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My Puerto Vallarta Tradition:
The “Party Boat”


A day-cruise on the bay is a must for every Puerto Vallarta vacation

by “Patrick” from Canada


My vacation plans include Puerto Vallarta, year after year. Sure, I go other places too, but Vallarta has been the every-year trip I seem to look forward to most. It started with just myself and the wife; the following year we went with another couple. Since that first trip over 14 years ago, the ‘Puerto Vallarta Gang’ as we know it has grown to a dozen couples plus their families and friends. We treat it the same way some people never miss the Stanley Cup or Indy-500 or some other significant event or happening on their calendar.


The one thing we always do in Puerto Vallarta is a day cruise on the bay. Some in our group call it the ‘Booze Cruise’, but it isn’t just about booze. It’s a full day of fun at sea with friends some of whom aren’t friends until you meet them on the boat (in fact, that’s how one of our gang came to join us a few years ago). We get to eat and drink under the sun, cool off in the water, visit a waterfall via horseback, enjoy lunch on the beach, and dance all the way home. It’s really a great bargain when you consider what you’d spend on shore for a day, and the fact that an open-bar is involved (if you want it) is an attraction to many in our group.


Our favorite boat leaves the dock at about 9am and we climb aboard early to ‘claim our spot’ so we can all sit together. Breakfast is served on board…coffee, juice, rolls, lots of fresh fruit, etc. We motor out of the harbor and head along the shore towards our first stop, Los Arcos. Here is a collection of rocks jutting out of the water, and we stop for a while to put on fins and goggles and snorkel around the boat and the rocks watching the fish. There’s a few in our group who, like myself, aren’t real avid swimmers, but with a life jacket you can pretty much just lay in the water and watch an amazing assortment of colorful fish darting about. Those who choose to stay onboard throw the leftover crumbs of their rolls into the water, insuring an up-close encounter with the sea-life.



Once everybody is back on board, the bar opens for those so inclined. We motor for an hour to Quimixto (pronounced key-mee-stow). Smaller boats called ‘pangas’ come out to meet us and ferry us into shore. If you walk about 10 minutes inland, you’ll come across a horse corral by the river where you can rent your trusty steed for the ride up to the waterfall. Renting a horse is not required, but as far as our gang is concerned, it sure beats walking. It’s about a 20-minute ride up and down a trail into the jungle, with great views all around and tiny lizards scampering about in the leaves beside you. You don’t have to lead or direct the horse at all…they all know where they’re going.


When you reach the waterfall it’s time to get wet again. The pool at the bottom is just about 4 feet deep in most places, and surrounded by a patio where you can order drinks or snacks. Jump right on in, because the water is pretty chilly at first and trying to get in a little at a time is for weenies. Once you’re in it feels great. Swim up to the waterfall and get a wonderful massage from the water cascading down your back. There’s a natural water slide in the rocks just to the right of the waterfall, but it’s tricky to climb up to. Nevermind if you fall back in the pool trying, it’s only a few feet up. If you’re lucky some of the local kids will climb the rocks high above the pool and put on a cannon-ball exhibition.


Time to head back to your trusty vehicle and hop in the saddle for the trip back down. At the beach are a few vendors with jewelry and wood carvings, and a guy with a huge tame iguana who will wrap it around your shoulders for photos for a couple bucks. I’ve still got my first photo from here on my desk. After a bit they start loading up the ‘pangas’ again, and it’s back to the boat for the trip to yet another beach.


When you’re on shore again you’ll find a huge thatched-palm canopy on the beach where lunch is served. The choice is usually between chicken enchiladas or grilled fish, but I’ve had big beef tacos too, and it all comes with salad and rice and beans. Price of lunch is included with your boat trip, but beer and sodas are extra. There’s time after lunch for snorkeling, looking for shells, shopping from the local craftsmen, or just hanging out on the beach.


Back on the boat, the crew starts to really crank up the music and a party atmosphere starts to take over. There’s one more stop at another beach for general horsing around…more snorkeling, swimming, shopping, or just hanging out on the boat with a frosty margarita thinking about the poor suckers at home working. Finally the trip home begins, with dancing encouraged by the lively crew and a collection of generally ridiculous games, like sing-alongs and sexy-dancing which, despite my generous pot-belly, I actually won one year! (Granted my ‘gang’ was making a lot of applause for me, somehow repressing their laughter momentarily.)


By the time we’re pulling back up to dock at the end of the day, we’re all pretty well exhausted and ready for the traditional ‘siesta’ before heading out to dinner. It’s always one of the best days we have, year after year, and I can’t imagine ever ‘doing’ Puerto Vallarta without doing the ‘Party Boat’, whether I included booze or not.


The author prefers to remain anonymous, but will reveal that he lives in Western Canada and is a respectable citizen when he’s not on vacation in Mexico.


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