Puerto Vallarta was one of three ports at which
the ship stopped, and unfortunately the ship only spent about
eight hours at each port. Many guests took advantage of the
few hours they had at Puerto Vallarta by signing up for an
onshore excursion. I chose ATV riding at Hacienda Ranch, just
one of the activities offered. Others chose horseback riding,
dune buggy riding, hiking, and biking. One of the most popular
activities was the canopy adventure, where guests swung to
and from a series of platforms mounted in the trees about 30
to 100 feet above the ground.
All participants in the ATV ride were briefed on how to operate
an ATV quad and had to wear a helmet, goggles, and handkerchief
to protect their face from dust. Because tour guides in the United
States are strict and overly cautious with their guests (because
they don’t want any lawsuits), I thought the Mexican guides
would be the same way. However, they were very relaxed and trusting.
The tour guides were concerned for our safety, but they also
let us have fun,” said Honolulu Community College student,
The following two hours were unforgettable. With adrenaline pumping
and the sun beating down, we hit speeds of up to 40 m.p.h. on
the dusty trails near the mountains. We maneuvered through little
villages, up rocky steep hills, and through running rivers. I
felt like a kid playing in the dirt without a care in the world.
By the end of the day, my clothes were drenched from river water,
and my skin was white from trail dust.
The best part was the last 20 minutes of the ride when they let
us loose,” said Jaber. “We had a field day plunging
into the river.”
After returning to the ranch and putting away our equipment,
we were treated to a free lunch— authentic Mexican tacos
with hand-made tortillas, all the trimmings, and bottled water
or beer. A mariachi band played through lunch and guests shopped
at little stores adjacent to the dining area. A boy, about 15,
sold tiles painted by hand—literally, no brush.
The climax of the excursion was a tour of the tequila factory,
also on the ranch property, where we learned what different tequilas
are used for and the Mexican way of tasting tequila.
First smell it, then take a deep breathe in and out, then tilt
the head back and pour the entire shot down the throat until
it hits the stomach, and inhale once more so the taste overwhelms
your senses,” said the local expert.
Good thing we did the tasting after we rode the ATVs! Many people
bought tequila bottles to take back home. A bus tour of the countryside,
a two-hour ATV ride, lunch, and tequila tasting, were all for
a mere $99. It was worth it.
For those planning a trip to Mexico any time soon, Puerto Vallarta
is very rich in culture, and if you only have a day, Hacienda
Ranch will definitely be an unforgettable experience and well
worth the money.