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Puerto Vallarta Trip Report:
Las Caletas: Monkeys, Hammocks, Ziplines and the Perfect Beach
My family recently returned from a 6-night trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We had a wonderful time! I will do a full review of our resort, but I couldn’t wait to write about our favorite part of the trip: Las Caletas!
We hadn’t planned on doing this excursion. I had it in my head that we would spend the vast majority of our vacation at our resort, alternating between the pools and beach all day. However, we did not love our hotel’s beach (more on that later).
I was resistant to spend money to get us to a better beach, but my husband convinced me we should splurge because we already spent so many miles/points to get here. We may as well go a little further and find a beach we really enjoy.
Las Caletas is a private cove on the south end of the bay near Puerto Vallarta. It’s leased and operated by the Vallarta Adventures tour company, and the only way to reach it is by boat. The famous American movie director John Huston used to live on this island.
We booked this excursion to Las Caletas through our hotel concierge the night before. There were only six seats left on the boat, and we got five of them. The cost came to $499 for the five of us with 10% off from the hotel. (If we had booked online 96 hours in advance, we could have gotten 15% off).
The excursion cost included the following:
- Four beaches (one was adults-only)
- Beach chairs, hammocks
- Stand-up paddle boards
- Snorkeling equipment
- Animal encounters (monkeys, birds)
- Guided nature walk (orchid garden)
- Mezcal tasting
- Cooking classes
- Kids Adventure Park (zip line, donkey ride, face painting, petting zoo)
- Teen Adventure Cove (zip line into the ocean, water slide, etc.)
- Continental breakfast on the boat
- Welcome taco when arriving on the island
- Open bar on island and boat
- Lunch buffet on island
- Spa services (1-hour massage was only $59!)
- Sea lion and stingray encounter in open water ($49)
- Scuba Diving ($49)
- Power Snorkeling ($39)
- Flyboard ($49)
- Professional photos
The boat left from the marina at 8:30 a.m. It had already picked up passengers in Nuevo Vallarta, so the boat was half full. This is how the boat looked after all of the passengers embarked. Everyone had a seat, and we could stand at the front of the boat for a better view:
We ate some pound cakes that were part of the continental breakfast on board. The crew also did some dancing to keep everyone entertained.
The tour passed through Los Arcos, a National Marine Park and bird sanctuary. These small islands have caves and arches that are popular for snorkeling and scuba diving. My photo doesn’t do this place justice.
During the ride, crew members came around to sell optional extras on the island. I booked a 15-minute foot massage on the beach for $15. An employee also signed our kids up for an hour at the Kids Adventure Park (included in the tour price for ages 4-11). The ride to Las Caletas was a little over an hour long.
When we arrived at Las Caletas, I felt like I had stepped onto Fantasy Island (like the TV show from the ‘80s…am I showing my age here? I used to watch that show when I was a kid.) There was a waterfall going down a mountain, and colorful parrots and parakeets were flying all around above us. Wow! It was a jungle paradise.
The first thing we did was go to a small buffet for a “welcome taco”. Homemade tortillas, hot black beans…yum! After we had that quick bite, it was time to make our way to the Kids Adventure Park because our kids were scheduled for 10:15 a.m.
FYI–For this section, parents are required to stay with the kids. You can’t drop off your kids and go to the adult beach.
There were seven kids in this group. The kids were outfitted in helmets and harnesses, and then they listened to a safety briefing. They had the option of getting their faces painted. Then, it was off to meet the monkeys, ride a donkey, go through an obstacle course and go down two zip lines in the jungle.
I thought for sure my daughter, who just turned six and is very timid, would refuse to do the zip lines. But, she surprised us and did the entire course. She was so proud of herself!
Here is a video of my two kids at the Kids Adventure Park:
FYI—the spots where parents could observe are close by, but not great areas to snap photos. I think this is done on purpose so that you will buy the professional photos.
Next, we were itching to go to the beach! There were four small separate beaches. The first beach was home to many hammocks:
The second beach, where we spent most of our time, was the “relaxing” beach with lounge chairs. There was also an activity beach (snorkeling, kayaks, etc.) and an adults-only beach. You could swim out to platforms in the water that had chairs and hammocks.
The crystal clear water was so refreshing with gentle waves. We loved it!
We could have stayed at the beach all day. My daughter innocently asked me, “Mom, can we live here?” Ha, I wish!
It was after 1:00 p.m., and my 12-year-old wanted to try out the Teen Adventure Cove. We all went with him so that we could watch.
First, he went on the zip line into the ocean:
The video of him on the zip line:
Next, he went down the water slide into the ocean. We didn’t capture video of him on this, but here is a video of someone else going down:
The activities at Teen Adventure Cove were advertised for ages 12-39, but we saw adults much older than 39 enjoying the slide and zip line.
Time sure flies when you’re having fun! It was already after 1:30 p.m. and the lunch buffet was open. There were four buffets set up along the shore, so it didn’t seem crowded. A staff member helped us find a table for five. We had worked up an appetite!
The lunch buffet was very good. In addition to tortillas and Mexican food, there were BBQ chicken legs, corn on the cob, salads and a dessert selection.
After lunch, we had a little time to return to the beach. We couldn’t get enough of it!
We wished this day would never end. But alas, at 3:00 p.m. we had to board the boat back to Puerto Vallarta.
On the ride back, the crew members performed a rock show. Other crew members showed us photos for purchase from our time at Las Caletas. I ended up buying a flash drive with over 100 photos and three videos from our day. The photos were much better than what I took.
This excursion was our favorite thing from our entire vacation in Puerto Vallarta. Crew members were friendly, the island was a beautiful paradise, the food was tasty, and a lot of things were included in the price.
- Don’t forget to wear bug spray! We wore it and didn’t have any problems with bug bites.
- The island is not stroller or wheelchair friendly. I don’t recommend it for anyone with mobility issues, as there are a lot of slippery, sandy stairs. We got a workout for sure!
- If the water platforms are already taken when you get to the beach, don’t fret. Since there isn’t bar service to the platforms, and there are other things to do on the island, we noticed that most people didn’t stay on the platforms for a long time. Many became available throughout our stay.
Overall, Las Caletas is a tremendous value, and it’s quite an adventure. If you are staying in Puerto Vallarta or even stopping there on a cruise, I recommend this excursion to Las Caletas.
Note: Some credit card offers may have changed. See our Hot Deals section for the most up-to-date offers.
Don’t forget, you can use points to help pay for Las Caletas. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus currently has a 50,000-point bonus that can be used to offset travel expenses like this tour. You can also use the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $300 yearly travel credit, or book the tour with points through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.