Change is inevitable when you visit Puerto Vallarta. Each new destination you visit changes you in some way. Sometimes it’s as simple as a new way to look at something familiar. Sometimes you find yourself wondering what it would be like to live in this new place. Most often, you simply tuck a piece of it away in your heart, hoping to relive the memories another day.
Here’s what you should expect after your first visit to Puerto Vallarta:
You stop thinking that all of Mexico is a flat desert. As the plane descends for landing in Puerto Vallarta you are greeted with glorious green mountains. The city perches at the base of the foothills, and the roads in and out involve curves and hills. The lush forests that cover the mountains are an unequaled backdrop to the city and the sea.
You realize that all tacos are not created equal. You will never look at Taco Bell the same again. Street tacos in Puerto Vallarta come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. From fish to crispy pork, there is a flavor and a heat level for everyone.
You vow never to eat frozen tamales again. One taste of a fresh tamale with traditional mole and you will be done with imposters forever. The humble food originally invented to be eaten in-hand has moved into upscale restaurants, even in Puerto Vallarta.
You try teaching your friends that some tequila is for sipping. Quality tequila is something to be savored with a side of citrus sprinkled with chili and salt. The smokiness of Mezcal, is best enjoyed slowly as the sun sets and evening settles over the city. It’s an experience you may have difficulty recreating in your favorite bar back home. Next time just take your friends along and teach them onsite.
You fail miserably at recreating the best guacamole in the world. When the sign reads: “The most authentic guacamole in Puerto Vallarta,” it’s a tall order to live up to. When the sign is several miles uphill from the city, way off the beaten path, and deep inside a botanical garden, you assume it will be a marketing failure. Until you taste it. Until you sit watching hummingbirds fight over feeders swaying in the breeze as you experience guacamole nirvana on lighter-than-air chips, while sipping on what could be the best frozen beverage ever to cross your lips. And did I mention the sound of rushing water echoing up the canyon? You will never recreate this at home.
You crave beaches that can only be accessed by boat. The most famous beach in Puerto Vallarta is along the Malecon boardwalk, lined with shops, eateries, and interesting monuments to the sea. But some of the best beaches are beyond the end of the road, accessible only by water. Las Animas Beach is a delightful surprise, tucked away beyond the city, but with full services. Enjoy bar service, water sports equipment rentals, and even a beach massage. Your idea of a day at the beach will never be the same.
You refuse to buy souvenir refrigerator magnets made in China, ever again unless you are IN China. So you have a thing about magnets, or someone you know does. You know the drill, wherever you go, you keep an eye out for the perfect addition to the collection. Sometimes you settle for a mass-produced trinket simply because it has the name of the destination. Those are not the memory makers. After watching your magnet being hand painted at a road-side stand in Puerto Vallarta, you realize your search has ended for the perfect souvenir.
You judge all hotel pools by how good the view of the ocean is. If you can’t sit at swim-up bar and gaze across the infinity pool at the setting sun, you may be at a substandard hotel. Next time, return to Puerto Vallarta.
Images of whales and sea turtles inhabit your dreams every night. If you visit Puerto Vallarta during the seasons for whales or sea turtle nesting you will likely dream of the experience for years. If the timing of your visit does not coincide with those seasons, your subconscious haunts you with thoughts of what might have been. Either way, you don’t need a therapist. You simply need another trip to Vallarta.
You think every sunset should include a pirate ship and every evening should be celebrated with fireworks.
Each day here is to be celebrated; spectacular sunsets remind you that this is a place to be cherished. The pirate ship is just a bonus!
We were hosted by the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board. Opinions are my own.