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses or chilis, whatever your tastes are in the mood for! These are one of the most ancient dishes in Mesoamerica, possibly dating back to 8000 BC.

Ceviche - This dish is made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with a choice of peppers. Additional seasonings, such as chopped onions, salt, or cilantro, may also be added. Ceviche is usually accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavors, such as sweet potato, lettuce, corn or avocado.

Yucatan food

Ceviche has a great variety of taste and look because it can be made of countless different sea creatures.

There are tons of other dishes that you can try while in the Yucatan, like empanadas, quesadillas, burritos, queso relleno and more! This is just a sampling of the ones you may be less familiar with as they haven't been replicated in the states as often. If you need help finding some restaurants with good ratings and close to the location you're staying visit The 15 Best Restaurants in Tulum, The 10 Best Restaurants Near the Grand Mayan Riviera Maya or The 10 Best Riviera Maya Restaurants 2016.

Yucatan food is great for all it's flavor and variety, but especially because it can be made to order and easily fit any person's likes and dislikes. If you ever visit one of the Riviera Maya resorts, try one, or all of these great restaurants and amazing dishes!

Grand Mayan           Grand Luxxe

Mayan Palace            Spa Tower

Grand Bliss

 

A One Week Vidanta Resort Itinerary - Part Two

This is a continuation of a One Week Vidanta Itinerary - Part One 

Day Four

grand luxxe gym
You might want to spend the second half of the week with an  every morning,  Oh Dark Early, yoga class at the spa .   Or….... you might not.  Another alternative to help you go home healthier is a morning walk or run on the beach.    Or….you may just sit on your private deck and sip your coffee.  This requires that earlier in the week you picked up some coffee,  100% Arabica.  If you are like me and don’t like it black, don’t forget the half and half.   You could have also picked up some yogurt and some fruit or bread for toast so you can relax the morning away in your suite.

For lunch today, you can take a little money off your final bill by visiting  the deli.  Unlike the salads in the U.S. grocery stores,  the salads here are flavorful and surprisingly inexpensive.  Order 2 or 3 of them to share and sit out in the tropical air and enjoy the moment.  Be fully present and savor  your curried garbanzo beans  !!   To ward off being too healthy you might want to top it off with a frozen yogurt.

jogging-beach-nuevo-vallartaToday is a good day to enjoy the ocean.   If you are in Nuevo Vallarta, you could rent a boogie board if the wind is up and there are good waves.  If you are in Riviera Maya you could swim off off the  dock in the areas cleared of coral or walk 10 minutes north where the beach has no coral.   Better yet,  you can take a snorkel tour right from the resort.  If you always wondered about scuba, you could do an intro lesson for free at the pool.

In either location there are often parasail trips you can take for a spectacular view of the ocean, beach and the resort.

Tonight you will be tired and looking for a relaxing informal dinner. Check out La Cantina in Nuevo Vallarta or Frida’s by the Mayan Palace ptres generaciones tequlaools in Riviera Maya.   This is basic high quality Mexican food.   La Cantina has the added bonus of fantastic Laser show.

If you planned ahead (because you read this post before you arrived)  you have picked up a bottle of anejo tequila, you can sit on you balcony , enjoy the stars and sip tequila.

Day Five

After your yoga,  walk on or run on the beach,  memories of the buffet breakfast from Day One are haunting you.  May as well give in and do one more.    A light sushi snack at the Blue Fish will hold you until evening.   This is a good afternoon to schedule a massage.   Or wander down to the beach/pool  and join in a volley ball or ping pong game.   Send the older kids off to the video arcade and find a palapas and try one of the creative drinks you haven’t had yet, like the Miami Vice or the Picasso.  Mix and match any of the above that appeal to you.

If you are in Riviera Maya , tonight is the night to cash in those Cirque du Soleil tickets you bought 3 months in advance.   You will be blown way by the quality of the dinner and the fantastic show.   If you are in Nuevo Vallarta, you can choose between the fun Mexican cirque du soleil rviera mayaFiesta on the beach (usually on Thursday nights)  or a more elegant Italian dinner at Tramonto.  If you chose the Fiesta , your entertainment is built in with traditional Mexican entertainment.   If you chose Tramonto, you can wander over to the Santuario, for the rotating entertainment options.   There is a small cover charge, but it is applicable to drinks and snacks.

 

Day Six

Don’t panic.  You are not going home today.   If you happen to be staying in the Luxxe, Spa Tower, Loft or Residence in Nuevo Vallarta,  you have a unique option this morning   The Luxxe Spa (called the Spatium) has a wonderful outdoor spa area with a steam room,  dry sauna,  cold plunge pool and huge co-ed Jacuzzi pool. You can book an hour there for no cost.    A beautiful way to keep the vacation mindset going on day Six.   If you are not in the NV Luxxe area, no worries,  just repeat “The Ritual” from Day One in Part One of this post.   In all cases, today should include a massage.  If you did the Spa wet area, go directly to your massage.  If not ,  arrive at the Spa 45 minutes early to do the   jacuzzi, dry sauna, ,  COLD water tank,  wet sauna and Swedish shower prior to your massage.   The simplest choices are the Swedish massage (also called the relaxing massage) which is gentle and …. Well…… relaxing.   Personally, I feel like I haven’t had a massage after a Swedish Massage so, I choose the deep tissue massage,deep tissue massage which given my genetically tight muscles is always a VERY INTENSE experience.

Since this is your last night,  you might want to finish up where you began at the Burger’s Custom made.  This time get a steak not a burger.     If you are in Riviera Maya,  a good alternativ is the Café del Lago theme buffet followed by a show.   In Nuevo , spend a little time at the Santario for some live music and entertainment but be sure to walk through the jungle or down the beach to absorb your last night in tropical paradise.

Day Seven

Ideally, your flight is not until noon or later.   It is great to wrap up your stay with a relaxing breakfast.  This can be either at the best buffet breakfast in the world or maybe a breakfast crepe at the deli.  There is a peaceful patio to enjoy it.

It is time to shed a tear and check out.    Make your commitment now to book your trip for two weeks instead of one next year.  Obviously one week was not enough. If you missed the first half of this blog post you can find Itinerary Part One Here

jet-plane

A Week Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Resort Itinerary - Part One

Nuevo Vallarta -On Resort Activities - The Arrivalnuevo vallarta resort grounds

Dinner at Burgers Custom Made.  We recommend you call for a reservation as soon as you check in. You can finish your first evening in paradise with the best cheesecake I have had in years.This is the perfect place to eat outside unless it is quite windy.

Go for a walk in the landscaped gardens by the ocean.  Stay out long enough to realize you are in a tropical paradise. The paths are all elegantly lit.

Day one

The very first thing , and this is critically important.  SLEEP IN !  You will wake up between 6:30 and 7 AM.  You have nothing you are required to do.  Snuggle up and go back to sleep.

Get up and go to the Samba or the Café del Lago.  Here is an Insiders Secret. You don’t have to do the buffet every time, so today you can order a simple breakfast off the menu.  Save the buffet for tomorrow.

Ok, don’t hurry, you’re on vacation, but get on your swimming suit and head to the pool area and grand luxxe poolsgrab some seats.  You had a late lunch, so you can just have nachos that the beautiful young woman brought you.  Happy hour will be here before you know it.  Yes, it’s Mexico, you can have a piña colada at noon.

It is now time to  do the ritual.  If at any time during the week you wonder what to do,   you can do the ritual.  Here it is:

The 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. When you get uncomfortably warm. Swim across the pool and back.  Get out and drip dry .
  3. Repeat Step #1
  4. Rinse / Repeat

Back to your room for a relaxing shower.

gong restaurantDinner tonight at the Gong  ( you did make reservations yesterday when you arrived , right?)  You don’t need the sushi if you are having an appetizer.  But you really can’t resist it.  Maybe you can skip dessert.  Just dream about the cheese cake you had last night.

 

 

 Day Two

Since you skipped dessert last night, you can splurge and do the full buffet at Café del Lago.   There are other buffets , but they all pale in comparison.  Some of our favorites:

John’s Favorites                                              Linda’s Favorites

Custom Omelette                                            Cheese  Empanada

Fresh Fruit                                                       Crepes with strawberries and cream

California Roll                                                  Fresh Fruit

Crepes with nutella                                          The bacon hidden behind the counter

The weird green juice                                      Carafe of coffee that stays hot

Chilaquiles verde                                             Unique little bitefuls of all sorts of creative food

 

And that’s just for starters.

So you won’t be needing Lunch today.  And Dinner is currently in question as well.

You have some interesting options for the afternoon.

Conversational Spanish lessons are offered  a few days of the week

Water aerobics are offered almost every day

There is a kids club every day, so check out which activities your kids might want to participate in.

At the spa there are a variety of classes.   There is a fee for these, well worth it to balance out your vacation.  If you are not fully unwound yet (evidenced by checking your phone frequently,  walking fast like you are going to be late,  tapping your toe while at rest)   you should consider repeating “the ritual” described earlier for  day one.

However you spend the afternoon,  you will gradually recover from breakfast and start thinking about dinner.  Tonight might be a good night to check out the Chiringuito Tapas restaurant.   If you don’t have grand bliss or grand luxxe bands you may be questioned by security people, just tell them you are going to the restaurant.

Day Threejack nicklaus golf academy

Now that you have caught up on sleep and started to unwind, there are a variety of morning activities available.  You could take a Learn to Golf lesson or a Perfect your Swing  lesson at the Jack Nicklaus Academy (this is  only at the Nuevo Vallarta Resort).   Or simply go out and golf 9 or 18 holes.   Make sure to reserve tee times before you get the resort.

No interest in golf?  No problem.  Take a long walk on the beach.  Opposed to any physical activity?    Fine,,  try out the Azur French restaurant for an elegant breakfast with a spectacular view.  The options are almost unlimited.

Maybe spend your late morning posting some photos to facebook.  Don’t forget to mention your friends at MayanRental.   😀

 

If you are in Nuevo Vallagrand mayan nuevo vallarta lazy riverrta , today is the day to hit the Grand Mayan lazy river.  If you own a Go Pro  don’t forget to take it along for some fun footage.    Take at least two laps .  Something about floating with a current that will take any remaining stress away.

Lunch can be a Peruvian Ceviche and a plate of nachos served to you at poolside with an adult beverage of your choice.

This afternoon is the perfect time to find a palapa or relax on your balcony and break out the book  or that stack of magazines you brought to enjoy.   You should now be unwound enough to sit still and enjoy reading.

Smile in anticipation, you’ve reserve an elegant dinner at the Tramonto Italian Restaurant tonight.  (This one is popular, reserve it and the Gong the first day you arrive.)    Vidanta is top of the heap for Resorts in Mexico and are great places for Mexico Vacations.  You can read Nuevo Vallarta Vidanta Intinerary Part Two Here

Recipe for the Best Chilaquiles Ever !

Here is a recipe for one of our favorite basic dishes in Mexico :  Chilaquiles. chilaquiles
We tend to prefer the verde (green) version, but both red and green are great.    It is still 4 months until we get to back to Mexico, but tonight,  my wife Linda,  back here  in cold and rainy Michigan made such a fabulous version , that I decided to sit down and share a photo and the recipe.   They aren't very pretty but they are magnificent to eat.

The Ingredients

3 Fresh corn tortillas
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1/4 of an onion (sliced)

1/2 poblano pepper (sliced)

1 clove of garlic

1 tsp cumin seed

1/4 of the meat from rotisserie chicken (shredded and heated in advance)

1 1/2 cups tomatillo salsa  (not tomato)

1/2 to 1/3 can of black beans

1/2 cup of chicken broth

4 eggs (scrambled , salt and peppered and set aside)

Instructions

Cut the tortillas into 1" by 2" strips
Heat the oil and fry them up (set aside when crispy)
Then add the onion, poblanos and garlic to the oil and fry. after a couple minutes add the cumin seed and continue to fry for one to two more minutes. Add the tomatillo salsa, shredded chicken pieces, black beans and the tortilla strips. Now add enough chicken broth to thin out to a little thinner than spaghetti sauce. Last, you add the scrambled eggs Light fold together, heat for a few minutes and serve garnished with fresh cilantro. Serves 3 to 4 people.

What's the Trick

So you tried it and it was good but not the dream experience I promised. Well.... there is a trick.

My wife makes her own tomatillo salsa by roasting tomatillos from our garden under the broiler with poblanos and garlic and chunks of onion until everthing is soft and lightly charred and then blends it all together in a food processor. This is the magic ingredient to make the best chilaquile recipe ever.

 

 

It Sounds Exotic, but Where is Los Cabos located?

Finding where is Los Cabos located for me is challengeing in a place where many of the names in Mexico run together, especially in the Baja Peninsula. While the plane ride to Mexico might be short, sometimes the cultural and linguistic barriers for tourists can be massive. The Spanish names for places often designate the type of location and where it is on the map, but if you don't know Spanish it holds no meaning! So, what is the difference between Los Cabos and Cabo, where is Los Cabos located and how do Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo fit in there?

So Many Cabos!

Los Cabos, meaning "the capes" in Spanish, is often shortened to Cabo. Cabo is located at the very southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. It is a region that includes the towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. Both are up the coast to the east with an approximately 20 mile tourist corridor between them.

This beautiful peninsula, known for its stunning desert coasts that run to the sea, is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west, and the Sea of Cortez, or Gulf of California, to the east. This gulf is the youngest and most biologically diverse sea in the entire world.

The one highway that runs along this coast, through the corridor connecting the two towns, Highway 1 (Carretera Transpeninsular #1), is a great place to go off the beaten path and find attractions other than beach and surf. While you can find great, private, beaches here, you can also find excellent desert scenery, art-centric colonial towns and organic farms where you can stop for dinner and even rent a culinary cottage for the night.

los cabos detailed map

Map of the Baja Peninsula that shows the layout of Cabo San Lucas, San José Cabo, Highway 1, as well as many beaches. Photo credit: San José del Cabo Guide.

Navigate through these wonders by rental car, bus or taxi. This highway is relatively safe as well, as is the whole peninsula, because of Los Cabos's isolated location from the more turbulent parts of Mexico. For safety tips while traveling in the Baja Peninsula, click here.

The Two Cities

San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas provide the best of the tourism world by offering history and fun all in one region. San José has remained quaint, while San Lucas is a bit rowdy; where the nightlight can be found. Visitors can experience both in a short time by utilizing the Corridor highway.

Conveniently, Mayan Rentals has a resort located in San José, called the Grand Mayan Los Cabos. It's a more intimate resort, with all rentals having a view of the pool or the ocean. For more rental options click here.

San José del Cabo is located at the foot of the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range and is 80 miles SSW of the state capital city, La Paz. Being the municipal government seat for the area, it has remained quiet and more historical, featuring cobblestone streets, adobe houses and a central square with a cathedral dating to the 1700s. It also has a robust art scene, attracting Mexico's contemporary artists to its many galleries that are open late into the night.

Cabo San Lucas is the more well known of the two towns, often being confused with the term Los Cabos all on its own. San Lucas is more commercial, with no cathedral or traditional town square. It's best known for its nightlife, fishing and whale watching opportunities. Its beach also falls along the Costa de Oro, or

playa santa maria los cabos

One of our favorite beaches, and one of the best for swimming - Santa Maria.

Golden Coast, which includes the great beaches: Los Frailes, Buena Vista, Agua Caliente, Puerto Chileno and Punta Colorada. Visit Chileno Beach for simple, clean swimming, or Santa Maria, which is one of our favorites. If you're looking for water sports, such as parasailing and jet skiing, and beach bars, Medano Beach or Cabo Pulmo is recommended. For less crowd, find Palmilla Beach along the highway.

The beach in Cabo San Lucas has also been nicknamed Lover's Beach because of its romantic setting and great scenery, like its many rock formations. Its most famous rock formation, El Arco, or "The Arch" is readily recognized by many and is often used to represent the whole region.

Recent Changes

While Hurricane Odile caused sever damage to some parts of the peninsula in 2015, rebuilding has progressed at a record pace, and most places are returning to business better and with more to offer. There is even new golf courses opened since last fall, one of which is the El Cardonal, Tiger Wood's design course at Diamante. Also, for traveler's convenience, Delta Airlines began offering seasonal direct flights from JFK in December.

The question, "Where is Los Cabos located?" is much more interesting than just a spot on a map. It is a region that encompasses places as different as night and day, San Lucas and San José, each enjoyable in their own way. Whether you're looking for history, art and everything refined, or sand, surf and sport, You'll be glad you asked "Where Is Los Cabos Located"

 

San Pancho (or San Francisco), Mexico

San Pancho or San Francisco Nayarit (not California)

San Pancho, also known as San Francisco, Mexico, is a great place to experience nature, culture and adventure! The beach at San Pancho is part of the Nayarit Riviera, which is about 25 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, and provides the opportunity for an abundance of either relaxation or adventure.

San Pancho Beach

San Pancho, which is just a few minutes drive by bus or taxi from the Puerto Vallarta International Airport, is an old fashioned, attractive Mexican village situated between jungle and the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains alongside a long stretch of clean and fresh Pacific coast. The golden, fine sand invites you to sit all day and stare at this wonderful and peaceful part of nature.

San Pancho Beach

The beautiful and peaceful beach at San Pancho, or San Francisco, Mexico in the Riviera Nayarit. It's also famously good for surfing.

The beach also offers a variety of activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, standup paddling, boating and sailing. The Sayulita waves, which have made San Pancho a traditional surfing spot since the 1960s, are the perfect place for beginner, intermediate, and advanced surfers. Peak surfing season begins in December and ends in April, though great waves can be found year round here. 

If adventure suites you better than relaxation, or you’re just ready to spice things up, then you can come alive by trying the horseback ride along the waterfront. For inexperienced riders this may be a little uncomfortable, but the dashing wind against your face and the haze of the cool sea mist is definitely worth the ride.

Mansion San Pancho

One of the many unique beachside mansions in San Pancho, Mexico.

The town has also attracted the wealthy, so while you're on the beach you can spend some time admiring the enormous and unique mansions that surround it. Also, if Polo is your sport then check out the exclusive polo club of San Pancho, called La Patrona. Every year they host national and international polo tournaments.

San Pancho's Abundance of Wildlife

Whales migrate to the San Pancho coast area every year for feeding, so this is the best time to try and do some whale watching. There are boats for hire that will take you to see the whales eat, play and leap! A wide variety of dolphins, Bryde’s whales and Humpback whales also inhabit the waters of Riviera Nayarit during the spring and winter. The comfortable weather conditions in Riviera Nayarit make it suitable for tourist to venture out into the sea to see these gentle giants of the ocean. The official whale watching season starts from December 15 through March 31.

There is also a variety of land animals and birds to be seen. Taking a tour along the river and through the mangrove swamp will allow you to enjoy more wildlife sightings. These swamps are known for their excellent variety of bird sightings. Tours include renting canoes or taking a walk along the river.

Art in the Quaint City

San Pancho is also known for its artistic and musical events that take place throughout the year. The famous Haus der Kunst gallery, renowned for its exposition of amazingly talented artists, moved from Guadalajara to San Pancho recently. There are also live musical events in local restaurants year round, and it’s the ideal place for people who enjoy art, photography, writing and yoga.

Where to Stay

After reading so many great things about San Pancho, I know the next question you’re asking is “Where can I stay in San Pancho?” There are the more rustic options, like beach bungalows, but if you are looking for more amenities then variety of resorts are a must visit! The five resort hotels, The Grand Luxxe, Grand Bliss, Grand Mayan and the Mayan Palace are connected with miles of beautiful wooden trails, which includes over a mile of beach access. It is complete with a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, fitness centers and nightly entertainment. For relaxation is offers luxury spas, salons, and high-end boutique shopping. Anything you can want to eat is available as well with over 37 world-class restaurants and bars. For the kiddos there are pools, an Aqua Park with a Lazy River and activities for the whole family. 

While staying at the Vidanta resort you'll have adventure just a short car ride away in San Pancho!

Yucatán Cenotes

Off the Grid Fun in a Yucatán Cenote

 Yucatán Cenotes

Entrance to the stairs leading down to the Sambulá Cenote.

One of my very favorite memories from traveling to the Riviera Maya is when we had a little surprise adventure with the help of some locals. They showed us the secret gems of the region: Yucatán Cenotes.

We were just sitting down to eat our lunch. It was hot. We were dusty and tired. Though we were still enjoying our time, traveling can be wearying in its own way. Suddenly the locals told us they had something they wanted us to see.

When they showed us the chiseled stone staircase leading into the cool darkness of a sinkhole I was a little perplexed and scared, but also felt a rush of exhilaration. It was the cheapest, most relaxing, and noteworthy adventure I’ve ever had. It was called El Sambulá Cenote, and we swam in the cool, crystal clear clean water for hours. Not many people can say they’ve had this experience!

Yucatán Cenotes

Some friends and I swimming in El Sambulá Cenote in 2008. I am the one towards the middle with the blue shirt and my arms stretched out.

 

A cenote is a sinkhole, or cave created by a limestone roof collapsing into the earth after being eroded by water for years. The Yucatán has over 6,000 of these cenotes, some connected, but most just acting as wells for the local Mayans for centuries. Of these 6,000, only around 2,400 have been documented and explored. The word cenote actually means “sacred well”, and the Mayans used these as water sources, but also for ceremonial rituals and sacrifice. Remarkably, there are tons of these cenotes all over the Yucatán, in the heart of the Riviera Maya.

If you’re visiting the Yucatán and are looking for an adventure off the beaten path, the riviera maya cenotes are a must try! There are some that have been commercialized more than others, so you can choose from a variety of experiences. Here is information on some of the more popular ones.

Dos Ojos

 Yucatán Cenotes

The stairs leading down to the crystal clear waters of the Dos Ojos Cenote.

The Dos Ojos Cenote gets its name from its unique formation. It consists of two cenotes connected by a very large cavern which looks like two large eyes, one light and one dark. It is the ideal tourist spot for guided snorkel and dive tours. Divers will float past illuminated stalactites and stalagmites in an enchanted and eerie underwater wonderland. You will find little marine life except for undersized catfish, and a rare blind species of fish called “lub”. Also, the bat cave at Dos Ojos offers an incredible glimpse into the lives of bats; one can watch them take their daily siesta comfortably nested in holes in the limestone.

Take an entire day and visit Dos Ojos, along with its three sister cenotes, the Pit, the Pet Cemetery and Tankah. For more information on Dos Ojos and its sister cenotes you can click here. It is situated about 2 miles west of Playa Del Carmen opposite the golf club Playacar and 10.5 miles north of Tulum along the Caribbean coast.

Il Kil

Yucatán Cenotes

A view from the top of the Ik Kil Cenote in Yucatán, Mexico in the heart of the Riviera Maya.

Il Kil is open towards the sky with the water level 85 feet below the ground. It is about 200 feet in diameter and is about 130 feet deep, with vines and small waterfalls surrounding it.

The most attractive thing about Il Kil is the greenery on the surface and the wildlife that inhabit the jungle, like parrots, toucans, mockingbirds, flycatchers, cardinals and turquoise mot-mot. Also, the depth of the cenote is mesmerizing from the view up top. It is well maintained with clean bathrooms, dressing rooms, parking lots on site, and the ability to rent water gear and towels.

Il Kil is located outside of Pisté in the Tinúm Municipality, and is part of the Il Kil Archeological Park with the Mayan ruins, Chichén Itzá, just 3.5 miles away. It’s location is also convenient from cities in the area: 35 minutes drive (25 miles) from the colonial city of Valladolid, and an hour and a half (76 miles) from Mérida. It is open to the public for swimming and is often included on bus tours of the area. For more information you can click here.

Kantun Chi

Yucatán Cenotes

A look at the Kantun Chi Cenote inside the Kantun Chi ecopark.

Kantun Chi is an attractive ecological park of cenotes and caves situated in the heart of the Mayan Riviera. Kantun Chi gives visitors a chance to explore the mystical caverns by swimming, snorkeling or kayaking. With incredible stalagmites and stalactites illuminated and glistening colorfully in the water the underground caverns in this park are sights to be seen. Even though there are many cenotes, only four are open for tourists for snorkeling and swimming.

It is situated in highway 307, 56 miles south of Cancun and 14 miles south of Playa del Carmen. When visiting the park, plan on spending two to four hours to enjoy the cenotes. The admission fee is included in the tour guide fee. 

Aktun Chen

Yucatán Cenotes

A view from inside the Aktun Chen Cenote.

This cenote appears at the end of 1.5 hour long, but magnificent, cave tour. It is part of a well protected and massive beautiful rainforest, which you have to drive 3.5 miles into to get to the cave site. Aktun Chen is one of the only documented cenotes that you can’t swim in because the water has a slow moving current and a layer of calcium carbonate sediment over 23 feet thick, which is very fragile. The water gets murky really fast and it would not be safe to swim in.

Aktun Chen is located 66 miles from Cancun in the heart of the Riviera Maya, 2.5 miles past Akumal and 16 miles from the ruins of Tulum

Gran Cenote

 Yucatán Cenotes

Tunnel of rocks inside the Gran Cenote in Yucatán, Mexico in the heart of the Riviera Maya.

The Gran Cenote lives up to its name. It is well kept and found amid beautiful gardens. Its part of the Sak Aktun ("white cave" in Mayan) system of underground rivers whose current flows from deep inside the Yucatan peninsula. It’s great for anyone, from waders and swimmers to amateur snorkelers to experienced cave divers. Snorkel and dive gear is available for rent on site.

Gran Cenote is located about 2.5 miles from Tulum along the road to the Mayan ruins of Coba. 
The best way to reach any of these Yucatán cenotes is to take the Colectivo bus, which is available from all the major cities and towns around. It runs from 5 a.m. to midnight, and is quick, comfortable and economical.

While you explore and enjoy your vacation there are some wonderful places you can choose to stay! There is the Grand Mayan, The Mayan Palace, The Grand Bliss and the Grand Luxxe.

Try this one of a kind adventure in the heart of the Riviera Maya and explore a Yucatán cenote!

Seven Tips for Saving Money While on Vacation in Mexico

one hundred peso billWe have given you tips on saving money on airfare and car rental but by the time you book airfare, lodging and maybe an activity or two,  you are probably ready to find some ways to save some money on your Mexican Vacation.  These have some ideas specific to Vidanta Mayan Resorts but most can be used anywhere.

By the way, at the time of this writing , the 100 peso bill shown was worth  just over $5.   Good news for Americans and Canadians, but very sad news for our friends in Mexico

Money Saving Tip #1-  Baggage Fees

It might sound silly, but be sure you watch the weight on your bags.  Get a good sbaggagecale, but it on a hard floor and stay under 50 pounds.   If you are flying Spirit, there is  total art form to planning your baggage, notifying the airline etc..  But for most other carriers,  you just need to stay under 50 pounds.  We have seen many a tourist frantically pulling things out of a suitcase or ponying up the sometimes exorbitant fee.  So save yourself some grief and leave out that extra purse or pair of shoes.  Southwest is now flying to Mexico, so if their prices get competitive ,  they don't charge for baggage !

Money Saving Tip #2 – Coffee

All of the one and two bedroom suites at the Vidanta Mayan Resort accommodations come with a coffee maker.  This includes, the Luxxe Villa Studio (but not the regualar Luxxe studio) and the  Loft studio.  The Mayan Palace, Grand Mayan and regular Luxxe (some call it a condo) studio do not.   All that remains is a trip to one of the easily accessible grocery stores to pick up somep good ground coffee  cafe, (we get something in a brown pouch labeled 100% Arabica)..   If you are a sissy coffeelike me, don’t forget the sugar (azucar) and the cream.  Many places have half and half now.  You will have to buy more sugar than you need, unless you also plan to make your own margaritas (see below)

You will also want to buy some bottled water (also under Money Saving Tip #5).  The resort water is drinkable, but has a chemical taste that will ruin the beauty of your morning cup of joy.

Our friend Ann Stidham says that a cup of coffee is like a great big hug in the morning .  We have to agree.

 

Money Saving Tip #3 – Cooking In Your Suite.

All the units listed above with coffee makers have a stove and cooking equipment except the Luxxe Villa studio, which has only a fridge, microwave and coffee maker.

So while you are at the grocery store, decide how much you want to cook. It can be a simple as yogurt and granola for breakfast to full meals.   For more extensive cooking ingredients, see Money Saving Tip #6 below.

Money Saving Tip #4 – Alcoholic Drinks

Drinks on the resort run $8 to $10 US each (maybe $12 for a Cadillac Margarita).  So make sure you know when happy hour is and what the drink of the day is.  If you plan to drink often, it is worth making some of your own.   You can get the liquor at the market right on the resort.  It will cost you 20 or 30% more than the grocery store, but still cadillac margaritamuch cheaper than poolside service.   One of the easiest things is gin and tonic, however gin is available only at the more American style stores like Walmart.

If you go into Puerto Vallarta for any reason, the  Playa liquor stores on the main highway have the best liquor prices and variety.

If you are a  bit more energetic you can make your own margaritas  (recipe here)   We are working on a tequila guide and on perfecting out Cadillac Margarita recipe.  Scroll to the Bottom of this page and sign up for our newsletter and you will be the first to know.  If you don't see the confirming email, check your Junk or Spam Mail.

Money Saving Tip #5- Water

OK, so this is not rocket science.  A one liter bottle of water in your suite will cost you $3 or so.   You can get Six liters at the market on the resort for $2 and at the grocery or Oxxo convenience store for $1.  Always check you bill for charges for water bottles you didn’t use when you check out.

 

Money Saving Tip #6  - La Plaza

The La Plaza market on the Riviera Maya and the Nuevo Vallarta Vidanta resfruits at marketorts are a surprising source of money savings.

If you  are full out cooking you might think about the high quality meats and vegetables .  The prices are high ,but might be worth it.

Lunch:  the deli has garbanzo bean salads,  curried lentil salad and a large variety of surprisingly good  and flavorful options for surprisingly good prices.

 

crepes at la plazaCrepes:  custom made crepes make an affordable, breakfast, lunch or even light supper.

The prices in general are often surprising.  In some cases surprisingly low and in some cases surprisingly high.  There is a Peruvian ceviche for much less than it costs at the Blue Fish restaurant nearby.

 

 

 

 

Money Saving Tip #7 – Café de Lago

They don’t advertise it much, but the first hour and the last hour of the morning , the Café del Lago breakfast buffet in both Riviera Maya and Nuevo Vallarta is discounted significantly.    Also,  you can order a la carte at the Café del Lago and the prices are fairly reasonable.  While we don't condone buffets in general, this one is the best we have ever seen.

 

Bonus Tip:

of course we have to point out that renting a fabulous timeshare from us is the best money saving method of all.

So there you have it.  Our seven tips for saving money while on vacation, so start planning and Inquire here

Karen's Place Bucerias

A beach view and welcoming ambience are two things that greet you upon entering Karen’s Place, Bucerias. Located right on the sands of Bahía de Banderas (Banderas Bay), the establishment boasts unbeatable views of Karen's Place Buceriasaquatic life and an enticing sunset to boot. Open since November 1998, the business has had a long time to build up its well deserved reputation, and ranks high on the popularity list for many who visit the area.

Multi-Talented Restaurant in tiny Bucerias

The restaurant can host a wide range of patrons, from wedding parties to intimate meals for two, and proved to be a perfect setting for our dinner party of 10. With an extensive menu and widely loved drink selection, there is something to suit everyone’s taste.

If you’re looking for good meals, a great view, and a friendly staff, then this is a must-see while in Bucerias. The experience will not disappoint, and you just might leave with a new favorite.   Based off of the upscale flair of the food alone, you’d assume that the environment would follow suit. However, the staff proved to warm and amiable, with no sign of pretentiousness throughout the night. The laid-back aura went even further when they allowed us to bring in a bottle of our favorite tequila to share with our friends. Not to worry if you prefer a merlot or chardonnay to tequila, the wine menu has a generous array to choose from, so you’re bound to find something you like.

If you’re the adventurous type, or just want to try something different, the daily special might be up your alley.  When we went, the special was the catch of the day served with a coconut curry sauce,and it was absolutely delicious. A few in our group preferred something more tried and true, choosing the Sabores de Mexico, a sampler of traditional Mexican foods. They were equally enthused with the quality of their meals. The dinner menu alone boasts 14 entree options along with nine appetizers and six soup and salad choices, providing enough variety to appease even the pickiest of eaters.

Karen’s Place is an area favorite, whether it’s thirsty beach-goers stopping in for the happy hour specials, a passerby looking for a satisfying breakfast, or, like us, a group looking to have a celebratory night together. It has something to offer for just about everyone, and its location makes it easily accessible from either the beach, or from the city.   You can find info,menus etc on Karen's Website

Getting There

Located at 156 Lazaro Cardenas street in Bucerias , getting there from the main strip is fairly simple. While traveling southeast on Blvd. Riviera Nayarit, keep right and continue on to Heroe de Nacozari Ave, turn right on to Benito Juarez street, and follow it to the end. The outlet will put you right  next to the restaurant.

If you’re traveling on foot from the beach or city, Karen’s Place sits between Benito Juarez street and Abasolo Street, and, as aforementioned, is right on the sands. Make your way down to the beach and you’ll stumble upon Karen't Place  in no time!

Ten Things They Don't Tell You About Yelapa

yelapa iguanaTen Things They Don’t Tell You About Yelapa

Yelapa is a small village in Banderas Bay that can only be reached by boat.  We have a travel post about our visit last year.

There are many pages on the internet about Yelapa , but there a few things that most of them don’t tell that you need to know.  Some of these we learned and put into practice.  Some of them we learned from our mistakes.  So here goes:

#1  Stay at least two nights, three is better.

We are sad to say , day trippers to Yelapa  pretty much miss the point.  The peace and quiet starts when the day trippers go home.  I still takes a while after that to sink into your soul.

#2  Bring Water Shoes and shorts or a skirt. 

You will likely have to ford the river and it is a little unpleasant barefoot.  Either going or coming it will be at high tide.

#3  Bring a flashlight or two.

Things happen at night in the village and you don’t want to miss them.  There are no lights to help you back over the river.   There is a bridge upriver , either 10 minutes or 20 minutes walk up depending on who you believe, but you will need light in any case.

#4  Learn how to say No , Gracias without the horrible American accent.

You will be fending off trinket sellers during the midday,   And I don’t care if you are from Texas , it isn’t pronounced grassy ass.

#5 The water and the ice in the restaurants are pretty darn safe

My wife has a sensitive stomach and we ate everything and had drinks with ice and had no problems.  There is a water purification company in the village making five gallon containers  that probably explains it.

#6 The beautiful  beach is really small pieces of coral

The beach is really pretty,  but your feet might not think it quite so pretty.  See #2

#7 Get off your butt and do something active In the water

We didn’t and I regret it.  Stand up paddle board, snorkel trip , parasail behind a boat, do something !

#8 Go early to the Waterfall

Get up early.  Which in Yelapa is maybe 9 AM and head up to the waterfall before the day trippers come and spoil the tranquility.  See #1 above.

#9  Maybe take a 6 liter jug of water with you. 

We didn’t see an easy place to get bottled water and were glad we brought our own.   And while the restaurants are safe, the tap water is not.   It may be easily and cheaply available, so leave a comment if we are wrong.

#10  See the Botanical Gardens on the way back to Puerto Vallarta.  You are already 90% of the way there when you get to Boca de Tomatlan and you don’t want do that twisty road twice, driving or in a taxi,

What is the Zika Risk in Mexico?

If you've done  research on visiting Mexico recently, then you're sure to have seen several references to the Zika virus. The virus, spread by mosquitoes, has been reported in Mexico by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the form of local transmission. With that being said, the presence of the Zika virus should not prevent you from taking your vacation. For the sake of sharing good information and peace of mind, here is what you should know about Zika:

Risk of Zika

Generally the risk of Zika is fairly low in Mexico.   There were around 300 cases reported in the first 5 months of 2016 compared to over 140,000 in Brazil and 2900 in the Dominican Republic.  The risk is likely to be a bit higher later this year in the wet season of September and October.

The risk of Zika above 6500 feet of elevation is essentially zero.  However,  most popular tourist areas are below that elevation.  Again, there is not a great risk anywhere in Mexico at this point.

Personal Experience at Grand Mayan and Grand Luxxe 

 

When we were last at the Vidanta resorts in Cabo and in Nuevo Vallarta (Grand Mayan and Grand Luxxe)   they were diligently spraying for mosquitoes.  We saw one mosquito the whole time we were there.  Interestingly, there was a Zika outbreak in French Polynesia when we were staying on the island of Moorea two years ago.  The French hotel manager had Zika with symptoms of a headache , a rash and a fever.  This was before anyone in the Americas had ever heard of Zika .

Symptoms

For the average person, Zika presents itself as a fever, rash, joint pain, and redness in the eyes. Most individuals who contract Zika will be unaware of it, because only 1 in 5 people display symptoms. The general side effects of Zika are most commonly very mild, and if presented, are easily treatable at home.  Very rarely does the virus cause any severe complications.

Risk to Pregnant Women

For a pregnant woman, Zika poses the greatest risk. An expectant mother can pass the disease on to her unborn child, leading to the potential of a miscarriage. A fetus infected with Zika is more likely to be born with serious birth defects, including microcephaly, a severe defect of the brain that can be fatal.

Transmission

The Zika virus, as aforementioned, is most commonly spread through mosquitoes. When bitten by an infected mosquito, the individual has the possibility to contract the disease. If symptoms are presented, they will usually last from several days to a week.  The mosquito that can spread Zika is the Aedes Aegypti mosquito that also spreads Dengue fever.  It is very different from the malaria carrying Anopheles mosquito.  The Aedes Aegypti is common in urban areas and bites during the day.   It is most commonly found in poorer areas with old tires and other water  retaining items .  By contrast,  the malaria mosquito feeds in the late evening and at night.

Zika virus also has the potential to be transmitted sexually by men. Any form of sexual contact has the possibility of passing the disease from a male to his partner. Because of this, the CDC recommends couples to have protected sex for up to 8 weeks after exposure. If a man has displayed symptoms of Zika after exposure, the CDC recommends protection for up to 6 months.

Nuevo Vallara 2016 Trip - part 2

This is a slightly delayed report of our March 2016 trip to Puerto Vallarta.  Part 1 was not very exciting, so we didn't put it in the newsletter.  You can find it HERE.  The most interesting thing from part 1 was our suggestions on how to Rent a Car the cheapest way in Mexico.   upside-down zipline-canopy

So this week we are with our daughter and son-in-law and travelling with young people means a very active week.  Which is fine with us, we are young at heart.

Monday morning found us taking them on Canopy River's "Mountain Expedition"  We discovered it a couple of years ago and thought they would enjoy it.  Here is a youtube video we made in 2014.

So after ziplining over a  400 foot deep gorge,  going back over upside down,  then rapelling down a small cliff,  crossing bouncing / swaying cable bridges,  more ziplining,  swing on a cable, zipline into a splash landing in the river,  tube down some white water and then take a mule back out of the 400 foot deep canyon...... we still made it back to Joe Jack’s Fish Shack in time for their famous 2 for 1 mojitos.   Joe Jacks does have good food, but we were in quest of the Red Cabbage restaurant we had heard about from several sources.

 

Oops.  Before we could find the restaurant , we got waylaid at Casssandra Shaw's jewelry shop in Old town on Basilio Badillo.  At least I escaped with only the usual lightening of the wallet and didn't get talked into one of her "adopt a rescued dog" traps.  Again, we  set off in search of the Red Cabbage restaurant.

Tuesday was a pool day.  We met with one of our owners Dennis and Joy Copeland for drinks in the afternoon.  This turned out to be our only down day of the week !  We finished up the day with dinner at the Havana moon.   We had an unusual  experience there …. the food wasn’t very good. That is a not common on the Vidanta Mayan resort.   I had rum flambed shrimp, which was pretty good, even though they didn’t flambe it at the table.   Son-in-law Brent got a chicken dish which was ok, but the potatoes were powdered mashed potatoes.  Although , in fairness, ordering mashed potatoes in Mexico might have been a questionable choice.   My wife got banana leaf wrapped fish.  No flavor.  At all.   Rachel got Cuban beef which was very excessively salty and also …. Not good.  We have not had a bad meal on the Vidanta resort for a while, so it was a bit of a shock.

The brownie with macadamian nut  ice cream that all four of us shared, didn’t make up for the meal, but did at least ended things on a more positive note.  More interesting adventures to come in Part 3

 

Nuevo Vallarta Trip Report 2016 - part 1

We just finished a week in Grand Mayan Los Cabos and the only way to get to Puerto Vallarta is through Mexico City.  We had uneventful flights and caught the shuttle to Alamo car rental.  In our experience , Alamo is clearly the best option for car rental in Mexico. click here to see how to do it.

We had dinner on the resort at the Grand Luxxe restaurant - Burgers custom made   Ok. So so the name seems to have lost something in translation and it doesn't sound that classy.  However, it really is one of the  best restaurants on the Nuevo Vallarta Vidanta resort.  (Yes, now it is called Vidanta instead of Mayan, which is a small problem for us since our business is Mayanrental).    Everything we ordered was good, but the desserts were over the top.   The cheesecake was the best I have had in years.   Seriously.

SundayQuesadillas in La Cruz

We discovered and reviewed the La Cruz Sunday market last year  It is a fun combination of food, crafts and live music.  If you look closely , you will see that we got quesadillas from the same guy at the end of the pier.   Live music this year was jam band style and they were very good.

 

We came back to the resort and then broke out of the resort again to walk to Guido’s for dinner.  I am in a rut and seem to always get the Chicken Pollo Pesto Pasta.  It is so good.   Linda and our new son-in-law both got lasagna and it was also very good.    Never go to Guido's if you are in a big hurry.

On another note, we are sorry that the Por Que No restaurant failed.   But Eddie had told us that we could get the same fabulous Spanish Coffee at his original restaurant “Eddies Nopal Beach”.   We are very sad to report that Eddie died last fall, but it is good that his restaurant carries on with his son in charge. So  we skipped dessert at Guido's and walked down the street to Eddie’s and ordered Spanish coffee.  Turns out our waiter had worked at Por Que No and did the whole “pour fire down from on high standing on a chair” show.  Not only is it a great show, but it tastes fabulous !   Check out our Spanish Coffee Video.  Great end to a relaxing day.

Rather than walk up the beach to the resort we took a taxi for 85 pesos , (currently less than 5 dollars).

Here are a couple more photos from the La Cruz Market on a Sunday in March

Jam Band La cruz sunday market

Daughter and Son-in-Law enjoying the street food in La Cruz

Rachel and Bren

Red Cabbage Restaurant - Old Town Puerto Vallarta

At the end of a busy day , we set off in search of the Red Cabbage restaurant.  We had hRed Cabbage Old Town Puerto Vallartaeard about it from some Canadians last year and it appears on many restaurant reviews.    Search is the right description.  It is tucked away in a residential area of Old Town (the romantic zone).  My phone died just as we were navigating there and after a bit of family squabbling and U turns, we ended up in a dead end neighborhood with a family dinner party being set up in the street.  They clearly were wondering what these crazy gringos were doing in their family party.  Rapidly retreating, we finally found it.  Turns out it is not that difficult to find if you start with the directions on their website !  We came at it from the wrong direction and found that locals are friendly but no help finding it.  Also the the sign is not large and says El Repollo Rojo on one side and The Red Cabbage on the other side. Note that they are typically closed in September, but open the rest of the year.

It is a funky little place making traditional Mexican dishes very well. We got a young waiter that was not too animated, but we are guessing he was brand new.  The older waiter at the next table was joking and laughing with patrons and it seems a very homey, friendly environment.  I ordered the Poblano mole and it was delicious.  They also make famous en Nogada dish, but they choose to serve it cold, and I couldn’t make myself risk it. We love the hot version of poblano en nogada, so we are hoping someone will try the cold version and leave a comment .  A couple of our party had the Pork Verde.  Simple but delicious.  My daughter Rachel went big and ordered the Mexican sampler plate.  She loved it all.  This place lives up to it’s reputation.  High ratings on trip advisor and people on the street recommending it.   The self promotion statement on the Red Cabbage website  seems to be an accurate description:  

One of Vallarta's most delightful dining experiences,
the menu features dishes from all regions of MexicoThe Red Cabbage
Easily accessible on the south side of the Rio Cuale,
the
Red Cabbage Cafe is located in Colonia Remance
(pronounced "ray-MAHN-say").
You know you are someplace special when you step
into the lighthearted collage of its decor. On the brightly painted walls is an eclectic display of art, music, theater, literature and film.
Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera are featured on one wall.

Informal but stylish, bohemian but sophisticated, delicious dining
in a delightful setting await Puerto Vallarta's visitors and residents
who are looking for a great food experience.Prices are moderate
and value outstanding.

Mi Cocina Restaurant - San Jose del Cabo

As we mentioned,  we had told our concierge, Humberto that we were a bit worn out on Mexican food.  He recommended Mi Cocina, which emphasizes Italian and offers other upscale choices was recommended.mi-cocina-sign

It is located in the courtyard of Casa Natalia ,  a classy botique hotel and has an elegant modern décor.  The primary cuisine is Italian with of course, the inevitable Cabo emphasis on seafood.  This is a not to be confused with Mi Casa which is an excellent Mexican restaurant nearby.

The menu had a creative collection of dishes from risotto and ricotta raviolis.  One of us had the argentina style steak and they were very happy.

We had five people for this dinner ( my friend Jim had to leave early for a meeting in Washington DC).   Every one of us thought our meal was excellent.

Having had such a great chocolate mousse at Salvatore’s earlier in the week, we couldn’t resist trying it here as well.  It was….. good.   But not quite  in the same league.

But don’t be distracted.  This was one of our favorite restaurants of the week and we highly recommend it.  Especially when you are thinking you couldn’t possibly eat another enchilada or fish taco.

 

mi-cocina

 

 

 

 

 

Day Trip to Cabo San Lucas

Staying in the Vidanta Grand Mayan  means we were in San Jose del Cabo.   For our last day there, we headed off to Cabo San Lucas .  We realize from out last trip that there is no parking to be had in the main part of town.  All the curbs are red or yellow indicating your front license plate will be pirated by the local police.  We missed the parking ramp the first pass and had to circumnavigate the entire downtown one way streets and finally came back around.  Once parked, we grabbed breakfast right on a touristy stretch overlooking the Marina in a place called Alexanders.   It clear they serve the cruise traffic.   Most of us got the Fritatta Alexander.  They lost power in the kitchen so it was quite a few Mexican minutes before it came.   But they were very good when they got there.  We were in a rare mood for orange juice and it turned out to be fresh squeezed.  BONUS !!  The day is looking good so far.  We wandered around a few shops, but soon set off in quest of the Glass Factory we had heard about.   To the disappointment of my wife, some of our folks were not shoppers. You could spend the day shopping in the downtown area if you are so inclined. glass factory cabo san lucas

Next on the agenda is visiting one of the glass factories in Cabo.  It turns out there are two or three, but you can read about the Glass Factory we managed to find here.   You head toward San Jose del Cabo on Highway 1 and once you are clear of downtown Cabo San Lucas, you take the first stop light north on 19..   Then take the first opportunity for a left turn which is just past a hospital.  Take the road next to the hospital for two blocks where it dead ends.  Turn right and the factory will be on your right in another couple of blocks.   The entrance is decorated with some of their handiwork and you enter a show room with hundreds of glass art pieces.  The whole building is decorated with glass embedded in the brick walls.

Next find a seat for the glass blowing demonstration.   You will watch with rapt attention as a glowing hot blob of glass slowly turns into a dolphin or a flower or a vase.  His assistant will drop a glob of molten glass onto his piece, which will become the fin of a dolphin or the petal of a flower.   To impress on you how hot the glass is, he touches a newspaper to it and it incinerates instantly.  Don’t be a cheapskate.  Leave a tip for the artist.  He deserves it.

As we head back toward  San Jose del Cabo,  our next mission is to check out a couple of the swimming beaches along the Los Cabos corridor.   We checked out Playa Santa Maria and Playa Chileno.santa maria beach

That night , I told our favorite concierge, Humberto, that we were ready for something other than Mexican and he recommended Mi Cocina in San Jose del Cabo.  That turned out to be an excellent idea.

Playa Santa Maria and Playa Chilenos- Beaches in Cabo

The road is greatly improved since our last trip and there are clearly marked exits instead of having to keep your eyes peeled for kilometer markers.  Most of the tip of the Baja peninsula is not safe for swimming due the currents created by the collision of the Pacific with the Sea of Cortes (also called the gulf of California).  The first beach coming back into San Jose is Playa Santa Maria.   There is a bplaya santa maria los cabosrand new parking lot and a short but very hot walk brings you to a perfect small half moon bay maybe three hundred yards across.  The bay is ringed by a beautiful beach with new thatch roof palapas dotting the landscape.  It is a public beach and they don’t even charge for the palapas if you are lucky enough to grab one. Don’t be fooled by the beautiful white sand.  It isn’t and at all, but ground up coral and a little tough on the feet.  Despite the protection of the bay, there are some pretty good waves.  The water is very clear and I had my prescription mask and my snorkel with me, so I snorkeled out and was soon surprised to find a similar number of fish varieties to the Cabo Pulmo marine reserve !   The water drops off quickly and has a good 20 feet of visibility.   I tried to dive down to retrieve someone’s beer can , but did not have fins with me.   I could just touch it, but couldn’t grab it before I had to make a panicked swim for the surface.  As I spit and sputtered trying to clear my snorkel, I decided there was a really good reason that fins are a normal part of your snorkel equipment.

Here are some more photos of Santa Maria:

After an hour or two of relaxing, resumed our trip west and in another mile or so came to  came to Playa Chileno.   This is another protected swimming beach.  It is not so curved and picturesque and there are no palapas, so you will probably want to find an umbrella to rent near the exit.   There are some cool rocks to climb on, and a few concessions, but all in all, I would probably opt for Playa Santa Maria and take a picnic lunch and or a cooler.playa Chileno

Both of these beaches have developments encroaching on them, with construction everywhere, but it looks like the public access to the beach will be maintained.  There is a private road sign at Chilenos, but don’t be fooled, there is also a public access road with parking.

Cheap Car Rental in Mexico

Renting a car in Mexico can be just a bit confusing.  We have found a simple and pretty much hassle free option.  You go to Alamo.com, the US not the .mx version.   NOTE: we have NO affiliation with Alamo, we just like them because they don’t do any bait and switch.

  1. You put in the airport you are going to (SJD for cabo,  PVR for Puerto Vallarta,  CUN for cancun).
  2. Select your car.
  3. If you have a credit card that provides car rental insurance (most upper level visa cards and Amex), you only need to add the liability insurance for $15 per day.  Add other things you think you need and complete the booking.   Print out the paper with the receipt and cheapest car rental in Mexicotake it with you.
  4. See the Alamo booth when you arrive to request a shuttle to the Alamo office
  5. Tell them you are refusing the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) because it is covered by your credit card. They will put a large credit authorization (like $1000) on your card but won’t charge it.   This could cause you a problem if you have a debit card, because it could limit your cash withdrawals.

    If you have an accident, you will have to pay for damages and get reimbursed.  If that makes you nervous take the full insurance for something like $40 per day

  6. Like all car rentals they offer to let you bring it back empty. Don’t do it.  You will only break even if you manage to bring it back on fumes.  Otherwise, you paid for gas you didn’t use.  Just tell them you will bring it back full and don’t forget to do so.   The gas stations in Mexico now take credit cards.   Don’t forget to tip the nice young lady who pumps your gas 10 or 20 pesos.

 

Mi Casa Restaurant - San Jose del Cabo

We were doing the Artwalk and new it would be busy, so we reserved a table at the beautiful Mi Casa right in theMi Casa San jose heart of the art district.   It is in a beautiful courtyard oozing with Mexican charm.  Linda and I split a chicken mole dish  from Oaxaca (pronounced wa-ha-ka, accent on the second syllable).  It was not a mole negro, but it was one of the best we have ever had.  Our friends had a coconut shrimp appetizer,  chicken enchiladas, tortilla soup, and argentina style steak.   Everyone was smiling at the end of the meal.

Thursday Artwalk in San Jose del Cabo

Wednesday Night we checked out a brand new funky restaurant called Acre .

But Thursday San Jose del Cabo’s cultural district, framed by the beautiful calm streets and the colonial buildings was host to an exciting evening Artwalk.

In  the streets behind the Church, you will find a corridor full of culture and art galleries. Those galleries gather the San Jose Churchwork of Mexican and International artists, some renowned, some other are new talents, but certainly you will find a lot of exquisite pieces of art, combining very different techniques, materials and styles, so whether you are an art connoisseur, an art lover, or just curious about what is going on there, the Art District is a must thing to visit when you go to San José del Cabo.

The best time to visit is during the Art Walk. Art Walks are scheduled for every Thursday from 5 to 9 pm, from November to June. During this time, the streets with the galleries become traffic-free and become completely walking streets. Then you can go through all the galleries, you can go inside each one of them and listen what is it about, what kind of art they provide and many of the artists are there, to let the visitors know about their work, their vision and to let them understand what their art represents.

When we visited,  there was a live band doing Cuban music on the street corner.  Knowing it was a busy night we made a reservation at Mi Casa right in the heart of the art district.Cuban live music

You can find paintings, photography, lithography, sculptures, pottery and ceramics, letterpress, jewelry, among many other materials and techniques that you just must see.

Some of the galleries you can’t miss:

Galería Corsica – This place will make you feel as in a true contemporary art museum, displaying the work of more than 40 artists, renowned and new. Website: www.galeriacorsica.com

El Armario – This gallery’s name literally means “The closet” and its motto is “the cutest shop in town”. There you can find all kinds of beautiful things made by artisans from all the parts of Mexico. E-mail: [email protected]

Frank Arnold Gallery – Frank Arnold’s paintings have been called “Personal, yet universal”. His work has been displayed at galleries around Mexico and the United States and his gallery has been praised by art and travel guides. Website: www.frankarnoldart.com

Arte Gallery - Art studio and gallery founded by the artist Julian Garcia Forcelledo, who has found this Art District the perfect place for his original sculptures. Website: www.juliangarciaf.com

Mata Ortiz Gallery – This gallery displays hand-crafted pottery as it was traditionally made by the Paquime, an ancient culture from the zone of Chihuahua. Website: www.lasacristiaart.com

Casa Dahlia Gallery – located inside of a house full of history, this gallery displays the paintings and sculptures of contemporary artists, covering from folk art to abstract pieces. Website: www.casadahlia.com

Muvezi African Art – This Art district is so versatile that you will also find African art. This gallery displays the work of renowned artists from Zimbabwe, who have produced modern pieces with a beautiful African style. Website: www.muvezi.com

funky architecture

Art walking crowd

 

Acre Restaurant - San Jose del Cabo

Acre Restaurant Cabo

Tonight we had a reservation at the new Acre Restaurant in Cabo, which made for a very interesting end to the day.  This new farm-to-table restaurant is the latest to join the sustainable farming foodie scene in Baja. Acre Restaurant is situated right outside San Jose del Cabo near a similar restaurant called Flora Farms.

It is a short drive up the dirt East Cape road but eventful with roller coaster hills and impressive pot holes.  The final plunge brings you to the neatly manicured fields and the very modern cement structure of the restaurant.  The walls are made from clay from the farm, mixed with cement.  They have a massive bar with a large selection of Mezcals.  They are developing a still of their own. The modern and elegant seating area creates an expectation of something great to come.

Acre Restaurant Cabo specializes in creative cocktails; everyone seemed to enjoy theirs. You can read about their inventive cocktails here. The waiter was good with suggestions and I opted to try the Mezcal he recommended.  It is called Pechuga, made by Siete Misterios. It comes from Oaxaca and it is smooth, and amazingly complex. They have a variety of global, but also local cuisine and spirits that are always paired together well.

NAcre Restaurant Caboot being big on raw fish, we still tried the Pescado Crudo appetizer.  It was well prepared and flavorful. The main course was a bit of a mixed experience. We wanted to love everything…..  So the good first.  All the vegetables crudité were fabulous:  fried green tomatoes, Brussel sprouts with a creative mix added and others. The vegetable accompaniments were expertly prepared, creative and delicious.  Likewise the braised beef was tender and brilliantly flavored.

On the down side, I couldn’t miss a mole sauce, so I ordered the pulled pork sandwich.  It was a bit fatty and the mole just didn’t cut it.  The other not so great outcome was the catch of the day, which was a bit bland, and three of us ordered it unfortunately.  To be fair, one of us did think it was just fine.  The waiter noticed I didn’t eat much of my pulled pork and took it off the bill.  Also, they brought us a strawberry dessert on the house that was light and tasty.Acre Restaurant Cabo

So overall, the very elegant, contemporary ambience made for a charming night. The variety and quality of the ingredients in the dishes, as well as the drinks make Acre Restaurant Cabo well worth the bumpy ride. Hopefully they will get the kinks out of a couple of dishes. Next time we're there I'm sure we will try it again because I would bet it will just keep getting better!

Salvatore's Restaurant - Cabo San Lucas

We first discovered Salvatores’s a few years ago and were happy to find it still thriving. It is tucked into a garden Salvatore's Restaurantarea between two buildings and evokes images of Italian back street bistros. We knew Salvatore’s restaurant was on Emeliano Zapato , but we did not realize there is basically no places to park in that area of Cabo.  (And DO NOT  park where the curbs aren’t painted white)  We finally found the parking ramp  on ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Francisco Madero , one street behind Emeliano Zapato which is reasonably priced at 20 pesos an hour or so, once you shoe horn your vehicle into a space

But this isn't about parking !   The menu is straightforward Italian as well with the possible exception of the Shrimp and sausage diablo.  Warning: if you are one of those odd people with a strange dislike of thyme (like me),  it is a featured herb in that dish.  The baked ricotta and other dishes were all pretty good.   Go for the $32.00 bottle Malbec if you like red wine.   It was the cheapest and a very nice wine with complex flavors.  The staff are warm, friendly and not  overly formal making it a relaxing and enjoyable dining experience.  Oh man, I almost forgot !  We were too full for dessert, something told us we should try the chocolate mousse.  We shared it among all 6 of us and it was spectacular.  I have only had a few chocolate mousse in my life that I labeled fabulous and this was one of them   the only thing it lacked was a little liquor , like rum or kahlua. It as inspired me to renew my quest for a truly good mousse recipe for home
Salvatore Romance

Day Trip to Todos Santos from Los Cabos

Today was supposed to be cold and cloudy  (by cold I mean 70 degrees), so we decided it was a good day to drive up to Todos Santos.   We hopped on the new toll road headed toward the aiport and took the branch off toward CaboHotel California San Lucas.   It is a brand new two lane road with shiny new white bridges rolling through mountains.  It is probably worth the $2 or $3 toll to bypass the traffic in Cabo San Lucaas.  We swung north for a pretty dull drive up to Todos Santos with occasional vistas of the Pacific to break up the monotony.   If the weather had been better we would have stopped at Los Cerritos beach, which getting more developed and is a beautiful beach.

After the obligatory visit and pictures in front of the infamous Hotel California, we decided to skip the touristy food stops and go one street over to the more local style eateries.

Lunch in Todos Santos

We settled on a place called Alma and MannyThey had all the standard options including Fish, shrimp, chicken anAlma and Mannyd chicharron tacos.   Chicharron is basically pork belly. And Manny’s version was very much like very good bacon.  The shrimp were huge and all taco options were 20 pesos, so just over a dollar each.    !!   enchiladas were also good with the supreme version adding rice and beans.  Another option was fajitas and Mary tried the chicken version and pronounced them excellent.   All in all we chose very wisely in escaping the tourist traps and eating with the locals.  We visited some art galleries and shops to complete our Todos Santos experience and then headed back to home base at the Grand Mayan San Jose del Cabo.   We just had time to shower and get a little  spiffed up before heading off down the corridor road to Cabo San Lucas.  We had reservations at Salvatore’s.Restaurant in Cabo San Lucas

 

Habanero's Restaurant - San Jose del Cabo

That night,  we followed one of the standard recommended places to eat called Habaneros.Habaneros restaurant cabo  It is less than 10 minutes walk from the resort.  It was a pleasant little place with a variety of cuisines. Including a little pasta and the a variety of seafood.    Prices are reasonable and everyone was happy.   like    The catch of the day is prepared in three different ways.  Three of us got the cilantro pesto version, which was very good fish and was served on a bed of ratatouille.  And I learned that whatever ratatouille is, I don’t much like it.

Cabo Pulmo Day Trip

After two or three cups of coffee and discussions with our new favorite concierge Humberto,  we decided to head up the east side of the Baja toward Cabo Pulmo.    It is a pleasant peaceful 1 ½

on the road to Cabo Pulma

on the road to Cabo Pulma

hour drive up to La Rivera and then a not so pleasant, not so peaceful , bone jarring  ½ hour or more down a washboard dirt road to Cabo Pulmo national park.  The first thing you notice is the vibrant deep blue aqua colors of the Sea of Cortes, with Saguaro cactus and mountains as contrasting features.  We had really gotten a late start so my friend Jim and I (being the only snorklers) decided not to do the full boat tour, but instead to rent equipment from one of the local shops ($15 for mask, snorkel and fins), since the reef is right off shore.  This turned out to be a good choice.  There was a restaurant on the beach for our friends and we were soon in the unseasonably warm waters weaving our way through shallow coral.  The visibility was pretty good at about 15 feet most of the time and we saw at least a dozen different varieties of fish.  I only got myself a bit trapped by coral once and had an interesting time navigating out with small waves trying to throw me off track.   Overall,  snorkeling here is …. Fine.  If you love to snorkel like we do, it is always worth it.  Black puffer fish with white spots, a variety of butterfly fish, a parrot fish and quite a few others is great in the always mellow relaxing marine environment .  I always feel like I have been transported into another world.

By the time we were finished our friends were really done with relaxing and off we went back up the washboard.   We originally intended to go up a bit farther and visit a former mining town called El Triunfo with a museum and brewery, but we were running late and had dinner reservations, so we couldn’t squeeze that into the trip.  So the day turned out to be quite a bit of driving just to see Cabo Pulmo.  b

Los Cabos 2016

Once we stopped hyperventilating from our missed flights and various stand by experiences, we found our car rental guy with his enormous Suburban (there are six of us, five from Michigan and one from Seattle) and headed into town. Driving in Cabo is not too intense , since everyonblue fishe seems to be amazingly polite drivers. However, if you miss you option on a round about you will likely end up going a mile or two before the opportunity to turn around comes along. And if you miss that option……. Kind of annoying until you get used to it.
Finally we arrived , looked around, took a deep breath and said welcome to Grand Mayan Los Cabos. We decided not to try and go anywhere further to eat after a long , harrowing trip, so we ate at the Blue Fish restaurant, poolside at the resort. I love their Peruvian ceviche (pronounced sa-vee-chay) with the accent on the middle syllable. It was the end of the day , the kitchen was closing and the nachos , were not so fabulous. But hey we are in paradise, so no complaining.
We finished the day with a trip to Mega super market for Coffee (we always recommend Garat brand) half and half and some Gin , Tonic and Tequila. I have decided to dedicate myself to developing the perfect Cadillac Margarita this week, so we bought Grand Marnier instead of triple sec , a bag of limes and some orange juice (more on that in a later post) We also picked up some bread, peanut butter, yogurt and jam for breakfasts.
The spectacular blue ocean water in front of the resort doesn’t look very dangerous until you walk out onto the beach and feel the power of the waves crashing and shooting spray of a dozen feet or more. Probably best to heed the no swimming warnings. The Chilenos and Santa maria beaches now have marked exits along the corridor highway to Cabo San Lucas. Both of those bays are beautiful and safe for swimming.

Travel Quote - Speechless

speechless  Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

Duty Free Shopping Tips

Gifts and Duty Free Shoppingdutyfree

I went on a trip to Mexico in 2013 and visited a myriad of places. However, I will never forget Cozumel because that’s where I found the heart shaped sea shell I had been searching for the entire trip. Whenever I look at that pink heart sitting on my night stand I think of the sandy beach and the exhilaration I felt while scuba diving for the first time.  Duty free shops on the way home can be a great place to get those souvenirs or gifts that you neglected because you were having so much fun. 

What is a duty free shop?

According to World Travel Guide, duty free shops are places where the government allows items to be exempt from certain import and sales taxes, meaning that you can save up to 50 percent on great items that are usually quite costly.  Duty free shops can be an especially good place to buy gifts because they are guaranteed to be meaningful and memory saturated, and you can get great bargains. 

For the best bargains, CNN’s travel writer David Farley recommends comparing the price you would pay at home to the duty free price.  This means you should price some of your favorite items before you go on your trip to avoid being sucked in by all the glamorous displays.  Also, carefully take into account the exchange rate to help you understand what kind of deal you’re actually getting. 

The easiest tip to remember is that the best deals are found on liquor and tobacco, where you can often save 25 to 50 %.  The best deals are likely to be for items that are produced in the country you are in.   For example, tequila in Mexico.

However, one caveat is that if you have a plane change on the way home, you may have to move the liquor to your checked bags due to the 3 ounce  liquid restrictions for carryons.  This could exceed your weight limits, so you may have to do like an Irish duty free salesman suggested to us  and “Throw the clothes and keep the whiskey”

Other possible savings include;

  • Fragrances & Cosmetics 15-20%
  • Luxury Gifts, Accessories and Watches 10-25%
  • Confections & Edibles 10-25%

However, I have often seen items for the same price as you can get at home, so be careful.

Where are duty free stores found?

Duty free shops can be found almost anywhere there are travelers: airports, cruises, ports and aboard international flights. To find out if your destination has duty free shops you can contact your airline, travel agency and even border patrol.

What are the limits and requirements for duty free shopping?

There are a few stipulations on the types of items and the quantity that can be brought back as well. Any American traveler over 18 can bring back a maximum of 200 cigarettes, 25 cigars or 200g of tobacco. The limit on spirits is 3L of liquor or 6L of wine.

According to Duty Free Americas there are a few things that are required for duty free shopping. The first is that you are traveling to a different country for at least 48 hours. Also, the purchases must be leaving the country you bought them in. American travelers can’t bring back more than  US $800 worth of merchandise per person. For family members in the same household the limit is US $1,600 total.

Banned Items

Fortunately the completely banned items are pretty common sense. If you try to bring back narcotics, indecent images of children, live species of predatory fish, firearms, ammunition, historical artefacts or used clothing that isn’t part of your personal luggage, they will be confiscated and you may be detained. But of course, none of our guests would be doing such things.  

X