You may be familiar with Puerto Vallarta, a major tourist destination in Mexico. But for those of us who appreciate a trip away from hoards of touristas, there is a hidden gem of a town brimming with Canadian expats called Bucerias, located a lively 30-minute drive north from Puerto Vallarta International Aeropuerto.
This quaint little Mexican resort town is also located on The Bay of Banderas. Though the locals will tell you differently, it is not the biggest bay in Mexico, but it is beautiful and much quieter than PV.
The first week of March this year, I gladly escaped Canadian winter for a week. It’s now the middle of May and it’s finally as warm as Bucerias in BC. Here’s a short slice of Mexican bliss.
My significant other and I took a leisurely walk along the charming cobblestoned streets. Brilliant fuchsia and crimson bougainvillea remain lush and wild everywhere. We picked up rich Mexican coffees from a local bistro, gazing happily at swaying palm trees and tranquil villas.
The Bucerias market is long and winds endlessly down the streets, continuing beyond the quaint ‘Kissing Bridge’ with its painted murals. Huevos Rancheros, the usual guacamole and baked tortilla chips, mimosas and Caesars filled our hungry bellies on an open-air patio. We topped the day off with a relaxing ocean walk.
I love starting any day with an ocean walk—even better paired with good Mexican coffees.
We visited the market and bought a stuffed and handsewn rooster and donkey. It takes the woman who makes them only one day to make one, which seems impressive to me.
Lunch at Tomillo’s: fresh fruit, amazing papaya and fresh yogurt, spinach, mushroom & cheese omelet, spicy salsa, good strawberry jam and toast, and a refreshing iced latte. Tomillos’s is a great place for delicious food!
The best t-shirt we spotted at the market “Shut up liver, you’ll be fine.”
Bucerias is home to many cute chihuahuas and art galleries. A lady drove by on the street in golf cart with 3 grinning lap dogs. There is a Bucerias art walk every Thursday night, but you can wander the same shops every day. After an afternoon chill by the pool, we had an amazing dinner at beautiful Sandrine’s—Pollo Parmesana and savoury grilled vegetables with heavenly lemon feta dip. I could easily eat a bucket of that dip.
Friends drove us to San Poncho, north of Bucerias, where we attended a polo game teaming with sleek, shiny horses—an unexpected surprise. There was a small outdoor BBQ buffet and the mimosas were kept flowing by attentive wait staff.
After, our friends drove us to San Poncho Beach Club, a stunningly new oceanfront bar. There followed a rousing tequila tasting and much laughter (below: me prosthelytizing about tequila).
Back in Bucerias, we enjoyed a short sunset beach stroll and Ferrero Rocher gelato. Yum!
We finally decided to try the utterly reasonable $20 Canadian massage on beach. While my masseuse cracked me good, I did not like the nails scratching my scalp or sand stuck in the massage oil. Still, a massage is a massage and that lady knew how to work out some of my worst knots!
We had cocktails at Sukhar, walked downtown, showered, changed, and jumped in a taxi to meet with friends at Joe Jack’s Fish Shack in Puerto Vallarta. What a cool spot upstairs! We enjoyed sparkling Mojitos & Margaritas (open-air) before purchasing my favourite Maestro Tequilero at a nearby liquor store. Smoky and easy to sip over ice.
Naturally, we had to join the crowd walking the Malecon and it was lively, with music and entertainment all along the oceanfront.
At last we enjoyed an ocean sunset dinner at Daiquiri Dick’s. This was our new friend chef Raphael’s restaurant, so of course we bought his cookbook. Then it turned out he was there to sign it, and he also gave us a Jeep ride back to Bucerias since it was on his way. What a perfect day.
Our half-day fishing trip on Bonita in Nuevo Vallarta was a major highlight. The guys caught 8 fish (2 catch & release) while I secretly rooted for the fish the entire boat ride. You can see the sunlight illuminating their scales underneath the water and I just can’t imagine anyone wanting to extinguish that light.
Lunch at el Negra and a satisfying siesta by the pool. Swim. Fresh sashimi and ponzu by chef Raphael later that night. Sorry fishes!
We were talked into a two-day art class, which was not ideally how I wanted to end the trip. However, our teacher provided delicious food, all the art supplies, a lively art class, and we came back with 3 finished acrylic canvases. Thank you, FloyJoy Studios (below: my tulips).
If you’re searching for a slower-paced Mexican experience, you’ll be happy to discover the laid-back charm of Bucerias, and fun of wandering the street market. And tequila. You simply cannot go to Mexico without a healthy dose of cactus juice.
Tara Panrucker, Copyright 2018
All rights reserved.