It’s our first full day in Puerto Vallarta, and Tom and I are sitting in a small cafe eating chilaquiles and sipping coffee. After breakfast, we walk around the corner to take in the turquoise waters of the beach nearby, breathing in the sea air.
It’s a quick dose of Vitamin Sea before we turn around and climb the steep, cobblestone streets up to the Amapas neighborhood. We’re here in the summer, and even at this hour the sun is strong and the air thick. But it’s all worth it as we climb the stairs to the spacious condo where we’re staying.
We walk in the front door, greeted by air conditioning and expansive terrace views of Banderas Bay down below. This is our home for the week, but it’s not all fun and games. Now that we’re back, we open up our computers for a full day’s work. Kind of a buzzkill after such a relaxing morning, but the view from our desks made the work day much more pleasurable.
Housesitting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
We were tasked with watching two sweet and cuddly kitties, Max and Tequila, but other than that it was as laid-back as staying in an airbnb or hotel. Our room was extremely comfortable with a king size bed, private bath and walk-in closet. Just like with our last house sit, I quickly became attached to our new furry friends and enjoyed cuddling with them in the evenings.
We hadn’t been out of the country since Brazil (what?!), and while an extravagant trip abroad isn’t quite in our budget yet, we know how to get creative with our travel time. Although this was a working trip, our stay was just over a week, so there was still plenty of time to explore the city. This wasn’t a trip where we hopped around constantly trying to see all the sights and do all the things. Instead, we were content just to hang out like Puerto Vallarta locals for a week enjoying a healthy mix of exploration and relaxation.
We were there during the start of the rainy season, and we enjoyed sitting on the terrace watching the storms roll over the bay. When we did get clear weather, we made sure to get out and see the town. From our condo in Amapas, it was an easy seven minute walk down to the Malecon, a mile-long esplanade along the coast boasting tons of restaurants, bars and street vendors.
Exploring the Zona Romantica and Malecon
We spent most of our off time in the Zona Romantica, or Old Vallarta, since it was so close to our condo. Puerto Vallarta is popular as a quick beach getaway with plenty of all inclusive resorts and fancy hotels in the area known as the Hotel Zone. We actually visited a few of those over the course of our trip – more on that later – but we were instantly won over by the character and charm of the Zona Romantica. We were grateful to get a closer look at this beautiful Mexican city.
On working days, we headed straight for the Malecon at quitting time to grab drinks and watch the sunset over the beach before choosing a restaurant for the night. Not surprisingly, eating was one of our main priorities for the trip and Puerto Vallarta totally lived up to our expectations in the culinary department. Stay tuned for my next post, which will be all about what we ate on the trip.
A Little Luxury Goes a Long Way
We had two weekend days and a holiday (4th of July) to unplug and relax, and we definitely made sure to take advantage of them. While working days were fast-paced and jam-packed trying to see the city in the mornings and evenings, our days off were super chill. On Saturday, we had brunch in the Zona Romantica before heading out in search of a pool.
Since our accommodations were free, we decided it wouldn’t hurt to splurge on a little luxury here and there. We checked out the pools at a couple of hotels in hopes of finding somewhere quiet with an ocean view. Most hotels will offer a day passes to their pools and private beach for a pretty reasonable rate. After checking out a few duds, we finally settled on Villa Premiere, an adults only boutique hotel with a swim-up bar.
This place was exactly what we were looking for. In fact, we kept remarking that it was exactly the type of place we would have chosen to stay at if we’d paid for a hotel. The service was excellent and the chairs were super comfortable. We had the perfect day sipping drinks, reading and walking on the beach.
We had so much fun on our pool day, that we did it again later in the week on 4th of July. This time, we embraced a more energetic vibe at Secrets Vallarta Bay Resort. We went all in for an all-inclusive full-day pass. We don’t really tend to do all inclusive hotels when we travel because we like to get out and about in whatever place we’re visiting. But for our last hurrah in Puerto Vallarta (we were leaving the next day), it was a great choice.
I didn’t take very many photos while we were there, but we had such a great day. We arrived in time for the breakfast buffet, which was delicious, and then spent the morning catching up on work and blog stuff before heading down to the pools for the day. I also learned that blogging with a glass of sparkling wine with a view of the ocean really stimulates the creative juices. If only I could figure out a way to make that a more regular thing.
Sandals was throwing a 4th of July Bash targeted at their American guests, with a cover hair band playing in one pool and a foam party raging in the other. Not really our scene, but it was still a great time. We alternated between swimming in the pool and the beach, before heading to a Japanese restaurant for dinner (also covered in the day trip fee).
If you’re looking for the feeling of luxury travel on a budget, I highly recommend staying somewhere cheaper (or using TrustedHousesitters to get a free stay) and then checking out fancy resorts for the day. It’s the best of both worlds!
Day Trip to Mismaloya Beach
Although we stayed pretty close to home most of the time, we did take a water taxi ride to Mismaloya Beach on another day off for a little change of scenery. To be honest, this wasn’t our favorite part of the trip. The water taxi ride was hectic and crowded, and although Mismaloya Beach was lovely it was a particularly hot day and the area was super crowded. We still made the most of our time there by ordering drinks at a waterfront restaurant. Most places in the area will set you up with beach chairs and towels as long as you order a few drinks or some food.
Mismaloya is actually the beach that is known for turning Puerto Vallarta into the booming resort town that it is today. Previously the area was a quiet fisherman’s village, but then John Huston chose the location to film the movie “The Night of the Iguana” in 1963. Once the celebrities arrived, the secret was out about the beauty of Mismaloya and Puerto Vallarta in general.
We spent a few hours wandering the beach before attempting to head into town for lunch, getting extremely lost and catching an Uber back to our condo. (Speaking of which, Uber is definitely one of the best and most affordable ways to get around in Puerto Vallarta.) While our journey to Mismaloya wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for, it was still a beautiful place to see.
Before we knew it, our time in Puerto Vallarta had come to an end and we had to say goodbye to our furry friends. I don’t think they wanted us to go any more than we wanted to leave.
Up next, I’ll delve into all of our epic dining adventures in Puerto Vallarta. Spoiler alert: It was all delicious.
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