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First trip to MX

10spro

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I've never been to Mexico and am thinking that I'd like to give it a try. Any recommendations for some of the better locations, nicer timeshares, best time to go? I've read the thread on safety in Mexico, many comments are from 2005, and I do watch the news, but I'm sure common sense can go a long way towards a nice vacation. It's just me and my husband, middle ages couple, no kids, not necessarily interested in sunning at the beach all day, would like to find an authentic experience, as much as one can staying at a timeshare.
 

T-Dot-Traveller

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Puerto Vallarta *

Mayan Palace PV- Marina. ( 200 units )- RCI 6634 / 1294
Raintree’s Club Regina - - PV Marina -RCI 2659

Buginvilias (PV Hotel Zone) - RCI 1972

All 3 have nearby walk to restaurants .
You can use local bus or cab transportation ( no need for car rental )
Availability starts post Easter / April 2020 . ( November to mid -May has the best weather)

Your biggest risk is the Timeshare Shark Tank - as you exit customs at the PV airport
and timeshare sales on property .

* Puerto Vallarta area includes many very nice resorts in Nuevo Vallarta . These would be more
resort focused and probably don’t fit your criteria as well . There are also many all inclusive properties
in the PV area which probably don’t fit your interests as listed .
 
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Zinjanthropus

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Depends on what you want. We're headed to Vidanta in Puerto Vallarta (actually Nuevo Vallarta) and it's a large and beautiful resort....from what I've heard. This will be our forst time in PV.

We've been to Vidanta/ Riviera Maya several times and it was always an exceptional stay at a beautiful resort. The area has many very nice top notch resorts. Banyan Treee/Mayakoba, and many others line the ocean at Riviera Maya.
What I like about the Rivera Maya area is that it's approx. 50 miles from Cancun and all there is to enjoy at the beaches, restaurants etc...in the hotel zone, and approx 50 miles in the other direction is Playa-Del Carmen which is a fun resort town with hundreds of tourist restaurants, boutiques, nightclubs, and a couple of malls all within walking distance of the beach (playa). Also, the ferry to Cozumel is in Playa Del Carmen, so you have an endless amount of stuff to do in three separate areas all within a cheap public bus or taxi ride.

We've had a really great time in Acapulco. The city, restaurants and sites were very enjoyable. We didn't expect to enjoy Acapulco as much as we did.
 

geist1223

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We love Cabo. There are two towns in the Cabo area - Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. The majority of people when they talk about Cabo they mean Cabo San Lucas. It is where the Cruise Ships visits.

We prefer San Jose del Cabo. It is smaller, quieter, and not so crowded. Though it has everything you need. We prefer to go in January through April. In May it starts getting hot. Cabo Azul is very nice. But avoid the Sales Pitch. There is a shopping/dining area across the Street. The downtown is only a mile walk. There are two large grocery stores a mile the other direction. Actually they are like Super Wal-Marts in that they sale all sorts of things. It is fun to wander around the old downtown area.

If you belong to Costco go to Costco travel. They have all sorts of travel packages for fair prices.
 

Passepartout

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10spro (cute handle) What do you consider an 'authentic experience'? From your California location, it's going to cost less to visit the West Coast locations. Those mentioned above- and where the majority of timeshares are are really 'Americanized'. You'll feel right at home. Obviously, you need passports. The days of hopping a flight - or even driving- without one are gone.

All the cities above offer great resort locations and experiences. The water and ice are safe to consume. The cities have safe bus systems so you don't need (nor should you) to rent a car. Taxis go on your schedule- just be sure to agree on a price before you get in as few use a meter. Don't tip the driver.

November -May is high tourist season. Great weather and little rain. Whales are there Dec.-Feb. Summer is HOT and HUMID and RAINY.

We 'adopted' the city of Mazatlan back in the '80s. It's a bigger city of roughly a million people. There is a tourism zone that for a first time visitor, there is no real need to leave, but should you want to visit real colonial Mexico, it's just a 50 cent bus ride away in the historic Centro zone. It's also home of Mexico's biggest shrimp fishery, so the seafood is great. There are also many good timeshares in Mazatlan.

Puerto Vallarta and Cabo are also good choices and are covered above. For a REAL modern Mexico experience, Guadalajara is hard to beat, but there are few if any timeshares. There is an active American ex-pat community there and the public art is truly outstanding.

As you look into going to Mexico, look at resort reviews. Post what your desires are. There are lots of experienced Mexico hands here.

Happy hunting!

Jim
 

bobpark56

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We have a fondness for Puerto Aventuras. It's a gated residential/tourist community 15 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. We have stayed there 5 times, the most recent being 38 nights last Nov-Dec. Prices are reasonable, dining is inexpensive and good, people are friendly. Numerous restaurants, the best of which in our view is now The Divot at the golf club. This was the second year this restaurant has been managed by a master chef from Barcelona, Spain. Seafood is their specialty, and it's the freshest and best prepared we have found anywhere. Very nice atmosphere too. Both of the Porto Bello resorts have good units. We prefer the Porto Bell Marina Private Residences Club, though it does mean a 5-minute walk to the restaurants. The other Porto Bello is right in the center of things, next door to the dolphinarium. There is a Super Chedraui a 15-20 minute walk from the Private Residences that provides the best prices for any food or drink you want (It will be a 15-minute walk as soon as they complete the new pedestrian overpass they are now constructing). In past years (though I hear rumors it may be changing), one could make arrangements for privileges at the Omni resort, which has a smallish sheltered beach and a pretty good restaurant (with privileges we have alway received a 25% discount on food & drink, making it one of the better places to dine). If you happen to be there over Thanksgiving or Christmas, Cafe Ole´ puts on a marvelous, Kansas-style meal that you won't want to miss. Book early, as it sells out.
 

easyrider

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Years ago, our first trip to Mexico was Cabo San Lucas. Back then, Cabo was a party town. Still is, imo. The difference is Cabo isn't much different than many places in the USA making this destination very easy for Americans, imo. Very safe, imo.

Puerto Vallarta has also grown. Lots of people and things to do. Easy to get around. Nice historic town center. Very safe, imo.

Riviera Maya and the area has more to offer regarding ruins and activities. Beaches are nice when clean. Occasionally the sargasum builds up on the beach which can be a turn off. Best snorkeling and scuba, imo. Very safe but there are issues with petty thieves engaging in short changing, theft and police bribery scams.

Nuevo Vallarta is one of my favorites because of the long stretch of walk-able clean beaches and cheap massage. Bucerias is a small Mexican town on the north end of Nuevo Vallarta with restaurants and flea markets. Very safe, imo.

Mazatlan is very Mexican. I like this area because of the long stretches of beaches and the authenticity of the town center. Easy to get around. Very safe , imo.

All of these areas have very nice timeshares.

Bill
 

CPNY

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I've never been to Mexico and am thinking that I'd like to give it a try. Any recommendations for some of the better locations, nicer timeshares, best time to go? I've read the thread on safety in Mexico, many comments are from 2005, and I do watch the news, but I'm sure common sense can go a long way towards a nice vacation. It's just me and my husband, middle ages couple, no kids, not necessarily interested in sunning at the beach all day, would like to find an authentic experience, as much as one can staying at a timeshare.
People seem to love Westin lagunamar.
 

bjones9942

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Just my opinion on the Pacific side ...

Safety: If you aren't in a cartel, or aren't buying/selling drugs, then you're pretty safe. Crime happens everywhere, so nothing is 100%, but the cartels account for the majority of crime and they aren't targeting tourists down for a week or two. Pickpockets and unscrupulous taxi drivers - well, yes - they do target tourists ... but I personally don't know anyone who has been pickpocketed, and if you always get the price of a taxi up front you'll avoid getting ripped off.

Best time to go? I preferred the Summer months as there weren't that many tourists from the USA and Canada. The last thing I want to do is travel someplace to wind up being where I came from. The issue with Summer is that any of the Méxican coastal towns are going to be HOT and HUMID. It's also rainy season and there can be some real doozies, but rain usually comes at night. If you go out in the mornings, stay in during noon and afternoon, then go back out in the evening things are much more enjoyable! And always carry a bottle of water, and walk on the shady side of the street!

Towns: Cabo San Lucas is more of a party town than the other cities. It is the place to go, however, if you want fishing and golfing. Mazatlán is a city with a little tourist area. Puerto Vallarta is a tourist area with a little city. Acapulco is stunning. It's like Puerto Vallarta all grown up. Haven't yet been to Manzanillo or Puerto Escondido but they're on my list.

If you want a town with the flavor of México then either Mazatlán or Acapulco would fit. Mazatlán is semi-tropical and the beaches are some of the best I've ever seen. Stone Island wins the beach award for me. Cabo and Puerto Vallarta are geared towards tourism. It's still México, they just don't have the same feel. Cabo is desert and the beaches are often rocky. Puerto Vallarta is tropical, and the mountains come right down to the ocean. Of all the places, I think it's the prettiest. Acapulco also has mountains down to the ocean, but has been developed so isn't jungle like Puerto Vallarta. It's true that crime is higher there - but if you aren't wandering back neighborhoods at night you should be good to go. Since tourism from outside México is way down in Acapulco (plenty of Méxican nationals still vacation here), you'll see a more authentic Méxican town than in previous years. If you go to Acapulco make sure to find your way to both Barra de Coyuca and Palao.

For a first time visit I would recommend a Méxican Riviera cruise. You'll see Cabo, Mazaltán, and Puerto Vallarta. If you just want one city, I would recommend Puerto Vallarta. The city is beautiful and there's a lot to see and do. Most people speak English there so you'll be able to communicate without having to get google translate involved :) There are also a ton of hotels, both in Puerto Vallarta proper, and North in Nuevo Vallarta. I won't speak to an individual hotel or chain as I don't know your budget and what level you find comfortable. Search the booking sites or ask specific questions here. Once you've gotten the feel of Puerto Vallarta I'd branch out to the other vacation spots. Acapulco has different areas - the Diamante area is similar to Nuevo Vallarta in that it's a ways away from the main tourist area and more upscale (re: pricy). Mazatlan has two hotels, the RIU and the Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay, that are a ways North of the city proper. I feel places like these are where you go when you want some sun and relaxation and don't want to go off property much. You could be anywhere in the world though - if it weren't that the staff were mainly Méxican you'd never know you were here.

EDIT: Try NOT to do an all inclusive. Food, pretty much anywhere in México, is excellent and inexpensive.

I did the cruise in 2010, bought a timeshare in Mazatlán in 2010 (fixed Summer week), then bought a floating week in Puerto Vallarta in 2012. I bought an apartment in Mazatlán in 2016, and moved here permanently a little over a year ago. Fun fact, you can often trade one week of a USA/Canada timeshare for two weeks of vacation here in México. Just keep an eye out for specials and grab them when the appear!
 
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Karen G

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Once owned these: FirstFairway@Walden X 2; Lawai Beach; ManhattanClub; PuebloBonitoRose; 4 South Africa--now timeshare-free
I bought an apartment in Mazatlán in 2016, and moved here permanently a little over a year ago.
I'll bet you enjoy the traffic in Mazatlan more than the traffic in the Seattle area!:)
 

bjones9942

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Much more!
 

10spro

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You all have been a wealth of information. Thank you so much for the great recommendations. I have a lot of research to do. I’m thinking of a trip in the Mar-Apr-May timeframe. Any thoughts on the best months. I would prefer to avoid crowds and definitely want to avoid spring breakers.
 

Janann

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I’m thinking of a trip in the Mar-Apr-May timeframe. Any thoughts on the best months. I would prefer to avoid crowds and definitely want to avoid spring breakers.
Don't go March-April if you want to avoid Spring Breakers. School breaks are scattered during the spring. There may be some exact statistics somewhere, but you're definitely at risk for any week during those two months.
 

10spro

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Don't go March-April if you want to avoid Spring Breakers. School breaks are scattered during the spring. There may be some exact statistics somewhere, but you're definitely at risk for any week during those two months.
Thanks Janann. Sounds like first week in May might be safe. I was worried about Cinco de Mayo but from what I’ve read it’s really not that big of a deal there.
 

bjones9942

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On the Pacific coast, Cabo San Lucas gets most of the spring break crowd. Mazatlán doesn't get any - several years ago the city enacted no public displays of beer laws, and that pretty much killed that crowd here. Laws have since been ignored or repealed, but they still don't come. Puerto Vallarta gets a few, enough to tell they're there but not enough to make it crazy town. Not sure about Acapulco or the other coastal towns. The real crazy time you want to avoid (if you don't like crowds) is going to be Semana Santa. That's April 5, 2020 - April 11, 2020. Another "the city doubled in population overnight!" time in Mazatlán is from February 20, 2020 - February 25, 2020 as Carnival (the third largest in the world) is happening then. Cinco de Mayo isn't a thing here, outside Puebla, where the Méxican army defeated the French.

If you wind up traveling through México City to get to/from your destination, I highly recommend extending your stay a few days and going out to Teotihuacan. I've been several times (for several days each time) and I still see something new when I go back.
 

Passepartout

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Now that we are actually IN Puerto Vallarta, I will re-endorse the recommendation of the 3 PV timeshares that @T-Dot-Traveler recommended in post #2. Especially for first timers. They are Mexican without being TOO Mexican. Visitors can easily get off the grounds for some exploring and dining around, yet there are on-site choices for convenience. They all have concierge desks for 'approved' activities with posted prices so you don't have to negotiate- something that is part and parcel of the Mexican experience (don't expect clearly posted prices in Mexico). All beaches in Mexico are public, so no resort can completely ban vendors from their adjacent beaches, they CAN keep them off the property, which gives visitors some relief.

Those TSs should also be available as exchanges or inexpensive rentals.

Jim
 

pittle

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Now that we are actually IN Puerto Vallarta, I will re-endorse the recommendation of the 3 PV timeshares that @T-Dot-Traveler recommended in post #2. Especially for first timers. They are Mexican without being TOO Mexican. Visitors can easily get off the grounds for some exploring and dining around, yet there are on-site choices for convenience. They all have concierge desks for 'approved' activities with posted prices so you don't have to negotiate- something that is part and parcel of the Mexican experience (don't expect clearly posted prices in Mexico). All beaches in Mexico are public, so no resort can completely ban vendors from their adjacent beaches, they CAN keep them off the property, which gives visitors some relief.

Those TSs should also be available as exchanges or inexpensive rentals.

Jim
Glad you are enjoying my favorite Mexico vacation area!

We have gone to all the main beach vacation areas in Mexico - Mazatlan, Riviera Maya / Cancun/ Playa del Carmen area, Acapulco, Cabo, and Puerto Penasco, but we like PV/NV area the best.

I agree with T-Dot that you cannot go wrong with Mayan Palace Marina, Raintree, or Buganvilias for nice resorts and easy transportation options.
 

Passepartout

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Point taken, Phyllis. I was basically concerned that PV in general might be a little TOO Mexican for a first trip by a TUGger more used to the full resort experience of their Marriotts. We are in the Centro area, it is pretty much 'party central' with 4-5 bars and/or eateries per block, couples of every conceivable combination, and a good amount of Spanglish spoken. Depending on the OPs level of adventure comfort, one of the listed resorts might be best for a first timer.

We are old Mexico hands from WAAAY back, and are honestly having a ball here.

Jim
 

Itsacorgi2017!

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My favorite vacation spot is Cabo San Lucas. I have owned Sheraton Hacienda Del Mar for 9 years. Hacienda del mar is located between downtown Cabo and San Jose. If you play golf the resort is located around 2 golf courses. At the resort you have access to 5 yes 5 swimming pools and a variety of restaurants. You can take a 15 minute shuttle ride to downtown. It is extremely around the gated resort and in downtown Cabo. Sammy Hager bar named CABO WABO located downtown along with the Marina and plenty of activities. There is also a beautiful Marina where you can book a Catamaran for a romantic sunset cruise around the famous Arch Landmark. Cabo is pieceful and very romantic. There is also a famous restaurant on the beach called The Office. The food is wonderful. There are so many memories that can be made in Cabo. You will never be bored I promise. Safe travels
 
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