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First trip to Mexico-- Where to go?

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First trip to Mexico-- Where to go?

Cancun, Los Cabos, Puerta Vallarta? Married couple in our 40s. Looking for a relaxing time with the opportunity for a bit of adventure. Would like to be able to swim in the ocean, not just the pool, and go snorkeling at least once or maybe kayaking. Interested in historical/cultural sites. We're not the type to never leave the resort. Love a great margarita but don't party or go to clubs and aside from a souvenir or two, not interested in shopping. We would probably pick a taco stand over Senor Frogs. We walk a lot and enjoy doing a bit of exploring on our own. Ambivalent about an all-inclusive. Love the idea of no hassle breakfast or lunch, but worried that we will get bored with the resort restaurants and we love finding good food in a new place. Some of the perks at the large resorts are attractive-- swim up bar, infinity pool, etc. But we are also not overly fond of crowds. Wondering about an adults only resort or a smaller hotel? We don't necessarily need a four star hotel. Really, really, really don't want to be where music will keep us up all night. Also don't want to be hounded by time-share salespeople and vendors. Two possibilities for this year: July and November. Travelling from Seattle so flights to Cabo and Puerta Vallarta are cheaper.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give us!

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1. Re: First trip to Mexico-- Where to go?

As I have said before, when you go to Cancun, you are going to the Carribbean. When you go to Puerto Vallarta, you are truly visiting Mexico.

Mankato, Minnesota
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2. Re: First trip to Mexico-- Where to go?

If you want the caribbean, head to Playa del Carmen from the Cancun airport. Only place we've been to twice. Stay in town not a "short taxi ride" away. We walked around 5th ave everyday at least once.

That being said, the next place we will be returning to is Puerto Vallarta. It' s hard to explain the draw of the Pacific. The old town area has amazing and inexpensive restaurants. We stayed by the Marina and event he nightly "short taxi ride" didn't dim my love for the Malecon.

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3. Re: First trip to Mexico-- Where to go?

I travel to Puerto Vallarta twice a year. I have a condo in Neuvo Vallarta (15 min. drive from the PV airport). The location is on the best beach around and allows for a walk to Bucerias or a taxi ride to Puerto Vallarta, but of course renting a car is a great option. In PV the Malecon is the place to wander and explore and Bucerias is a quaint village with tons of restaurants, a market and cobblestone streets. Before we bought our condo we stayed at Samba Vallarta (just down the beach from our condo) and really loved it. It's small enough to not be a party place and large enough to have all the amenities you want. Check it out. PV is my little piece of heaven and I can't wait to be able to retire and spend half my year there. I have posted reviews of both Bucerias and the Malecon recently. Might be worth a read.

Edited: 21 April 2012, 14:33
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4. Re: First trip to Mexico-- Where to go?

Puerto Vallarta is always my 1st choice. I've also been to Cabo once which was nice too, but it ain't PV!! :)

July and Nov are considered off-season, you can get very good rates renting really sweet apartments or condos in and around the beach - Playa Los Muertos. I'd consider that. Or any of many nice regular hotels located 'downtown' or 'southside' (I wouldn't pick a 'resort' and not 'AI' for what you say you want).

If you do choose the other side, I'd skip Cancun proper (again it is just not at all what you describe you want) and head a bit further... Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Akumal after you fly into Cancun.


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5. Re: First trip to Mexico-- Where to go?

You will be as you said, "hounded" by time share people in the airport at PV and by vendors on the beach....however, I just tend to befriend them and know them for years to come. I have been to Cabo, Cancun, Ixtapa, Akumal, Playa, Nuevo, etc. but only when, for some reason, I can't get to PV. PV is by far the best choice for culture, food, history, etc. in my opinion. You might check out Playa Los Arcos or one of their three properties . You can go AI or not and it is inexpensive enough to have breakfast/lunch there and eat out in the evening if you want. Beautiful location on the beach, and in the center of things...Malecon, town, etc.

Shawnee, Kansas
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6. Re: First trip to Mexico-- Where to go?

mountuhngirl - That's a great description of what your needs and wants are.

Pacific vs. the Caribbean side in the fall...


The immediate Cancun area is everything you said you don't want.

Cabo vs. PV....


I agree that if you go to Playa del Carmen, stay in town. It's not the walking town that Puerto Vallarta is because PV is larger, more interesting to me, and has more restaurants, although PDC is not lacking in restaurants. The tourists seemed to stick to 5th Ave. in PDC, but maybe that's not the case these days.... but was when I was there. In PV the tourists go just about everywhere.

The PV area has more opportunities for exploring on your own without a car or tour, than does the Carribean side. In PV you'll for sure find taco carts plus restaurants that in no way resemble Senor Frogs, but snorkeling would be better over on the Caribbean side. For exploration, PV has a great public transportation system and the other side really does not imo. There are many little adventures to be had on your own by bus in and outside of the PV area. Of course both sides offer tours.

OK this is the PV forum and obviously I'm a fan of PV LOL.....there is a reason....I simply think it is more interesting and dramatic than the eastern side of Mexico. Beaches and water are beautiful on the eastern side......and I adore little Isla Mujeres.....but otherwise I return to PV for more variety in town and out, the people, and the beautiful jungle covered Sierra Madres. For me, the landscape on the eastern side is boring.

From your description it sounds like you might like staying in the Hotel Zone, North Downtown, Downtown, or the South Side, but the quality of the beach areas in town and everywhere vary in terms of swimming, which would have to be further discussed.

Really, on staying in Downtown or the South Side ....it depends on which is more important....the type of opportunity for ocean swimming as you stated....or being able to walk out your door and be right "there" for walking and exploring.

Below is a link to maps of the area showing places to stay in each one.....The Marina will come up first on this link and you can "move up" or "down" on each map to see how they connect....


Check out the entire site above, you'll find lots of info, plus info on Taco Carts.

Good luck deciding!

Davie, Florida
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7. Re: First trip to Mexico-- Where to go?

spend some time using streetview on gmaps to look places over. swome of the comments above are right on and some are way off. Street view allows you to see for yourself

Shawnee, Kansas
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8. Re: First trip to Mexico-- Where to go?

Katzgar - by "above" did you mean my post? Feel free to say...really I mean it, everybody experiences places a little differently sometimes.

With all due respect......Bonnie's comment.... "In PV the Malecon is the place to wander and explore and Bucerias is a quaint village with tons of restaurants, a market and cobblestone streets." It sounds like PV is only good for the Malecon LOL, PV also has tons of restaurants, markets, and cobblestone streets, still quaint in areas for sure....but much larger than Bucerias. Yes, use streetview....an excellent suggestion.

Edited: 21 April 2012, 17:11
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9. Re: First trip to Mexico-- Where to go?

The thing to remember about July is it will be the rainy season on the Pacific side and hurricane season on the east coast.

July in PV will be very hot and very humid with lots of daytime sun but some heavy rain in the late afternoons or evenings.

November is a great time to visit PV. Still pretty warm, low humidity, and rain is over.

Chapala, Mexico
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10. Re: First trip to Mexico-- Where to go?

Wow I have been to Cancun and PV but not Los Cabos and actually any of the two can fit your needs or wants..

I stayed in Playa Del Carmen when I went to that side....it was nice , different from PV totally , better colored ocean and scuba or snorkeling etc... you can feryr to Isla Mujeres, Cozumel and there are many places to tour to,..Chichen Itza, Coba, Tulum, Xel-Ha, X-Caret, swim in cenotes etc. etc. We spent 2 weeks there and did a tour or event 12 days out of 14.. July is Hurricane season for both sides, but PV is much more protected being a bay...it is rainy season in July in PV though but typically means sunshine daily with rain late afternoon or night, no promises on weather though. We have not as yet returned to that side as felt too americanized etc. but might return within a year or two for a change.

Personally I refer PV, thus why I keep returning many times a year....there is lots to do in PV, hundreds of restaurants, tours also but different types..you have ocean and moutains in one...I find the topograhy on PV side prettier. Culture abounds in PV as well as the other side, if you tour.

I go to PV every July, it may be off season for non-nationals but it is high season for nationals as kids are out of school etc..so not really low season...I have stayed at all types of resorts AI and non-AI. Personally I happen to like the convenience of AI with a few restaurant adventures outside of resort also. I have no issue with vendors but understand your view. We usually do go to PV 2 weeks in July and 2 weeks in Nov as well. November is usually very nice weather and the rainy season is over. July has the rains and you may see some really neat lightning shows and such also culture in just how the people deal with extreme rains.

I suggest yo check out this resort if you are looking for a nice place, where you will be treated very well indeed, have quiet and rest and down time and be able to go out or to sister resort for when you want the crowds or music etc...It is Casa Velas Boutique Hotel. 80 rooms, suites more like it, some with jacuzzis, plunge pools etc. Located int he Marina area, short ride to town, very nice area, on gold course, with their own private beach club just 2 minutes away by A/C shuttle. They have swim up bar...at beach club you can sit either on loungers on sand or up above around infinity pool ad restaurant etc.. Wait service for both. The vendors nor crowds are not an issue here. Plus you have use of sister resort Velas Vallarta for more activity....located minutes away again by free A/C shuttle right on beach. You can opt to do the AI or not. They offer many specials and such so check their website and even call...If you happen to be going there last week of July, hey we will see you there..and Nov. as a return trip is in the works as well..Check it out...here are some videos..and I have many reviews on TA here you can read and feel free to PM me or keep asking here...


Where Everyone is Special Casa velas Jan 2-6, 2012


Girls trip to Casa velas August 2011


The New PV Malecon

Good luck in deciding...:) .....