Punta Serena – Ahhhh!! Romantic Mexico, adults only
He says: The coolest place I’d never heard of.
She says: I love turtles!
And now for something completely different
Never heard of Punta Serena? We hadn’t either prior to an invitation for a lazy week of pampering. Picture a half-moon bay with a peninsula of elevated land in the middle of the arc. The small resort is perched cliff-side with views of dolphins and whales frolicking and of the idyllic beaches on each side – the south side is adults only and clothing optional – the north side has a medium sized family friendly resort (completely separated by the peninsula).
Where the heck is Punta Serena?
To get here, Fly to Puerto Vallarta, rent a car and drive 3 hours south to the Bay of Tenacatita, or fly to Manzanillo and drive an hour north (or arrange a transfer). Flights to Puerto Vallarta are far more plentiful and cheaper so it ends up being cheaper overall and you have a rental car at your disposal for excursions (but ours remained parked at the resort for most of the week). Driving in Mexico in this part of the country is safe, but we would not recommend doing it at night. The drive is quite scenic, but not well lit and we’ve heard stories about other drivers getting a little crazy.
It was like an unexpected second honeymoon
Punta Serena is all-inclusive and very low key. The food is excellent and elegant featuring local seafood with incredible views from the open air dining room – the sunsets were amazing. By the end of the week we had sampled pretty much the entire menu so it might get repetitive if you stayed longer (but still yummy). The drinks are good too, though the service isn’t speedy. Of the very few guests who were there, another couple was also from Denver and we’ve really enjoyed their friendship!
The best activities at Punta Serena?
Chillin’ with a book or a kindle and relaxing – at the pool, at the beach, in the recreation room or the hammock on the patio of your own room! There are only 24 rooms here so at most 48 guests. You have the option of a half mile of private, adult-only, clothing optional beach nearly to yourself – it’s a long set of stairs to get there, but well worth it. The beach is wide and flat, the shoreline slopes gently into the surf with no abrupt drop off. During our week, there were never more than a dozen folks. The waves were about 3 feet high and very nice for body surfing and water temperature was quite comfortable in January. Frisbee conditions were also great. Other relaxation options: poolside near the restaurant, cliff-side hot tubs (really more like warm tubs, which was just right) with iguanas roaming the cliffs, or on the patio of your room overlooking the beach. Punta Serena also has a full service spa. We both sampled a nice massage with a view. And then there are the turtles…
Turtles are an aphrodisiac? Who knew?
At least it’s true for Sheila. I’m not talking about eating turtle soup – I’m talking about temporary turtle adoption. This resort has lots of positives, but the most memorable aspect is the nightly release of baby sea turtles – with resort guests as each turtle’s personal safety escorts. Local biologists save turtle eggs by transplanting them to fenced-in enclosures (protected from scavengers). Some eggs hatch every day and the baby turtles are temporarily placed in a bathtub sized pond where they are again protected – from sun and predators – and it gives them a chance to get stronger. At sunset, folks line up a few feet apart on the beach about 30 yards from the water’s edge, at about where the original nests might have been. The biologist delivers one baby turtle to each guest and explains the rules – basically, set your turtle gently in the sand, stand back and watch as it struggles on its way to the sea and fights its way through the waves, staying a few feet away and protecting it from hungry birds and crabs. Everybody leaves this event in a happy mood. Sheila gets extra happy!!
Want some local Mexican culture?
You’ll have to drive a little bit to find it. Barra de Navidad is less than a half hour away (check out the Crocodile preserve – enormous beasts). Manzanillo is a little over an hour away. Isla Navidad is a huge fancy resort with excellent views, elegant restaurants, a huge marina, and three gorgeous golf courses – not true Mexican culture, but still worth a visit.
If you tire of the peace and quiet of Punta Serena, you can climb down the other stairs to the north beach where the family resort is. Here you find 3 more restaurants, a small nightclub, a much larger pool, and activity directors on their bullhorn directing pool games, water aerobics, or other group fun. There were also small sailboats, kayaks, and a few other water toys to check out. It’s all well done, but we spent very little time there. The two resorts are owned by the same company, so guests of Punta Serena have access to both resorts (but not vice-versa, since it’s for adults only).
A small group of us arranged an excursion cruising around the Tenacatita Bay. They took us to some very scenic spots – interesting off-shore islands and a private beach. We got close to some dolphins, but the whales were being a bit shy. The snorkeling was OK but nothing compared to most Caribbean locations. We chose our excursion day poorly as it was the most stormy and rough of the week. Most days were flat calm.
We also reserved another boat ride (included in the resort activities) on a narrow river lined with mangroves. Never saw any crocs, but lots of exotic birds, spiders, and crabs.
Internet access was pretty good near the main lounging areas, though we didn’t use it often.
Casa Amorita in Puerto Vallarta
We added a couple nights at a bed-n-breakfast in Puerto Vallarta at the end of our stay. We highly recommend Casa Amorita, near downtown. It has great charm, delicious breakfast and a lovely hostess!
Sheila says: Rita is delightful and Casa Amorita was hand built combining Mexican, Moorish, Aztec, and Spanish styles. See our review and others on TripAdvisor.
A few more photos:
Trip Date: January 2013