Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A few kid-friendly tours in Puerto Vallarta

So what the heck did we do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico besides running around on the beach and swimming in the pool? Well, we did go on a few tours but we were limited to what we could choose because of Tristan and my parents. Jean-Louis and I are normally very adventurous but we had to scale back and take it easy. I spent a good half day talking to tour agencies at our resort and decided on a couple of tours that were kid-friendly.

We went on a pirate ship tour since it was recommended as the most child-friendly tour. We were assigned a personal pirate to take care of us all day. The trip included a buffet breakfast, open bar for drinks, lunch, pirate show, a sail to a remote beach 1 hour away where we could swim, snorkel, kayak, play volleyball, and ride a banana boat. There was also a treasure hunt for the kids on the beach and games on board the ship. It lasted from 9AM-4PM and it costed a whopping $93US a person but at least Tristan was free since he was under two. Man, kids under two are so lucky! I thought the tour was good. Jean-Louis thought it was too long. It wasn't scary at all for kids. The ship was nice. The bathroom had skull toilets and everything on board was pirate themed. We were a bit addicted to the pina colada they were serving. Their rules for snorkeling was a bit lame. We all had to keep our life jackets on and you couldn't snorkel if you couldn't swim, even with the life jackets on. My parents and Tristan were out because they couldn't swim. Jean-Louis refused to do it because he had to keep his life jacket on and he wanted to dive underwater. So that just left me. I was the only one that went in the water. The water was lovely and I saw lots of fishes but only four different kinds in that area. Later on, I went on the banana boat ride with my parents. Tristan and Jean-Louis were happy just playing in the waves by the beach.

We got to experience a Mexican Fiesta. If you have been to a Hawaiian luau, this is the Mexican version of it. Luckily, our resort was one of the places that was hosting one. The fiesta was 6:30-10PM but after the show was over at 9:15PM, we just went back up to our room. I loved the convenience! There was a buffet of Mexican food, open bar for drinks, a guy going around and making balloon hats for everyone, a music and dance show, and fireworks. The Mariachi band was playing all night and then there were dancers doing traditional Mexican dances. The music was quite loud since we sat close to the front so we had to cover Tristan's ears. He seemed to love the music and was a bit hypnotized by the Mariachi band.

We went on a tour called the jungle trio. It included a tour bus ride through the city and to the mountains where we visited a botanical garden, tequila distillery, and river. It was lame and quite the tourist trap. Luckily, we didn't pay much for the tour. It reminded us a lot of the tours we joined in Egypt. We all stopped by a silver jewelery store, whether we wanted to or not. It was expensive and we only got off the bus to visit the bathroom there. The botanical garden was so small, Jean-Louis said it was someone's backyard. The tequila distillery was the only interesting stop. I got to taste various tequilas and ended up buying some flavored tequila. Then we drove to the river and while everyone else dine in the overpriced restaurant there, we sat on the rocks by the river and ate our packed sandwiches. Wild chickens were running all around us and there were kids playing and swimming in the river. One little girl was washing her bucket of clothes with a bar of soap on the rocks. The scene made me appreciate the life we lived back home.

Then there was the walk downtown in the Malecon and shopping. The Malecon is beautiful. The promenade along the bay is lined with palm trees, sculptures, sand art, and photographs. There are souvenir shops and restaurants everywhere. We marked a few good restaurants we learned about through our research and went out searching for them. The Mexican food is good and cheaper than what you could find here. Bargaining is a must when shopping. We had to shop awhile before we could guess at what the merchandise was worth. After a couple of days, we had enough and ended up not buying much at all :( The area we were in was considered expensive too because it was a resort area and we didn't want to go very far just for some good deals. I was more interested in the eating than the shopping anyway. It was exhausting for all of us to shop, especially Tristan. It was hot every day!

The bus ride was a thrill for Tristan. The roads are horrible and the buses are in poor condition. I swear it would fail every safety regulation in Canada if it were ever tested. The ride was quick, bumpy, noisy, and cheap. It costs 6.50 Pesos to ride the bus. That's only $0.50 a ride! We would hang out all day downtown to shop, eat at a restaurant, and then take a bus back to the hotel. It was only a 5-10 minute ride. It was a bit of a pain to get on the bus though since we had to take apart our stroller.

So there you have it! We did do more than just run on a beach and swim all day. Although it wouldn't be such a bad idea since we were in a great location to do all that :) We found ourselves walking to the beach during the sunset most nights while Tristan kicked around in the waves and while my parents enjoyed the jacuzzi. Ah, paradise :)


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