This past week, I traded my hometown Kentucky scenery and headed south of the border for some fun in Mexico. I flew using American Airlines miles, however since it is low season plane tickets are about $240-$280 depending on when you buy them. My family and I flew out of Evansville and into Puerto Vallarta since that is the closest major airport. From there we took a cab to the small town of Bucerias, which should cost you around 350 pesos. Bucerias is a small beach village, that comes to life in December-April. However if you visit in July like me, you will find it to be the quietest and most quaint little place.
Where to Stay
For our stay we chose to reside in a condo which you can find on VRBO, called Punta Arena. This place way nothing shy of amazing. All condos have a 40 foot deck overlooking the ocean, and the kitchen comes fully equip with anything you could possibly need. They also include internet, a water jug and filter (don’t drink from the faucet), television, glass showers, beach towels, and ours even had Netflix already set up on the TV. Plus the infinity pool and workout room on the first floor were nothing shy of amazing. The condo itself is situated in the middle of everything, which we loved. One step out of the condo and you have hundreds of locally owned restaurants, cafes, and a convenience store. There’s also street vendors lined up all over the street selling any souvenir you could want from handmade items to a poncho with your favorite sports team. Take a left outside of the condo and you’ll find yourself within minutes walking distance from the city center. The village of Bucerias is also perfectly situated between Punta Mita and Puerto Vallarta, making it easy to do day trips to either of these places.
Where to Eat
I cannot even BEGIN to tell you all how amazing the food was. If you know me, you know I love food and this place was foodie heaven! This doesn’t just include good Mexican food either, as there was almost nothing you couldn’t find here. Below I’ve listed the places I loved the most and what to order. Everything here is significantly less if you are converting from USD to Pesos, so the price signs are in relation to pesos not USD.
- Riviera Cafe $- This tiny little cafe was located just across the street from the condo. It’s an open door restaurant allowing you to people watch no matter where you are seated. I ordered the omelet with green onion, cheese, tomatoes, and mushrooms. I also tried the London Blue, which is Mexico’s spin on a London Fog and it was wonderful.
- Paninos $- This place was by far one of my favorites. Paninos is a cafe that serves breakfast, lunch, and fresh pastries and bread. There is a location close to the condo and another in Sayulita (a town I will later talk about.) Everything here is delicious, no seriously everything. For a heavier meal, the salmon eggs benedict is to die for. If you are looking for something a bit lighter, their breakfast bagel sandwiches are also wonderful and come with fruit and potatoes. The waiters and waitresses are all beyond welcoming and will help accommodate to you in any way. They also gave us so many tips on the best ways to travel around and what to do in different places. Not to mention, if you want the best cappuccino in the world you should definitely go here.
- Cafe De Bucerias $- This is a local cafe run by a family that also runs a couple hotels in the area. The small corner cafe which also serves pastries is the perfect place to find a classic Mexican breakfast. My two favorite things there were the Chilaquiles Naturales and the healthy bowl which was greek yogurt with seasonal fruit, granola, and chia seeds. They also have an amazing iced chai tea latte and for dessert the banana cake is to die for.
- La Rustica $$- Found in Sayulita, this pizza place was more than worth mentioning. Wood fires, and made with fresh ingredients this place is the perfect spot to grab a bite after exploring Sayulita for the day. For drinks, I got their house made bloody mary and it was one of the best I’ve had in a while. For food, I highly recommend the calamari and the La Margarita and the El Italiano which has prosciutto, arugula, basil, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese.
- Karen’s $$- Just a few blocks from the condo is Karen’s, a beachfront restaurant connected to a cute little hotel. Here you can find interesting cocktails like cucumber and Chile margaritas, or my favorite which is their house made sangria. For the food, I highly recommend the stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer and enchiladas and coconut shrimp for the entrees.
- Wakika $- Located in Sayulita, this isn’t exactly a food place but it’s worth mentioning. This little shop serves up some of the best ice cream I’ve had. I really enjoyed the berries and cream, but if you aren’t an ice cream person they also have popsicles and slushies.
- Chin Gon $- Didn’t think it was possible to find Thai food south of the border? Think again. Located also a few blocks from the condo, this place is locally owned by the most lovely and hospitable couple. All ingredients are prepared fresh and cooked to order. We really enjoyed the yellow shrimp curry, fresh green iced tea with hibiscus.
- Saundra’s $$- This place is as colorful as the food on the menu. Complete with art, handmade pottery, and a beautiful garden this place is nothing short of unique. Think Greek food meets Mexican. We enjoyed the Mediterranean chicken and roasted vegetables with hummus, but the fish tacos with homemade sauce was by far our favorite. The owner Saundra is very passionate about her work and ensures your happiness with each bite.
- Mezzogiorno $$$- This place is the most pricey, but trust me it is worth it. The servers here are extremely knowledgeable about the menu, plus the restaurant is perfectly situated on the oceanfront. They have a stellar wine list, and the food is some of the best Italian I’ve had in a while. I highly recommend the bruschetta to start and for the main meal the fettuccine Alfredo and ravioli are delightful.
- Street vendors $- Don’t be scared of the literally open kitchen, this food is some of the most authentic Mexican food you can find, they seriously make it all in front of you. We chose the ones in the city center and were so pleased we came back almost every single night.
What to Do
We chose to stay in Bucerias because it’s right in the middle of everything. About 30 minutes from Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita, and 20 from Punta Mita. We packed a lot into one week but these were our favorites.
- Los Colomitos and Horse Beach- Los Colomitos, known as Mexico’s most tiny beach is only accessible by foot or boat. Just tell your taxi driver to take you to the water taxi’s in southern Puerto Vallarta and they will know where to go. We didn’t take a water taxi because we wanted to snorkel as well, but there are literally tons of people who will take you on their boat down where the water taxis are. If you rent a private boat like us, be prepared to spend around $250 USD for 3-4 hours plus snorkeling. We chose not to get out at Colomitos because it was very crowded, but it is still very beautiful to look at. Horse Beach however was our favorite because of how quiet and empty it was. The waters are aqua blue and it has a nice little beach bar as well to grab a quick bite or drink.
- Day-Trip to Sayulita- Located about 25-30 minutes from Bucerias is the lovely fishing and surfing town of Sayulita. From Bucerias you can either take a bus, taxi, or uber however it is very inexpensive to take a bus, which is what we did. There is tons of things to do in Sayulita, but my favorite was the hippie market. Running 7 days a week, this market has everything from crystals to handmade falsas to knitted toys and leather shoes. All prices are negotiable here, so bargain with the people a bit before you decide a price. The town is easily walkable so down worry about having a car. Grab an ice cream cone, throw on your swimsuit, and take a stroll down the streets to admire the street art along the building walls.
- The Marieta Islands- If you’ve ever heard of “hidden beach” this is exactly where to find it. These uninhabited islands are a wildlife refuge, protected by Mexico. This place is boasting with wildlife. You can swim, snorkel, bird watch, or explore the many sea caves. These islands are only accessible by special tour, as it is protected lands. You will get on a boat at Punta Mita and from there it is about 20 minutes to the island. If you snorkel, you can expect to see whales (depending on the season,) tropical fish, coral reefs, crabs, starfish, and if you are lucky sea turtles. We chose to not do the hidden beach as it’s very expensive and you can only stay for around 20 minutes.