A January 2007 trip
to Puerto Vallarta by Koala_D
Quote: Puerto Vallarta is a favorite vacation city for me! It is centrally located, and there are day trips to be taken in all directions!
Attraction | "San Sebastian Day Tour"
I had always wanted to visit the picturesque mountain town of San Sebastian, but didn't want to endure the long bus ride. Recently, a new highway was built which connects Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara east through the Sierra Madres...so I decided to take a bus tour from Puerto Vallarta. (You may also take a local bus there--very inexpensive -- but it will make many stops along the way.)
All-day tours begin early, and you will travel through many small towns during the two-hour drive. It's a very scenic ride, so bring a camera. The road is good (except during the rainy season), and eventually you will start winding upward through the mountains. The tour will stop at a small family-run arcilla factory- "Parador San Sebastian." Of course, you will get a tour...and free samples!
When you reach San Sebastian, at 4,500 ft elevation, the first thing you see is a small (very small) coffee plantation. We purchased two bags of coffee, and it was packaged fresh as we waited! The guide will then show you around the town, and you must visit the Casa Museo de Dona Conchita. You might even meet Conchita, an elderly woman with great stories of early San Sebastian. It was once a wealthy gold-mining town with a population of 30,000 in its early days, but now there are only about 600 residents. With the new highway I expect the population will increase soon. Be sure to visit the local 18th century church dedicated to San Sebastian, and then wander through the small shops surrounding the cobblestone plaza in the center of town.
By now you may want to sit and rest on one of the benches here. People are friendly...be sure to smile and say "Hola!" Finally, don't miss lunch! Unfortunately, I didn't notice the name of this good restaurant (ends with "Lupita"), but it is located at the beginning of town on the right. The food was wonderful, the service was great, and the servers and cooks here were happy and friendly.
If you would like to stay several days, the nicest hotel is Hacienda Jalisco. It has 10 rooms,but earlier this year still had no electricity or phones. It is not inexpensive- about $80 nightly. Other hotels are about $40 per night.Several companies offer tours: Vallarta Adventure is by van, and the others are in large air-conditioned motorcoaches. Prices vary, but the tour should be under $100.
And...when you leave San Sebastian...you know you will be back someday!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 26, 2007
San Sebastian Expeditions
A top the Sierra Madre
San Sebastian del Oeste, Mexico not applicable
My favorite day-trip from Puerto Vallarta! I have taken this bus tour four times, and I have always seen something new and different each time. I recommend it for singles, families, young, and old! It always begins with a pick-up at your hotel early in the morning, but it's acceptable to snooze on the bus. They are comfortable motorcoaches with air-conditioning. The guides are very good at providing information and history of the area during the trip.
Soon after leaving Puerto Vallarta you cross into the state of Nayarit to the north. Bucerias is the next town... they have a great beach, and even nicer beaches a little farther at Destilladeras and Punta Mita. You may take local buses for about $2.50 each way from Puerto Vallarta if you'd like to enjoy those beaches. We eventually turn north to Sayulita on Highway 200, and then pass San Francisco, a sleepy little place that I instantly fell in love with. We stopped here for breakfast (included in tour), and it was great. We had time to visit the beach, which was very nice and uncrowded.
Later, you turn off the main highway and head west toward the ocean. You see long rolling fields of corn, tobacco, and watermelons. Also, John Deere tractors... (quite a few of them), and occasionally the horse/mule and plow! As you get nearer to the coast the road climbs and you wind along through beautiful scenery until you round a corner-- and there's the ocean down below!
As you get nearer San Blas, your driver may stop quickly to buy a "Jack Fruit" to share. One will feed all of you! Be sure to try it if you get a chance.
Our first tour stop is at the La Tovarra River. Here you board boats with outboard motors, and head upriver at a leisurely pace. The tall mangrove roots at this end of the river are really something! Eventually they give way to very tall grasses on either side, and lots of sunshine.
Most likely, the first wildlife you see will be birds. It could be an egret, white crane , cormorant drying its wings, hawk, or many other birds. On every trip we've also spotted crocodiles on the bank and tortoises sunning on logs. You eventually reach a crocodile facility where you can get out of the boats and stretch. I enjoyed seeing the tiny baby crocs! After a while you head back down the river, and reboard the bus to San Blas.
There isn't a lot in town, but it's fun to look around and shop quickly. Then you visit a fort on a hill overlooking the town and surrounding areas. The view is breath-taking up there! Old cannons, an old church, and gardens are great for picture-taking. It's time for lunch (included) at a beach restaurant. It's usually fresh fish or fajitas... very tasty. Then, you may take a leisurely stroll on the wide sandy beach before you head home. The bus is usually quiet, and you'll probably have a beautiful sunset waiting for you in Puerto Vallarta!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 27, 2007
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 13, 2007
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 13, 2007
Olympic Peninsula, Washington