Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Spring Break Alternative: Eco-Adventure in Vallarta!

Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Join Us for a Unique Eco-Adventure!

Come explore the tropical paradise of Puerto Vallarta! This is a unique opportunity to have an active and refreshing Spring Break that you won't forget. Puerto Vallarta is a great and friendly Mexican city located on the Banderas Bay, offering the best of the ocean and beaches as well as the tropical plants and bird of the mountains.


  • Zip lines flying through the canopy of the tropical forest
  • Rappelling out of the trees
  • Water slides
  • Hiking a brackish estuary
  • exploring the Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Optional/Elective Activities

  • Snorkeling in the bay
  • Boating out to remote beaches
  • And hiking up into the mountains to explore and learn about this tropical ecosystem.
Palapas and the dining area overlooking the crashing waves
We will spend two nights out on a remote hotel compound overlooking miles and miles of pristine, undeveloped beach and hike around the estuary. This peaceful spot will be the perfect place to relax and enjoy the tropical sunshine or enjoy a cerveza, margarita, or fresh squeezed lemonade under a palapa overlooking the rolling waves.

Views from some of the cabañas
This wonderful remote hotel (circled in the picture below) was created and is run by the local community to support sustainable eco-tourism. They understand the need to protect the natural world around them and would rather have a small hotel like this rather than a large resort with hotel towers. Staying here we will have a local guide take us on a hike through the brackish estuary where we should be able to see many tropical birds.

Hotel (circled) overlooking miles of undeveloped beach

Blooming air plant (Tillandsia rothii, a bromeliad) near the hotel.
A visit to the famous and fabulous Vallarta Botanical Gardens will include exploring the wonderful plant collection specializing in orchids, walking down to the river (swimming in the cool mountain river), and margaritas with a special lunch from the Hacienda de Oro restaurant overlooking the river, mountains, and botanical gardens.

The gentle Rio Los Horcones that runs through the Botanical Gardens.

The Hacienda de Oro restaurant at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens overlooks the koi pond and toward the orchid house to one side, out to the mountains of Cabo Corrientes to another, and sweeping views of the Rio Los Horcones and mountains out toward the ocean on the third side. And the views are matched by the great food and service.

Vallarta Botanical Gardens
A bromeliad blooming at the gardens.
While staying in Vallarta, we will be staying in the Zona Romantica, the southern 'Old Town' part of Vallarta. We will be about a block and a half from the beach and within easy walks to much shopping, coffee shops, and bars. The hotel has several areas to lounge and relax on many levels of the building (below). The pool is on the second level with a pool deck, and there are patios on the third and fourth floor decks.

After everyone is familiar with Vallarta and comfortable with getting around we will have a free day to enjoy the beach some more, shop, or just sit by the pool and relax!
Raicilla, the local version of tequila even as flavored liqueurs! 
One of my favorite things to try is the locally produced raicilla (rye-SEE-ya), a version of tequila made from a local agave. If time permits we will also visit a producer and see how the raicilla (like the mescal and tequila) is made and sample the results!

Trip Details

Price of the trip includes all ground transportation for scheduled activities, hotels, most meals (including a drink with the meal), and entrance fees to the botanical gardens. We will pick you up from the Puerto Vallarta airport and drop you off.

Ground price is $1275 for the 8 days and 7 nights (March 29 through April 5) based on double occupancy. Discounts include:
  • Triple and quadruple occupancy (contact for discount)
  • $100 off when signing up as a group of 4 or more (ground cost $1175)

How to sign up

Contact us by printing, filling out, and returning the sign up form.
  • Deposit of $750 due by February 21st.
  • Sign up form due by February 21st
  • Final payment due March 14th
Trip has a minimum of 10 people.  Deposits will be refunded in full if the minimum is not met.
Deposits otherwise are not refundable.


All meals during scheduled activities will be included.  Once people are familiar with the area, I like to give them an opportunity to do as they would like...whether falling back on American food or being adventurous and searching for something new!

Getting to Puerto Vallarta

First of all, a passport and any relevant visa documents are necessary (for foreign students)!

Typically I personally fly out of Tijuana with direct flights to Puerto Vallarta. Some people feel more comfortable flying out from the San Diego airport. Let me know if you would like suggestions or have questions about the pros and cons of traveling through either airport.  If you are used to traveling in the states, I would have to say traveling through the Tijuana airport is not that intimidating (and people are always very willing to help).

Money in Vallarta/Mexico

You can come prepared by arranging with your local bank to take some pesos with you or simply let your bank know that you will be traveling so you can use your credit cards and debit cards. I usually bring some pesos with me but I also frequently get cash out of ATMs with my debit card. Look into which way would be best for yourself and save the most on exchange fees. Usually places to exchange pesos for dollars charge higher fees than doing it through your bank before you leave. It is recommended to have some cash to buy souvenirs, extra snacks, drinks, etc.