A few months ago I planned a short getaway for myself to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. I would travel from Memphis TN to Mexico on Feb 14th. That’s right I booked myself a romantic Mexican escape on Valentine’s Day. Now, I always travel on holidays, mainly because the prices are great and the airports are less crowded. Please don’t feel sorry for me, I have a wonderful husband and children, and feel loved all the time. I am a wife and a mom and a full time worker with this awesome travel side hustle, so I needed a break. Puerta Vallarta has been on my radar since Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox use to vacation there in the 90s. When I lived in Seattle it was a popular quickie vacation spot to get you out of a long winter funk. My uncle Semmes and his partner have been going to Puerta Vallarta for over 20 years and his pictures always make me think- THAT is a place I need to visit.
I ended up finding a great Marriott family hotel in the mountains, The Delta Hotels Riviera Nayarit, an all inclusive resort. It was perched on a steep hillside in the jungle region about a 35 min taxi ride from the airport and about 50 mins from downtown Puerta Vallarta. It was perfect timing because this part of Mexico was just coming out of their rainy season so prices were low and the area was not crowded. The hotel was lush and green and covered in in tropical foliage.
Before I go any further I want to answer a couple questions everyone asks me when I travel alone- “Was I scared?” No, I was not scared at any point in my travel. I arrived early in the day and had researched what the safest ways of getting to my hotel were. I easily Ubered from the airport to the hotel. I actually had a really interesting conversation with my driver who asked if I was scared to live in the US as there had just been a horrific shooting of an unarmed person by police in the city I live in. He told me he could never live in a place where everyone carried weapons and police could shoot people at traffic stops- what a perspective shift.
Everyone also asked if I was lonely, what did I do by myself and was I embarrassed to sit alone at restaurants while couples everywhere were having intimate meals? Here is a picture of me eating alone- not bad really! Ha Ha I laugh because as a mom of 3 kids (2,5 and 14) this was welcomed “me time”. I love traveling with my husband and with my family but if you get the chance to travel alone- DO IT!- it’s fantastic. I think everyone should travel alone. Not only to grow as a person and a traveler but to experience the decadence of doing what you want on vacation. Imagine waking up when you want, and seeing the things you want to see and only worrying about getting yourself around. Its magical! I love quietly sitting alone and people watching, but I also love group tours and restaurants with bar seating to strike up a conversation with an interesting stranger.
So how did I spend my time? I started off by scheduling a 90min massage and hot stone treatment at Tzicuri Spa on the resort property. I did this while still in the US a week or 2 before arriving. Its really easy to do through the chat option on the app. The spa was beautiful and as a Bonvoy member I was allowed free use of certain areas. My spa session was just what I needed to kick off my vacation after a long plane ride. I would definitely recommend beginning a relaxing solo trip with a spa appointment. I also got my bearings for the other services offered there.
After a long, hot, open air shower in the jungle I went to get dressed for dinner at Teppanyaki. It was a Japanese Hibatchi restaurant on the property. Since the resort is all inclusive I wanted to take advantage of the included amenities the first night while I got my bearings and to make sure I would be comfortable and relaxed. It was a great choice because I was lucky enough to be seated with 2 other couples. They were warm and funny and excited to talk about their Mexican travels thus far. I definitely didn’t feel lonely in this setting or uncomfortable. I put on a bright yellow dress, (something I rarely do if I am eating anywhere with my family) and had a great time. By 9pm I was tired and ready for a long uninterrupted nights sleep.
I woke up the next morning and had a great cup of coffee on my balcony and got some stretching in before going to the restaurant for breakfast. The restaurant has an impressive spread for all meals but breakfast is especially decadent because there was an omelet station, pancakes and waffles, allt ypes of cheeses and yogurts as well as thinly sliced meats. The fruit bar alone is the size of a large dinner table covered in fresh fruit and juices. All types of breads, pastries and cereals were also offered. At this meal I saw several people eating alone. This could be because they were up early or getting food for their family, but I was not uncomfortable in this setting.
After a large breakfast I took an uber into Puerto Vallarta for a walking food tour and some sightseeing. The featured food was fresh seafood and it did not disappoint. The tour visited 7 stops- 5 full restaurants, one juice stand on the side of the road and an ice cream shop. We tried fish tacos made with dorado, tostadas with fresh raw tuna, octopus perfectly cooked and accompanied with fresh handmade blue tortilla chips. The tour took us all around old Puerta Vallarta. We got a chance to wind our way through the cobbles tone streets and take in hidden gems that I may have never noticed.
Our guide told us about the history of Puerta Vallarta and showed us street art and put it into context to grasp what the evolution of the culture in Puerta Vallarta.
Food tours are great because you can get a blend of history and culture that you may never experience as an outsider. Its also a great way to feel safe and not tour alone.
My group was actually full of couples that had second homes in Puerto Vallarta and were visiting. There was great conversation on the best neighborhoods and how the area had changed since some members of the group had first started coming.
Our tour guide was a graduate student who had recently moved to Puerta Vallarta and liked giving the tours to meet local restaurant owners and try new foods.
Once we finished I took sometime to walk by the beach and get a little lost in the side streets. I got a good feel for the area and its beauty. Puerto Vallarta is vibrant and eclectic and attracts both young and old with its charm, great food and beautiful beaches The locals are open and friendly and that makes it a great place to travel too.
I could totally spend several days eating at my way through the tiny hidden cafes and restaurants. I was really surprised that the cuisine had a strong Asian influence. I wasn’t expecting to have soy sauce and sesame seeds, fresh tuna to figure so prominently in the food but I found it to be lovely surprise. It turns out that Tequila and Mezcal pair perfectly with the warm house made tortillas and fresh seafood.
The next day I planned a trip to the beach club that was about 10 minutes from resort. There was a shuttle that would take you to a perfect section of beach where you could enjoy the salty air all the food and drinks you could handle. It was so relaxing to sit and watch the waves and boats on the water. The air was cool and the sun was hot. I took a long walk along the coast and was treated to regular stops to check out all the things you could purchase on the beach.
While this club was part of the resort, and food and drinks were included, you would need to have cash in dollars if you wanted to buy souvenirs from the vendors on the beach.
There were also vendors selling food like kabobs and a variety of juices along the beach. I stayed for a half day here and went back to enjoy the reflection pool at the spa and try the sauna. I enjoyed doing a yoga session from my balcony. I had cocktails in the lobby bar and met an interesting couple finishing the 10 day vacation. After some engaging conversation about their world travels I was off to dinner and then bed.
The next day I had a lovely breakfast and a long yoga session I was ready to make my way to the airport. I would definitely recommend checking in and preparing all your travel documents before you get to the airport. The airport is small ans since I had already checked in and checked my luggage- It was easy to drop it off and go to my gate.
I definitely recommend a slow paced vacation alone to Mexico. I found it to be safe, welcoming and relaxing. I could see why this place would attract couples, I also believe it is perfect to travel alone and get around easily. The food and beautiful beaches really make it a great place for solo travelers to not feel alone. The bubbly, excited nature of the place and everyone I came into contact with made me feel like part of the group and not singled out. This part of Mexcio is progressive and inclusive which made for lovely getway for this solo traveler.