September has been such a busy month and I’ve loved every minute of it! This month is the celebration of my 30th birthday and I could not be more excited to have spent it in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with my friends and family. I enjoyed my time there and am so thankful to everyone who came out to celebrate me. 🙂 Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful town on the Pacific coast of Mexico. While I’ve been to Mexico before, this was my first time to PV and it did not disappoint!
I’ve outlined information about the trip activities but I’ve also included information about the planning which isn’t always easy with a large group – we had a total of 14 in our group, including myself. Overall, I think Mexico is probably one of the easiest places to plan a large group trip that won’t break the bank.
Because this was on out-of-country trip, I started planning in January of this year. I started with a casual text to friends to confirm who would be interested. From there, I began researching accommodation options from hotels to all-inclusive resorts and rentals from HomeAway and Airbnb. With a large group size of 17, I knew it would be best to rent a space. I came across a beautiful property through HomeAway that met every need so I immediately booked it. I put together an e-vite that I emailed to everyone and had a hard confirmation date listed which allowed me a solid five months to research activities and create an itinerary. While I did not have all the specifics of the weekend finalized, I wanted to make sure I shared as much detail with everyone as possible. I am all about clear communication. This trip was some of my guest’s first time out of the country or to Mexico so transparency was important to me.
My husband and I are huge advocates of Airbnb and HomeAway so when we found this property on HomeAway, we knew we needed to book it immediately. Our rental was a 3-floor, 5 bedroom, 5 bathroom home with a private pool that even offered a chef for all meals! After being greeted with margaritas at the airport upon arrival, we were picked up by our host – most of the group headed straight to the house while a few of us went to Walmart and Costco to purchase food and drinks for the weekend. It was much easier to go through checkout because we used a credit card (that does not incur international transaction fees), but I certainly recommend having Mexican Pesos on hand because there are several places that do not accept credit cards. Plus, it just makes it easier in some situations.
The Puerto Vallarta airport is small and as soon as you walk out, you will be greeted by several taxi drivers. We were lucky enough to schedule a car service for our entire stay through our condo host which was perfect because of our group size. While Uber is available, I suggest finding a driver you can trust and contacting them directly for your travel needs if you have a large group. Keeps the group together which is really important when it comes to those long nights out.
While I love the excitement of an unplanned adventure, I also like to have a blueprint of activities and places of interest to make sure we don’t miss out on any must-see’s and do’s. Some people in the group had never been to Mexico while others never traveled outside of the country before so I wanted to remain respectful of everyone’s travel experience and be budget conscious. Therefore, we did not book anything in advance. PV has plenty to do and all the fun and adventures conveniently surround the City Center so we spent most of our time there, en El Centro Puerto Vallarta.
PV is beautiful! It is right off the coast so you can enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean while walking down the board walk, hangout on the benches while sipping on a tasty beverage and listening to the waves crash into the rocks or walk around the cobblestone streets. The area is filled with so much life: shops for clothing and trinkets, restaurants, coffee shops, bars and clubs.
There are sooo many beaches within Banderas Bay and even more beyond the north and south coast lines. We went to Mismaloya beach which was a simple walk away from our rental. This beach / area became very popular after the filming of The Night of the Iguana – it’s an old 1963 movie so don’t feel bad if you’ve never watched or even heard of it. 🙂 The townspeople are very proud of it though! And Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and the movie’s director bought homes in the area which will also be shared by the locals or on a tour/ excursion.
There are some great mom and pop style restaurants that offer authentic tacos and tasty margaritas. As you get closer to the beach, you’ll come across local shops that sell hats, sun screen, floats, refreshing coconuts, etc.
Beaches to enjoy: Gemelas Beach; Los Arcos; Garza Blanca
Snorkeling, Kayaking, Paddle Boarding
We went on a fun boat trip that included snorkeling and kayaking. We received a discount deal through our host’s friend and the company was Vallarta Adventures. The team did a great job keeping us entertained the whole time. It was an early start to the morning so we started with a light breakfast and then enjoyed some tunes as we cruised out into the ocean. We saw so many birds, sea turtles and dolphins. Not to mention, the view itself was just breathtaking. Snorkeling was amazing as well. Once we found ‘the spot,’ we saw so many species and colors- we were in a rainbow.
The bar scene is fun, but the club scene in PV is on another level. I felt like we were in a movie with how massive the clubs are. Mandala Nightclub is definitely a must. And the bathrooms are amazinggg. Unfortunately I was enjoying myself too much to snap a picture, but just check out their geo-tagged photos on Instagram to see what I’m talking about.
More nightlife suggestions:
- Club Xtine
- Trip Advisor also offers club tour packages for all three clubs plus beverages as well as open bar options at specific locations.
I did a horrible job documenting my food, but everywhere we ate was absolutely delicious – even the airport tacos! We had a delicious breakfast made every day which was extremely helpful for those hungover mornings and we had my birthday dinner at the house as well. Our host took us to Walmart, Costco and Sam’s Club (yes, all 3) to grab everything we needed.
- La Piazetta: an Italian restaurant in la zona romantica great for lunch or dinner. It’s owned by a Sicilian who moved to PV about 20 years ago.
- Restaurant Bar El Set: tasty dinner spot with amazing sunset views. menu includes traditional mexican and american cuisines.
- La Palpa: a great lunch or dinner spot on the beach in la zona romantica serving ‘tropical Mexican.’
More pics of the fun & outfit details!
Swan Float – Amazon (wasn’t the easiest to travel with but worth it)
Choker- Missguided | Tank Bodysuit- Agaci | Skirt- Missguided | Shoes – Asos
All white birthday celebration!