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Suggestions for Mexico-Puerto Vallarta or Playa Del Carmen??

Suggestions for Mexico-Puerto Vallarta or Playa Del Carmen??

Old May 23rd, 2008, 09:08 AM
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JYK
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Suggestions for Mexico-Puerto Vallarta or Playa Del Carmen??

I'm finishing grad school in Aug and planning a trip to celebrate. Group: 6 to 8 people, in late 20s and early 30s, boys and girls, all friends, non married. Looking at last week of August for 6-7 nights. None of us are a huge fan of all-inclusive. We may be able to do the pool/beach thing about 2 days, otherwise like to be active, explore, not scared to interact with locals, try random food, etc. probably involve good amount of drinking some nights?

Most posts I have read on this forum involved family or older travelers, so my question is: do you think either of these places in Mexico is a good place for my group? Which is better? Will it be too hot? relatively, we live in VA, so in Aug, it will be high 90s and humid at home. Better to get a villa/condo or multi hotel rooms?

I'm personally leaning towards PV b/c I'm interested in the town and culture. Where would be a good place in PV for this group?

sorry for lots of questions, Please help!
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 10:10 AM
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I love Puerto Vallarta. There's a very active forum over on Trip Advisor you can read up there too. PV is perfect for the group you describe. Loads of non-AI resorts and hotels to choose from. Plenty of activities and places outside PV to explore.

August is VERY hot, humid, and the rainy season (although most often the rain is at night, sometimes with thunder and lightening).

For a first trip to Vallarta, I think it's easier to go with a hotel, instead of a villa rental. But both are good.
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 10:12 AM
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I'd go to Cozumel, Mex,. I've been to many Mex locations and find this island to be the best, It has good cool summer breezes, great (the best) snorkling, great night life, and some nice tours to the mainland Mayan ruins. The locals are friendlier than Cancun and far fewer tourists. The east side is beautiful and a great place to relax, you stay on the west side. Many villas are available as are condos, condos cheaper. I'm looking for a villa next year for my extended family, but it looks spendy.
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 04:07 PM
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I think you will enjoy either vallarta or playa del carmen. I think Vallarta has a little more of the Mexican ambiance so to speak. It is more of a "pueblito". Playa is a little more "hip". Playa is definitely young, but if you are looking for culture Vallarta is more interesting. You should probably also keep in mind that the sea is nicer in Playa since it is the Caribbean.

Good luck
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 04:28 PM
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They're both wonderful. For a group your age, I'd choose PDC. A very fun place. They're both Hot at this time of year, PDC may be just the tiniest bit more comfortable temperature/humidity wise.
Check out villas sacbe or Luna Encantada condos.
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Old May 24th, 2008, 07:46 AM
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Keep in mind that the risk of a hurricane is far, far greater in PDC at that time of year.
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Old May 24th, 2008, 12:43 PM
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Go to Occidental Grand Xcaret in Playa Del Carmen. Went last June with my girl. It is an all-inclusive, but included are tickets to Xcaret theme park next door. We snorkeled in underground caves there and it was awesome. Also saw a traditional Mayan show, shopped in the town of Playa Del Carmen, and drank until our hearts were content. The only lower point was the food at the restaurants in the resort...6 out of 10.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 11:00 AM
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(but they don't want an all-inclusive)
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Old May 25th, 2008, 11:07 AM
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Do you need a resort? Or is a regular hotel OK?

For local-style hotels in PV... I recommend The Tropicana, Dona Susana (see Hotel Playa Los Arcos website), Hotel Eloisa, Rosita, or Los Cuatro Vientos.

You could also look into renting a condo.

If you want a resort, like with restaurants, entertainment, multiple pools they are definitely available too (but I am not personally familiar with them).
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Old May 25th, 2008, 01:01 PM
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Puerta Vallarta and Playa del Carmen are very different places. The former is an older city, but now has many modern facilities. The town center, with its beautiful walk along the ocean, is lovely. The local market is a wonderful place to people-watch and buy all sorts of things, including handicrafts. Playa del Carmen sprang up for the tourist trade just within recent years. As far as I am concerned, it is nothing more than a tourist trap, with cruise ships dropping off hundreds of passengers daily in season. We've stayed at a small complex nearby several times over the years and have watched the dramatic change in the town. PV wins my vote!
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Old May 25th, 2008, 02:29 PM
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thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions. I did think about it being the hurricane season. We are OK with local hotels, prefer it over resorts or AI. I like PV for the culture and the caribbean side for the beaches and snorkling. A friend suggested Cozumel as well. I have much research to do
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Old May 25th, 2008, 04:50 PM
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Although Playa del Carmen has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, it is still a Mexican town.

When we started going there, there were still an array of fishing boats tied up along the beach.

It has definitely changed, but it's still a fun town, with lots of hotel/bar/restaurant choices.

The beaches and water are beautiful.

I've never been to Puerto Vallarta, I would like to visit, the city sounds awesome. But, I don't think the beach can compare, and you certainly won't have that wonderful, blue Caribbean water.

It just depends which is more important to you, beach or more Mexican culture.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 09:08 AM
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Hey Suze,
since you are a PV expert, do you have any thoughts on the Sheraton or Buenaventura? I like the location of Buenaventura, seems like a fun place, rooms look nice.
I also like Playa Los Arcos? let me know what your opinion on these places is. Thanks!
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Old May 26th, 2008, 12:42 PM
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I recently went to Playa for the first time. I loved the trip! I was there during October so it wasn't super crowded. I would definitely recommend it to people in their early-mid 20s. If you do go, definitely check out the fire dancers at the Blue Parrot. The night life is really fun and there are some pretty good restaurants in the town as well. I really enjoyed eating some traditional Mayan fare at Yaxche.
Also, make sure to visit the ruins of Tulum, but bring your bug spray! There is an eco-beach nearby that is definitely worth visiting.
On the drive from Playa to Tulum, there are many cenotes along the highway. They are spots where the underground rivers break the surface and you can stop for a refreshing swim.
Hope you have a great trip, wherever you choose!
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Old May 26th, 2008, 12:46 PM
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One more thing, I stayed at a little hotel that was right in Playa. The owners are expats from San Fransico who live in Playa now. It was adorable and the front desk staff are locals who are so helpful. The hotel was called the Luna Blue, Hotel and Garden. Its pretty no frills but clean and comfortable.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 01:15 PM
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For JYK~ I like the location of Hotel Playa Los Arcos by FAR the best of those 3 you mention. That's the area where I always stay so what I'm most familiar with. That hotel also has two other sister propertries nearby (Los Arcos Suites and Dona Susana) that share their beachfront ammenities. I think this may be the most "lively" hotel on your list and the closest to the "action".

The Buenaventura is a very pretty hotel (I think considered a wee bit nicer than PLA) and not too far north into the Hotel Zone as to be inconvenient. I've walked there on several occasions when out & about in El Centro. I've only peaked in to the lobby and common areas off the street, but it looked nice and the staff has always been friendly.

I know another poster here who likes the Sheraton very much (hopefully Butsey will chime in). For me it's too far from downtown for my own personal preference, but sounds like an other solid hotel pick.

I don't think you could go wrong with any of these 3 places.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 02:31 PM
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There are few very negative reviews about BV on TripAdvisor, so I was a bit skeptical. We just need basic rooms so I shouldn't worry about bait-n-switch, but still..
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Old May 26th, 2008, 04:58 PM
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Forget PV! There is no comparison with Playe Del Carmen. PV is dirty, nasty,and overrun with "hawkers" trying to sell you their cheap goods every 5 steps you take. They even aggressively approach you at your table in a restaurant! The town is poor, run down, in disrepair, and we did not feel safe. We will never return.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 05:16 PM
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Have to dispute another poster. Unless it's started in the last 12 months, cruise ships do not drop off clients in Playa.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 06:30 PM
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I'm in my mid30's, single, and female and went to PV for the first time in March. I LOVED it. I did not think the city was dirty or rundown, nor did I ever feel unsafe. I was also never approached by hawkers selling their wears while eating. I was, however, approached by people while I was lying on the beach, but a polite no thank you sent them on their way.

PV is full of culture, wonderful people, and fantastic food. I can't wait to go back for another trip.

I stayed at the Marriott in the Marina which was a great hotel, but I would not recommend it for your group, as I think it's a little too isolated for what you're looking for.
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