Hotels editor Danny King's recent visit Puerto Vallarta and nearby Riviera Nayarit was heavy on sun-splashed resorts, thrilling excursions and good cheer, and light on the downtime. Read his first dispatch here; his final dispatch follows.
All you have to do is trade two letters for one to go from "gracious" to "gracias," and nowhere is that clearer than in Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit.
Go with the former area, and you have a locale rife with the deep culture and great seaside vibe that comes with a city whose history as a village dates back more than 150 years and which sits square in the middle of the backwards "C" that makes up the Bay of Banderas.
Sidewalk murals, century-old churches, smokey taquerias and seemingly drunk traffic guards (or at least the one I spotted) offered an appropriate contrast to the modern yet still warmly designed all-inclusive resorts such as Garza Blanca and Secrets Vallarta Bay.
Go with the latter and you get an experience that may offer even more dynamics. About 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta proper, the Riviera Nayarit is staking its own identity, with a stable of resorts like the stately St. Regis or stunning Grand Velas being joined in December by Iberostar Playa Mita, the Spain-based resort operator's first property on Mexico's Pacific Coast.
Then there are, of course, the regional excursions. For the more formal type, Vallarta Adventures' included more laid-back trips like catamaran rides on the bay and the leisurely pace of Las Caletas beach hideaway as well as the more intense Outdoor Adventures excursion, which included rappelling and inverted ziplining (yep, you read that right).
Either way, it's an embarrassment of riches of sorts for those looking to either make or sell the destination. In fact, if anything, agents on our trip seemed to believe that choosing one or the other represented its own challenges because of the inability to point out a single "right" way to explore the area.
Which is not exactly a bad problem to have.
Follow Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly.