The closer we got to Puerto Vallarta, the more our phones’ weather apps became certain it would rain one—no, two—no, all four days of our trip. Mid-June was only the very beginning of the rainy season, which runs through mid-October, and my husband and I had booked rooms with another couple at Garza Blanca Resort and Spa, tucked between the beach and the lush jungles of the Sierra Madre, at an incredibly low rate.
Rain ruled out our plans for snorkeling, hiking and club-hopping through the Romantic Zone in high heels. We had a cheap seafood dinner downtown and an hour at the beach. As we situated ourselves at the infinity pool to watch the sunset, a cool drizzle fell and diluted our margaritas.
I searched Google for advice. Pseudonymous natives assured us it would only rain at night and a little each morning. We fervently hoped they were right.
We fortified ourselves at the hotel breakfast buffet as the skies dialed faucet settings from storm to sprinkle. Around 11, we crammed into a taxi for a day trip to the town of Sayulita. After 90 minutes of quaint towns and shrine-filled jungle, Sayulita emerged, a jumble of colorful shops and cafes. We joined young, beautiful Mexican tourists and older, thicker Americans ambling the narrow streets. A beachside café served locally brewed beer and delicious food with vegetarian options. We ladies shopped the trendy/swank boutiques while our husbands had a convenience store beer, cheaper than water. Then the ocean called.
We donned swimwear and rented an umbrella on a beach banded with glittery gold volcanic sand. We swam way longer than planned and even rented surfboards to mimic the novices around us. My friends sighed, wishing they’d brought their kids. Around 5, we reluctantly trudged through mansions and bungalows-for-rent to the town plaza and a taxi back to Puerto Vallarta.
We considered dinner and dancing. But the drizzle began at dusk, so we settled for ceviche and cocktails at our preferred infinity pool.
Dolphins cavorted by the shore during the morning buffet. We took a cab to Isla Cuale, two blocks’ worth of market stalls and banyan trees nestled next to the Cuale River. We shopped, then climbed the bridge to the famed Malecón boardwalk, where we bought mezcal candy and photographed street entertainers. We poked our heads into the landmark Our Lady of Guadalupe (proper church attire required). Then came a short quest through downtown markets for the perfect guayabera, followed by a visit to the city’s highest rated drinkery, the welcoming Bar La Playa, where we watched owner/bartender Alex make craft cocktails to rival any you’d find in Houston.
On the advice of a local, we searched for a nameless restaurant, peeking in charming gay bars along the way. But the restaurants were closed Sunday evenings, so we rode to home base to investigate the colored lights on the rooftop of Hotel Mousai, hoping for a dance floor. Instead, we found the best infinity pool of the three at our resort. As a rainbow appeared over the mountains, my husband remarked, “You know how you see places like this on travel shows and hate the people who get to go there? Now we’re those people that everyone hates!”
I tried not to cry in my pozole at the thought of going back home. Riding to the airport, we made plans. We’d come back next year with our kids. We’d come back every June for the rest of our lives.
- Eat: El Break Cafe
- Drink: Bar la Playa
- Fly: Southwest direct to Puerto Vallarta, starting at $148 one-way
- Stay: Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa, from $192 per night (all inclusive)
- Do: Watch whales or go snorkeling in Banderas Bay with Eco Explorer Vallarta and get your shopping fix at Cuale River Island