#Teamcation2017: LoungeBuddy's 3rd Annual Retreat (Part 2)

This post is Part 2 of our full length feature. Click here to navigate to Part 1.

Vallarta Adventures Outdoor Adventure Tour

One of the highlights of our trip was going on the Vallarta Adventures Outdoor Adventure tour. This full day tour starts off with a speed boat ride, an off-road expedition, and a mule ride up a mountain. Then, the real fun begins with some of Mexico’s highest and fastest zip lines, two great water slides, rappeling down the rock face next to a waterfall, and a vertical descent from a metal platform floating in the air into a shallow body of water. Tons of fun indeed!

On the morning of the tour, we got up early and headed down to the Marina Vallarta Maritime Terminal for the first portion. After going through a brief security check, we headed over to the Vallarta Adventures booth to sign our waivers, put on our wristbands, and meet our first guide for the day. Nearby, there was a large seating area for passengers to relax while waiting for their boat tours to begin, along with vendors selling food, clothing, and souvenirs.

After a brief wait, we walked down to the pier to board our high speed inflatable boat. Once everyone was onboard, we set off on the exhilarating speedboat ride, which provided great views of Puerto Vallarta, the Hyatt Ziva resort that we were staying, and later, Los Arcos, a group of beautiful granite islands protruding from the Bay of Banderas. These islands, which have been protected as a National Marine Park since 1984, are popular as a scuba diving and snorkeling destination.

Inflation is great for this inflatable speedboat

Beautiful hillside villa compounds dot the gorgeous coast of the Bay of Banderas

Water taxis and fishing boats line Boca de Tomatlan’s seashore

Water taxis dropping off travelers and cargo at the village pier

Capping off the speed boat portion of our tour, we stopped on the secluded beach of Boca De Tomatlan, or mouth of the tomato. This was the quiant little fishing village where we stopped for lunch on our previous trip, and the relaxing, easygoing atmosphere hasn’t changed at all. We walked through town and made our way up to the main road, Puerto Vallarta’s own version of California’s Highway 1. Here, we got into our yellow 4 by 4 Mercedes Benz Unimogs, which would take us to a base camp deep in the heart of the Sierra Madre Mountains for the most exhilarating portion of the tour.

Don’t know about the guy on the left, but I give this walking tour a magnificent two thumbs up

Walking up one of the village’s main thoroughfares on our way to the trucks

An entire row of smiling faces are sitting on the opposite bench

The truck had two benches facing one another in the back. The ride was quite bumpy, and dust was inevitable as the truck sped through unpaved dirt roads, but this was all a part of the adventure. Eventually, we made it to Vallarta Adventures’ base camp.

After our guides gave a brief introduction on some basics for the tour ahead, we put all of our valuables and nonessential belongings into a bag, got suited up with the proper ziplining gear, and off we went.

Unfortunately, because of the nature of the tour, we were not allowed to bring our cameras along, which explains the distinct lack of photos in this next section. However, a photographer did come along with the group to periodically take photos. If you’d like, you can purchase said photos at the conclusion of the tour.

To get started, we walked across the first of several wooden rope bridges to the stables where the mules were stationed. The mules were all saddled up and ready to go. After a brief tutorial, we each got up on our own individual mules and started the trek up the hill.

After quenching our thirsts, we set out to conquer the first zipline. The first person didn’t exactly kick things off with an auspicious start, but was able to pull himself back effortlessly into the thick of things. After this, we went on one or two more ziplines before rappeling down the rock face next to the waterfall. Next, we ziplined straight into a pool of cold mountain water before climbing up to disembark on the first water slide of the course. For this first water slide, we got onto a mat, two persons at a time, one in front and the other in the back, and down we went. Very refreshing and exciting!

During the next part, we shook things up a bit with some variations of the standard zipline. On one zipline, we went two persons at a time, with one looking forward and the other looking back, descending rapidly through the thick canopy to certain safety. The “Surfing Safari” themed zip line, another customized zipline, had two people standing on top of a wooden platform, back-to-back - one facing the left and the other facing the right. On one of the final ziplines, we descended upside down, racing against the next person in line, who went down on a parallel line. Winners did not receive any extra material benefits, but pride was involved, and pride is paramount.

In the midst of all the ziplining excitement, we were also roped down vertically from a metal platform in the canopy into a large pool of water at the bottom. The grand finale of the course was a thrilling waterslide called La Banana Loca, with a vertigo inducing height of 35 meters (115 feet) and length of 258 meters (846 feet). The water slide started off with a quick steep drop at the beginning, followed by a bunch of horizontal loops before reaching the end.

Once we made it to the bottom of the water slide, we were treated to dry towels, along with fresh slices of melon and some juice and water for hydration. From here, we walked back to the base camp and changed into fresh sets of clothes. Our tour guides then provided some great parting words, thanking us for taking the tour and spreading the word about the other Vallarta Adventure tours that we can take in the future. One of these alternative tours includes a superman zipline, where you can lie down on your stomach while accelerating down through the canopy at top speed.

The photographer from the tour was able to upload all the photos taken on the course fairly quickly. By the time we made it to nearby shop/store area, there were a bunch of screens set up for us to look through the photos and choose the ones that we wanted to buy. We walked a little further out to an area with a picnic table, where we could wait for the 4 x 4 truck to pick us up for the return journey. Nearby, there was a stall where we could grab some complimentary bananas, as well as tortilla chips and homemade salsa. To pass the time, we tried our hands at the sport of archery. A free shot of tequila awaited whoever could hit the bullseye on the board.

Agave plants abound on this grassy field within the base camp complex

Hit the yellow part of the board for a free shot of tequila. Hit the red, and you’ll be buying everyone else shots. Still interested?

Yes, let’s do this!

The bumpy ride back was no match for our feelings of joy and contentment

The dock is a consistent hub of activity with water taxis and boats coming and going

The strong afternoon sun shines down on golden sand and glistening waters

The Outdoor Adventure tour was a lot of fun, and everyone on our team certainly enjoyed it. The Vallarta Adventures site makes the claim that many people have referred to the experience as one of the greatest adventures on earth. This may sound hyperbolic at first glance, but it’s actually not too far off the mark. With seven different ziplines, including some of the highest and longest in Mexico, as well as two amazing water slides, this tour is a must-do when you’re in Puerto Vallarta.

Downtown Puerto Vallarta

Although we spent quite a bit of time at the Hyatt Ziva resort to get the most out of the all-inclusive experience, a trip to Puerto Vallarta is never complete without a visit to the beautiful historic part of the city.

Based on our taxi driver’s recommendation, we stopped at a streetside taco stand, Taqueria “El Moreno”. We tried several different variants of tacos, with toppings like carne asada, adobada (marinated chicken), birria (meat dressed in a spicy stew), and tripa (tripe). The tacos, with fresh handmade tortillas, were all very delicious, particularly the adobada.

This taco stand on the side of the road comes highly recommended

This is where the handmade tortillas are made

Two perfectly crafted chicken adobada tacos, with onions, beans, cilantro, handmade tortillas and sauce

After this, we headed across the street to Mariscos El Guero for some seafood tacos and tostadas with their special toppings, marlin and shrimp. The restaurant provides a smorgasbord of sauces for each table so that everyone has all that they need to enhance their meal. There was catsup, a bunch of salsas, worcestershire sauce, and Maggi seasoning sauce. A common denominator across all of these sauces is their relatively high umami content. The food was excellent, and it’s no surprise that this delightful spot is a hit among locals and tourists alike.

Love and marlin tostadas are all you need at this popular seafood restaurant

The Old Town’s Farmers’ Market, held at Parque Lazaro Cardenas, is a short walk away. The park’s namesake, Lazaro Cardenas, is one of Mexico’s most celebrated presidents, and the park features a statue of him giving a speech in a triumphant pose. The farmer’s market was quite crowded and clearly very popular, particularly with members of Puerto Vallarta’s sizable expatriate community. You’ll find tons of stands offering fresh produce, crafts, clothing, and prepared food items. Visitors on the go can patronize food and drink stands offering freshly made pizza, sausages, Thai food, and horchatas.

Neopolitan brick oven pizzas are just one of the Farmer’s Market’s many offerings

This is a great area to sit down and relax in the shade

This bronzed man is working hard to get the donkey to move

It’s a beautiful day to walk and check out the goods on offer

Lazaro Cardenas, one of the most renowned leaders in Mexican history

This musical instruments booth adds to the vibrant atmosphere

After filling up on the farmer’s market’s amazing food, we took a leisurely stroll, enjoying the amazing waterfront’s fascinating sights. We walked from the beautiful Los Muertos Pier and the popular accompanying Los Muertos Beach on the south side all the way up to the famous row of four arches, Los Arcos, at the outdoor ampitheater.

Los Muertos Pier, another one of Puerto Vallarta’s iconic landmarks

The pedestrian pier weaves left and right before taking visitors to a circular roundabout

Playa de los Muertos, the most popular beach within city limits

Local fishermen and tourists meet at the end of this dock

A flock of white beach umbrellas provide plenty of relief from the intense midday sun

Souvenirs combining the best of both worlds - Lucha Libre and the NFL

Local businesses sponsoring the construction of this beautiful mosaic wall

As a tourist, it’s very difficult to run out of things to do

Maritime themed restaurants dot the course of the waterfront

Honesty is the best policy

This stretch of the Malecon takes you up and over the Rio Cuale

Oscar’s Restaurant is located on this island in the middle of the Cuale’s delta

Families enjoying their day cooling off at the shallow end of the river

Children running around in the area where the Cuale empties into the sea

To the right is a pathway that takes you to lush and green Isla Rio Cuale

On the left side of the island, a tequila distillery offers free tastings

Arizona State fans and alumni will feel right at home here

This dancing couple is having a grand old time on the Malecon boardwalk

Rocky section of the waterfront

The outdoor ampitheater in the center of town, with palm trees covering the historic church tower in the background

The little seahorse sculpture is one of Puerto Vallarta’s iconic landmarks on the Malecon

Reflection

This year’s LoungeBuddy retreat to Puerto Vallarta was a whirlwind of great fun, relaxation, and excitement. According to some of our team members, it was one of the premiere highlights of their time with the company. After all the hard work and efforts that we’ve collectively contributed over the past year to fuel LoungeBuddy’s expansion, a bit of relaxation on the beach was just what we needed to rest and recuperate.

One last look at the south end of the resort for our last sunset there

After returning to Puerto Vallarta, we can confirm that it is still going strong as the friendliest city in the world, despite plenty of valiant challenges from rival cities. With its friendly people, gorgeous nature and climate, and the excellent value that it offers at an affordable pricepoint, Puerto Vallarta will undoubtedly continue to be one of Mexico’s most sought-after leisure destinations for the foreseeable future. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit just yet, be sure to add it to your list.

The sun sets as another amazing journey comes to a close

As our team continues to expand, the time-tested maxim “the more, the merrier” certainly applied for our trip this year, and we believe wholeheartedly that this will be the case even more next time around. If you’d like to join the LoungeBuddy team, help contribute to LoungeBuddy’s brighter tomorrow, and make next year’s retreat the best yet, be sure check out our Angellist profile and apply for a position today!

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