Some of you may be trying to decide between the two cities of Puerto Vallarta and Cancun. Now that I have been to both, I can make a few comparisons. If it is your first trip to Mexico and you are a little apprehensive, Cancun will feel a little more familiar. Mexico is a Third World country but Cancun is a little more modern. Puerto Vallarta is quaint and primitive in comparison. We were careful about not drinking the water in both places but I still got a little sick in P.V.. Neither of us had any gastrointestinal problems in Cancun. People do get sick in Cancun but I think the risk in P.V. is greater. Although they have a fairly new water purification system in P.V., the water still goes through old pipes.
Another factor you might want to consider is that there is more to do in the area where Cancun is located. If you just want to relax and do a whole lot of nothing, then it won’t matter so much, but if you want to see sites and be more active, go on day trip excursions and such, there are more activities and sites to see in the area of Cancun such as: various Mayan archeological sites such as Chi-Chen Itza; Isle Mujares; and Cozumel. Snorkeling is better in Isles Mujares and Cozumel than in P.V.. You must take a scheduled boat in P.V. to go snorkeling and so you must make reservations and get up early and get to the marina to catch the boat which only leaves a couple of times in the morning. Snorkeling was just too much hassle for me in Puerto Vallarta. The water is a prettier emerald green in Cancun at most of the beaches and the sand is more fine and white in Cancun than in PV.
You are probably thinking from the above comparison that I liked Cancun better. I don’t think that is really accurate though. Puerto Vallarta is very charming. The streets are cobblestone and the lack of activities just encourages more relaxation. The weather was definitely better in Puerta Vallarta but I suppose that could vary. We had rain in Cancun a couple of times and we were there the same time of year- in April. Tropical rain is brief and warm but I preferred the weather and clear skies in P.V. The Blue Bay Getaway experience is much better in Puerto Vallarta. The gay scene is better in P.V. Instead of snorkeling to see fish and fauna, we went to the clubs and saw drag queens. P.V. has a lot of drag queens in the gay clubs.
Although we had some problems with the all-inclusive Blue Bay Getaway/Village in Cancun on our 2001 trip, we still decided to give the Blue Bay Getaway a try in Puerto Vallarta. We like the fact that these resorts are all-inclusive and adults only so we do not have to listen to other people?s out of control, ill-mannered, screaming children all week. It is nice to be able to get into a swimming pool that is not full of hyperactive children splashing and shrieking. The all inclusive aspect is also very economical and convenient (although it can also become monotonous). Blue Bay Resorts do have all-inclusive resorts in both Cancun and P.V. that are family friendly if you want to consider one of those but we visited those and the family resorts tend to be in much more isolated locations.
The price from the S.F. Bay Area on the West coast is about $300.00 less for Puerto Vallarta. We had paid about $1100.00 each for our all-inclusive seven night package to Cancun from MexSeaSun/Apple tours but only paid slightly over $800.00 for an all-inclusive seven night package to Puerto Vallarta from Suntrips. Although we paid less for P.V., we got a much nicer, deluxe, ocean view room in a high-rise. The view from our balcony was incredible. (We also got trip insurance included in the price of our Puerto Vallarta package. Overall, Suntrips did a much better job of delivering what they promised than MexSeaSun/Apple tours. Read my review of our Cancun trip for more details in that regard).
If you are considering booking Blue Bay Getaway in Puerto Vallarta through Suntrips, I would strongly suggest you request the deluxe ocean front room. It is only a hundred dollars or so more than the standard room.It appeared to me like there were three categories of rooms at Blue Bay in P.V. I think the ocean front deluxe in the highrise are the preferred rooms. This building has 11 floors although they are numbered from 10 to 21. We were on the 15th floor which is actually the fifth floor. I know it sounds confusing and don?t ask me why the floors are numbered this way. We had an exquisite view though. There is also a three or four story low rise building that has balconies from which you could possibly see the ocean. We were never in those rooms so I can?t say too much about them. They looked like they would be okay though but not as nice as what we had. Those looked like the medium priced rooms. Then there are the rooms in the highrise we were in that faced away from the ocean. They looked about one quarter the size of the deluxe room and pretty dismal with NO view of ANYTHING at all. I would have been miserable in one of those. Make sure you are very clear about what kind of room you are booking. Do not think you can change it or ?upgrade? once you are there. That is not an easy thing to do from what I have seen if you are there in a prepaid package.
I mentioned earlier that we prefer staying at adult resorts so to avoid screaming children. Do not think that Blue Bay Getaway is quiet just because there are no children though. The adult resorts in both Cancun and P.V. are NOT quiet. They really appeal to young adults. It you want quiet, go elsewhere. These adult resorts play loud ?party? music and have scheduled activities all day long and into the night. You will hear some of this even when you are in your room- especially bass thumping from time to time. Although we did not participate in the party-like games and activities, we enjoy the party atmosphere and we watched others participating and we liked the music and never did use the personal stereo?s we brought.
One thing I noted was that the Cancun Blue Bay had more free non-motorized water sports activities available included in the package. I didn?t see any boating at the P.V. resort. Volleyball was the main beach activity in P.V. There were many in-pool and poolside activities. They had aqua-aerobics every day and water basketball among other things.
In addition to the various poolside and beach activities the resorts provide, they also have stage shows. We believe the dancers we saw in Puerto Vallarta this year were some of the same ones we saw last year in Cancun. There are about eight of them that do Las Vegas/cruise ship style shows. They performed a different show each night for the first four to five nights in Puerto Vallarta. I think they only performed a couple times in Cancun. They must travel among the various Blue Bay resorts. The dancers we saw are quite talented and energetic. Their shows provided some convenient evening entertainment. Dance clubs don?t really start happening until after midnight in Cancun or P.V. and the evening television selection is pretty spotty and so the dance shows at the resort are a nice way to spend early evening. Otherwise, as the sun goes down in Puerto Vallarta, a walk along the Malecon is a nice alternative.
The location of the Blue Bay Getaway in PV is excellent. It is next door to the Sheratan. It is within walking distance to downtown although it is a long walk and you may need to sit and rest along the way. We mostly used the buses to get back and forth between the hotel and downtown. The buses are about 4 pesos and are an adventure. Sometimes we took taxis for 30 pesos– (always agree on the cost BEFORE you get in the cab.)
As far as television availability, there are about five English-speaking channels in both resorts. We had HBO for a couple nights after arriving in P.V. but then it disappeared. It is worth mentioning that the Blue Bay Getaway adult resorts show hard core, heterosexual, white male oriented porno as one of the television channel selections. You will see it as you flip through the channels and so if you love porno or hate porno, this might be something that will effect your decision regarding Blue Bay Getaway.
Even though the resort is all adult and you won?t have to deal with screaming little kids, you may hear an occasional screaming, immature 18-21 year old that is too inexperienced or goofy to realize when they have had too much to drink. There were a lot of these from Canada in P.V. that were testing their limits. The Blue Bay resorts are not only all-inclusive of food, they are also all-inclusive of alcohol and these young post-adolescent, pre-adults just don?t know when to stop. They party and occasionally whoop and holler at all hours of the night to let you know they are having a good time. Do not expect the resort to impose any limits on them.
There is food available throughout the day at Blue Bay. The buffets are similar to what you might see on a cruise or in Vegas or Reno. The food is adequate- fair to good. I would not say excellent but it is really not bad either. There is a lot to choose from though. They start serving breakfast early in the morning and you can have fresh fruit, cereal, pancakes, French toast, and omelets made to order. These are only a few of the items available in the morning. There are many options available for lunch and dinner as well. All drinks, including alcohol, are included. We don?t drink much alcohol but if you do, I think it is probably a great deal to not have to pay for each drink. The resort in P.V. also has a couple restaurants that are slightly more upscale than the buffet but you must make reservations and where long pants. We never made it to these restaurants in Cancun or P.V.
You can always go elsewhere to eat but do not be lured by the marketing for Senior Frogs or Carlos O’Briens. We had seen these establishments in Cancun and I assume they are two chains owned by the same company. There are stores all over P.V. selling t-shirts and other ?official? merchandise pertaining to these two restaurants. I think they both have dancing at night and maybe dancing at one of them would be okay- just don?t eat at either of them. The food is edible?along the lines of Planet Hollywood if you have ever eaten at one of those but prices are way out of line for the quality you get. It was the day after eating at Carlos O?Briens that I became ill. Of course, you may be more adventurous than us. There are many restaurants in P.V. that were recommended to us or that got good reviews but we mostly ate at Blue Bay. I regret that we were just foolish enough to be influenced by all the hype around Senior Frogs/O?Briens- you will know better.
My lover and I visited several of the gay bars in Puerto Vallarta. Paco-Paco?s was the best dance club although I could have done without their drag show, much of which was in Spanish. Paco Ranch is right around the corner from Paco-Paco and it had a strip show before the dancing. The Anthropology was practically empty Saturday night around midnight. We visited Blue Chairs beach during the day and it looked pretty quite this time of year. We also visited the rooftop bar at Blue Chairs on a Sunday. They had the best drag queen show. There were several other gay establishments we visited but were not very impressive. We were in Puerto Vallarta at the tail end of the high season and I kind of wondered if the gay scene might have been more active at the peak of the high season. It was certainly more interesting than the gay scene in Cancun though.
This year we visited Mexico legally with all of our papers in order which was a nice change from our trip last year to Cancun. We did not have to change planes going to Puerto Vallarta like we did last year going to Cancun and so we avoided all that confusion with customs you read about if you read my review of last years trip. Allegro airlines was quite adequate and I will try to post a review of Allegro like I did of Mexicana last year. I hope this review was helpful for planning your trip and that you have as wonderful a time as we did.