Paradise & Parenting: Fun With Family, Vallarta-Style

Last week I talked (whined) about life with children during summer vacation. I know that most people would stop yakking about it and just find the right day program for their children, but I’m not most people. Also, my children are not big fans of day camps, and I’m not a big fan of paying for the privilege of getting them somewhere by 8am. However, there are LOTS of day camp programs that are wonderful, and I’m sure if you’re a Vallarta parent you already know about them.

If you have not placed your child in a camp, or if you chose not to put them in a program all summer, there are lots of great, low-cost activities that you can try out. We have some favorites that we like to do at least once a year, and there are some new ones we want to try this year. Here is a list of some great options in and around PV, but it is not exhaustive in the least!

  • Turtle release – I don’t care how many times you do this, it never gets old. It’s part of Vallarta’s conservation program for sea turtles, and it’s lovely. Check out the Puerto Vallarta tourism site for a list of participating hotels:
  • Marriott Day Passes – This is a beautiful, family friendly hotel with a great rate if you are local. Contact them at the hotel for a locals discount card.
  • Hike – Oh we love our hiking (mis)adventures! A fun one is the hike to the Palo Maria Waterfalls on the Mexico 200 highway, across from the Garza Blanca hotel. Hike early in the day to avoid showers and the worst of the heat.
  • Rancho Grande los Pinos – Just outside of Bucerias, there’s a great spot for swimming, ziplines, camping, horseback riding – it’s got it all. You can use the pools for the day for 50 pesos a person and bring your own picnic lunch. Check it out at
  • We have heard a lot about the Tsunami Jet Boat experience. It’s a one hour thrill ride on a boat that they say is similar in vigor to a roller coaster. I haven’t tried it yet, and I am unlikely to, but my husband and daughter are planning to give it a try on one of their hour-long tours. We’ll let you know. You can reach them at HYPERLINK “tel:+523222090491” 322 209 0491
  • Beaches! Our favorites are the ones with wide swaths of sand and slow, shallow beach breaks such as the public beaches in Nuevo Vallarta and Destilederas. Go early morning to avoid the crowds and beat the heat.
  • Visit the ChocoMuseo, a museum dedicated to chocolate. I know, right? Will you ever leave? It’s located on the Malecon and offers a free museum along with several paid workshops where you GET TO MAKE YOUR OWN CHOCOLATE. Learning plus chocolate? I mean, guys. Call: 322 223 4052
  • Sign up for an email subscription to There are often great deals on many fun activities, such as a night in Yelapa. There are great discounts in restaurants and even tours.

If your family will stay in Vallarta during the summer months, you will find many ways to keep yourselves busy. Enjoy all of what Vallarta has to offer without the high season prices and crowds. Check out some spectacular sunsets and dramatic rainstorms over the ocean.

Whatever it takes, drag those teens off the couch. Promise chocolate and waterfalls. Buy them a surfboard. Show them pictures of cute baby turtles.

Or just tell them you heard there was free WiFi.