Mexico: Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, and Sayulita

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.

Since being in Costa Rica, I’ve not only had the chance to explore places in country like Tortuguero and La Casona, I also went to Nicaragua and just last month, took an 18-day trip to Mexico.

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On my way to Mexico!

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.

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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.

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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.

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Best margarita found in Sayulita

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.

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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.

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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.

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WHERE TO EAT:
– Pancho’s Takos
El Mole de Jovita

WHERE TO STAY:
A private room in this AirBnB (great location and hospitality, spectacular views, delicious Mexican breakfast every day)

WHAT TO DO:
Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas Hike
– Get a shot of mezcal at El Ombligo del Diablo
– Explore the cute shops and cafes on the cobblestone streets of Zona Romantica

GUADALAJARA

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.

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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!

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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.IMG_0070

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Bout to taste ALLLL these bottles

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.

No regrets.

WHERE TO EAT:
– Brunch at Romerita 28
– Have a beer on the patio of El Cardenal Cervecería overlooking a cathedral
– Any hole-in-the-wall restaurant that has locals sitting in it

WHERE TO STAY:
– Our AirBnb was meh…sorry no suggestions.

WHAT TO DO:
– Tequila Tasting/Have a drink at Agüita Mezcal
– Pretend like you have money and lay poolside at Hotel Riu Plaza
– Walk around the city and hit up Mercado Libertad for some 7 peso tacos

SAYULITA

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.

IMG_4497We 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.

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Just look’t her

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.

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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…

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We ate oysters on the beach…

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Explored the streets of downtown Sayulita…

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Made homemade pico de gallo while sippin’ on Mezcal…

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Beach, beach, and more beach…

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And even got to see a bunch of baby turtles head off to the sea during sunset one night…

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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

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3 thoughts on “Mexico: Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, and Sayulita

  1. Shirley Seltzer December 11, 2017 / 10:34 pm

    Hi Tilley,
    Looking at the photos you took and It seemed
    Like I was there!!!
    So glad your boyfriend could come down and
    Spend so time with you.
    It has snowed here for the first time the other
    Day and I deceided to shovel, it was very light,
    Roxanne called to see if I needed any help since
    Her and Susan was going over to Janet’s house
    To shovel. , remember “snow”?
    Have a wonderful time with the Peace Corp
    Lots of love,
    Shirley.

    Like

    • tilyianmorrin December 16, 2017 / 12:15 pm

      It was so nice to him! Can’t wait for my family to come down in February. Haha and yes I remember this thing called snow even though I haven’t seen it in 2 years! Hope you’re staying warm and happy holidays Shirley!
      Love, Tily

      Like

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