Travel Editor Barbara Barton Sloane took on an enviable challenge by agreeing to feature two of Mexico’s most sought after destinations in one blog post. Namely,she visited the Riviera Maya,which is located on Mexico’s eastern coast overlooking the Caribbean Sea,along with the Pacific Coast hotspot of Puerto Vallarta.
The truth is,most travelers would be thrilled to find themselves in either of these coastal areas,which are rife with gorgeous beaches,fine cuisine,excellent shopping,exciting nightlife and,well,you get the picture! Still,it helps to have an insider’s perspective and Sloane provides just that – tips that will ensure you get the most from your next getaway,regardless of which destination you choose!
Overlooking the deep blue waters of Banderas Bay,the shoreline around Puerto Vallarta is marked by densely forested cliffs and rocky outcroppings,forming azure-hued grottos here and there in the surf. Framed by the majestic Sierra Madre mountain range and spanning around 40 miles of coastline,protection afforded by the bay is the reason this town – originally a tiny,unknown fishing village – came into existence. Today Puerto Vallarta has managed to retain its small town vibe,yet is also home to modern amenities,luxurious accommodations,a variety of cultural festivals and a booming art scene.
“The 20th Annual Puerto Vallarta International Gourmet Food Festival takes place again this year from November 13-23,” writes Sloane for The Huffington Post. “Today,the festival attracts the top names in global gastronomy,as well as some of the world’s most promising rising stars.”
Conceptualized by local chef Thierry Blouet of the renowned Café des Artistes,along with help from Heinz Reize of Hotel Krystal and Silvan Muller of Nestle,the festival promotes Puerto Vallarta’s vibrant restaurant scene on the world stage and enriches its local and international gastronomic profile. Each year brings more than 30 star chefs from around the world,and events will include winemaker’s nights,gourmet safaris,cooking demonstrations,a gastronomic debate,and beer,cheese and chocolate tastings.
Other popular activities to try while in Puerto Vallarta include deep sea fishing,horseback riding along the beach and – depending on the time of year – whale watching. Finally,be sure to check out Vallarta’s eclectic and historic downtown,which is home to the iconic Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the famed Malecon Boardwalk,which is lined with sculptures by local and international artists and ends at Los Arcos,a stunning open-air amphitheater that overlooks the sea and regularly hosts a variety of live productions.
Situated in the state of Quintana Roo,Mexico’s legendary Riviera Maya stretches more than 80 miles south from Cancun along the Yucatan Peninsula on Mexico’s only Caribbean coast. The seaside towns of Playa del Carmen,Puerto Morelos,Puerto Aventuras,Tulum and Punta Allen are all located in the Riviera Maya region,which is also home to a host of natural and man-made wonders,including many lost cities of the ancient Mayans,stunning turquoise-blue waters,lush emerald-green jungle and an intricate system of underwater caves and caverns known as cenotes that were sacred to the Mayans.
“The Riviera Maya Jazz Festival hosts some of the best national and international jazz artists and – great news – it’s all free,” gushes Sloane. “The festival,by its musical quality,is one of the top 10 jazz festivals in the world.”
This year the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival will be held from November 28-30 in Playa del Carmen. Attendees will enjoy listening to music performed live by many of the world’s most important jazz musicians,set against the mesmerizing backdrop of white sand beaches and clear blue waters. In 2013 the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival attracted more than 10,000 people to the free concerts each evening on Mamitas Beach,which is just one location for festival-related activities during the event.
Also of note,the world’s second largest barrier reef lies just offshore,making the Riviera Maya ideal for snorkeling and diving. Here,the sheer variety of outdoor activities will keep even the most adventurous travelers busy,but don’t worry – there are plenty of options to suit any skill level and age range.
The bottom line according to Sloane? “If you attend either or both of these exceptional November festivals,here’s my promise: You will eat,you will sway,and you will love Mexico!”
What is your favorite destination in Mexico – Puerto Vallarta or the Riviera Maya? Tell us why in the comments below.