Editor’s Note: Happy New Year’s! Bundling up with a tequila-toddy.

While the weather has been a little in the dumps these past few days, hopefully, it will clear up by the time you’re reading this. If not and you’re looking for some things to do that don’t involve slathering SPF 45 and rolling over every 30 minutes for an even bake – fear not. There are lots of great things to do around the bay that you don’t need the sun for, including:  

Whale watching: Grab a sweater (and put some warm fortifying ‘beverages’ into a thermos) and hit the water, the whales are here in full force. Multiple reports have the bay jumping with turtles, whales and one friend even posted they were recently surrounded by a pod of dolphins a 1000 strong. You can rent a private sailboat (checkout Rockstar Sailor at rockstarsailor.com) or for a great day with the bay’s best biologists head out with Wildlife Connections (www.wildlifeconnection.com). If money’s tight – take the panga to Yelapa from the pier on Los Muertos beach ($400 peso return per persons). The 45-minute ride to one of the must-do beach towns usually pays for itself with sightings of whales, dolphins, turtles and even giant stingrays.  

If being on the water is just too chilly – how about a visit to the Zoo in Mismaloya, or the Vallarta Botanical Gardens just past Boca de Tomatlan? Both offer rare (and completely different) glimpses into the native species found both here in Banderas Bay, but also around the world.  

Other options like Galerias Vallarta or La Isla Shopping Centre mean you can spend the day sipping lattes while shopping at big brand stores, likely for less than you’d pay north of the border. Or for something a little different hit Plaza Caracol with its small boutiques that require a bit more patience but can often yield some great finds on shoes, make-up, jewelry and more.  

Another great way to explore the area during the cooler weather is book a tequila tour  – where they’ll even come to your hotel/condo/villa and for an afternoon teach you the nuances of fine tequila and mescal. (vallartatequilatastings.com) Or book a food tour (www.vallartafoodtours.com) and hit the streets learning about the local cuisine, sampling tacos, ceviche, pozole, birria and more.  

If all this wasn’t enough, we have so many spas and salons where for less than $50 you can get facials, massages, mani-pedis and more. I’ve run out of space so you’ll have to fend for yourself on that one.  

Happy exploring and safe travels. 

Stay warm. 

Madeline