Words and photos by Cody Potapoff
We all dream about living in tropical destinations with blue waters and sandy beaches; a place where the wind blows like a blow-dryer every single day. But for most of us, this dream will always stay a dream. However, some manage to escape their reality for just a little while to experience this life in paradise. This is exactly what my family and I set out to do; evade Canada’s frigid winter and experience the paradise that is Riviera Nayarit.
A wise man once said “a vacation should start the moment you get on the plane,” or at least that’s what I believe the two guys behind me muttered while the flight attendant poured each of them a glass of champagne– one of the many perks of flying first class… also one of the perks I wouldn’t be taking advantage of as I am still under eighteen.
Flying into Puerto Vallarta is an experience all on its own. As you drop below the clouds, the jungle covered Sierra Madre Mountains start to reveal themselves, then hues of blue start to appear on the horizon. Next thing you know, you realize you can’t be more than 200ft above Banderas Bay and heading towards the city at a blistering pace.
After the wheels touched down, I stopped bracing for impact and took a look around to find myself in the middle of a city that is surrounded by those jungle covered mountains I saw only moment ago– a city littered with palm trees. In other words, I found myself in the paradise I had always been dreaming of.
As the ever-constant troubles associated with checking in were being resolved, I checked the forecast to ensure it was the same as I saw back home. No thanks to the painfully slow lobby WiFi, I found that the forecast had indeed changed to less than favorable. Skunked, I believe the term is. What would have been a kiteboarding trip filled with kicker hits on the shoulder high shore break had quickly turned into one filled with waves of disappointment, or at least that is how most would feel after traveling across the continent only to find the wind to be nonexistent for the length of their trip. Although my dreams of spending my days cruising the crystal clear waters at 20kts had come crashing down, I decided to take a second approach… after all, I was in paradise. In an unfamiliar area surrounded by a whole new culture, new and unique experiences were waiting to be had.
After I had gotten over the initial shock of finding the unfavorable forecast, I enjoyed my time bodysurfing in the shoulder high shore break and playing beach volleyball with some people who I believe were on the Mexican National Beach Volleyball Team. Just north of where we were staying, I found this little town called Bucerias. Minus the waves, it looked like a town taken straight out of some classic surf movie. You could see the town a little ways down the beach, and I found myself staring at it numerous times as the Mexican National Team players usually hit the ball so hard it would roll in front of the next resort, giving me ample time to admire the buildings built on the side of a mountain overlooking Banderas Bay.
The next day I dragged my parents along on a journey to go find this little town. The resort rented us bikes and we headed north, up the bike path in hopes that we would reach Bucerias. I had absolutely no idea how long this bike path was, let alone whether it would take us all the way to Bucerias. But since the wind no blow, we had all day to kill. After a few heavily debated turns, a short stint through the jungle and a treck down a beaten dirt path, we found ourselves on the outskirts of what was probably the most colourful and vibrant town I had ever laid eyes on. We spent the majority of the afternoon walking through the cobble stone streets, enjoying the little shops, the beach, the views and we even stopped at a little bar where the word “dive” wouldn’t do it justice. I can’t complain however because it had everything we were looking for, cold drinks and some shade. *Note that I said walking through the cobble stone streets, as the streets are way to bumpy to ride your bike on. I also recommend bringing a bike lock so you don’t have to haul it around with you.
After we got back we all agreed the adventure to the town was worthwhile and planned another one to Malecon, the boardwalk in Puerto Vallarta. This little venture started with the most exciting taxi ride of my life. The taxi held together with only a couple bolts as it was shaking so much, the next twenty minutes were filled with weaving in and out of traffic, near misses with pedestrians and couple ignored stop signs. Half way through the ride, I looked ahead to find a speed limit. Only a couple seconds later I found one that read 50 Km/H and looked through the drivers duct tape covered steering wheel only to find that we were doing just over 100 Km/H. If I didn’t get my speed fix from kiting on this trip, I sure did during this taxi ride.
Moral of the story is, if you find yourself on a windless kiteboarding vacation, don’t label it as a failure. Had there been wind, I would have spent most of my days kiting in front of the resort and would have never taken the time to explore the incredible nearby places of Bucerias and Malecon. Wind or no wind, make time on your next kite holiday to stray from the beaten path, you never know what you’ll find.