Editor's Note: This property was formerly the Playa del Sol Costa Sur and the Costa Vida Vallarta.
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Costa Vida is supposedly the only hotel with a sea wall, which protects the beach from the tide and is home to a lot of different fish. I would lie on the rocks to sun and watch the boats pass by. There are kayaks available to rent. I took one out one day to check out other beaches, and I saw a few sea turtles! The wildlife in Puerto Vallarta is stunning.Resort Experience:My mom and I stayed in a studio that was beautifully decorated in Mexican colors and kept immaculate by the maids. There was a fully stocked kitchenette with a tall refrigerator that we stocked with fresh fruit from groceries bought downtown. The fridge and air-conditioning unit were kept unplugged to conserve energy, but they're easy to plug in and do an excellent job. There is also a stove, microwave, coffeemaker, and a small TV with satellite. Each room has an ocean view that is spectacular, and watching the sunset from the balcony or beach is a truly satisfying experience. The room is simple, but you won't be spending a lot of time in it. Be sure to tip the maids daily because they do an excellent job. We tipped at the end of the week, and I noticed the attention to detail declined with each day we didn't tip.
The main lobby is on the sixth floor, and the restaurants and pool are located on the ground level. The road in front of the hotel leads to either Mismaloya or the center of Puerto Vallarta. Transportation into the city is easy. Watch out for a green-and-blue bus that stops right in front of the hotel and takes you to the city. You have to walk a few more blocks to get to the Malecon. If you want to take a taxi, there are always a few nice guys chillin' in front of the hotel waiting for a patron.
There are very informal theme nights and planned activities, like cooking classes or pool volleyball, that Costa Vida schedules every day. Live music played during dinner a couple nights out of the week, too.
There are two pools, but the one in the shade is frequently abandoned. There is a towel service. The pools seemed more popular than the beach.
There are two bars in close proximity to each other and one open-air dining room with a view of the ocean. There's also a less formal dining area next to the bar. The food and drinks are surprisingly good, but the prices are similar to what you would find in America.
Amenities include a well-equipped and clean fitness room next to an Internet center, which I used frequently to keep in touch. There's a mini-mart and a fashion boutique, which are well-stocked but expensive. A trip to a supermarket downtown would offer a lot more choice for better prices.
Everybody working at Costa Vida is sweet and accommodating. We were only confronted with a timeshare presentation once, and he wasn't pushy at all. You can book tours through the hotel, but read up about some of them before you go. Costa Vida is a very intimate hotel. You get to know a lot of the employees and other guests in a very relaxed atmosphere. The amenities and services here more than make up for the size.
From journal Ending Summer in Puerto Vallarta