Christmas Eve is here as I board the plane, destination Puerto Vallarta. I return to one of my overall favorite countries for the holidays, with this being my first time in PV.

Puerto Vallarta is vastly different from other areas I have been to in Mexico. Lush mountains that seem to rise directly up from the sea, a crescent half moon landscape that holds a beautiful ocean bay teeming with life. A laid back vibe overcomes me as I Uber my way through old town.

My hotel is on the southern end of the bay, quiet and serene with the jungle on one side, the ocean on the other. I quickly get checked in, and start seeing what I can do on Christmas Day, the only time I don’t have a scheduled activity.

I find my hotel offers hiking in the mountains behind us. I sign up, and on Christmas morning I find myself at the beginning of the Garza Blanca trail.

It is a perfect morning full of blue skies and mild temperatures as we get started. Soon though things get pretty intense, with steep mountain climbs and some precarious canyon crossings that require the use of ropes to continue onward.

Up and over the first mountain we go, stopping to enjoy the ocean view from the summit. We try to spot whales, but no luck this morning. We get back down to the jungle floor and hike along the Garza Blanca river, going deep into the forest.

We reach the waterfall sweaty and are ready to cool down in the clear water, at least I was. I’m always more of an extrovert when I solo travel, contrary to my normal day to day persona. Diving in, I swim to the waterfall, then climb up the slick rocks to a cave hidden behind the waterfalls spray. Soon others in the group join me.

A near perfect first day in the PV do I have.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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