It was the best way to put a wrap on the coldest, snowiest winter I have ever experienced. We watched all the YOUTUBE videos on how to pack a board, flew to Puerto Vallarta and drove a cool Nissan surf truck from Gecko car rentals to our resort – The Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort and Spa. Surprises and adventures beyond our imagination awaited. Most importantly – it was the people that added so much to the experience.
Let’s begin with the waves! After all, that’s what we came for. Day one dawned and we peeked out from our ocean view balcony to the break called Burros just to the left of the more protected swimming beach in from of the Palladium. The little jutting out of land you see on the map is where the adult infinity pool and the friendliest bar you’d ever want to find is located. Burros was a solid 8 feet with occasion much larger sets rolling. No, you’re right, we had no business going out that day – but the water was warm and we were excited. Both Ed and I got some sweet lefts (the locals sort of owned the rights) – and we also got worked. It was a LOT of fun and adrenaline laced adventure. Yes, we did relax with a tropical drink afterward. The team at the beach shack where you can borrow boogie boards, surf boards and SUP boards were amazing. Led by Eder and Elvin, each was knowledgeable and friendly – really added to the experience.
The next day we opted for a less challenging break so we drove in to Punta Mita to try the Anclote break. Holy cow, what a day! The consistent chest high, glassy rights were uncrowded and beyond fun. To access the beach you can park then walk through the alley near the Cinco Hotel or (surprisingly) right through the El Coral restaurant! Water shoes can help, the shore is rocky and there are sea urchins. Once you get out to the break there is plenty of water. Long rights and an easy paddle out await – it was heaven. (Photo credit and so much gratitude for the adventure – Dennis Oliphant)
Each day brought a slight change in the swell – we enjoyed the break to the far right (from the map perspective) of Burros, in front of a sweet sandy beach. This day the swell was more chest to head high and came in definite sets so the paddle out was easy. There is a channel at surfer’s left of the break, so we’d paddle out there but line up to catch our waves in front of a shoreline rocky ledge. They only thing that will bring you back to shore is the out-going tide – and the thought of lunch at the Palladium.
Did I mention that in addition to fresh, clean rooms cared for by an incredible, friendly staff, the resort is all inclusive. We chose to visit the buffet (you do need to practice restraint) for breakfast and lunch. You can be as healthy or decadent as you wish. Egg white omelets to an expanse of fresh baked treats, or every sort of Mexican traditional delight you could ask for are there for you. Top quality yumminess and – again – friendly and attentive staff. After a strenuous morning surf session I leaped for the home baked pizza with a light and crisp crust – and a beer – most days for lunch. Salad? Yup, from fresh fruit of every kind to greens and veggies you will be happy.
We spent off water time taking long beach walks. We loved the area to the northwest of the Palladium the best. Huge cracks and fissures in the shoreline rock ledges created openings for the swells large and small to crash and spray with azure and white beauty. Tide pools large and small were host to all sorts of little critters and fish – and yes, sea urchins. Be aware.
(SIDEBAR: When you surf and play and beach explore in the wonderful sunny heat in Punta Mita you will get thirsty. One of the most wonderful aspects of what is available at the The Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort and Spa is the ever available filtered water. Whether it is cold bottled water in the all-inclusive refrigerator in every room to the cool pitchers of water offered at every meal, quench your thirst without concern about water. In addition, the filtered water ice is clear and plentiful).
It always happened that we arrived at dinner starving – and we were not disappointed. We chose to download the Palladium app so that it was easy to reserve at one of the ala carte restaurants each evening. Our favorites were Bambu, an oriental themed spot, and PortFino, which had a great selection of Italian cuisine. The Mexican restaurant perched high on the bluff had inside and outside dining choices and a magnificent view of the break at Burros.
While we enjoyed the food, again, it was the the people that made the experience. For example, we didn’t order sushi our first night at Bambu. Oh my, our waiter, Francisco, was devastated. “Ramon is a master sushi chef, please, you must try his chef special.” So we did. We were not disappointed. Ramon created a beautiful plate with three varieties of sushi, all light, fresh and delicious. And Ramon visited our table to see how we liked it – and we did. His grin could light up a room. Needless to say we returned often.
After dinner a walk was always needed. From exploring the vast property or strolling the beach with a fresh drink, we passed the time until the 9 PM POP (people of Palladium) show. Talent to the max – we enjoyed each show, different every night. It was obvious that “People of Palladium” have a mission to create a great experience for us all.
No story about our Punta Mita experience would be complete without mention of the unique service and team at Gecko car rental. We were collected at the airport with VIP service with boards and bags quickly loaded into an air conditioned van for the 20 minute ride to the Gecko office. In no time our boards were on the truck – and we were handed a book. Little did we know how valuable that book would be. It was the most comprehensive and well-written guide to an area I have ever used.
In addition, we had trouble with a sensor light (the truck was new and the sensors were finicky). In no time a driver from gecko met us at our hotel with a different truck – no problem at all. Smiles ruled the day.