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Puerto Vallarta Trip Report - mother/daughter

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Feb 28th, 2017, 06:44 PM
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Puerto Vallarta Trip Report - mother/daughter

What a lovely time we had in Puerto Vallarta. I traveled there with my 3 yo daughter for 4 days in mid February. We stayed at the Marriott Casa Magna in the Marina area which turned out to be very central and convenient. I hired a driver to pick us up with a car seat from the airport. He also booked a tour for us for Saturday and gave me advice on getting to Sayulita one day(basically advised not to do a tour but just take a cab and go on my own). After that first pick up I traveled in taxi everywhere with my daughter and we didn't used a car seat. It was fine.

The hotel is very nice, the hotel staff was very friendly when we arrived and offered my daughter brownies and a little candy shaped like a bear. She was thrilled. We arrived around 2pm so the first thing on the agenda was lunch. We decided to eat at the outdoor restaurant by the water, Las Casitas. I ordered the fish tacos (they were pretty good but nothing out of this world). I also had a huge drink in a coconut. My daughter got a kick out of how they decorated the coconut with fruits to make a face. I gave her the fruit and told her my drink was "spicy". That usually stops her for wanting any. It was a beautiful, sunny day. After lunch we strolled the property a bit and my daughter found the kids pool. So we headed in to our room to change and we enjoyed the rest of our afternoon at the kid pool. I also checked out the kids club. When I originally was looking for a hotel I was hoping for a kids club where I could drop my daughter off for an hour or so in order to get a massage. This kids club won't take children until they are 4 years old so that idea was out the window but I was fine with it. I love spending time with my daughter (which is why I travel with her). I'm not sure I would have felt comfortable leaving her. She sometimes get a little anxious away from me.
It got cool around 5-6pm so we went in and called it a night. I ordered a pizza from room service which was surprisingly good and only about $9! That's one thing I was surprised about on this trip, everything is so affordable.

The following morning we got up relatively early and had breakfast at La Estancia restaurant. Our room rate came with breakfast included and this buffet was awesome. It had everything you could imagine.

We then jumped in a cab and went to Sayulita. I honestly hadn't had much time to research this trip so I had no idea what to expect. As we were driving there I was a little concerned that it wouldn't be a walkable area. But it was perfect, such a quaint little town full of artisans and juice bars. We spent some time wandering around and shopping and then we headed to the beach. On the way I was able to buy my daughter all the cute little Mexican toys and hats etc. The beach is a surfers beach, very wavy. But we had a great time splashing around in the water by the shore. There are chairs and umbrellas for rent right on the beach and they will take your order and bring you food. I had the fish tacos (yes again!). These were great and my daughter loved them. There are many vendors on the beach selling things. They aren't pushy which is good. I was able to get a fresh coco frio on the beach, so that was great. I honestly didn't want to leave, it was a perfect beach day. Eventually we found our way back to a central cab location and made our way back to the hotel. My daughter slept in yet car on the way back which worked out perfectly. It's about a 45 min drive each way.

The next morning we had to be up and out early to make it to the Marina docks by 730am. We took a boat tour to Las Caletas. I had read mixed reviews about this tour. It is a bit "touristy" but for a single mom with an active toddler it was perfect. The crew on the boat is so much fun and caters to every need. Once on the island there are plenty of activities such as snorkeling and even a small zip line. I think those things might be disappointing for most but I couldn't even partake in them. We just relaxed on the hammocks and played on to beach. There is an animal encounter with capuchin monkeys, parrots and snakes, perfect for a 3 year old. The other great thing is that they are photographing the whole time. I was able to buy pictures of our entire day for a very reasonable price. Priceless, since it's hard to get pictures of us together. Of course my daughter is so stinking cute that I think she got some more attention and we ended up with over 100 photos. The tour was from about 8am to 2pm. They provide a really nice lunch. It's about a 45 min boat ride to the island each way.

We did eat on the property again that night at the sushi restaurant Mikado, it was very good and again I was amazed with the affordable prices. I didn't intend to eat on the property so much but it was very convenient.

Our last full day I wanted to enjoy that pool and the property and also make it downtown. It was rainy in the morning but that didn't stop us from getting in the pool once it cleared a little. It was a little chilly for my taste but I grinned and beared if for my daughter who was having a blast. The pool water was actually warm, it was just overcast and cool out.

We then got ready to have a late lunch down near the Malecon area. A friend had recommended that I try a place known for their mole, El Mole de Jovita, they opened around 3:30 )but really weren't ready until 4:30). It's in the Zona Romantica which I'm glad I got to see. The mole is truly fantastic. After lunch we took a taxi to the Cathedral De Guadalupe and then walked along the Malecon. We had a great time just watching the waves crash as the sun was starting to set.

Overall the trip was perfect for us, exactly what I wanted for a winter getaway from cold Chicago. I think the experience in PV could be really different if you could enjoy the nightlife also but I honestly didn't miss it. I can see why people return over and over. I doubt I will be back every year, there are other place in Mexico I want to explore now (Playa del Carmen, Cabo etc).

PV is overall very safe. I felt comfortable everywhere we went. I do speak Spanish so I'm sure that helped.

I did get stomach sick when I returned from Mexico. I think I know what caused it. I had a margarita at the airport bar with ice in it. I thought the ice was supposed to be safe but apparently not. Oops! Learned my lesson.
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Mar 1st, 2017, 05:13 AM
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Nice!
Sometimes the change of diet alone will cause a bit of stomach distress.
I do not even drink but still on occasion get a dose of it. So probably it was not the ice but who knows?
Anyways I am meeting my Grandson in PV in just a couple of weeks where we will celebrate his 11th birthday. It is his first extended trip to Mexico (took a short cruise with his mom a couple of years ago) but attends a bi-lingo school (Spanish/English) so we both are excited.
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Mar 1st, 2017, 09:53 AM
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Excellent trip report!! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I love Puerto Vallarta and it's fun to see things thru other people's eyes.

Casa Magna Marriott is a gorgeous hotel. And I'm so glad you got to el Mole de Jovita (that street is the area I stay when I'm in PV) and visited the church. You fit a lot of fun into your short stay.

A couple tiny things. Everything seems reasonably priced in PV right now because of how strong the USD is trading against the peso at this time. And it wasn't the ice at the airport that gave you an upset stomach (think more of any suspect food you had that last day or so) the ice is fine in PV, it comes from a purified plant not made from tap water.

Thanks for reporting about the driver, car seat, use of taxis. People are always asking that question (here and over on Trip Advisor) so it's good to hear that all worked out OK and you felt safe in Puerto Vallarta.

suze
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Mar 1st, 2017, 02:31 PM
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You may be correct Suze but just because something like ice (or other consumables) leaves the mamufactor sterile does not necessarily mean it was not mishandled either in transit or at the place of consumption. Staff People do not always practice good sanitary habits such as washing their hands, cleaning glasses dishes etc causing illness to spread. It's just something you can never be sure of. I have suffered gastric discomfort more than once after dining at high end restaurants in the US. So it can happen anywhere
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Mar 1st, 2017, 02:57 PM
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She didn't get sick from a margarita at the airport.
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Mar 2nd, 2017, 06:09 AM
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Thank you for the comments. We did manage to squeeze in a lot of fun. I'm not sure what got me sick, it could have been anything. My daughter was slightly sick also. I had it much worse. I'm glad to know it most likely was't the ice that caused it.

Stewbear, I think your 11 son will love the trip. It will be great for him to practice his spanish.

Suze, thank you for your help leading up to this trip. I read a lot of your posts.
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Mar 2nd, 2017, 09:44 AM
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I love Puerto Vallarta. I'm always happy to help people in any way I can. You did GREAT with this trip! I'm often impressed when newbie visitors get so much done. I've been going to PV for years now and rarely do half of that in two weeks what some people manage to see & do in a few days! Good for you!!

I feel so sure about it not being ice at the airport because that just doesn't happen these days. While getting something a bit off somewhere along the line in something you ate (hard to pin it down usually) is the normal culprit.
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Mar 2nd, 2017, 01:53 PM
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That slice of lime can be the culprit.
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Mar 4th, 2017, 05:39 AM
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I have gone to Mexico numerous times over the years including central, Mexico city, Cancun, etc. I have always and I do mean always return home with stomach issues. I have traveled to the Caribbean, cruises, and all over Europe and have never had this problem only Mexico. I do not have an overly sensitive stomach. It passes I have since not traveled to Mexico as a result and I am very careful as well. I would guess it is just our systems. I do love Mexico however.
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Mar 4th, 2017, 06:07 AM
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Puerto Vallarta is somewhat unique in Mexico, as it is one of only a few places in Mexico where the municipal water supply has passed International Standards for over 20 consecutive years.
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Mar 4th, 2017, 08:08 AM
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Puerto Vallarta is not the same as visiting the DF or Cancun.

I vacation twice a year, every year, in PV and fortunately unlike diann24's experience never return home sick. I am aware and somewhat vigilant about what I eat, where and how it's prepared. That's true.
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Apr 3rd, 2017, 06:05 AM
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Suze this give me hope as Puerto Vallarta I have not been to this destination and would love to go one day. Perhaps I will not experience any stomach issues in this place. I would love to go there one day.
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Apr 3rd, 2017, 10:11 AM
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diann24,

Well I hestitate to make any promises, since it seems like you got sick in so many different locations! Was this recently or a long time ago?? I have never been to central Mexico, Mexico City or Cancun.

But I have been many times to Vallarta (plus once each to Cabo and La Paz) probably 30 trips total by now and rarely had any stomach issues (like 3 times total over hte years and those were all at least a decade ago).
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Apr 4th, 2017, 05:39 AM
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suze, correction I have traveled all over Europe and the Caribbean and NEVER go sick--NEVER only Mexico cities. Many locations and did not ever get sick I said ONLY in Mexico destinations. You stated "so many destinations." It was a long time ago, back last trip to Mexico was Cancun back in 2000. Last time I ventured to Mexico.
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Apr 4th, 2017, 11:23 AM
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Yes, I understood what you said.

You said you got sick in many different places, all IN MEXICO. I get that. And you also said it was a long time ago.
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Apr 5th, 2017, 07:50 AM
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I've been to Mexico over 40 times (20 to PVR alone) and we get stomach issues almost every time. Not that I think anything is necessarily contaminated but any change to the system can be hard in the body. The one place in Mexico I've never gotten sick is huatulco. But I've also never seen a cleaner place in my life. They certainly know how to keep it clean there.
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Apr 5th, 2017, 09:53 AM
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Maybe you need to be more careful with the places you choose to eat, if you get sick "almost every time". Because I certainly don't.
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Apr 5th, 2017, 02:25 PM
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The sickest I ever got was at Margaritaville in PV. I am careful and eat at many of the same places you do in PV and many of the recommended places in the Mayan, but still get sick. Maybe I just have a sensitive stomach.
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Apr 6th, 2017, 03:00 PM
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Often it isn't water but its hygiene and food handling practices, or not even food, eg you touch some contaminated surface and then transfer the bacteria to yourself. Since you aren't used to the local strain of e coli, you get sick for a few days. Even if wash your hands before eating,you could still get hit because of food handling in the kitchen.

I also find that the hotels and fancy places are no guarantee. At least in the local places even if the refrigeration practices aren't the best, likely the menu of the day is based on something bought and cooked the same day. In a big hotel you may have had a batch of something cooked up that morning, sat around on a counter for too many hours without being brought down to safe temps quickly and served later that night. Since it usually takes a few days to kick in it could have been something you ate at breakfast a few days earlier...like some cut up melon on a buffet?
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May 8th, 2017, 04:28 AM
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Suze no reason to get angry with us or aggravated because we get sick--my husband BTW got very ill in Punta Cana. I did not and I mean he was sick. I believe at the time he ate fish and the fish eat the coral. My DIL and husband also were sick when going to Punta cana. I on the otherhand did not get sick there nor do I eat the fish.
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