Sunday, April 5, 2009


Since this is a new blog spot for TravelGuy Travel, yet we've been posting reviews of our travels for quite some time, I decided to go ahead and post some reviews of our travels over the past couple of years so you can enjoy them all in one spot -- right here!

From TravelGirl --

Ocho Cascadas Review

Alex and I had the fabulous opportunity to stay at Ocho Cascadas with three friends, April 10-17, 2008. The best word to sum up our week is “WOW”! It was probably one of the most relaxing vacations we’ve ever taken in paradise.

Ocho Cascadas is located in the Conchas Chinas neighborhood of Puerto Vallarta, which is an exclusive area built into the hillside overlooking the Banderas Bay. What a spectacular view we had! All villas are open-air with no windows and very few full walls. Our visit was in April, and while there were very few bugs, each sleeping area was complete with mosquito netting to ward off any bugs while sleeping at night. There was very little humidity during the day, but it did get humid at night. There were very few bugs during the day or at night, although we did see a few bats fly in and out of our living room each night as we played games at the dining table.

We rented Villa #3 directly from the owner. Villa #3 is the only villa with a sundeck, except the Penthouse, and some call it the “Lower Penthouse”. Other villas do have a nice area to relax and get the sun, but the sundeck of Villa #3 is HUGE! Villa #3 has two bedrooms, sleeping two people each, plus two sleepers out in the living area. Our single friend slept in one of those sleepers and while it was very comfy, the sound of the outdoors (the street noise from the house below our hill could be loud at night) was sometimes too loud for him to sleep through the night. In fact, anyone who is a light sleeper may have some challenges sleeping through the night here. The villa itself was huge – over 2800 square feet including the sundeck.

We spent every day enjoying our own plunge pool, then laying on the sundeck or relaxing on the hammock while sipping a mixed drink. The kitchen came stocked with all of the appliances we needed (especially a blender J). Ocho Cascadas offered a grocery shopping service where they delivered our requested groceries in advance of our arrival, based on a grocery list we had sent in advance. We ordered enough groceries to last us 3-4 days, then made another grocery store (and liquor store – La Playa) run midway through our stay to last us the rest of the week. This proved to be a very economical and convenient way to ensure we always had ample food and beverage on hand. Additionally, Ocho Cascadas offers twice-daily maid service. Josephina came in each morning and efficiently swept, mopped, washed dishes, and took out the garbage. She did an outstanding job; it almost felt like she was part of the family!

Though we spent most of our time relaxing in the luxury of our villa, we did venture out several times to visit the city and experience some great tastes! Pipi’s is a favorite of ours for inexpensive and fun Mexican fare, so we ate there again on this trip. Boca Bento was recommended to us by some friends as a really good Pan Asian eatery, and boy were they right! The owners are very friendly and the food is very, very good as is the ambience of the space itself. Barcelona’s provided great tapas (even the potato salad appetizer was incredible!) and EXCELLENT views of the city! We spent three meals at Mama Dolores’ Diner on Olas Atlas – one dinner and two breakfasts. We HIGHLY recommend it for breakfast as the menu is huge and they offer everything from a variety of crepes to variations of eggs benedict, omelets, and the biggest fruit smoothies in town! Mama Dolores’ is a must for breakfast, but note that they are closed on Mondays.

On our third night we hired a floating chef. We placed our orders from a menu provided by the front desk, and though it is a really good deal ($25 total for five of us + the cost of groceries) the downside is that the floating chef doesn’t really know how to cook for vegetarians. Two out of five people in our group are vegetarians. Instead of cooking a real meal for the non-meat eaters, the floating chef simply removed the shrimp from their plates so their meals consisted of two side dishes – rice and vegetables – in addition to the appetizers (soup and salad). So, for anyone contemplating the floating chef – go for it only if all of your group will eat the same thing, and it involves meat or seafood. If so, it’s a screamin’ deal!

Head over to Los Muertos Beach for some good people-watching, sunning and sand. We cabbed it over there for $6, and staked out our spot next to Blue Chairs Resort under a palapa with four of us in the shade and one in the sun (me!) for a day of blue skies, sunshine, dipping in the water, eating, and drinking. As long as you order food and beverages from the beach menu, you won’t be charged for rental of the palapa and chairs. Carlos took great care of us, and helped to provide another relaxing day in paradise! We also got lucky and saw a sting ray jump out of the ocean twice!

Outside of Puerto Vallarta, we spent one day taking a bus to Mismaloya Beach. The bus stops at the bottom of the Conchas Chinas neighborhood and is an easy walk from the villa. The bus ride itself cost .60 each way per person, and took about 20 minutes to get to Mismaloya. The public beach area is located behind Hotel Barcelo and offers several options for outdoor lounging on chairs with food and beverage service. The beach wasn’t too busy, and we found out that there was a soccer game on television so many of the locals stayed home that day (on a Saturday). This meant we weren’t elbow to elbow like we’ve been on other Mexican beaches (Acapulco specifically comes to mind).

Another day we took the bus up to Sayulita for the day. We took a cab from Ocho Cascadas (cost was $10) to Wal-Mart, then caught a bus in front of Wal-Mart that took us to Sayulita (cost was $2/person). Busses to Sayulita run every 20 minutes. Once on the bus, it took about an hour or hour and a half to get to Sayulita, so be sure to leave Puerto Vallarta in the 10 o’clock hour so you can spend a full day in Sayulita. Plan on the bus ride as part of your overall experience, and a great way to see the Riviera Nayarit. Sayulita is a small fishing village with maybe 4-5 square blocks of shops and a small beach with very soft sand. The surf is perfect for boogie boarders and surfers, and we saw several people taking lessons there. This laid-back area was such a switch from the touristy areas of the Malecon and Olas Atlas areas of Puerto Vallarta. Not only did everyone seem slower paced in Sayulita, but time also seemed to pass by slower, offering another great relaxing day for us.

If I had to do it all over again I would only change two things – I would stay in the Penthouse next time (we got to tour it and it was amazing, with 3 pools and a bridge in the living room!) and I wouldn’t have more than four people in our villa. Even though the villas will sleep up to six people, the sounds from the lack of windows and doors can really be a detriment to anyone sleeping on a living room sleeper.

We loved Ocho Cascadas so much that we are already looking for a way to go back in 2010, hopefully in the Penthouse!

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