Jamie’s Puerto Vallarta 3 – Dolphin Delight!

We decided, after talking to other guests, that we would take Sydney, my three-year old to do the family dolphin experience.  Kids of any age can go. It is about 70 USD for each adult and kids under 12 are free.  There are many other dolphin programs available if you would rather swim with them or be a trainer for a day, etc.  This one worked best for us as none of us had experienced dolphins up close before.
 
If you have a chance to come here with kids of any age (even kids at heart), you should definitely do this.  it was well worth the money and a great value compared to other tours I have been on.
 
After our arrival at the dolphin encounter, the friendly staff instructed us where to wait.  You will want to reserve ahead of time as they are often booked up.  We were 20 minutes early, so we watched the sea lions while we waited.  A quick 2 minute boat shuttle took us to the dolphin encounter area where we were lucky enough to have a sea-lion come out and give us all a kiss first.  Sydney saw this and the dolphins in the pool beside us and started to giggle with delight.  her eyes lit up and she was grinning from ear to ear.  She even started talking back to the dolphins when they started making their squealing noises, it was awesome.
 
We were then instructed to get in the water and under the friendly and professional guidance of our instructor, we learned a bit about the dolphin’s and got to touch them, kiss them, dance with them and feed them.  It was a fantastic experience.  I wondered if Sydney would be timid or afraid at all, but she was having the time of her life and loved every minute, this was definitely the highlight of our trip.
 
After we had a quick lunch (I would recommend heading back to your hotel for lunch as it wasnt the best), we noticed a bird sanctuary on the way out.  we stopped in and for a bit, you could hold the parrots and cockatoo, take a picture and even have the bird “kiss” a sunflower seed from your mouth if you wanted.  Again, Sydney loved all of this and wasn’t afraid at all.  The tropical birds are her favorite at the pet store at home!

The dolphin encounter is in Nuevo Vallarta or Vallarta Nayarit as they are now calling it.  We did see a bit of Nuevo Vallarta as we were driving through.  If we decided to return to Puerto Vallarta again, that’s where we would stay.  There are pros and cons to each.  in my personal opinion, you should stay in Puerto Vallarta and near downtown if you require these:
want to be close to the Malecon
want a more authentic Mexican experience
want to be where the restaurants and bars are
wants lots of nightlife options
 
I would stay in Nuevo Vallarta if you:
want a family friendly area
want newer hotels
want a more resort- feel as opposed to a city feel
– would like activities like the dolphin encounter, a zoo, a shopping center and great golf courses all within a short walk or taxi
 
Note – Nuevo Vallarta is about a 20 USD cab ride from the hotel zone of Puerto Vallarta.
 
Since our dolphin encounter, we have just been enjoying more r and r at the hotel. Its been more great sunny days.  this is going to be our last full day before we fly home.  we are taking in the famous Sheraton champagne Sunday brunch (included with our all-inclusive) and then will spend more time at the pool.  I miss having a long beach to walk on.  the beaches here are smaller and quite rocky in this area.  the beaches in Nuevo Vallarta have nicer sand and longer for walking.
 
The hotel has given us a late checkout of 2pm tomorrow which is nice as we don’t need to go to the airport till 5pm.  overall its been a great holiday after our bumpy start and I would recommend the Sheraton to almost anyone.  It’s very similar to North American standards.  They have been very accommodating and it is a good solid 4 star resort.   Puerto Vallarta is a great value destination and the weather is predictably awesome almost all the time, which is a definitely bonus.  Not a cloud or a rain drop since we arrived!
 
Adios!  I will post pictures when I return.
 
Jamie

Jamie’s Puerto Vallarta 2 – Sun, Shopping, Siestas and Sunsets

I’m happy to report that the three of us have happily settled into our new home at the Sheraton Buganvillias.  the Sheraton has two large pool areas, both with excellent kids areas and one with a hot tub.  The activity pool also features a pool bar, aqua size and  pool volleyball.  The kids area is perfect for small kids and there are lots of families here.  Sydney has made a new best friend and they have spent hours the last couple of days playing and splashing in the pool.

 There is a 24 hour internet cafe and 24 hour gym here, plus a few shops to poke around in, and of course the beach vendors if you are in for some bartering….which I did this morning (good bargains!).
 
The beach is smaller here and the water a bit rough, but we tend to like the pool better than the beach anyway and are quite happy with the resort.  The service has been excellent!
 
From our Romeo and Juliet balcony, we can leave the window open at night as we are on the 17th floor and listen to the ocean.  There is no traffic noise at all and no rowdy guests.
 
The grounds are lush with lots of vegetation and flowers.  The food is really good—not a bad meal yet and even a good house red wine.  they have a kids menu with things like chicken nuggets and grilled cheese so even a picky eater like Sydney is finding lots to eat.  There are 3 a la carte’s that you can go to once each, plus the main restaurant which is buffet and a la carte.  so far we’ve just gone to the main one because its easy, the food is great, and you don’t need make a reservation.  tonight is the Mexican Fiesta which they include with their all-inclusive plan and its normally 75 USD each.  they also include their Sunday champagne brunch.
 
The weather has been great, sunny and in the high 20s or low 30s every day.  It’s a bit cool at night so a light sweater has come in handy.  The sunsets are spectacular.
 
Yesterday morning we walked to the Malecon which is about a 20 minute walk and would have been good, except it was difficult with a stroller the sidewalk was broken up and under construction in some areas.  It was hit and miss on the way there.  We saw some nice restaurants and shops beside old abandoned buildings, etc.  However, there were lots of tourists and we felt quite safe.  The Malecon itself was great with lots of street performers and sand sculptors amazing – as well as lots of shopping and restaurants.
 
Today we will enjoy some r and r by the pool and then hit up the Mexican Fiesta after our requisite afternoon siesta.  Tomorrow we are excited to do the family dolphin experience where we get to take Sydney to touch, feed and kiss the dolphin at the aquarium in Nuevo Vallarta.  It was 70 USD each for Mark and I, with Sydney free.  this also includes lunch and seemed like a great deal.  We spoke to another family here who did it with their three-year old and they really enjoyed it.
 
I will update you again after our next adventures!