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San Pancho/Nuevo Vallarta trip

When did we go….

  • Nov 22 – Dec 3, 2022



Why did we go…

  • it was a belated (2 years after the fact) trip with our friends, Geoff and Lynn, to their timeshare in Nuevo Vallarta, and we tacked on a few days prior in San Pancho
  • our friend Saskia had suggested San Pancho as a more quaint alternative to Sayulita, which was where we had initially intended to stay
  • we were joined at the timeshare by Craig, Janet, Gerard, and Carolyn



How did we get there…

  • 5 hour direct flight from Calgary to Puerto Vallarta and the same on the return
  • 1 hour drive from the airport to our hotel in San Pancho
  • 1 hour drive from our hotel in San Pancho to our resort in Nuevo Vallarta
  • 15 minute drive from our hotel in Nuevo Vallarta to the Puerto Vallarta airport



Where did we stay…

San Pancho:

  • Palmar Hotel Tropical
  • boutique hotel in the heart of the town
  • nice ground floor room with a separate bedroom, large outdoor patio, and fronting onto a quaint pool area
  • massage services and a yoga area

Nuevo Vallarta:

  • Marival Distinct Luxury Residences
  • we were in a two bedroom unit with Gerard and Carolyn
  • beautiful ocean view from our patio to view the sunsets and hang out with a book
  • nice beach area including paddleboards, boogie boards, kayaks and Hobie Cats
  • several restaurants with very good food but questionable service, especially at the beach restaurant



Where did we eat…

San Pancho:

  • Barracuda (dinner, lovely setting on the main street watching the local action, good food and service)
  • Bistro Organico (breakfast, nice courtyard setting at the Hotel Cielo Rojo, healthy food and drink options)
  • San Pancho Marino (lunch, restaurant just opened, very friendly owner and staff, good food and watched Canada vs. Belgium soccer game)
  • Dolce Jardin (dinner, worst margarita ever, missed our appetizer, penne pasta was very good).
  • Yah Yah Café (breakfast, in Sayulita, healthy food, and a fun conversation with a couple from Denver – the chap was wearing a Red Bull hat, and I had on my Ferrari hat)
  • Ikan Cocina Marina (lunch, excellent ceviche, great service, tasty nonalcoholic drinks, quaint setting, nice chat with some folks that lived north of Pemberton)
  • Limbo (dinner, wonderful band entertaining us with an amazing lead singer, good food and shared my pork shoulder with a local dog)
  • Amar Y Ya (breakfast, sister restaurant to Yah Yah in Sayulita, great chow, nice outdoor patio on a quiet side street, beautiful golden retriever hanging out in the restaurant)
  • Tierra Tropical Beach Club (lunch, nice view overlooking the ocean, healthy cuisine)
  • Barracuda (dinner, 2nd time there, great chow and beverages, fun street dancing fire performers)
  • Puntas Las Olas (had lunch from one of the food kiosks while watching some of the World Cup soccer)

Nuevo Vallarta:

  • restaurants at our hotel (all were very good food, but service was slow at the beach restaurant)
  • Casa Triskell (lunch, Bucerias, French restaurant, nice ambiance, good chow and service)
  • Toscana Mia (dinner, Bucerias, excellent food, fun ambiance)
  • Hacienda San Angel (dinner, Puerto Vallarta, dined with our friends Brian and Sherry, spectacular historic property, amazing views, excellent band)



What did we do…

San Pancho:

  • had drinks and listened to music at Punta Las Olas (great band and a fun visit with one of the band members)
  • listened to more live music at Gipsy (fun, open-aired venue with some interesting people watching)
  • enjoyed live music and street dancers on the main street at San Pancho Marino while chatting with the owner, who is a friend of the famous skateboarder, Tony Hawk
  • hung out at the beach (played in the water, caught some rays, read, and people watched)
  • had massages at our hotel on the rooftop (a bit of a backrub but probably still good for us)
  • watched the beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean every evening (amazing colors and a fun beach vibe)
  • watched the birds at the estuary at the beach (
  • checked out the local shops but didn’t find anything exciting enough to purchase
  • toured Sayulita (got lost on a country road trying to find the cemetery, walked the beach, checked out the main square and a few shops but were generally a bit underwhelmed vs. the vibe in San Pancho)
  • had head and foot reflexology at El Estar beside our hotel (very unique experience of getting our feet/legs washed down with various fruits and flowers, Mare had to endure a male sex education class happening in the tent beside her)
  • enjoyed drinks and live music at Cerveceria Artesenal (chatted with a nice young couple from Whistler)
  • spent part of a day at Tierra Tropical Beach Club (nice upscale facility right on the ocean, large pool, nice dining area, had to walk on cobblestone streets to get there so we took the beach route on the way home)
  • watched the Mexico vs. Argentina World Cup soccer game with the locals at Cheko’s (got roped into a tequila shot straight from the bottle)

Nuevo Vallarta:

  • hung out at the beach reading, tossing the football, paddleboarding, kayaking, yoga, pilates, and getting massages
  • played pickleball at the sister resort
  • rode bikes into Bucerias
  • took a catamaran ride to Yelapa (walked through the village, visited a waterfall, hung out at the beach) and a private beach (watched people fall off their paddleboards)
  • took a driving tour north of Nuevo Vallarta through Nayarit Uncovered Tours (guides Renee and Joshua were great, San Pancho breakfast/walk, hike from Los Ayala to Playa Del Toro ocean lookout, hidden beach and boat ride back to Playa Del Toro, amazing lunch of various fruits at a roadside fruit stand, hike to the historic Altavista/Kings Pool petroglyph site)
  • toured Bucerias checking out the vibe, which was decent but not overwhelming
  • watched the Flames lose to the Habs at YoYo’s sports bar in Bucerias
  • toured Puerto Vallarta, checking out a few of the districts and the cool metal sculptures along the Malecon boulevard bordering the ocean (also bought a beautiful rug woven by people from the Oaxaca region)




San Pancho:

  • San Pancho is a small beach town with a unique relaxed atmosphere, cool people from all over the world, nice little shops and restaurants, surrounded by amazing jungle and ocean landscapes
  • it is located at Riviera Nayarit, Mexico, one hour drive north of Puerto Vallarta Airport and less than a 10 minute drive north of Sayulita
  • in Mexico, “Pancho” is the short name for Francisco, the official name of the village is San Francisco, but everybody lovingly calls it San Pancho

Nuevo Vallarta:

  • with 5 kilometers (3 mi) of golden beaches, luxurious resorts & condominiums, multiple golf courses, and first-class infrastructure, Nuevo Vallarta is considered one of the best beach destinations in Mexico
  • it has the 2nd highest number of hotels and resorts in the country (after Cancun, of course)
  • in addition, it has very exclusive restaurants and two of the country’s most important marinas
  • nestled between Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias, this master-planned resort & condominium community features some of the most luxurious vacation home rentals and hotel



What did we not do that is on the agenda for next time:

San Pancho:

  • visit some of the other small villages north of San Pancho
  • visit the Community Cultural Center (it was closed when we dropped by)
  • watch and try polo at the local club

Nuevo Vallarta:

  • take a boat ride to Marietas Islands
  • check out more villages/towns in the area
  • visit the botanical gardens in Puerto Vallarta



Final thoughts:

  • the weather was beautiful, with highs of 30 and lows of 20
  • it caught us off guard that so many things had to be paid for in pesos, which resulted in many trips to the ATM
  • the number of dogs in San Pancho seemed to outnumber the people (they were all healthy looking and generally roaming free without leashes)
  • it was funny in San Pancho (such a small village) that we kept running into the same people and created nicknames for them (Buttcrack Man, Red, Gimpy Guy)