The Little Known Secret to Snorkeling the Beautiful Marietas Islands in Puerto Vallarta for Less

A vacation in Puerto Vallarta isn’t complete without a snorkeling trip to the beautiful Marietas islands. An ecological sanctuary that is a protected Mexican reserve, it is one of two places on earth where one of the worlds rarest birds, the Blue Footed Booby, makes its home.

The Marietas islands are a chain of three islands near the mainland at the north end of the bay. One of the most visited island locations is the place the locals call “La Playa de Amor” or Lover’s Beach. This is an inlet to the closest island through an arch which was carved in the rock by the pounding of the waves over the centuries.

Even if you spend only one day in Puerto Vallarta, you will constantly be asked by the timeshare hawkers if you want to enjoy activities like snorkeling for free, or at a reduced price. Of course this is not without a caveat – you must attend their presentation. And because your time is limited and valuable, you should pass on their offers, no matter how assertive they become. Just remember the phrase “no gracias (pronounced no grah-see-ahs).”

There are many local operators that offer half-day and full day snorkeling trips. These can cost an upwards of $70 per person , which sometimes include lunch or snacks and drinks. You can quickly spend close to $300 for a day of snorkeling with a small group of four people, including tip.

The best part is…if you are adventurous, you don’t have to spend nearly that much. Just follow this recommended plan!

Recommendation: A snorkeling trip to Punta de Mita With a small amount of planning and an adventurous spirit, you can do the same snorkeling trip the Puerto Vallarta operators offer for half the cost – around $140. If you are really frugal, you may even be able to secure a trip for even less. The trick is to ride the bus from the Puerto Vallarta marina, to the lovely little village of Punta Mita on the northern tip of the bay. This quaint little village is home to one of the best beaches on the Bay of Banderas.

To get to Punta Mita, expect to catch a bus around 11:00 AM in the Puerto Vallarta Marina area, near the Wal-mart/Sam’s Club on the north end of town. Cruise visitors need only cross the main street at the gas station after departing the ship. The ride up to the area from Wal-Mart is around twenty pesos each person (around $2 USD) each way. Make sure you let the bus driver know you want to go to Punta Mita, as other buses leave from this station for other points north like San Francisco and Sayulita. The ride is about forty minutes long and takes you through the towns of Mezcales, Bucerias and La Cruz. Once you arrive in Punta Mita, relax and enjoy lunch in one of the many beach front cafes.

[Interesting factoid – When riding to Punta Mita, you actually go from the state of Jalisco (pronounced ha-lee-sko), where Puerto Vallarta is located, into Nayarit (pronounced n-eye-ah-reet). When you cross the state line, you will be passing from the Central time zone into the Mountain time zone. This means you will arrive in Punta Mita around the time you left Puerto Vallarta. Conveniently, most shops observe Central time.]

The key to this trip is to negotiate with the local panga vendors in Punta Mita and secure a boat (the cost of which always includes snorkeling equipment) for a tour of the Marietas Islands. You will probably be approached by one of the locals on the beach asking if you would like to take a snorkeling trip or go on a boat tour of the Marietas islands. Most of the vendors speak fairly good English; and it is important to note that the boat captains may or may not speak English.

It is best that you agree with the vendor ahead of time that your boat captain have the ability to speak English if you do not know Spanish or are uncomfortable with someone who does not speak your language. This won’t be guaranteed unless you agree to this ahead of time. Even with the language barrier it is possible to have a great trip, as these boat captains are excellent at what they do.

A typical snorkeling trip to the Marietas islands lasts about two hours. Depending on the day, you should be able to secure the trip for between 750 and 1000 pesos ($70-$100 USD). This is the price for the boat and not a per person price!

Whenever possible, schedule trips on days when there are no cruise ships in port. These days are slow for the vendors and they are willing to come down on the price, as they know that their business for that day is more transient. You can check for cruise ship arrivals at http://www.infopuertolacruz.com. If you are arriving on a ship, hold out for the best price (typically start at around half of what the vendor wants and work up from there).

If the vendor presses for the higher amount for the trip, you should request an extra half-hour, for a total of two and one-half hours. If the vendor agrees to this, the trip should include a good tour around the two closest islands. The third and furthest island is very small and has very little to offer.

At this point even if there are only two of you going on the trip, you should only be into the it for 1100 pesos ($100 US) and if you add in lunch, depending on your frugality, as high as 1500 pesos ($140 US). The key here is, the more persons you have to split the cost of the boat, the lower the cost per person.

Once your trip is complete and you are back on dry land in Punta Mita, be sure to tip the boat captain. A customary tip is ten pesos per person on the trip. Of course, if you feel that your boat captain did an exceptional job, feel free to tip him a bit more.

The difference between taking this more adventurous trip on your own, rather than contacting one of the larger vacation activities vendors, is in the personalization of the trip. The larger vendors provide wonderful trips with lots of information. Their ability to provide a more personalized trip and direct face time is very limited due to the trip sizes. The large vendors will pack their boats with clients, sometimes as many as 100 persons or more, in order to maximize their profits.

You have probably heard people refer to trips like this as a “cattle boat” or something similar. First they herd you onto the boat. Then, you’re herded to the destination and then back. Working with the beach vendors will allow you to get a more personalized experience, at a lesser cost. In the end, the stories you share with your friends about your adventure in Mexico will be worth their weight in gold!

Once your adventure to the islands is complete, find your way back to the bus for the incredible ride back to Puerto Vallarta. You will most likely find yourself riding back with a vast array of locals. This part of the trip is always very interesting, as you never know who will hop onto the bus.

When you return home, the memories of your snorkeling trip in to the Marietas – the incredible azure seas and majestic granite cliffs – will linger for years to come. Every time you look at that picture you took on the beach, or hear stories of other peoples trips to Mexico, you will be able to tell the story of your experience taking the vacation plunge of a lifetime, snorkeling the incredible waters of the Marietas Islands.


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Fascinating Facts About Puerto Rico

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

“Santiago, the Story of his New Life” is a great Puerto Rican film.It was directed by Jacobo Morales. “Santiago, the Story of his New Life” was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Category at the 1989 Academy Awards.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

Puerto Rico has been described as a museum of the old and new…Puerto Rico is world famous for its beauty and pleasant climate.It is an attractive tourist area of beautiful sandy beaches and nature areas…UNESCO has declared La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic World Heritage Sites.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

Sila Calderon was the first female governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (2001-2005).

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

Puerto Rico has ten idols: Roberto Clemente (baseball player), Ricky Martin (singer),Teo Cruz (basketball player), Jennifer Lopez (singer), Benicio del Toro (actor), Gigi Fernandez (tennis player), Felisa Rincon de Gautier (former mayor of San Juan de Puerto Rico), Pablo Casals (violoncellist),Sila Calderon (former governor),and Rita Moreno (actress).

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

Puerto Rico has won the Miss Universe pageant a record five times: Marisol Malaret (1970), Deborah Carthy-Deu (1985), Dayanara Torres (1993), Denisse Quiñones (2001), and Zuleyka Rivera (2006). It has more titles than Brazil, Argentina and Mexico combined.The only country to have won it more than Puerto Rico is the United States (1954,1956,1960,1967,1980,1995,1997)

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

The 1993 Central American and Caribbean Games were held in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

Jennifer Lopez has Puerto Rican ancestry. She was born on July 24, 1970, in the Bronx, New York City, (USA). The multitalented actress and singer Jennifer Lopez is famous around the world. She is a hardworking woman, who started out with little more in her life than dreams.In an interview, she said, “Sure. You work so hard your whole life-it`s hot, hot, hot, and then it`s cold. I know that day will come”. Jennifer fans know that when she sings, she is singing to them.
She admires Barbra Streisand, who is an American singer and film actress.”Barbra Streisand. What she did with her career-acted, sang, did the whole thing. I love her. She made “The Way We Were”.It was a love story about two people, and you see their whole lives. You don´t get that in movies anymore.Where is my “The Way We Were?” I need that before I die”, remarked the actress during an interview… Jennifer Lopez is a symbol of Puerto Rico.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

Baseball is the national sport in Puerto Rico.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

Puerto Rico hosted FIBA Basketball Men´s World Championship in 1974.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

Puerto Rico hosted the Miss Universe 1972. It became the first Latin American country to host Miss Universe contest.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

Rita Moreno is a well-known Puerto Rican movie, television and theater actress. Rosa Dolores Alverio, best known as Rita Moreno, was born on December 11, 1931 in Humacao, Puerto Rico.She is one of the few Hispanic performers to have won an Academy Award, an Emmy, an Antoinette Perry Award, and a Grammy.She won the 1962 Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for her role in the classic film musical “West Story”…

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

Rosie Perez is a famous American actress and choreographer.
She is of Puerto Rican origin. Rosie was born in Brooklyn, New York City (USA).

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

Puerto Rico is bigger than Singapore.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

Felisa Rincon de Gautier was mayor of San Juan de Puerto Rico from 1946 to 1969. Felisa was Puerto Rico`s most renowned social activist. She devoted her entire life to the poor and homeless sick people, especially children and women. She received many awards: the Order of Merit from Israel, the Pope Pius XII Medal of the Vatican and Joan of Arc Medal from France…

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

In 1984 Pope John Paul visited San Juan de Puerto Rico.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

Puerto Rico has competed in the Winter Olympic Games 6 times (Sarajevo-1984, Calgary-1988, Albertville-1992, Lillehammer-1994, Nagano-1998, and Salt Lake City-2002)

Alejandro Guevara Onofre: He is a freelance writer.Alejandro is of Italian, African and Peruvian ancestry.He´ve studied political science and journalism.He has published more than seventy-five research paper in English, and more than twenty in Spanish, concerning the world issues, olympic sports, countries, and tourism. His next essay is called “The Dictator and Alicia Alonso”.He is an expert on foreign affairs. Futhermore, Alejandro is the first author who has published a world-book encyclopedia in Latina America.

He admires Frida Kahlo (Mexican painter), Hillary Clinton (ex-First Lady of the USA), and Jimmy Carter (former President of the USA). His favorite film is “Gorillas in the Mist”.Some of his favorite books are “The Return of Eva Peron and the Killings in Trinidad” (by V.S.Naipaul), “Las Mujeres de los Dictadores” (by Juan Gasparini) and “Murder of a Gentle Land” (by John Barron and Anthony Paul).His personal motto is “The future is for those people who believe in the beauty o f their dreams” by Eleanor Roosevelt.


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Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido and other Pacific Coastal Resorts – The Drive

Travelers to the state of Oaxaca frequently inquire about the drive from the City of Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido and other coastal destinations, expressing concerns about the length of the trip, quality of the highways, and the overall advisability of driving versus flying or bussing. This essay speaks to the doubts tourists might have regarding the journey using their own or a rental vehicle.

We’ve driven the three main routes on a number of occasions over the past several years, at different times of the year. I’ve written elsewhere about highway 190 to Huatulco. That road, the easiest to navigate, takes you at least a couple of hours out of your way, south, and is therefore not the most advisable unless of course you plan to visit Salina Cruz or Huatulco anyway. By contrast, highway 175 through Pochutla, and then north on highway 200 to Oaxaca, takes about 6 hours (I tend to drive fast, and stop about 3 times during a trip) and is the most interesting and a relatively easy drive. Highway 131 is the most direct and quickest route, albeit with its downsides.

I will provide details of the 175 route driving to Puerto, and 131 by way of return route, in terms of what to expect regarding landscapes, towns and villages, and highway characteristics. A schedule of times and distances between particular towns appears as an appendix, providing a quick-and-easy summary of road conditions for each segment of the journey. However, for this trip we stopped more than usual along 131, so keep in mind that without any lengthy stops it should take about an hour less.

PREMIMINARY ADVICE

Sixteen years of traveling these routes have been incident free, attributable in part to following four simple rules:

1) Drive only during daytime. While the roads are paved and generally good, and in fact many of the bridges are freshly painted white, lighting is an issue. More importantly, there’s much more of a risk when driving at night of encountering inebriated drivers and pedestrians, and animals.

2) Start out with a full tank of gas. While there are gas stations en route, and signs advertising mechanics and gasoline along the roadways, by not having to make a stop to fill up, you have an opportunity to make other stops along the way, more productive than stopping to simply top up. The trip to the coast takes well less than a tank of gas.

3) While stating the obvious, make sure you’ve had the mechanical fitness, and oil and water levels of the car checked before leaving. Brakes, tires and steering are the most important for negotiating the portions of highway with mountain switchbacks.

4) Regardless of time of year, take a jacket, sweater or sweatshirt since you’ll be climbing to about 9,000 feet on route 175. If you tend to be susceptible to motion sickness, take along anti-nausea medication.

ROUTE 175

Oaxaca to Ocotlan: Takes about 40 minutes, initially with urban sprawl out of the city, and then gently rolling hills with a few strong curves, vegetation predominantly agave and corn under cultivation. Passes by the villages producing black pottery (San Bartolo Coyotepec), alebrijes (San Martin Tilcajete), and cotton textiles (Santo Tomas Jalieza). In Ocotlan, noted for its Friday market, you’ll find clay painted figures of the Aguilar sisters, the workshop of knife maker Angel Aguilar, and tributes to artist Rodolfo Morales…his home and foundation, mural at the municipal offices, and museum featuring his and earlier works.

Ocotlan to Ejutla: Takes about 25 minutes, with long easy straight-aways and occasional curves and gentle hills. Once again agave and some corn, with a number of outcrops of carriso (river reed used for making ceilings, roofs and fences). Known for its Thursday market, with sale of animal skins. You can easily avoid going into Ejutla by taking the well-marked bypass.

Ejutla to Mihuatlan: Takes about 35 minutes, with more pronounced curves and hills, and easy-to-navigate peaks and valleys through similar vegetation and some mixed brush. Good idea to take your Dramamine or Gravol about 15 minutes into this portion of the trip. While there is no specific bypass, it’s not necessary to enter the main downtown section of town. Just keep going straight and the highway takes you out of the city.

Mihuatlan to San Jose del Pacífico: Takes about 50 minutes. Leaving Mihuatlan you’ll see the impressive mountain range in front of you, which you quickly begin to climb. You’ll note the temperature change quite readily, as you witness the dramatic change in vegetation. In addition to deciduous trees including scrub oak, you’ll see an abundance of conifers, mainly pine. The agave changes from espadín under cultivation, to very different and impressive wild varieties along the side of the road, growing from rock outcrops, some reaching an immense size, with stock (chiote) shooting up from its core dwarfing many of the surrounding trees. This segment of the trip, and the next with descent to Pochutla, are characterized predominantly by significant mountain switchbacks. You’ll see roadside eateries, booths with alebrijes for sale, and small cottage-industry lumber and firewood producers. San Jose del Pacífico is noted for the sale of locally harvested hallucinogenic mushrooms, in particular during the rainy season, and therefore you’ll come across roadside workshops selling hand-made wooden mushrooms as well as other hand-crafted products. You can rent a cabin if you wish to break up the trip and spend the night. Clean accommodations, with private bath, start at about 300 pesos. There’s well-marked signage alongside the highway. Some are more modern and advertise satellite TV and other facilities. There are a few restaurants, grocery stores, bakery, etc. It’s a relaxing way to spend a few hours, perhaps hiking up the dirt roads where most residents tend to live.

San Jose del Pacífico to Pochutla: You’ll continue to climb for about another 10 minutes until you reach El Manzanal, then begin the descent. This portion of the trip takes about two hours and 25 minutes. The ride down is initially quite gradual, and then more pronounced once you reach San Miguel Suchixtepec, a picturesque village with large impressive church, and homes strung out along a few hilly mountain roads. You’ll begin to detect another significant temperature change, depending on the facing of the portion of mountain you are descending relative to the sun. At different portions of the stretch you’ll pass by a couple of waterfalls and three or four smaller rivulets spilling across the highway, goats and donkeys, home construction of wood, pine cones on the roadway, brilliant orange flowered bromeliads, wild orchids, large expanses of boston-like ferns, and perhaps one or two patches of fog. For several kilometers you’ll encounter a sweet smell similar to that of maple syrup. Because of the steep descent, you may even detect the smell of burning rubber, but don’t worry, it’s likely a truck up ahead having brake problems. At about four hours into the trip you’ll begin to hear tropical insect and bird sounds and calls, and see bananas and sugar cane under cultivation and for sale, with coffee and honey also offered at roadside stands. On the approach to Pochutla the roadway will then gradually straighten out, with curves much easier to navigate. Tropical grasses predominate the roadside landscapes. An indication that you’re getting closer with be blown sand encroaching part of the roadway, and finally a sign stating “Iguana Hunting Prohibited.” A short while later you’ll see the sign pointing to the right for the Puerto Escondido bypass.

Pochutla to Puerto Escondido: Takes about an hour. Highway 175 ends at a “Y”, so veer to the right and you’re on highway 200, following along the Pacific. However, you won’t be able to see the ocean for about 40 minutes. You’ll pass by the exit to Puerto Ángel, Mazunte and Zipolite. The entire final leg of the trip is basically straight and flat. For the last half hour or so you’ll see mango, papaya and coconut under cultivation.

ROUTE 131

Aside from the fact that this route should be quicker than 175, and is about 50 km shorter, there are other differences to note, in addition to similarities:

1) While 175 is predominantly a single ascent, and then descent, 131 consists of several hills and valleys which must be negotiated, on a couple of occasions arriving in a town at the bottom of a valley, and then again beginning to climb. This may contribute to the roller-coaster effect on your stomach.

2) The road quality is inferior on 131, in particular for about an hour in the approach to San Gabriel Mixtepec and thereafter, with potholes, poor attempts to repave, etc. However, until around the end of 2006 it was far worse. Now there are long stretches of fresh, new tar, and improvements continue.

3) Immediately upon leaving Puerto you begin an ascent, so there is no gradual departure from the tropical climate.

4) Much of the vegetation found on 175 is the same along 131, although it is less defined, in part because you do not climb to same altitude as on 175, and there are really no significant micro-climates which manifest in extremes of vegetation and particular commercial enterprise. Waterfalls are abundant, and landscapes are impressive, perhaps less so than on the other highway. There is much more livestock along the sides of the roadway than on route 175, predominantly donkeys and mules, so be a bit more vigilant.

Puerto Escondido to San Gabriel Mixtepec: Takes about an hour, with switchbacks and the climb commencing almost immediately. Take your meds as you leave the coast. As suggested earlier, there are peaks and valleys along this portion of the route. The patchwork of road repairs becomes apparent rather readily. Roadside coconut stands predominate initially. You’ll then begin to welcome the maple essence, in fact off and on for three or four hours as your journey continues. The village is quaint, with grocery stores, a major pharmacy and several restaurants.

San Gabriel Mixtepec to Cerro del Vidrio: This portion of the trip, just over an hour, is a net incline, not without several ascents and descents of mountain passes. At km 55 you’ll pass the exit to a well-known coffee plantation, Finca Las Nieves. Just before arriving at Cerro del Vidrio you’ll start a gradual descent, arriving in the town after about 10 minutes. This is where traffic turns off to go to Juquila (about a 45 minute detour), famous for the appearance of the Virgin of Juquila. Cerro del Vidrio developed much more rapidly once Oaxacans began making pilgrimages to Juquila. In fact along the entire 131 route you’ll see vehicles with gladioli tacked onto the front on either side of the license plate, along with a framed image of the virgin. Right at the turn-off you’ll encounter several vendors of fruit and memelitas filled with beans.

Cerro del Vidrio to San Pedro Juchatengo: Takes about 40 minutes, and terminates at the bottom of the largest valley you’ll encounter. Switchbacks. Upon arrival you’ll begin to see corn under cultivation, as well as some agave. The town boasts swimming in El Rio de Las Flores, as well as an ecological preserve.

San Pedro Juchatengo to Sola de Vega: You’ll continue negotiating strong switchbacks, initially following along the banks of the river, then deviating, and finally climbing until the pinnacle, “El Mirador,” where a small restaurant, rest stop and mezcal outlet are situate. You will have already begun to notice three different types of agave under cultivation, for mezcal production. You’ll then descend to Sola de Vega, arriving after about an hour and twenty minutes, now encountering some corn, and even banana trees. Sola de Vega is noted for its mezcal, and historically for its occupation by the French during colonial times.

Sola de Vega to Oaxaca: This final leg of the trip takes just under two hours, initially marked by climbing, albeit much easier to navigate, and then again peaks and valleys, much softer than during the first couple of hours of the return route. At km 181 you’ll see the cutoff to San Sebastián de Las Grutas, 13 km off to the left, where there are a series of caves you can hike. By km 190 the road will have straightened out, and for the balance of the trip, another 60 kilometers, there will be rolling straight-aways, the agave fields diminishing in number as corn becomes the predominate crop, with outcrops of carriso, some cactus under cultivation, and roadside stands selling sugar cane. By now the temperature will have risen and stabilized at typical Oaxaca valley climate. Your approach to the city will be marked by the same urban sprawl as when you left.

CONCLUSION

I highly recommend driving these routes. Consider taking an extra day so you can stop at some of the sites and villages, perhaps at a couple of mezcal operations, or just to get out of the car and take a stroll. Spending one overnight will help you to get a feel for rural Oaxaca, and add immeasurably to the totality of your vacation. San Jose del Pacífico gets my vote since it’s seemingly a bit more geared to ecotourism than the other towns and villages en route, although there are other quaint, interesting stopovers, where tourists don’t normally stop for the night, which might lead to even a more interesting sojourn. .

APPENDIX

ROUTE 175

Oaxaca to Octotlán, 40 min and 33 km; Ocotlán to Ejutla, 25 min and 25 km; Ejutla to Mihuatlán, 38 min and 40 km; Mihuatlán to San Jose del Pacífico, 50 min and 36 km; San Jose del Pacífico to Pochutla, 145 min and 100 km; Pochutla to Puerto Escondido, 55 min and 69 km.

ROUTE 131

Segment

Puerto Escondido to San Gabriel Mixtepec, 60 min and 42 km; San Gabriel Mixtepec to Cerro del Vidrio, 70 min and 38 km; Cerro del Vidrio to San Pedro Juchatengo, 40 min and 24 km; San Pedro Juchatengo to Sola de Vega, 80 min and 50 km; Sola de Vega to Oaxaca, 120 min and 93 km.


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Sports in Puerto Rico – Birthplace of Roberto Clemente!

From Boxing to Baseball

Basketball

Did you know- Puerto Rico ‘s basketball player Teófilo Cruz, a veteran of the Puerto Rican national squad, competed in five Olympic Games: Rome 1960, Tokyo 1964, Mexico 1968, Munich 1972, and Montreal 1976.

Boxing

Did you know- By 1975, in the Caribbean Boxing Championship in Guatemala City, the national team won five medals ( two gold and three silver) and took second place in unofficial team standings, outpacing Cuba, Colombia and Mexico. A year ago, the Puerto Rican team came in seventh place in the World Boxing Championship, ahead of Venezuela, Bulgaria, East Germany, and France.

Caribbean Games

Did you know- A 537-member team from Puerto Rico competed in the Central American and Caribbean Games in the early 1980s.

Don German Rieckehoff

Did you know- Don German Rieckehoff, former President of the Puerto Rican National Olympic Committee, was one of the Latin America’s most respected Olympic leaders. Under his leadership, San Juan de Puerto Rico hosted the VIII Pan American Games in the late 70s.

Roberto Clemente

Did you know- Puerto Rico was once home to Roberto Walker Clemente, one of the greatest professional players in the history of baseball. Between 1955 and 1972, he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. His greatest triumph was captaining his team to their ninth World Series title in 1971. For his achievements, he was named “Most Valuable Player” in the mid-1960s. Subsequently, he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Unfortunately,he died in 1972. Without a doubt, Mr Clemente will be remembered as the most remarkable Puerto Rican athlete of all time.

San Juan de Puerto Rico

Did you know- San Juan de Puerto Rico hosted the 8th Pan American Games in 1979. Lord Killanin, former President of the International Olympic Committee, said, “I have happy memories of my visit to San Juan, Puerto Rico for the VIII Pan American Games, and of the excellent organization and atmosphere prevailing there. I hope the Pan American Games will continue to flourish”.

Sports

Did you know- Traditionally, baseball, basketball, and bowling are the most popular sports on the Island.

Swimmers

Did you know- Since 1966, Puerto Rico has had many notable swimmers in Latin America: From Carlos Berrocal, Ricardo Busquets, and Fernando Canales to Filiberto Colon, and Ana Lallande. In addition to these athletes, the Island is the birthplace of Jesse Vassallo. The Puerto Rican-born athlete, who competed for the United States, was one of swimming’s greatest performers in the late 1970s. By 1979, Mr Vassallo won four medals (three gold and one silver) at the VIII Pan American Games. A year ago, in August 22, 1978, Mr Vassallo set a new world record in the men’s 400-meter individual medley at the FINA World Championships in Berlin (West Germany).

Alejandro Guevara Onofre: Freelance writer. Alejandro is author of a host of articles/essays about over 220 countries and dependencies (and American States as well), from ecology, history, tourism and national heroes to Olympic sports, foreign relations, and wildlife. In addition, he has published some books on women’s rights, among them “History of the Women in America” and “Famous Americans.”


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Puerto Angel – Mexican Fishing Village

Puerto Angel is a rustic fishing village on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca in Mexico. The idyllic village lies in a charming little bay between Bahias de Huatulco and Puerto Escondido, surrounded by sandy beaches and rocky mountains.

Lively Harbor
Puerto Angel was shipping wood and coffee from its port and boomed in the 19th century. The booming were over when the railway between Salina Cruz and Oaxaca was finished. Nowadays the docks are used by the local fishermen. Every day they bring in their catches of shark, lobsters, swordfish, tuna, oysters, ocean perch and octopus.

Caves, Waterfalls and Wildlife
Puerto Angel is a quite town with sandy roads and not much to offer for adventurous travelers. If you look for a peaceful setting and seek some privacy, this port town is your place to be. Make a day trip to visit one of the many ruins in the area or just to enjoy the beautiful and rough environment, look at the waves lapping on the shoreline, listen to the wildlife and breathe in the salty air. Laze on the beach or go snorkeling or diving in the surrounding caves. Find plenty of crocodiles and birds in the lagoon of Ventanilla or visit the tropical spring-fed El Paraiso and the Los Reys waterfall.

Beaches and Snorkeling Bays
The fishing village knows two beaches, located right in the centre. Play del Panteon is encircled by rocks and offers some wonderful marine life. The main beach Playa Principal has big waves and strong currency and is mostly used by fishing boats. West of Puerto Angel is the popular surfing destination Playa Zipolite with perfect waves and a very long beach. Excellent spot to end your daytrip with a sunset cocktail. More to the west is Playa La Tijera also known as ´scissors´, because of the scissor-like rock formation sticking out into the water. This small bay is a beautiful place for diving, snorkeling and swimming.


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The Music of Puerto Rico: A Sampler of Different Genres

The music of Puerto Rico is the sound of its culture.

In this article we cover six music genres and offer you five videos for a richer experience of Puerto Rican music. In this short tour, let’s go back in time a few centuries and begin there.

Jíbaro

The original folk music of the Spanish-descendant mountain settlers is called jíbaro (HEE-bah-roh), which means “people of the forest” in the native Taíno indian language. It consists of playing more traditional stringed instruments and it emerged in the 16th and 17th centuries with the Spanish settlers who lived in the mountains. A quick search for “jibaro music” will offer various samples of this traditional style.

Bomba y Plena

Beginning in the early 19th century, a distinctly African and French Caribbean influence began to emerge in the island music. Although Bomba y Plena are technically different styles, to the untrained ear they can sound somewhat similar. Bomba is especially accentuated by live performing dancers, and Plena came to be popularized in the 1920swith the introduction of “big band” adaptations.

Short (3.5min) Bomba y Plena Video

Danza

Other music genres we cannot attribute specifically to Puerto Rico, but trace their origins from Spanish, French Caribbean, and African influences. In the 1800s, for example, the formal “Danza” style of music became very popular and even influenced what has come to be the national anthem of “La Borinqueña.”

Salsa

Salsa emerged in Cuba and Puerto Rico around the same time – the 1950s. This style of music became an incredibly popular export to New York by the 1960s and is still enjoyed today. To pay homage to beautiful blend of cultures, here is a video featuring Tito Puente (Puerto Rico) and Celia Cruz (Cuba) – may they both rest in peace for the musical contributions they made.

Tito Puente and Celia Cruz: Salsa Video

Reggaeton

If any dance music has taken Puerto Rico by storm it is reggaeton (reg-ah-TOHN). Having some basis in Jamaican rhythms, it has evolved into a blend of reggae and rap. Many of the videos idealize youth culture and scantily clad women so we will refrain from sharing a video but you can easily search for this for samples.

Puerto Rican Pop

A great example of Puerto Rican pop music is Ricky Martin, who has achieved international stardom. And something important to point out is that in some pop songs are the driving beats whose roots lie in African rhythms, and delicate guitars which offer echoes of the jíbaro stylings. For a taste of this genre, you can also listen to Chayanne, Noelia, or Olga Tañón.

We hope this has given you a good overview of Puerto Rican music – enjoy the contagious beats!

Written by Lisa at Happy Holidays Guides.

If you found this article useful, we have also written a Puerto Rico Travel Guide available on Amazon. Additionally, if you are interested in more information about Puerto Rico, money-saving travel tips or provocative travel perspectives,


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Puerto Deal Cruz

If you seek for the best resort tourism around, then you have to plan your vacation here in Puerto de la Cruz. Back in the day, this small town used to be a busy harbor town, nowadays it is still considered as the main venue for communities dedicated in business in the magnificent Orotava valley. The British traders used to love this place, says history, so much that they have contributed to the rise of Puerto dela Cruz. It was the British traders who erected the Grand Hotel Taora in this town back in the year 1889. And it is undeniable that the Grand Hotel Taora is really what put the town of Puerto dela Cruz in the tourism maps not only in Spain but around the world as well. It also became a spa loving town back in the 1890s; this being the case, European royalties flocked the area to experience the spa treatments offered here. Apart from the European royals, various dignitaries also paid their visit to this town; examples being Winston Churchill as well as Bertrand Russell. Despite the rapid growth of the

town and the booming tourism as well as development of high rise establishments, Puerto de la Cruz has still retained its authenticity as a Spanish town; it still feels as though you are in a huge spa inside a very small and hospitable Spanish town. The uniqueness as well as its individuality has been maintained all throughout the development of this town. Tourists surely leave Puerto de la Cruz happy, that is why majority of them come back to this side of the world. This being the case, Puerto de la Cruz has been pronounced as the resort with the largest rate of returning visitors all over the world.

At the very heart of Puerto de la Cruz, you can find the very small but interesting Plaza del Charco. It is in the middle of the pedestrian district and located next to a small and charming harbor. The pedestrian region runs up through Ranilla described as an ancient fishing quarter. On the east side and just running along the seafront is the shopping district. This is also where the hotels, dining places, bars as well as other establishments can be found. Food from all around the world can also be sampled in this part of the town, just stroll down the streets and you will surely find something that interests you.


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Tenerife – Puerto De La Cruz

Situated on the northwest coast of tenerife, Puerto de La Cruz is the most popular resort in that area of the Island, just 35km from Santa Cruz. Although it is a little short on beaches it offers everything else that you may need. It was originally a small fishing village but now is host to a plethora of bars, restaurants, shops and even a casino.

The beaches are both natural, and are covered in black volcanic sand, which is typical of many beaches in this part of the world. They are not always suitable for swimming in, as the tide can be quite strong. This is because of a lack of a natural reef. However, a man made seawater swimming pool was designed by Cesar Manrique, a Lanzarote artist now sadly deceased, and it is situated just a couple of hundred yards from the shore.

The main strip, Avenida de Colon, leads off to a maze of side-streets, lined with shops selling bargains such as alcohol, jewellery and lace. The town’s traditional main square should be visited, to experience the buzzing atmosphere. The old part of the town remains charmingly innocent and unchanged.

Plaza de Charco is populated in the evenings by a number of street artists, and is ideal for having a drink, whilst people watching for a couple of hours.

Puerto de La Cruz is not so driven by tourism as some of the other resorts. So although it can certainly more than cater for it’s many visitors… it still has a high number of residents living in the centre. this ensures that it keeps it’s original feel, and makes it a really special place to visit.


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Puerto Vallarta – Where You’ll Find the Best Beaches in Mexico

Puerto Vallarta is located in almost the center of the beaches that make up the Bay of Banderas. The bay is about 62 miles of horseshoe shaped coastline, that is shared or divided almost equally between the state of Jalasico and the state of Nayarit. The bay itself is the largest bay in Mexico, and one of the deepest, over 3000 feet deep in some areas. This allows the Super big ships to sail in and dock at the edge of town.

From the airport, which is very close to where the big ships dock, heading south, you will come to Playa Camarones, Las Glorias, Los Tules and de Ore. There you will find a string of four and five star hotels lining the beaches.

A coupe of miles south is the Melecon, which is a mile or more walkway along the beach that is known as the Romantic zone. This is a walk to do in the evening when the street vendors and artists are all displaying their wears along the walkway. Cross the street from the beach and there are a string of night clubs, should you want to enjoy a cocktail. There is even a Starbucks, if coffee is more to you taste. I personally buy a cup of “Mexican” coffee from one of the street vendors. It is made with a stick of vanilla and has a different taste than what you get when you brew it at home.

About a mile south is Playas Conchas Chinas, which is not one beach but a series of small sandy coves dotted by rocky outcroppings. For these beaches, sandals are recommended. Some of the beaches have a lot of larger pebbles on them.

Following the curve of the beach, a couple more miles you will come to Mismaloya. This is the area where Director John Huston filmed “The Night of the Iguana”. Hotel Mismaloya takes over a lot of the area and is a fenced, guarded hotel, but just follow the dirt road that is just past the hotel. You will find a little curve of sand and lagoon that you are sure to enjoy. From there, you can walk along the beach to the ruins of the movie set.

You can also go by boat to the beaches father south, on a pleasant day trip. They are available at the piers where the big ships dock. They will take you to a beach where you can go by horseback to where the first “Predator” was filmed. They stop for some swimming and snorkeling along the way. Along the beach, there are a couple of outdoor restaurants where you can enjoy a bite before the trip back. Once on board the boat, it is party time until you dock back in Vallarta. They will get you back in time for dinner. I have taken it a couple of times. it is fun.

If on the other hand, if you travel north from the airport, you will be in the State of Nayarit. Local time, one hour earlier that Jalasico. In Nayarit, you will find the town of Bucerias, which means “the place of the Scuba Diver” It’s beach, covered with clean sand, stretches as far as the eye can see. The water is shallow a long way out which allows young and old alike to get “in the water”. There is a saying that once you have gotten sand on your toes in Mexico, you will always come back.

A little more to the North, what was once a sleepy, fishing village is La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, simply called La Cruz. It is now a state of the art marina and boardwalk. During the season, you will find it filled with yachts of all sizes. The boaters will no doubt be enjoying meals at one of the many fine restaurants that dot the area. I personally recommend a visit to Arriba restaurant and Bar. Owned by John and Carol Innes, the food is wonderful, they have a very good wine list, and the Margaritas are delightful.

Further North, at the tip of the peninsula is Punta de Mita. This is a great place to have lunch and perhaps a Margarita with friends. If you are lucky you can do some whale watching at the same time. There are a lot of nice restaurants and they all have tables and chairs set up on the beach for this purpose.

The beaches in Mexico are public beaches, up to the high-tide line, so you should have no problem enjoying yourself. There are so many to choose from, you can visit a different one every day if you wish.
Please take note of the lack of Life Guards at most beaches. You are pretty much on your own, so remain aware of where you and your children are, at all times. Guard your valuables the same as you would anywhere else and your sure to have a wonderful time.

Note: If you are going to have a drink at the beach, travel by bus. Driving in Mexico is not easy, along the coast line it can be very dangerous. It is wiser to let someone that knows the roads to do the driving.

William Chaney is an Executive Chef and and Natural Health Practitioner. William has traveled the World and collected recipes and healthy lifestyle information which he shares with you.


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Retirement in Puerto Vallarta–Interested in Deep Sea Fishing at its Best?

Picture this; it’s a 75*F day in November, the sky is blue, and you’re with your best fishing buddy, 20 miles out in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in the center of the Mexican Riviera. As you peer across the water, you see thousands of birds feeding on millions of small bait fish as they are driven to the water’s surface by larger fish from below. With acres of bait fish breaking the surface, the entire area, as far as you can see, has an oily sheen and the smell of a fish factory. As thousands of dolphins are playfully flipping and twisting while feeding in this orgy and larger game fish are joining the birds in this feeding frenzy; it’s time to strap yourself in and get ready for action!

As ten year residents of Vallarta, we’ve often had the privilege and good fortune to have been there and done it. If you’re a fisherman, life just doesn’t get any better.

Before we go fishing, let’s first check out the marina. In the well protected Puerto Vallarta marina, you will see in excess of 400 beautiful boats including multi-million dollar mega-yachts from throughout the world, million dollar fishing boats, and many sail boats from around the world. Circling 80% of the marina’s perimeter, you’ll find over 100 fine boutiques and five star restaurants. Behind and above these establishments are condominiums, all having magnificent views of the marina with its colorful array of boats. What a glorious site!

Due to the popularity and explosive growth of Vallarta, this marina has been unable to meet the demand of the boat owners traveling to or retiring in Puerto Vallarta. Therefore, 25 years ago, Nuevo Vallarta, five miles north, was developed around a recently upgraded 230 slip marina for moorage of yachts up to 130′ long.

During the past decade, the popular Nuevo Vallarta marina has also become so busy that another marina in the La Cruz de Huanacaxtle area, seven miles further north along the Banderas Bay shoreline, had to be designed and is currently under construction. The La Cruz Marina project is expected to cost in excess of 50 million dollars and will have slips for an additional 400 yachts. This marina will also be home to a bayside promenade, restaurants, shops, condominiums, and even an outdoor theater. Of course, like the other marinas, it too will be lined with luxurious condominiums.

Realizing that in a few short years, the above marinas will be filled, the Mexican government (fonatur) has defined the ten year plan for the Nayarit Riviera, about 25 miles north of PV and just outside of the Banderas Bay. This plan incorporates a 30 mile stretch of pristine shoreline on the Pacific Ocean and includes another world class 150 slip marina for yachts and sailboats, as well as three new golf courses, shopping districts, hotels and condo complexes, restaurants and boutique shops, and even a theme park modeled after Xcaret in the Cancun area. The infrastructure and the first Greg Norman golf course are currently under construction, therefore we can estimate that the marina will be ready within five years.

If you’re fortunate, you’ll be able to rent or purchase a slip for your million dollar yacht in one of the marinas mentioned above, housing over 1,200 million dollar plus yachts. As they say in Vallarta, if you’re really fortunate, it’s your best buddy that owns the million dollar yacht or fishing boat! Of course, if your boat is like most of ours, there are thousands of small slips available in the Vallarta area and many dry storage areas.

Okay, back to the fishing, now that we have a place to dock the boat! Although the large blue and black marlin run in the summer months, so do the gringos; they usually run to the north or to Europe because summer humidity and temperatures in Vallarta are similar to those in Houston.

Most of the serious fishing starts in November when the annual Sailfish Tournament is held. Fishing continues throughout the seven month “high season”, during which time the average daily temperature is 73*F with virtually no chance of rain. We have fished every year for the past decade and can tell you that fishing success varies significantly from year to year, depending on ocean water temperatures and currents. Four years ago, it was not uncommon to land ten to fifteen 100 pound sails a day. During one outing, we had three on simultaneously, all “walking across the top of the water”, heading in every direction imaginable–what a catastrophe that was! Most often during the “high season”, catching one to three sails per trip would be considered typical.

On the other hand, marlin are much more unpredictable during the “high season”. They’re out there but are few and far between. When you do hook-up, it’ll be anywhere from 600-1,000 pounds and will test your stamina.

Talking about testing your stamina, try landing a 300 to 400 pound yellow fin tuna! When the tuna are running, and they do every year during the winter months in the Pacific Ocean just outside of Banderas Bay, you’ll be able to test your fishing prowess as well as your physical condition! The smaller ones, in the 30 to 70 pound range are fun to catch and will provide you plenty of entertainment. When they range from 100 to 200 pounds, they head south as soon as hooked and the fight begins. Be prepared for a one hour struggle getting them to the boat, after which you’ll be needing a cold cerveza and an hour of rest! There will be a period of time almost every year when the big fellows show up. They are in the 300 to 400 pound range, approaching world record sizes. These monsters head out and deep as soon as hooked and hopefully, as your reel is spinning and your line is evaporating in front of your eyes, you’ll have time to get harnessed into your chair. You are getting ready for the three hour fight of your life when you’ve hooked a 400 pound yellow finned tuna. If you are a normal retiree, you’ll never get it in alone without having a cardiac arrest! We’ll usually have to rotate positions every half hour or so in order to land one of these monsters. Landing a 700 pound black marlin is a job, but landing a 350 to 400 pound tuna is life threatening!

Probably the most popular fish in the Vallarta area is the dorado. They are very edible and beautiful game fish ranging from 20 to 80 pounds. Dorado are plentiful, fun to catch, and considered by many to be the best eating fish in the sea.

There are numerous other game fish in and around Banderas Bay as well as great bottom fish such as huge red snapper.

If you’re not fortunate enough to own a million dollar fishing boat, there are many charter boats that cost from $300 to $500 per day. There are also hundreds of pangas that can be chartered for bay fishing at about $30 per hour. Banderas Bay is approximately 25 miles in diameter and one of the deepest bays in the world. Therefore, catching a 100 pound sail fish or a 50 pound dorado 300 yards offshore while fishing in a panga is not uncommon. Seldom will you ever get skunked when fishing in the beautiful Vallarta waters. Also, since almost every fish that you catch is desirable for eating, most of the restaurants in Vallarta will be pleased to prepare a wonderful dinner for your entire family using your “catch of the day” as the main course.

During the “high season”, weather conditions are always perfect for fishing. Winter storms are virtually nonexistent and the ocean water is generally quite calm. Perhaps once a month, the ocean might be choppy enough to prevent you from safely leaving the 25 mile bay, however the chance of catching a thriller 20 miles out, but still in the deep bay water, always exists.

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As a secondary benefit to all fishermen, the scenery from offshore with the Sierra Madres as a backdrop, has to be among the finest on the planet; always take a camera when fishing in this area. The Mexican shoreline along this Riviera is as beautiful as Pebble Beach and it seems to run forever. If you have the opportunity to take an overnight fishing trip, in all probability you’ll anchor in one of the many inlets or coves along the Riviera. As you gaze into the evening sky, you’ll see more stars than you ever dreamt existed; it’s absolutely incredible. With a perfect climate, a magnificent shoreline, and an abundance of world class game fish, Puerto Vallarta offers what many consider to be the best deep sea fishing in the world.


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