Last week, James and I went to Nuevo Vallarta (Puerto Vallarta’s resort-y next door neighbor) for a week, and the strangest thing happened. Each day, we swam in the pool, went to the gym, read on the beach. Sometimes we’d go in search of a new place to have an umbrella drink. In other words, we just relaxed—and it was both really hard and absurdly wonderful.
Usually when we go on trips, we spend nearly every waking minute going to see this acclaimed thing or explore that historical neighborhood. We are both gripped by an iron-fisted FOMO and are A-OK with walking around until we’re utterly exhausted. It’s the best.
So when we got to Nuevo Vallarta and learned that the thing to do is, well, to do nothing, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Luckily, my Aunt Sisine and Uncle Mark have been visiting his parents there every year for the past couple decades and gave us some recommendations. We did one day trip away (a 20-minute taxi ride to downtown Puerto Vallarta, haha). And after that, we got into a groove, a real rhythm of relaxing, and by the end of the week, neither of us wanted to leave.
Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta Travel Activities
Here’s what we did and would highly recommend…
Explore your resort
We stayed at the Grand Luxxe at Vidanta (James won our stay in a raffle from his realtor—thanks, Deborah!). If your resort is anything like Vidanta’s, it’ll be huge. Even on days when we did “nothing,” we’d end up walking six miles because the place was so enormous! The wooden walkways and bridges throughout the entire property made me feel like I was in Jurassic Park.
Make sure to enjoy all the amenities. The ones at Vidanta were top-notch. We bought ingredients at the little on-site market and made fresh and simple meals like breakfast tacos. We ate on our balcony overlooking the ocean, and then we’d go to the gym.
Then we’d find a new pool to swim in (in total, we swam in 13!) There was even a lazy river.
The food in the resort was okay (a bit overpriced for what it was), but it was fun eating lunch next to the green iguanas. Even if they gave me the heebie jeebies a little bit.
The one Vidanta restaurant I loved was Taco Break. You can get $2 al pastor tacos and they have the best churros.
At night, we’d get happy hour margaritas (made with fresh-squeezed limes!) and watch the live entertainment. There were different acts each night. It was like watching a professional talent show.
Sometimes we’d just unwind in our rooms after dinner. We had a plunge pool on the balcony and a jacuzzi tub that was perfect for bubble baths. (Is it just me or are bubble baths the ultimate luxury? In San Francisco, I only ever take showers.)
Get dinner and drinks at Marina Nuevo Vallarta
Marina Nuevo Vallarta is just a short walk up the beach from Vidanta (there’s a paved sidewalk but it’s for staff only—we asked, haha) and has great local restaurants that are much better than the pricy, mediocre resort food.
We loved El Barracuda so much, we went back three times for their shrimp tacos and cheese chiccharon (crispy grilled cheese filled with shrimp, mushrooms and octopus).
Eddie’s was fun for their live music and amazing chips.
Go tequila tasting and souvenir shopping on the Mallecon
From your resort, take a taxi to Puerto Vallarta’s beach boardwalk, the Mallecon. Get gelato and watch the street performers, including the people whom you’ll mistake for bronze statues (until they wave at you!) and the guys that climb up a pole to spin down via a rope. You can also do tequila tastings at one of the many spirit shops, buy souvenirs and trinkets, and eat skewered shrimp and fish.
Go to happy hour in Zona Romantica
Zona Romantica is Puerto Vallarta’s hip gay neighborhood. The streets are smaller and there are tons of bars and restaurants. It’s a short walk from the Mallecon. We popped into Di Vino Dante for their BOGO happy hour and sat on the balcony to people watch.
Get a massage
While strolling through Zona Romantica, stop for an affordable massage. We went to Nicte Massage for a couple’s treatment. It was 700 pesos (or about $40 USD) for an hour long session!
Get shrimp burritos at Tacon De Marlin
Don’t let the location right across from the airport fool you. Tacon De Marlin is a local gem. After exiting the airport, walk across the pedestrian bridge for some of the best shrimp burritos you’ll ever have. All burritos are 100 pesos (or about $5 USD each).
I hope that helps and would love to know if you try any of these places. Or if you have any recommendations to add!
p.s. Planning a trip soon? Check out mytravel guides for fun destination ideas.