When you go to Puerto Vallarta, you’re likely staying at an all inclusive resort with a beach, some activities, a buffet, and the like.
When booking the Las Caletas tour with Vallarta Adventures know that you are basically booking what you already have at your hotel, but somewhere else.Our Las Caletas By Day tour had an 11:30a pick up at the Marina Vallarta and we were back at the dock by 6p. It was a catamaran tour across Banderas Bay to a secluded hideaway that once belonged to John Huston. Once you ge to the property, there’s kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling, a spa, hammocks, and .. a kid’s adventure park. This is the true star of this excursion.
When you land you are escorted to a gorgeous buffet lunch that far exceeded anything we had seen at our own Crown Paradise Club. Ribs, chicken, paella, salads, and more lined the tables.
We had a quick nosh and then hustled around the meandering pathways of the retreat until we found the Kid’s Adventure Park. The maps could be better, we had to ask three times where to go, but we got there on time.
This was what Zacharie had been looking forward to, a chance to zip line in the jungle. Charlie would get to tag along as well, and he was very excited.
After a quick briefing, the kids were hustled up a hill to a cage where monkeys were called and ran across their heads. Then the monkeys stopped and posed with each child as a staff photog grabbed pics.
Get used to the up sell on these tours. While the Las Caletas By Day trip is not cheap (US$99 for adults, US$70 for kids) they will try to sell you tshirts, bandanas, and photos at every turn. To order images through their website, they want $19.99 for each download. We bought a CD at the Vallarta Adventures airport kiosk on the way home, and they charged us US$60 ($30 each kid) for all the images taken of us during our excursion. So watch out.
So the kids were in a cage getting monkeyed, and then they were hustled up to another point to board a donkey. This is where mom and dad came in as we had to drag the child and donkey up a hill for a couple of hundred metres to the start of the jungle trek.
The kids were then ushered off with the guides to go rock climbing, repelling, and more far out of our sight. Of course the staff photog was in tow to grab all the moments for us.
The grand finale is a zip line right in front of the parents to the delight of all. It was a fun hour for the boys, and a little odd for the parents. We fully didn’t know what to expect and things like the donkey ride and ferrying the kids away from us without us really knowing their location or an itinerary didn’t sit well with some.
That routine ate up more than half of our time at Las Caletas. We spent the next hour or so digging in the sand, paddling a kayak, and relaxing on the beach. There’s also a spa at the retreat, you can book massages (extra fee) on board the boat en route, scuba diving (extra fee) and other activities you can do when hanging out at Las Caletas.
It was an expensive half day at someone else’s resort, but the boys were thrilled with the adventure park.
The ride back from Las Caletas afforded another opportunity to try and spot some whales in the bay. Whale watching season in Puerto Vallarta is between October and the end of February, when humpback whales can be seen in Banderas Bay. We were lucky to spot 2 small pods of whales on our return trip home after being chased by some bottle-nosed dolphins on the way to the beach.
Tip of the cap to the crew of this tour. They worked hard. Even the lamest of pitches to flog tshirts was turned in to a fashion show from the bartender and captain and the host tried his best to kick up the energy and make sure everyone had fun. At the beach on the resort, they were tossing around gear to give everyone a chance and tried for smiles at every turn. We dropped a heavy tip in the hat at the end because this team genuinely deserved it.
That said, the value for money for the entire excursion is not quite there. We loved the adventure park, and seeing the whales, but the rest where things we paid a premium for, instead of just experiencing for free at our own resort. When you add up the extras they try to sell you, it can get to be a very expensive half day.
Thank you to Visit Puerto Vallarta for helping arrange some of the excursions during our vacation.
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