MEET EX­OTIC WILDLIFE IN... MEX­ICO

Women's Health (UK) - - WELL TRAV­ELLED -

WHAT? Na­ture-spot­ting by the Pa­cific WHERE? Puerto Val­larta and Riviera Na­yarit, Mex­ico

WHY? Be­cause when else will you get to play with tur­tles?

HOW MUCH? Rooms at Hil­ton Puerto Val­larta Re­sort from £126 per per­son per night, all-in­clu­sive; hil­ton.com. Dou­ble rooms at Grand Ve­las Rivera Na­yarit from £234 per night, all-in­clu­sive; val­larta.grand­ve­las.com. Beach-front ca­sita at Ca­sitas Maraika from £164 per night; ca­sitas­maraika.com WHO? Francesca Me­nato, So­cial

Me­dia Editor

So, Mex­ico, tell me more.

We’re talk­ing the western coast, which is rel­a­tively un­known to Bri­tish tourists, yet has long been a big at­trac­tion for US hol­i­day­mak­ers, in­clud­ing the ex­tended Kardashian clan. But it’s to­tally fine if you’re not rep­ping a mil­lion-dol­lar yacht, be­cause this side of the gulf’s pull isn’t cham­pagne on ice, but an in­cred­i­ble look at its ex­otic wildlife. Like, wild birds ex­otic? Bet­ter. There’s swim­ming with dol­phins and then there’s swim­ming with dol­phins here – visit Puerto Val­larta’s Wildlife Con­nec­tion to meet marine bi­ol­o­gists who study the an­i­mals and hap­pily take tourists out into the bay to see if there’s a pod ready to play. ‘They’re like hu­mans: some days they’re ex­cited to meet peo­ple, other days they’re not in the mood,’ warned my guide, but we got closer than close. It was far from my only sight­ing. On a visit to Ma­ri­etas Is­lands, aka The Hid­den Beach, we had at least 20 dol­phins racing in the boat’s wake. Even more in­cred­i­ble when you con­sider that came af­ter snorkelling with Mex­i­can Nemo and just be­fore spot­ting a group of hump­back whales flick­ing their tales in our di­rec­tion. But I’m not a wa­ter baby… No bother – solid ground promises just as many sights (pre­pare for igua­nas to be an all-but-per­ma­nent fix­ture in your pe­riph­eral vi­sion). You can even do your bit by re­leas­ing new­born tur­tles into the sea.

So, where should I stay?

Re­sort op­tions are plen­ti­ful, with beach ac­cess, all-in­clu­sive stays and gym fa­cil­i­ties in­cluded as stan­dard. In Puerto Val­larta, stay at the Hil­ton (noth­ing like the one you might book for a week­end hen do in Manch­ester), which is just a quick taxi ride from down­town, where food­ies can spend half a day at Gaby’s Restau­rant Bar learn­ing how to make all man­ner of Mex­i­can de­lights – or just gorge on guac. For ul­ti­mate lux­ury, book a stay at Grand Ve­las Riviera Na­yarit. With five restau­rants, which cater very well for ve­g­ans, and the choice to change your room’s mini­bar into a ‘well­ness fridge’, there’s no need to leave the re­sort if you feel that way in­clined. Or choose a trop­i­cal par­adise at Ca­sitas Maraika, ac­ces­si­ble only by boat and of­fer­ing (fully plumbed) beach huts, de­li­cious fresh food and ul­ti­mate tran­quil­lity (plus Wi-fi).

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