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There is the whole spectrum of luxury coastal recreation, from soft, nature-based activities like beach walks and fishing - which Josh tried - to jet skiing out on your own or joining VALLARTA ADVENTURES. They lead expeditions everyday, from nature treks to surfing lessons.




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VALLARTA ADVENTURES| Puerto Vallarta | View web site
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I knew that the boys didnít want to just unwind; they needed activity. The resort arranged an excursion on ATV quad bikes which gave us just the rush of high-octane speed and control that they were looking for in the video arcade, but come to life.

Sadly Noah couldnít join is because of his age. So it was left to Josh and I to learn how to ride these bikes before taking off on our Ĺ day adventure. I understood why we needed so long when we began. Our guide took us on quite a ride, showing us small, gritty towns with non tourism-oriented shops simply serving the local community. I liked getting a slice of real life, especially as seen from my fun, dune buggy style open vehicle with wheels raising dust clouds, Josh by my side.

Our team leader led the way: we rode on beaches, through thick bushes, past streams, up hillsides and over all kinds of terrain. When we first left the resort gates and curved right onto the main road I was actually a little scared. It took us a good half hour before we went off, away from potential traffic, which would never happen on quad bikes in any other regulated, western country. But thereís something about foreign countries where the normal rules just donít apply - like in Bali where entire families hang off the back of a moped. Part of the adventure is embracing their devil-may-care optimism whilst remaining alive!

On this ATV tour, Josh and I ended up in a small beachside town called Sayulita. A beachside town well known for its perfect beaches cafes and restaurants. Sayulita is also a great beginners surf beach. I fell in love with this little town the minute I got there. I so wanted Sheira and Zoe to spend a day here with us but they were not leaving the Four Seasons for love or money !

Thatís why I like excursions that weave through places you would never otherwise see. Like my morning runs, sometimes you have to break free of enclosed cars and pace the land a whole other way. It was an exhilarating to feel our way around the surrounding terrain and break out of the comfort bubble. I bought a sweatshirt in Sayulita (actuall got cold when going fast)that got covered in mud and spray from the biking by the time I got back. And at some point on a trip a teenage boy (and man) need to be covered in mud!

If you come to Punta Mita for the wellness and rejuvenation factor, like a lot of guests do, then youíll get covered in mud in a whole other way at the top-notch SPA. There are plenty of exotic sounding treatments and indulgences that use ingredients indigenous to the area, like the Agave Cactus Moisture Bath. There is even a lime and salt scrub followed by a tequila wrap.

The GYM is one of the most idyllic I have seen. Instead of being relegated to the interior or basement, as fitness focused people often are, guests can work out on an enclosed patio with a view onto gorgeous, leafy jungle.




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ATV QUAD BIKES (Organized by One & only)| Puerto Vallarta |
SAYULITA| Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta |
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I started jogging back to the gated entrance of the whole private Punta Mita estate, along the drive that seemed to never end when we first arrived. It was a great run along a paved road through bush land on either side, with hardly any cars, so I could lose myself for about 25 minutes each way. This feeling of not being part of the real world is the reason why wealthy people like to build homes here - but it also makes for a meditative runÖ




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Traveling into Puerto Vallarta by taxi, I incorrectly assumed that such a well known town would be commercialized enough to have English speaking drivers, but our guys couldnít speak a word (unlike the shop keepers). A good tip is to get someone at the hotel to write your destination address, e.g. a restaurant, down properly for you - and take your hotelís business card so that you can get back. Hand gestures just arenít going to do it. Not that I didnít try! I am always stimulated and challenged by a language barrier and still do my best to communicate - itís part of the quest of travel. I really have no inhibitions, so everybody laughs at my miming and accent efforts from the passenger seat.

Our first experience of the Puerto Vallarta town was a visual revelation. We just werenít expecting much apart from a commercial scene with a slight buzz, as a contrast to the serenity of our coastal resort at Punta Mita. But this spot is visually beautiful, especially after Mexico City, which is an overcrowded, run down mess. The nicely spaced streets are lined with authentic, colonial buildings and arches in burnt orange, pale lemon, terracotta and ochres. The squares and wide beachfront promenade are great to stroll along and the streets are lively. Even the cheap touristy products, which we normally arenít into, are so colourful that they lift your spirits.

After lounging all day, cocooned at the resort, we liked the idea of exploring somewhere new. So we really wandered along the old streets, where the Spanish Catholic touches really create atmosphere - wrought iron balconies with beautiful filigree detailing, white plaster, beautiful stone towers and stained glass crucifixes on the window. The church bells are the highest point amongst the old-fashioned, 2-story high rooftops, with all the sights and tooting horns of a working port adding to the ambience even more.

You anchor yourself in the town by strolling along the 11-block MALECON beachfront promenade, lined with bars, restaurants and shops. The standout there was these amazing sand sculptures, where the artist had created almost renaissance looking tableaux with figures wearing armour and veils with sculptured folds in the fabric - mind blowing.

The Puerto Vallarta sunsets come in extra saturated, psychedelic tangerines, fushias and purples. And as the sun finally goes down, the town takes on a more adult feel. All of a sudden the tequila bars patrons start calling you in. Despite my protestations about the kids they all press me on the pavements, come in come in. When in RomeÖ so we tried about 5 samples of the formidable local tequila.

Noah, trying on the grown up world for size, took a shining to 2 things, tequila and cigars (which are all blank so that the Americans can sneak their Cubans back over the border). He was fascinated that the wrappers are packaged separately so that customers can slide them back on when they are Stateside. Everyone wants to smoke the best so itís such a given that a system evolved!

Far from being a sterile tourist trap, there is a vibrant culture here. The LOS ARCOS AMPHITHEATRE features visiting symphonies under the stars, which would be a pretty magical way to swoon to Mozart. There is a ritual PROCESSION OF THE VIRGIN each December, which is steeped in early church mysticism. Music, theatre and dance fill the streets (while fireworks fill the sky) during the two major ARTS FESTIVALS in May and November - a particularly busy month that also features a Puerto Vallarta Golf Cup, International Food Celebration and North and South America Film Festival. So the town attracts interesting people from all over the world. With local sculpture everywhere and a calendar filled with arts events, this is a surprisingly colourful community with a lot more than just sun and fun to offer.




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MALECON BEACH FRONT PROMENADE | Downtown Puerto Vallatra, Puerto Vallarta |
LOS ARCOS AMPHITHEATRE| Puerto Vallarta |
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