Iguana, Puerto Vallarta
Mexico Travel

Puerto Vallarta All-Inclusive Resort Experience (Girls Trip!)

Bye husbands, hello Puerto Vallarta All-Inclusive Resort

So before school started up again in September, my mom and I left the husbands at home and took a girls-only trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico! We got there on August 24th and returned on August 28th. We (by which I mean my mom… 😉 booked our vacation through Costco Travel (including flights and a private transfer from the airport to the resort) and received a $142 Costco cash card and some resort coupons in return. The coupons weren’t that great for us because they were for a romantic dinner and like $20 off spa services, which were pretty expensive anyway.
Puerto Vallarta flight itinerary
Our flights to Puerto Vallarta and our private transfer
Puerto Vallarta all-inclusive resort
We stayed at the all-inclusive resort Dreams Villamagna - Nueva Vallarta and booked a Junior Suite with a tropical view.

Eating at the Resort (Vegetarian-Style)

There was a good variety of food at the resort, but I think the breakfast buffet might have been my favorite because it came with mimosas! Being vegetarian there was not too difficult, though one of the meals my mom ordered, which was marked vegetarian on the menu, came with a big piece of chicken on the top! In Mexico, they don’t consider chicken or fish to be “real” meat and are always surprised when we don’t eat it. We had some really great soup one night (green in color) and asked the staff what it was called and they said “crema nacional”. My mom tried to recreate it at home and this is her take:
breakfast, Puerto Vallarta all-inclusive resort
Breakfast buffet fare with a mimosa and coffee
breakfast, Puerto Vallarta all-inclusive resort
Breakfast on a different morning

One night, I can’t remember what they were serving at the Mexican buffet for dinner, but my mom and I asked for just tortillas (because we don’t eat meat), and later, the chef came and brought fresh cheese and pepper tamales right to our table for us! It was so nice!!!

Dreams Villamagna – Nueva Vallarta: Pools and Beach

Here are some more views of the resort’s pool and beach:

There were three pools and plenty of chairs, we never had to fight to sit anywhere. The pools also weren’t too crowded, which was nice. The water temperature was great, and waiters would bring drinks to you by the pool. The beach water was FANTASTIC! It was so warm!

The only bad thing was that the beach was a public beach, and vendors would constantly be walking by, asking to show you their wares and sell you things. My mom and I bought 2 pairs of earrings from a guy for like $40 USD, even though they look like you could by them at the mall for $7/pair. But then the guy told us we were his first sale that week, so we felt a little better that we were able to help him out.

"How do we get new towels?!"

The weather was hot and extremely humid, but my mom and I were plenty prepared with large sunhats and loads of sunscreen (we did end up having to buy more at the gift shop, though). My mom and I had so much fun just relaxing, playing Yahtzee and cribbage by the pool, and getting our drink on.

Lounging by the pool
Losing to my mom at Yahtzee

 The only hitch was that we had to figure out what was up with the towels! We received a towel card on our first day that said we would incur a fine if we lost it, and that we could trade it in for a clean towel. They took our cards when we got towels, so we were so confused about how we were supposed to get clean ones, especially considering that the towel shacks closed around 5:00 but the pools were open much later.

We people-watched for like an hour trying to figure out what people did with their towels, but we only saw people taking them up to their rooms. We were so confused! Eventually we found out that you take them back up to your room at night and then bring them back down in the morning to trade in for fresh towels.

Around the Resort

We enjoyed some delicious drinks and spicy peanuts.

Luces de la Habana
"Luces de la Habana"

My mom was super excited when she got to pet the resort’s resident pest-control hawk.

All around the hotel are these sand decorations with real flowers, and we actually saw someone going around every morning stamping the shell decoration into them by hand.

Excursion: Marietas Islands

By far my favorite day was Saturday, when my mom had booked us an excursion to visit the Marietas islands. They are a chain of small uninhabited islands near Nayarit. It is a great place to see wildlife because these islands are protected from both fishing and hunting. However, Las Islas Marietas are a national park, and therefore there is a small fee that you need to pay to visit them (85 pesos).

1. Getting Wristbands and Breakfast

We booked the Islas Marietas Eco Discovery tour with Vallarta Adventures, which did not visit the Hidden Beach (a popular tourist attraction), but if you did want this feature, you could book the Discovery Tour. For any adventure, make sure to bring a towel and biodegradable sunscreen. I can’t remember exactly what time we needed to be at the port, but we had to get a taxi from the hotel while it was still dark (6:45AM maybe?). Once you get to the Vallarta Adventures building, you pay your national park conservation fee (mentioned above) and then you get some cool wristbands.

Then, you get to each your continental breakfast (included in price of excursion). Once the boat is ready, you are called to board in the order you that you checked-in. Basically, first come first served. We were among the first group to board. We chose to sit on the top level of the boat, but keep in mind the only bathroom is on the first level.

2. Getting to Las Islas Marietas

The whole duration of the trip was supposed to be 5 hours, but I swear it felt longer than that. Be prepared to be outside ALL DAY. It took us probably an hour and a half just to get to Marietas Islands, and there were large birds (maybe frigate birds?) that were flying alongside the boat the entire time, swooping down to catch and eat the fish that were scared away by the boat. Here are some pictures of them (one was clearly post-edited ;).

Frigate birds diving for fish scared away by our boat as we headed back from snorkeling in the Marietas Islands, Mexico.

The view of one of the islands as we approached by boat:

3. Water Activities

Finally, it was time to snorkel!

After you feel like you are done snorkeling, you can switch to a different activity, like kayaking or paddleboarding. So we decided to try our hand at kayaking!

Mom doing all the work and me taking pictures, of course!

4. Lunch, Drinks, and Blue-Footed Boobies

After the activity portion is over (I’m not sure how long they let us hang out…maybe an hour and a half?), you can go back on the boat and partake in lunch, which was a make-your-own-sandwich buffet with sides. Once the boat starts heading back to port, they will also bring around alcoholic drinks! On the way back, the boat took us really close – I mean REALLY CLOSE, like the boat was inches away from impact – to the islands.
You can see the ridiculous amount of birds flying above the island in these pictures. But the coolest thing was that we got to see blue-footed boobies!! This is pretty cool because their natural population range is actually pretty restricted, so you can’t see them just anywhere in the wild. We also saw some other birds, including a pelican.
On our way back to the port, we also saw three turtles, but I sadly got no good pictures 🙁

5. A Surprising Amount of Iguanas

We had to drop some of the people on our boat off at a different port before heading back to our own port, but we at least got to see some iguanas! See if you can spot them in the next two pictures 🙂
On the way back to our port, no iguanas, sorry
On the way back to our port, no iguanas, sorry

We thought that our exciting iguana-seeing days were over, but little did we know that the sign warning of “iguana crossing” back at the port was no joke! As we were walking back to grab a cab near the Vallarta Adventures building, we spotted this guy!

The next day was our last day of vacation, but we had a great send-off that morning with a cute breakfast dessert.

Some tips for the tourist heading to a Puerto Vallarta resort:

So, a few tips.

Yes, I know it is an all-inclusive, but people expect to be tipped. And if you do, they will also be much, much nicer to you. I think we tipped around 20 pesos each time we ordered a round of drinks.

Try to speak Spanish, the staff really appreciate the effort. 

Maybe bring a plastic coffee stirrer with you. The drinks were often unmixed, so when you took a sip from the bottom, you got straight alcohol.

Sunscreen the places you thought would never need sunscreen. My armpit got sunburned from hanging my arm off the edge of the boat all day and it was a horrible feeling.

Try everything!

Thanks for reading!

Here's a picture of my dog with his toy turkey leg.
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