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2 Awesome Things in Puerto Vallarta You Can’t Miss

2 Awesome Things in Puerto Vallarta You Can’t Miss

During my Western Mexico cruise with Holland America, I heard about an exciting food tour I knew I must take. After planning the food tour for the afternoon portion of my day, I also signed up for the fantastic Rhythms of the Night performance, which was mind-blowing. These are two awesome things in Puerto Vallarta you can’t miss!


A Private Taxi Tour: The Puerto Vallarta Appetizer

When Holland America’s Oosterdam cruise ship docked in Puerto Vallarta, my friend and I hailed a cab to drive us about 20 minutes into the city. Since we had time to spare, we added an hour-long guided tour of Puerto Vallarta through our cab driver, stopping for great photo ops. That added another $20 to the tab, making it $35.


Our driver insisted that we visit Casa Isabel, a 14-room boutique hotel perfectly perched on a hill that reminded me of the Amalfi Coast. It was stunning! Kim and I were given a guided tour through the resort as we gaped at the scenic views from the rooftop decks.

Our next stop brought us to Playa Conchas Chinas, a Colonial Mexican-style hotel with a beautiful beachfront setting. Along the way, we came upon the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, one of Puerto Vallarta’s most gorgeous churches. The city’s architecture is remarkable.

We concluded our private tour and were dropped off in the center of town to meet with the Vallarta Food Tours guide, Manu.


Vallarta Food Tour: The Puerto Vallarta Main Course

For the next three hours, Manu walked us around town as we sampled terrific local foods and learned much about the area’s history.

The food tour had just the right amount of stops to keep our interest. It was the best way to get acquainted with Puerto Vallarta and afforded us excellent photo opportunities.


Our walking food tour (one of the seven offered by Vallarta Food Tours) began at the gazebo in Lazaro Park. Manu passed out water bottles, and we went to our first stop, a taco stand. The taco stands are a huge deal in Mexico, serving fresh local tastes and ingredients for a nominal fee. Once the taco stand builds up a large following, it may move into a traditional restaurant setting. 


The stands we visited were Robles Birria and El Cuñado, where we had Carne Asada (beef), my favorite kind of taco. Each was stuffed inside with a fresh corn tortilla and had juicy, succulent meat, yet both tacos had different flavored seasonings. Best of all, tacos only cost about $1 each. Locals order their tacos by the threes.

Condiments, such as salsa, chopped onions, and peppers, are available to doctor up your tacos.


We filed around a table at Moriscos Cisneros, a full-service restaurant, to try their famous Stuffed Pepper Taco. OMG, this little slice of heaven was a tortilla stuffed with shrimp, deep-fried, then sliced for easier eating.

Vegetarians or those with a shellfish allergy shouldn’t worry, as non-meat versions are also available. A variety of salsas were on the tables to doctor them up. We enjoyed this unusual and zesty dish.


The Food Tour’s Sweets and Drinks

Moving on to satisfy our sweet tooth, the Vallarta Food Tour popped into Dulcería con Orgullo Azteca. The store is well-known for flavored nuts as well as locally-made candies. The nuts were heavenly, and most of our group purchased them at this stop.

We then headed to Vallarta Factory, a tasty organic gourmet coffee and chocolate shop featuring specialty truffles and chocolate barks. I sampled an excellent lavender truffle — other items, such as hand-rolled chocolate and nut clusters, tempted our willpower.

The only drink stop on the Vallarta Food Tour was in the downtown part of the city. A sharp-dressed man named Concepcion served us a concoction known as “Tuba.” You can find several varieties of Tuba in Mexico, but Concepcion’s is award-winning.

The drink was exotic, made from honey, pecans, apples, fermented palm tree sap, and strawberries.


My Favorite Stops on the Tour

At Mariscos El Güero, I had the best ceviche of my life. Their method is to finely dice the fish and season it well for the flavors to blend. The ceviche is served on a tostada with chopped onions and avocado piled on top.

Trust me on this; it was nothing short of sensational! No fishy smell, either. We also had the fresh Smoked Mackeral Dip, which was another crowd-pleaser.


The last stop on our food tour was Gaby’s Restaurant, where we sat on the rooftop deck. Our views were sensational! Gaby’s served us both green and dark brown award-winning moles, perfectly scented with chocolate and spices, highly rich in flavor.

We also had a tequila shot/tasting complete with fresh lime juice and sangria to chase away the tequila taste at the end of the shot. Everyone enjoyed this stylish restaurant and can see why it is a recommended hot spot in Puerto Vallarta.


Vallarta Food Tours did an exceptional job of introducing us to the tastes and flavors of Mexico. I highly recommend it.

Rhythms of the Night

Our evening excursion was Rhythms of the Night, scheduled as a Holland America cruise exclusion. It garnered lots of talk and approvals from previous cruise passengers as the pinnacle of romance, so I couldn’t wait to see it myself. Our group boarded a boat beside the cruise ship. It started across Banderas Bay to the secluded beach that welcomed us for the show, 45 minutes away.


Along the way, the staff provided music, entertainment, and lots of laughs as we sipped rum drinks, wine, and beer, all included in the $99 excursion fee. Our jaws nearly dropped when we saw the secluded cove of Las Caletas on the horizon, beckoning us for a night of adventure and memories.


As we disembarked the boat, a cast of festive characters greeted us with a picturesque welcome walk through the tropical rainforest. We were shown “the ropes” for the evening and led to our dinner seats.

The setting consisted of several seating areas, each with its own dinner buffet area. Candles and pretty table settings adorned the tabletops at this lavish beachside dinner.


Servers provided soda, beer, and wine as we helped ourselves to the tasty-looking buffet. Steak, chicken, and fresh fish were on the menu, with sides of roasted potatoes, grilled vegetables, soup, and assorted salads.

Tantalizing desserts included cookies, tiramisu, fried dough, cake, and Kahlua coffee. We enjoyed the dinner fare as the sun slowly set, gracing us with a spectrum of color and beauty.


The Cultural Performance: The Puerto Vallarta Dessert

After dinner, guides led us to the amphitheater for the main event. The Rhythms of the Night performance was a show-stopper, to put it lightly.

For over an hour, we were spellbound with ancient rituals and stories told by talented drummers and musicians (sometimes high in the sky), contortionists,  acrobats, dancers, and a plethora of talent in gorgeous costumes. It reminded me of Cirque du Soleil, with a Spanish flair.


Advertised with the cruise line as “a show you’ll remember long after you’ve returned home” and “it will leave you breathless,” the descriptions did the show justice. It was magical!

At the end of the show, we all headed back to the boat, where the party was just beginning. The staff put our boat ride back to the ship into overdrive with an all-out dance party, including a fun staff-led event that had the crew and passengers laughing and smiling the whole way. Those not wanting to party could opt to go upstairs for a more relaxing ride.


A Perfect Day in Puerto Vallarta

I will have these fond Puerto Vallarta memories for a lifetime; my favorite Mexico cruise port to date. I’m so fortunate that Holland America introduced me to this beautiful port city on the Mexican Riviera. I had 12 hours of fun in Puerto Vallarta and am already a huge fan!

A special thanks to Vallarta Food Tours for hosting me on the tasty part of this trip and to Holland America for inviting me to cruise with them. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.

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[…] Click through to enjoy the full food tour of Puerto Vallarta with Melody.  […]

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