On most travellers’ bucket lists, you will find a destination that seems displaced from the rest. Mine was Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. It was Puerto Vallarta for over ten years. While my bucket list has been built on emphatic reasoning, Puerto Vallarta found its way to the top on little more than The Night of the Iguana and a few temperamental years studying Spanish (or, more realistically, watching the soap opera Destinos in Spanish class).
Last month, I finally made it to the Bahía de Banderas.
The Puerto Vallarta food tour may have been my personal highlight, but it was running against some fierce competition…
I spent the week with six beautiful friends – both old and new – based in a beautiful apartment located just off the Marina. Thankfully, our location meant we were the perfect distance from downtown’s tourist district; were able to avoid Spring Breakers but could still get to the city centre for roughly $4 USD/70 pesos in a taxi.
In our temporary home, we had the opportunity to become friends (almost family) with many of the local businesses and the staff who kept them alive. Our favourite spot – The Yogi Bar – became an accidental yoga retreat for a few of us who turned up every morning to get our bodies and minds ready for the adventures that awaited in the day ahead.
As well as incredibly affordable yoga classes, they also served fresh and primarily vegan food which always took far too long to arrive (upwards of 30 minutes for a single acai bowl) yet somehow always felt worth the wait.
Our initial introduction to ‘downtown’ took the form of a walk down The Malecón – Vallarta’s central seaside walkway. The pavement, though touristy, features a collection of contemporary sculptures by Sergio Bustamante, Alejandro Colunga, Ramiz Barquet, et al and acts as a perfect viewing point for Mexico’s Pacific embrace.
After our fair share of $1 jalapeno margaritas, we perused through the backstreets, cathedrals and markets before wrapping back around to the ocean in Old Town Vallarta.
Our trip was a typhoon and a half. Warm in every way and spiritual in ways I can’t put into to words.
Of all of our excursions, our trip to the Marieta Islands was the most unexpected. Though photography was, un-blog-fortunately, impossible on the choppy waters, the Islands will be imprinted on my mind forever. Thanks to Jacques Cousteau’s influence on the Mexican government, the Islands have been protected from fishing and hunting since the 1960s and now provide adventurers with the most surreal opportunity for snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding and – if you are a strong enough swimmer – access to The Hideen Beach (you’ll have seen it on Pinterest).
I may have crossed one place off my bucket list, but the rest of Mexico has now taken its place…