Even after living almost two years in Costa Rica I still have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Not only am I fulfilling my dream of being a Peace Corps Volunteer, I’m living in one of the most beautiful places in the entire world!
…even though it’s either just dumping rain or the sun is boiling off my tender skin.
It was glorious…y muy barato (very cheap) for all you money savers out there.
Or other PCVs that make downwards of $500 per month…hehe.
During my first 10 days I traveled with one of my best friends who I hadn’t seen in wayyyy too long. After a warm and tender embrace in the airport, we began our journey in Puerto Vallarta.
We stayed in Viejo Vallarta (Old Vallarta), now called the Romantic Zone which was absolutely beautiful. The cobblestone streets, cafes, shops, and boardwalk right alongside the beach was the perfect location to kick off our trip.
Our first night we walked downtown along the boardwalk and then went out to eat at Pancho’s Tako’s which had incredible street-style tacos and margaritas that were huge but really just OK.
I’ll probably get beat up for this but I love margaritas and I felt like the margaritas in Mexico were, well, kinda disappointing. They just didn’t have that fresh zingy taste to them and all of them had sugar on the rim…yaaakkyy. I searched high and low but came up short every time, finding only one that met my picky standards.
On our second day in Vallarta, we bussed to Boca de Tomatlan to do a coastal hike that we read about online. The hike was awesome but LAWDDDD it was quite the up and downhill battle.
After an intense, sweat-filled, morning we arrived at Las Animas and swore we would never complete that hike again. Two hours later full on ceviche tostadas and guacamole, we set foot to return via the same coastal route.
Each way took about an hour and a half. There and back was about 8 miles, 20,000 steps, and 109 floors.
I KNOW. SO MANY FLOORS.
All pain aside, if you visit Puerto Vallarta you MUST do this hike. You will find the cleanest, emptiest beaches with the most glistening, bath water temperature waters. It was the perfect combination of activity and relaxation while being beachside the whole time.
On our way back to our AirBnb we stopped to grab a well-deserved bottle of vino and spent the evening on the rooftop balcony watching the sunset over the ocean.
WHERE TO STAY:
– A private room in this AirBnB (great location and hospitality, spectacular views, delicious Mexican breakfast every day)
Gracias a Dios (thank god) we had to be on a bus for 5 hours after that hike cause my body wasn’t capable of physical activity. After a long ride from Vallarta we went inland to Guadalajara, which was quite the change from a touristy spot like Puerto Vallarta.
We spent most of our time exploring the city by foot to see the amazing cathedrals, churches, and markets sprinkled around the city. We found a massive indoor market called Mercado Libertad where we had some of THEE best tacos of our entire trip that were only 7 pesos. That’s less than 40 cents per taco!
While Guadalajara was less touristy and cheaper than somewhere like Puerto Vallarta, activities that attract visitors like tequila tasting cost a pretty penny. But that wasn’t going to stop us. Off we set (on foot, of course) to find a reasonable tequila tasting that wouldn’t break the bank.
Alas, we arrived at Agüita Mezcal where a kind gentleman was able to tend to our request of “the most tequila for the cheapest price.”
And that he did.
As you can imagine, the next day we woke up with a fierce hunger and found a hole in the wall restaurant right down the road from our AirBnB that served us ALLLLL this food for only 40 pesos. That’s $2-3!
Thank you for an ENTIRE baguette
Naturally, we didn’t feel too…energetic after our tequila tasting so we scoped out a hotel that we couldn’t afford and kicked it poolside all day.
WHERE TO STAY:
– Our AirBnb was meh…sorry no suggestions.
Our last stop, Sayulita, is a cute little surftown located just 1-hour outside of Puerto Vallarta. Between laying on the beach, eating more tacos, boogie boarding, and finding more coastal hikes, Sayulita was so much fun and I want to live there. FOREVER.
Since we just love to hike so much we found another coastal hike that took us out to a secret beach called Mal Paso.
We were the worst with bringing snacks and food and one day we were so hungry when we got back we headed to our favorite restaurant, Mary’s, and shared a gordo (fat) burrito, the biggest burrito I’ve ever seen, and participated in eating, in my entire life.
Before heading to the airport, we spent one more night back in Puerto Vallarta where we enjoyed our last sunset with a pack of Coronas.
After saying goodbye to Kaitlin at the airport 2 hours later my boyfriend and his family arrived and we headed back to Sayulita, where we stayed in a beautiful home (and not a gross, loud hostel) and did Sayulita in style.
Our villa was gorgeous was a huge upgrade from the AirBnB/hostel lyfe…
We ate oysters on the beach…
Explored the streets of downtown Sayulita…
Made homemade pico de gallo while sippin’ on Mezcal…
Beach, beach, and more beach…
And even got to see a bunch of baby turtles head off to the sea during sunset one night…
WHERE TO EAT:
– Mary’s (Home of the gordo burrito. We ate there at least 6 times)
– Sayulita Café Casa del Chile Relleno
– Tacos el Ivan (best street tacos in town)
– Luna’s (super authentic!)
– La Rústica Wood Fired Pizzas
– ChocoBanana (just for the chocobananos)
WHERE TO STAY:
– We stayed at La Redonda Sayulita hostel (good location but small and loud at night)
WHAT TO DO:
– Hike to Mal Paso Beach
– Rent a boogie board or surfboard and enjoy the beginner waves
– Walk around town and hit up all the cute boutiques
– Go to El Campamento Tortuguero Sayulita at sunset to watch the baby turtles get released into the ocean
– Walk or take a golf cart to Playa Los Muertos