A Summer in Paradise
After visiting both we decided we liked the atmosphere of Marina Vallarta over the resort feel of Paradise Village. There were more locals, more activities, more restaurants and it was well protected from passing storms and hurricanes. So we went home feeling sure that we had picked our Mexican homebase.
|Resident crocodile at Marina Vallarta
However, once we got to Mexico, we fell in love with the fishing village of La Cruz de Huanecaxtle before we made it to either of the other marinas we had visited. So we stayed there for a few months. Once hurricane season was looming, we had to decide whether to stay in La Cruz or find a more protected harbor. La Cruz is still fairly protected in Banderas Bay, but the other marinas we had looked at were even safer. Since this was our first hurricane season in Mexico, we decided to play it safe. Also, many restaurants and shops close down in La Cruz since many of the cruisers leave for the summer. (Check out my blog on La Cruz here).
Again, we figured we'd head to Marina Vallarta. But once we began communicating with them, we discovered their rates were twice those of anywhere else. We also discovered that their water is not drinkable, they don't have working wifi in much of the marina, there are giant crocodiles, and every time you walk off your dock, someone tries to sell you a timeshare, a fishing trip or a whale watching excursion (um, we live on a boat - we're good).
So we looked back at Paradise Village. Originally we were turned off by the resort/gringo feel of it. But we gave it a chance. It has potable water, tons of security, no one is trying to sell us anything, use of 3 different pools with waitstaff, gym and spa access, groceries and a few restaurants nearby. We got a DSL box for (usually) consistent Wifi. And they even have a weekly pump out service for sewage which Marina Vallarta didn't have, making that marina gross with sludge from boats dumping in the marina. Paradise rates were competitive with other marinas (except Marina Vallarta), their staff is super attentive and everything from pharmacies, markets, atms and buses are all near by. While it by no means is the real 'Mexico', it has some excellent things going for it.
|Service is exceptional.
Within 20 minutes of docking, the dock crew added a brand new cleat so we could tie up at a better angle.
The best part about Paradise Village was the community of cruisers we met. We had weekly potlucks and Mexican train nights. Evening cocktails in the pool were common as were nights out for dinner. Pat and I (and sometimes even Jack and Hailey!) even participated in water aerobics 3 times a week! We could always find someone who had that spare part or tool, and everyone looked out for everyone else.
|SV Avalon, SV Namahana & SV Dragonfly let us into their crew even though we are on a MV :)
|Cruising the neighboring estuary was a favorite activity at Paradise - these mangroves are covered in pelicans!
We will exchange free drinkable water for 5 gallon jugs of water, pools with bars and waiters for a tiny one with weekly pool volleyball, a handful of good restaurants for dozens of outstanding hole in the wall authentic cuisine kitchens, Thursday potlucks for Thursday movie night at the La Cruz marina amphitheater (and the other zillion cruiser activities in La Cruz).
A cruiser once told us, at each marina or anchorage you really have to take the good and leave the bad. Nowhere is perfect, but if you focus on what you really enjoy about a place instead of what it is lacking, life will be much better. I think that sentiment can be used for a lot of things in life.
We will likely be back to Paradise Village next summer and take the good.
|View from our slip - C-12 at Paradise
|The entrance to Paradise Village - excellent security
|View from our slip
|Our favorite al pastor tacos in the neighborhood
|The resort uses a trained hawk to keep away the pesky birds that want to eat your tacos.
|Gilligan watching the dock traffic
|A view of the resort from the beach
|Great storm and cloud watching from our slip
|Inside the main hotel
|Port Captain is just across the water.
The marina arranges for a water taxi ride and your paperwork for entry and exit to the next port.
|It's a love-hate relationship between Gilligan and the local pelicans
|Beautiful fruit and flowers are all around Paradise Village.
|Noeta at dock
|Yes, there is a Starbucks on the property - that's good and bad
|This is Gilbert and his friend on the bow of our neighbor's boat - he's there every day.
|These don't suck.
|LOTS of Iguanas - a group of iguanas is called a squadron.
|Looking out the channel towards Banderas Bay
|Captain Pat on a daily neighborhood cruise