Mexico: Puerto Vallarta, Family Vacation Ideas - Snorkeling, Whales, and Canopy Tours.
A huge dolphin sculpture marks the main promenade overlooking Banderas Bay; bougainvilleas drape over imperfect stone walls; yellow primavera blossoms dot the sidewalks; up tempo music can be heard wafting from an unseen courtyard.
The city center of Puerto Vallarta embraces the idea of and easy paced tropical vacation. An array of shops line the cobblestone streets some selling souvenirs, T-shirts and sombreros and others displaying lovely works of folk-art. It is a comfortable city nestled under the shadow of a beautiful colonial church, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The area offers families plenty of vacation adventures from which to choose. Our action list provides a starting point for the fun stuff. Remember to take your sunscreen and to drink plenty of bottled water. Swing along.
If adventure’s what you seek, try the Canopy Tours de los Veranos. A treetop tour of the beautiful area surrounding Puerto Vallarta, participants will slide from station to station via zip lines high above the ground while guides point out coffee trees, vanilla vines, and orchids in the jungle below. By the end of the tour the route swings over the Orquidias River rapids. Bonus points:
If coasting through the tree tops is not for every member of your family, enjoy water slides and swimming on the breathtakingly beautiful Orquidias River or interacting with a variety of exotic (yet tame) animals - including a squirrel monkey, deer, Burmese Python, tarantulas, toucans, and the ever so cute Cancun the Cat. Need to know:
The canopy guides and ground staff are multi-lingual making the adventure easy to do with kids. (52 (322) 223-6060 or www.canopytours-vallarta.com
) Get back to nature.
Visit the Tres Marietas Islands Wildlife Reserve off the tip of Punta Mita, where the rocky architecture of the islands provides a sanctuary for a complex marine ecosystem, including dolphins, sea turtles and giant manta rays. Guests at the Four Seasons Punta Mita may choose from kayaking, snorkeling or scuba diving in the crystal clear waters, accentuated with deep caverns and archways. Bonus points:
Seasonally, the Four Seasons Punta Mita offers a one-hour lecture on the habits and lifecycle of sea turtles – a great way to learn about these majestic and ancient creatures which migrate seasonally to the area to lay their eggs. Swim with a dolphin.
Come away with a greater understanding and appreciation of marine mammals and the environment humanity shares with them after visiting with a colony of Pacific bottlenose dolphins. There are perhaps no more than half a dozen facilities throughout the world that offer such an once-in-a-lifetime interactive experience with these enchanting and gentle creatures. The folks at Vallarta Adventure Center offer the easiest way to participate in once-in a lifetime experiences. From whale watching, sunset cruises and dolphin encounters, they offer the good stuff. (Vallarta Adventure Center in Nuevo Vallarta. Phone +52(322)297-1212, toll-free 1-888-526-2238 or www.vallarta-adventures.com
) Watch for whales.
From December to March, the mighty humpback whales make their annual migration, passing through Banderas Bay. Their playful behavior is an amazing display of grace, power and beauty. Visit the whales with ecologists and biologists who are involved with the research and protection of these magnificent animals. Bonus points:
Seasonally, the Four Seasons Punta Mita offers a lecture entitled “Whales: Magnificent Visitors”, accompanied audiovisuals, included whale song and explains whale behavior and singing patterns, enriching the whale watching experience. Take a dive.
If you’re looking for the ultimate adrenaline rush, head over to Vallarta Action. Boasting a perfect safety record since opening in 1993, Vallarta Action operates a permanent bungee jumping structure on one of Puerto Vallarta’s stunning ocean cliffs. Participants can do the jump with a full-body harness, or the ankle harness – the choice is up to you! (Km. 9.2 highway 200, Puerto Vallarta 52 (322) 228-0670 or www.vallarta-action.com
) Reel in a film.
Puerto Vallarta was recently named one of the “Top 50 Film Locations in the World” by the National Geographic Magazine. Last year the city established the Puerto Vallarta Film Festival, celebrating the city’s half-century affair with Hollywood. The film features many free screenings of exciting new films. (The 14th Annual Puerto Vallarta Film Festival will run in mid-December 2010. www.vallartafilmfestival.com
) Toast the sunset.
Make a toast as you gaze out across the Pacific Ocean, as the sun slowly touches the horizon, triggering the dawning of a sky emblazoned with spectacular rays of orange, red and pink. Lie back on one of the Four Seasons Punta Mita’s many cushioned mattresses, a cocktail in hand, and sail into a Puerto Vallarta night, complete with great dining options, and a spicy nightlife. Dive to the depths.
Punta Mita boasts the best diving and snorkeling along the Banderas Bay coastline. The Four Seasons Resort offers a full-service Scuba program, including complimentary Introductory Scuba Classes, PADI Classes, PADI Certification, Introductory Dives, Shore Dives, Boat Dives, Kayak Dives, Night Diving and Advanced Classes and Certifications. Boat trips are available to a number of dive sites, all rich with the marine life of the Banderas Bay. Las Marietas, Las Caletas, El Morro, Los Arcos and Corbeteña all host a variety of marine life including lobsters, mantas, dolphins, turtles and schooling fish. Dive trips are customized to the wishes and experience levels of the interested divers. Sail to the horizon.
The 47-foot Benetau performance sailing yacht is available for exclusive use (in groups of up to 14 people) and has a personal crew dedicated to making this day a most enjoyable experience – or simply lie back and relax on one of the many cushioned mattresses. On arrival at the Marietas Islands Wildlife Reserve, enjoy a dive in the ocean and discover the beauty of the underwater world. These islands offer the best snorkeling in the bay, with a wide variety of tropical fish and coral, as well as great opportunities to catch a glimpse of wild dolphins, whales, manta rays and sea turtles. Visit a landmark.
The Church of Guadalupe, located on the Zocalo, is the most endearing landmark in the quaint seaside town of Puerto Vallarta. It was built over a 33-year period, from 1918 to 1951. The steeple of this church is an enormous replica of the crown worn by Carlota, empress of Mexico in the 1860s. Afterwards, take a stroll around the town and enjoy the unique local atmosphere. © 2011 Content researched by FTF and images provided Tourism Board Mexico.