Puerto Vallarta-Everything You Need To Know!

Puerto Vallarta is now in my top 5 of Happy Places to be in the world! My hubby tried for 14 years to get me to go and, finally! I can’t believe it took me this long! Why you ask? The people, the culture, the food, the cobblestone streets! I could go on and on but I will show you instead!

We flew direct out of Atlanta and by using our Delta American Express points we paid for taxes only! If you are interested in learning more about how to travel cheap with points message me and I will give you all the details!

My parents joined us on this trip and we consolidated the car going to the resort from the airport. The airport was insanely crowded but they have AC unlike the airport at Turks & Caicos! Once you get through customs you will be greeted by a ton of people trying to sell you things! Resist! I booked our transfers with Quality Transfers PV and they were wonderful! They will have a card with your name on it when you exit the airport. I did not use my full name to ensure someone else didn’t have my name to! We had this happen on our return, but I will tell you more on that later in this post.

Anyhow, we had the best driver that took us the long way through Zona Romantica and gave us pointers of where to go and what to do. Uber is another option in PV but I wanted my airport transfers to be booked ahead of time for my peace of mind. We did use Uber to go to downtown, Mislamoya and our hiking trailhead. The app works great and it is very inexpensive. I believe Mislamoya was our most expensive trip at $12 round trip! I did tip in pesos which is preferred. Note that our resort did have transfer options but they were expensive in comparison.

The Resort

We stayed at an all inclusive resort, Hyatt Ziva. Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta’s exclusive beach, Las Estacas, is surrounded by cliffs and the sound of waves. The resort features accommodations with ocean views, 10 unique restaurants, bars and lounges plus seasonal opportunities for whale watching.  Located less than 30 minutes from Puerto Vallarta International Airport. I chose this location as the private beach was a huge plus as well as the rooms were close to everything! The resort did not disappoint. Note that if it were just my husband and I we would have stayed closer to town and not an all inclusive as it is insanely inexpensive to eat in Puerto Vallarta. That will be our next trip! We stayed on the club side in a king room with a patio. I booked through Expedia and yes used Expedia dollars. We didn’t get an upgrade through Expedia but I booked up vs. a standard room and crossing my fingers for the upgrade.

The room had one king-sized bed and a sofa bed (not sure I would call it that). We had access to the Hyatt Club tower amenities as well as access to our own VIP refreshment center. The balcony was spacious with a private hot tub. The magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean were the best.

I will include a full length YouTube video soon with all of the resort highlights.

There are tons of dining options at Ziva and we found ourselves at the buffet for the most part. When you check in it is recommended you make dinner reservations for your stay. The restaurants tend to book up quickly. The buffet was perfect for the five of us as we have some that are pickier eaters than others. I enjoyed the constant rotation of offerings daily and the food was always fresh. We had one night that was a disappointment as they did not announce the buffet was closed and were showing a movie (again needed RSVP’s). We ended up at the sports bar since they closed ALL OF THE RESTAURANTS as well. Other than that instance the food at the buffet was our best choice.

BlaZeBlaZe The only things better than the view at this seaside grill are the food and drink. Savor flavors from Latin America and beyond perfected on the grill and paired with curated cocktails. As you dine under the palapa or on the deck for breakfast, lunch or dinner be sure to look out for dolphins and whales frolicking in the sea. Reservations are recommended. 
VivaZ BuffetViva Restaurant The core of the hotel and located close to all of our services, our gourmet buffet restaurant is the most popular restaurant in the hotel with a capacity of 270 guests and serves more than 500 people every day. VivaZ is a family friendly air conditioned restaurant with a patio where you can enjoy gorgeous sunsets and the sea breeze. 

MelanZaneMelanzane This venue offers two distinct experiences within one stunning setting: a Trattoria with light bites and exquisite drinks, and luxurious dinners with traditional dishes such as our own firewood oven-baked lasagna. Listen to expert advice from our sommelier and let him help you select the best option to compliment your meal from our wine cellar. Reservations are recommended.Dress Code Smart casual (not wet clothes, tank tops or flip flops allowed).

Casa GrandeCasa Grande This restaurant, reminiscent of an antique hacienda, features two menus in one, including a traditional Mexican experience as well as a more contemporary and sophisticated approach to gastronomy. Whether your favorite is enchiladas or our taco station, our goal is for you to indulge and enjoy every bite. Reservations are recommended.Dress Code Smart casual (not wet clothes, tank tops or flip flops allowed).

PurezaPureza The tempting dishes at this exotic venue are drawn from the culinary traditions of both Vietnamese and Thai chefs. Delights range from skewers to rice paper rolls and noodle dishes. Located on the far right side of the beach, Pureza house specialties include octopus skewers. Don’t miss the fried ice-cream for dessert, served with ripe red berries. Reservations are recommended. 

DeliDeli Cafe A quiet environment with a stunning view so you can relax and have a fresh cup of coffee. We pride ourselves on making sure everything is fresh including our freshly ground coffee, freshly baked bread, cookies, meringues, cupcakes, and sandwiches made daily after 1:00 p.m. 

The TerracePureza With breathtaking views of the Sierra Madre mountains and Puerto Vallarta Bay, our rooftop venue pairs exquisite mixology and vibrant entertainment with themed nights featuring curated cuisine, ensuring every event is unforgettable. Guests can also book this panoramic space for private celebrations, adding a personal touch to each occasion. 

FrescoHyghlightz Sports Bar Located by the activities pool, this healthy spot offers a menu that ranges from vegan ceviches to wraps and poke bowls. Savor these fresh and delicious options, against the breathtaking backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. 

HyghlightZ Sports BarHyghlightz Sports Baroffering a classic bar fare and a selection of cold beers on tap, Hyghlightz Sports Bar is your destination for the big game.

Playa BarHyghlightz Sports Bar Located at the beach, here guests can experience a selection of tropical cocktails, mojitos, and margaritas by the beach and enjoy our specialized service. 

Pool BarPool Bar Whether you’re looking to cool down with a margarita or relish in a traditional mojito, the vistas of brilliant blue waters will stretch from the pool all the way to the ocean as you enjoy a refreshing drink at the walk up bar or swim up seating in the pool itself.  Beach and poolside waiters are ready willing and able to deliver you the treats you need. 

Bar TortugasBar Tortugas Located between BlaZe Restaurant and one of our adult pools, lavish in picturesque views while enjoying a cocktail.
We frequented the Deli often and they have the best coffee and treats!  Hyatt Ziva also offers four infinity pools and a pool for kids for all to enjoy. Couples seeking a tranquil moment can float in our adults-only pool or soak in our scenic infinity hot tub. The pool bar is also adult only and has great views of the Bandaras bay.  Daily there were activities ranging from yoga to pool aerobics. The nightly entertainment was a plus for us as well! Kids club is available and included at no extra charge.  There is a full day spa that offers everything you need to pamper yourself and disconnect from your daily stress. (this is not included) Cabanas are also an option if you would like to reserve them. Your concierge can give you all the details and they are happy to be of service. 


The Activities

We are not on resort people and Puero Vallarta has so much to do it would be a shame to not go out and experience it! We had three full days and packed in as much as possible.

Day 1:

We took an Uber to the trailhead to Cascada Palo Maria. The trailhead is a little difficult to find but look for a worn area at the beginning of the bridge before you get to Garza Blanca. All Trails has it marked as moderate and says there are difficult areas but my seven year old did great! He also has been hiking since he was old enough to hike unassisted. The trail is not marked well but there are some arrows spray painted on rocks. 1.6 miles of the Jalisco jungle with a wonderful spot to swim at the end. Just follow the riverbed and you will reach your destination in no time. Note that there is another waterfall that you can get to with a guide and climbing gear. We did not take that route and we self guided. Bring bug spray and good shoes that you don’t mind getting wet.

Later that day after going back to the resort and freshening up we headed to the Malecon. The Malecón is a 12-block, mile-long esplanade in Puerto Vallarta’s Centro and Zona Romántica, in the Mexican state of Jalisco. The waterfront crosses the Cuale River via Puente Río Cuale. Built between 1935 and 1936, it was expanded between 1940 and 1952. In 2002, the Malecón was destroyed by Hurricane Kenna. After 9 years of repairs, the Malecón was reopened with a wider pedestrian walkway. On the Malecón there are several restaurants, clothing stores, jewelry stores, and craft vendors. Among the features of the place are Los Arcos, the Malecón Lighthouse, and a collection of sculptures. While there are several food vendors we didn’t have the opportunity to try any this trip.

Day 2:

Snorkeling at Los Arcos was at the top of the list and so happy we didn’t book with the big companies to go out. We found the most amazing family and even though I booked super last minute, they were accommodating. I didn’t want to book a 4 hour tour since I didn’t know how my kiddo would do, or myself for that matter! I found Lily through Mislaymoya Adventures. Their website doesn’t give much info but they are rated on Tripadvisor as a top dive shop and I promise you will have an amazing time! Chipol, Liily’s father was our guide and after setting my dad up with his gear, we walked through the little town of Mislamoya to the beach and boarded our boat. It doesn’t take long to get to Los Arcos and within 20 minutes we were in the water. Chipol told us stories and made the trip entertaining! We snorkeled for about an hour and then headed back to the boat. What really surprised me was when asked if we wanted to be dropped off at our resort vs taking an Uber back! So happy that we said yes because an absolute dream of mine came true and we saw whales! Humpback whales frequent the waters between December to March to give birth. Once their little ones are big and strong enough they migrate out. We experienced a mom and calf and it was so amazing! We also had a manta ray bigger than our boat swim under our boat and a stingray breach the water. It was truly a magical day and I can’t thank Chipol and Lily enough! I will have more on my YouTube channel!

I have always wanted to have family photos made on the beach and this trip we made it happen! Christian Pou is an amazing photographer and he captured the best shots of me and my family! Communication was fantastic and he sent me a link to a ton of photos within the week! He also took shots of my solo for my websites and such.

Day 3

Beach Day! We took one day to just relax! That is something we don’t do often as we are wired to be on the go, but it was great sitting and doing absolutely nothing! Because the beach is private there are only a handful of vendors allowed to solicit and we did purchase a couple of items. Coop had a bracelet made and mom and I bought a couple of handmade cover ups. We finished the night with dinner at BlaZe which was wonderful! Water front dining and the sunset was spectacular! Of course there is nightly entertainment that you don’t want to miss and so happy we booked at Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta.


I mentioned not using my name above and now the why. When we were waiting to be picked up to go to the airport someone called out my parents name, which was never given to any travel at all and only the hotel. My dad answered and the guy acted like he was there to pick us up. Fortunately I was close by and said no sir you are not our driver and go away. My dad was in shock! I told him that is what happens and Lawd only knows what the outcome would have been. My guess is someone at the resort sold my parents name to someone and that was how he received our information. While Mexico travel is safe, you have to still have a healthy dose of caution.

This trip is definitely in my top five now and I can’t wait to go back! All of the links to the above mentioned are in the post and below and of course if you have any questions please email me at themamalifeblogspot@gmail.com or comment on this post! Thank you for reading!


XOXO Tanya Michelle!


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