Don't you just love the feeling of packing your bags and exploring a city you have never been to? Well that is exactly what I did for my birthday this year and I was truly inspired by an instafriend (we met originally on twitter) and a her name is Bella and you can find here amazing travel blog here.
I remember she said that she loved waking up in a different country every year for her birthday and that honestly made me realize that I wanted to do the same! Life is too short to not do the things that we want and the world is so huge that I just want to travel and visit new places every year! So this year I planned a super spontaneous last minute trip to Mexico! I was so happy that my cousin Florisa decided to join my crazy adventure because we had such an amazing time.
I am the queen of internet research and vacation planning! I just love reading reviews on Expedia and Tripadvisor. I like to book most of my trips via Expedia because I've used it for so long and I feel that it is safe and easy! When booking this vacation I just had one thing in mind : and that was total relaxation!
I wanted to see mountains but I also wanted to be near a beautiful beach so I found the beautiful Playa Conchas Chinas in Puerto Vallarta after an endless amount of research.
Where to Stay:
I usually prefer all inclusive hotels because as soon as I arrive on a beach I just want to sit there and enjoy the beautiful beach without leaving the resort much. I know that the Pacific Ocean is a bit rough so I wouldn't be on the beach or in the water as much as other places I've traveled to. I also knew that I would want to leave the resort and go explore the city because I was curious to see what Puerto Vallarta had to offer. So after much research and review reading I found Hotel Playa Conchas Chinas and I knew it was the perfect choice for us. It was on a beautiful secluded mountain and it had amazing views of the beach!
Upon arriving Mr. Jose greeted us and took our luggage up to our rooms. If you have a disability or have trouble walking then this hotel might not be right for you because there are no elevators. You take stairs everywhere you go. Our daily walk to the beach was also lots of stairs (not including the several flights down from our room) but we loved the fact that we got our exercise daily. Everyone at the hotel was amazing and extremely helpful (shoutout to lovely Kenia for always helping us out with anything we needed). The thing I loved the most about our hotel was how peaceful and quiet it was...on most days we had the pool to ourselves as you can see down below! Our room had a small kitchen and fridge so you have the option of cooking and staying in if you really don't want to leave. We had a beautiful balcony overlooking the ocean and some days we even got to see whales swimming out there, like how incredible is that?
Our hotel also had many areas to lounge at as well. I love the fact that they have several villas for rent so if you have a big group of people then you can choose to stay in a villa with its very own private pool...so for my next birthday I plan to bring a bigger group with me!
How to get around:
So we used Uber most of our stay there and it was extremely cheap. Yes we are talking about $4-6 trips into town or even cheaper than that. We did a lot of walking in the downtown area but we were up on a secluded mountain so it was kind of tough to walk into town from where we stayed (many people did it but we chose not to). The taxi driver who picked us up from the airport was the most awesome guy who gave us the best local reviews on spots to dine at and he gave us so many amazing recommendations on what to do and what to see! As soon as you arrive into Puerto Vallarta you must take a taxi (Ubers are not allowed to pick up people from the airport but they can drop you off).
So be ready for quite a chaotic situation when you arrive. Next time I will arrange transportation or shuttle pick up because the last thing you want to do is wait around for a taxi when you are eager to be on a beautiful beach!
What to do:
Be sure you explore the beautiful Zona Romantica. It is the area near downtown that has lots of shops, massage parlors, clubs, bars and restaurants and artisan markets. You can find anything and everything there. We walked around that area several days during our stay in search of good food, delicious drinks and we wanted to buy cute little gifts from the local vendors. El Malecón is an area that stretches several blocks along the beach. You see several beautiful sculptures and there are lots of beautiful spots to stop and take pictures. This area is very beautiful and historic.
Where to Eat:
The list is endless but here are my favorites and I hope you love them as much as we did!
La Playita - located downstairs from Hotel Playa Conchas Chinas. It's right on the beach and we usually went there for breakfast. Everything is delicious and we even had green juice to start our day! The sun rises later than it does in Houston so it was so nice to wake up and eat breakfast watching the amazing sunrise over the beach and mountains. We never got to do happy hour or dinner there but this place is always fun and it always has amazing music and wonderful service!
El Set - On our first night we were super exhausted to hit the town and we decided to go upstairs and enjoy the view and a wonderful dinner at El Set. It is so convenient that the hotel had such an amazing restaruant. The food was amazing, the presentation was amazing and the view is ultimately what makes this place is amazing. They also had a live band and the girl's voice was so beautiful! This spot is highly recommended!
Mirasma - The taxi cab driver who picked us up from the airport told us about this taco stand and we love ceviche and taco stands so we had to go! The first time we tried going was on a Saturday evening and it was closed so we had to go elsewhere. The thing about taco stands is that they have no set hours. We were determined to try it because he said it was his favorite so we tried again before catching our flight back to Houston and they were open! The tacos are truly amazing and if you get the chance to go please don't miss out on this local gem!
Cafe de Olla- The amazing taxi cab driver always came through with these recommendations LOL! Upon our arrival to Puerto Vallarta we had this amazing guy who told us about all the spots that locals love! He knew we were Mexican and that we wanted the real deal (not Americanized Mexican food). Anyway....if you are a blogger or into pretty brunch spots then you have to visit this beautiful restaurant. Everything is pink, everything looks vintage and the food was probably my favorite! I had the chilaquiles con pollo and salsa roja and cafesito de olla! The service was amazing and the place was one of the prettiest spots we dined at! Highly recommended :)
Los Lirios- this place was highly recommended by our taxi driver and because everything else he recommended was amazing we knew that we had to try this place as well. One night we got dressed up to go out and because a taco stand was closed we ended up at some really cool spot on the beach but it was too American for us. We had some appetizers and beers and decided to head to Los Lirios. The wait was long and the restaurant was cozy and quaint. Let me tell you that the wait was worth it....because the food was AMAZING! knew I wanted to try aguachiles because I have noticed my friends in California eat that but it's hard to find in Houston. Florisa decided on a shrimp burger. This was one of my favorite restaurants and I missed a sunset over this but I'm so glad to have tried it!
Puerto Vallarta has delicious seafood and I love the fact that we got to experience the most amazing meals for such a cheap price! If you have never had Mexican Seafood then you are missing out and I hope you find a restaurant in your local city that serves it (if you are in Houston please DM me and I will give you amazing recommendations)! Although nothing compares to the fresh seafood from Puerto Vallarta and the authentic flavors of our Mexican cuisine.
There are several beaches that you can visit but we found our beach to be the most beautiful. One of the Uber driver told us that where we were located was one of the best spots in Puerto Vallarta due to the fact that the water was more pure (a river didn't run near there so the water was more blue and still and less muddy if that makes any sense). I also noticed that more locals hung out at this beach and there were less tourists. The water is blue, the ocean is rough and a complete savage but that made it even more fun.
You can rent an umbrella (which we did for like 10 American dollars). There were lots of vendors with delicious food and fresh fruit and beautiful artisan jewelry but nobody was pushy and they never made us feel uncomfortable.
Puerto Vallarta is a place I will always go back to. I fell in love with the beauty and the peace that it brought me. It isn't a place to really go if you want to party but its more of a place to catch up on rest and relaxation.
I cannot wait to return and have another adventure!