Puerto Vallarta for the Holidays

We’re currently anchored off the town of La Cruz in Banderas Bay, about 10 miles from Puerto Vallarta. For about the past month we’ve been in the area during the holidays. (Holiday from what? You say) This area is just about perfect at this time of year. 82 degree high, 62 low each day. The water was 83 when we got here, it’s now dropped to 78. Banderas is the second largest natural bay on the pacific coast. Lots of great day sailing and snorkeling in partially protected waters. Puerto Vallarta is big enough to provide all the services you would expect of a big city. Yep, more dental work for me, an implant this time. Lots of gringos—especially Canadians– come here for “medical vacations”–often at a quarter the cost as home. Many sectors of the local economy benefit.

Puerto Vallarta has grown outward around the head of the bay the past 10 years with luxury resorts dominating the ocean front. Not quite our style so whenever possible we’ve been staying a little out of the city. The bus system is quite good and a ride into town only costs about a dollar. We did stay at Paradise Village, a fancy resort, in Nuevo Vallarta for about 10 days because it seemed like a good place to meet our friends Dale, Tina, and Makai for Christmas. And, it was. We embraced the resort experience and had great fun with them. They had a very nice condo at the marina which was a great base. Incidentally, this is the only marina in Mexico we’ve heard of that has potable water everywhere including the docks. We pickled our water-maker and filled every conceivable container with fresh, free water, should hold us for a while.

Our favorite place to stay on the bay has been La Cruz, a small fishing village that grew in a good way when a marina was put it 8 years ago. Here we can anchor or stay in the marina. The town square is only a block up from the marina. The streets are mostly cobble stone with not much traffic. It’s a pretty quiet little town full of ex-pats but locals as well— always a lot going on. The down town is only a few blocks wide and deep but usually 2 or 3 places have live music going. The town square has music on Saturday nights and there is a great Farmers & Craft Market on Sunday mornings. You can walk everywhere easily or catch a cab or bus to PV. Right now there are no big resorts here. So, we figure, enjoy it now. In another 8 years it may be very different. My sister Linda rented a very cool house overlooking the marina with my mom & dad and Donna’s mom (Ev). We had a great week with them. Sailing on the bay and dancing with the locals in the plaza topped the list. They may have feared for their life when we all strolled by the Beluga Blanca bar listening to their live music (open air). It was jam packed for their anniversary celebration but the owner offered to set a table out side for us—where? She said. I said “how about here”. So they set a table for 6 in the street just shy of the center line. Cars could still j-u-s-t make it around us. We all survived and the margaritas helped take our minds off potential dismemberment and enjoy the music.

On our way into the bay before Christmas, we stopped at the Tres Marietas, a set of islands used for navy target practice turned National Park and wildlife refuge.   The thousands of holes and pockmarks from bombing makes for interesting habitat. It’s a bird watchers dream these days and we had some spectacular diving as well. We’ll try to visit again on our way north in the spring.

Tomorrow we’re planning to head south down the coast toward Zihuatanejo. First leg about 100 miles to Bahia Chamela, then Tenacatita, Barra de Navida, Manzanillo, and “Z-town”.  Many of our buddies have already headed south, it’s cooling down into the 80s there and the water should be as well.

bomb target island

The uninhabited Marieta Islands in Banderas Bay have been called the Mexican Galapagos. Well…. the variety of bird and fish species is impressive, especially considering that the islands were used for target practice by the Navy until recent times. There are holes everywhere from years of bombardment. Makes for interesting landscapes and habitat now that it’s a preserve.

Pool side bbq with the Hodges and Ingalls all of the Port Madison Yacht Club.

Pool side bbq with the Hodges and Ingalls all of the Port Madison Yacht Club (South).

luminati launch

Dale and Jeff coaxing one of our New Year’s Sky Lanterns into flight. The sky was full of hundreds of these drifting upward above the beach. It was Beautiful.


Jeff and Mary working to get our second lantern lit. Luckily the fire danger in the area was minimal. Wouldn’t want these things near my home.

carmanah lights

Carmanah lit up for Christmas


Post New Year’s Eve party-a breakfast hosted at the Vallarta Yacht Club. Beautiful roof top location in the heart of Paradise Village. The Ingalls’ head home to Bainbridge Isl today.

lucy lounge

Lucy adjusted well to having access to a house after 9 months on the boat. The house Linda rented was right above the anchorage and marina.

plaza dance 1

Dad and sister Linda dancing the Cumbia in the Plaza on Saturday night.

ev dance

A local couple teaching Ev the Cumbia, we called it the “Miracle at the Plaza”.

street table

In Mexico, you’re rarely turned away. The grand birthday party for the Beluga Blanca Bar was jam packed, we had a table set for us in the street ( the street was still open to traffic) The uncertainty of surviving the night added to the thrill. Mom looks thrilled…right?

white whale dance

Mom dancing with Donna and I at the Beluga Blanca, a local watering hole in La Cruz.


The Malecon in Old Town Puerto Vallarta has very interesting public art along the entire waterfront.


Downtown Sayulita. Love this little oceanfront community. A little more intense than La Cruz though.

1 thought on “Puerto Vallarta for the Holidays

  1. Dixie Carter

    You guys all ROCK! I feel privileged to receive updates about your “lifelong dream”. Lucy is a true “adventurer”……..such fantastic photos and fun stuff! We’ve often thought about retiring in Mexico—getting more miles out of social security.

    In December our little “Dandy” dog went totally blind. His blood pressure suddenly shot up to 300/110 and it *zapped* his retinas….he’s on BP meds and doing well with our *intensive* re-training and guiding him through the adjustment of a “different” world……we’re headed back to a wonderful canine opthamologist in Seattle the 25th to re-evaluate our options of restoration of “functional vision”…..probably thousands of dollars but we are willing to sell our car, work as “senior” hookers in Pioneer Square, sell pencils in front of the 7-11, roll drunks on Capitol Hill, hock my silver dollar coin collection…..whatever it takes to make Dandy’s life happy and secure.

    Keep up the *PARTY* down there! Get back in time to vote in November!

    Dixie and Dandy This email has been sent from a virus-free computer protected by Avast. http://www.avast.com



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s