• Caitlin McAninch

Escape to Puerto Vallarta

On the fifth day of our trip I pulled back the curtains and saw a wall of fog. There was a beautiful storm happening on the ocean, lightening and thunder with rain pouring down. It was incredibly awesome. Then all the sudden we emerged out and could see the storm wall, the coast became clearly visible and boom – we were in Puerto Vallarta.

We got off the boat at 9:00 am in Puerto Vallarta. Immediately we were placed in our excursion group and taken to a catamaran. By 9:15 am we were speeding across Banderas Bay, passing beautiful resorts, an incredible green coastline, mountains and insane beaches. I was already in love with the place.


The first stop on our excursion was the small town of Quimixto. This place is only accessible by boat and it’s just so remote. I mean, they grow all their own food, all supplies is brought to them by sea, cobblestone roads, just the whole nine yards. Beautiful.

We were taken to this little river and set up with horses. Dylan’s little horse was so tiny, he climbed up and the poor guy just sank under his weight. Not sure if mine did the same, but I fell in love with my horse. We crossed the river and began climbing up through the mountains. The trails we took would shrink to be no wider than a few feet. Steep hills, up and down, up and down.

Then, out of nowhere, we emerged through the jungle upon a tiny little waterfall. My first thought was, “seriously?” But, we got off the horses, walked along the river for a few minutes and boom! There was a beautiful waterfall towering over us. It was just incredible.

We swam in the waterfall for about 30 minutes. Against the humidity, it was the most refreshing water of all time. Powerful too, we could barely swim up to it all the way without being pushed back by the current. Best moment of our trip.

After swimming, we headed back down the mountain to the town. Here we gave back the reins of our horses and wandered back to the beach. At this point I was able to take my time and look around a bit. School had just been let out and we saw children running around in their uniforms. Dylan and I also got to put our feet in the ocean for a bit. I was so stoked about all the pelicans. We saw hundreds!

Snorkeling at La Bola in Banderas Bay

Once everyone made it back onto the catamaran, we were off again. Cruising quickly alongside the coast. We saw more waterfalls, hidden resorts and villages. Then all the sudden the boat came to a slow stop in a tiny cove, no beach, no pier, just cliffs, rocks and water. Here we just threw on our snorkeling gear and dived in!

I loved this spot because I was able to take off my life jacket and dive deep to swim alongside the fish. We saw the most colorful fish here compared to Cabo San Lucas. Dylan and I even spotted a blowfish! The seashells that lined the ocean floor were beautiful. It all reminded me of Tahoe with how clear the water was. We saw straight down to the bottom. Just perfect!


After snorkeling, once again we got on the catamaran and continued further south. We came upon this little fishing town called Pizota. Here the excursion team had a full BBQ and bar set up. The food was absolutely incredible. We had fresh Mexican BBQ with chicken, steak, tortillas, rice and beans, and delicious fresh veggie salsa. Like, it was a bunch of mixed vegetables, but it tasted like salsa or ceviche. So good.

We also had plenty of drinks! I mean, I was going to get my money’s worth!

We had the option to kayak, paddleboard, or really do whatever, but Dylan and I just relaxed on the beach. It was truly paradise. I think it was one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been on.

Puerto Vallarta Cruise Pier

As our excursion came to an end, I was just so happy. I spent the day with my new fiancé visiting some of the most beautiful places I have ever been. At that point, I wished we had just booked a vacation in Puerto Vallarta for a week, but that’s for another time.

We still had plenty of time before boat “curfew,” so after the excursion, we hopped back on the cruise ship to shower, and took into Port once more.

I forgot to mention, the morning we arrived in Puerto Vallarta, our cruise director came on the overhead and warned us that the US Embassy had recently issued a warning to American tourists. Travelling in Puerto Vallarta should be done with extreme caution, don’t wear jewelry or have large amounts of money, and don’t travel around in the early mornings or late at night. Greattttttt, right?

Because of that, I didn’t really want to wander too far from the boat. Luckily for us, there were tons of trinket shops and a little bar right next to our boat! I’m sure it was a bit pricier than shops we would have found further into town, but it was much safer and our bar had free wi-fi.

We had a few drinks, and right at 5:55 pm we rushed back onto the boat to make it in time for our scheduled dinner.

Truly, Puerto Vallarta was my favorite day of our vacation. I will never forget it. The landscape, the activities, the weather and just spending the day with Dylan, it all was perfect.

Have you been to Puerto Vallarta? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?! Share your thoughts in the comments below!

#Abroad #Cruising