Santa Maria Boat Trip: Free for us since we attended a TS sale pitch. Get to the Port at the Marina early (we were 17 & 18 out of 128+). They do a good job of lining up everybody in ticket sequence. This is where your advantage is; you load the boat by ticket number. We should have gotten on the Starboard (right) side to avoid the blazing sun out and back. Instead, we sat on the Port side on the main deck. It was recommended by someone else the day prior (that was cloudy). The left side offers a view of Puerto Vallarta on the out trip southbound to Los Arcos. My wife did not snorkel. So she got to see the raging fish when the crew threw some bread overboard. When you get to Las Animas beach, you get a choice of getting off and eating right away and spend 3-4 hours on the beach enjoying banana boat rides, parasailing, or free kayaking. If you stay on, you get to ride horses ($125 pesos per person) or hike 30-45 minutes up hill to the waterfall. If you choose the water fall excursion, you aren’t fed until you get back to Las Animas beach, which for us, was 4 p.m.
Shopping Downtown: If you go downtown for shopping, avoid the days when cruise ships come in. While waiting for the bus to take up on a Tuesday, someone mentioned that the Cruise ships were there. We hadn’t even considered this. The ships sailed into port at 0800 on Wednesday, the day we took the Santa Maria Boat tour.
Getting Around: We had never been to the Puerto Vallarta area of Mexico. We accepted the Resort’s offer to provide transportation from the Airport to the Mayan Palace. In a way it was good in that we were deviated away from any TimeSharks. But it cost us more than twice ($27) a normal taxi cost ($10) for a one way trip for the two of us and our bags. After establishing ourselves, the receptionists helped us in learning our way around. The first night, we took the Palace bus (free) to the Sea Market where we hoped onto a local bus ($1 ea.) to get to the Wal-Mart for foodstuffs. Later for a shopping day, we took the same bus hops and got off the Local bus at Las Glorias Beach to get onto a city bus ($0.40 ea.) to downtown.
At the Mayan Palace Resort
Pool: The pool is super large as they state. If you’re thirsty early, bring your own drink. The Balche snack bar doesn’t open until 1100. The activities staff does a good job of getting guests involved. They start off slow with Tai Chi, and then speed it up later with beach volleyball among other contests for children. We got to the pool about noon on Thursday. This must have been the busiest day. We walked around for about ten minutes before we found lounges to use. Though there were lounge chairs down on the beach available to sit in.
Train: There is a little train that circles the grounds once every 30 minutes. It is short now but will be a nice trip once the Grand Mayan gets finished.
Kayaks: There are kayaks to use free for owners, $5 for exchangers. We passed because it was too hot and muggy.