MEET EXOTIC WILDLIFE IN... MEXICO
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
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).