By: Susan Gerle

A family vacation in Puerto Vallarta combines the flavor of the west coast of Mexico while offering a feeling of home. Hotels, restaurants, and beaches are clean, drinking water is safe, and community policing is present at all time. Any supplies you may need for your infant or child are readily available at the local grocery stores and “Farmacias.” If there is a medical emergency, the health care is excellent.

Parents can relax and enjoy the time with their children in Puerto Vallarta, no matter what age they are. A good place to begin exploring the beautiful city is the Malecon, by taking a leisurely stroll along the waterfront of the gently curving Banderas Bay.

Sand sculptures built each day capture the imagination of all ages, ranging from 8-headed lizards to Mayan temples. Mimes covered in bronze-colored sand quietly reflect the ocean’s beauty as children try to make them laugh. It’s difficult for children, young and old, to resist climbing a ladder toward the azure skies that beckon them, which is one of the many permanent bronze sculptures.

Traditional entertainment is also available throughout the day and evening at no cost, although donations are gratefully accepted. The famous Paplanta Flyers circle their way head first toward the ground as the flute and drum players keep the rhythm. The Arches are the backdrop for many hourly folklore presentations. The Malecon has a carnival atmosphere and vendors and artists sell their wares along the way. It is well worth tasting the roasted corn, a staple in Mexico, or trying some horchata, a sweet rice drink.

At any point along the way, you can turn off to check out the local markets and even swinging bridges to carefully cross. Thousand year old trees are perfect backdrops for pictures along the river. Don’t be surprised to see an iguana sunning himself in the early morning! The Malecon is only three blocks from traditional Mexico if you want to experience some very reasonably priced pastries or tacos.

Puerto VallartaContinue south along the walk and watch the pelicans frolicking at the mouth of the river where it empties into Banderas Bay. They are hoping for the catch of the day longside the local fisherman. The Malecon gradually becomes a beach walk, where parachute rides, banana boats and jet skies are available for the adventurous families. The waves are often perfect for practicing body surfing. Farther down the beach is the ultimate family challenge, the stairs to Gringo Gulch! The climb is rugged but the view at the top is spectacular! A bit further down the beach is a trail, which cuts over to a secluded beach area. It is a nice place for a family to enjoy a swim and a relaxing afternoon. Keep an eye out for the dolphins and gray whales swimming too.

At the end of the day, spectacular sunsets and fireworks can be enjoyed from one of the many well-known restaurants across the street from the Malecon. It is just a starting point to enjoy all that Puerto Vallarta has to offer!

Tips for travel with children in Mexico
Bring children’s sunscreen with you from home and make sure they have no reaction to the ingredients before you leave for your holiday. If you plan to be out walking at dusk, consider bringing some mosquito netting to put over the stroller. Some times of the year the mosquitoes can be quite hungry! Also, calamine lotion is difficult to find if your child does get a bite.

About the Author:

Susan Gerle started travelling after she raised her family and hasn’t looked back. She recently spent a year living and working in Mexico and then continued her travels in Europe.