EXCLUSIVE | Three Gay Days: Puerto Vallarta Part Three
DAY THREE: HAVE A WHALE OF A TIME
Stop for breakfast at the beautiful garden courtyard restaurant Barrio Sur (122 Pulpito, +52-322-223-0373; $4-12.). It's next to the gay Abbey Hotel and just a short walk to the gay beach.
Spend the first half of your day whale watching. That is, if you are traveling during the winter before the whales have migrated north. Handsome gay oceanographer Oscar Frey of Ocean Friendly Tours (+52-322-225-3774; $90.) leads a daily trip from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Dec. 15 through March 31. Lunch and beverages are included; reservations required.
Retail therapy is the perfect way to get your land legs back. Start off at Liquid Men (245 Ignacio L. Vallarta; +52-322-223-3165) where you can buy the latest clubwear and any accessories your gay heart desires.
Keep walking north along Ignacio L. Vallarta toward downtown to run into some mainstream shopping on an island in the River Cuale. Mercado de Isla Cuale (Isla Cuale; +52-322-223-2500) is a collection of open-air shops containing clothes, gifts, art, and every imaginable souvenir.
But don?t buy a T-shirt on the river. Go back to the Romantic Zone and hit Rainbow T-shirts (137 Pulpito; +52-322-223-2868) across from the Abbey Hotel. For $5 you can get a Puerto Vallarta T-shirt with exclusive gay designs.
Need a snack? Stop by ChocoBanana (Ampas and Pulpito Streets; +52-322-222-2114; $4-$25), where the signature chocolate banana is only $1.50. It's also a great place to stop for a quick breakfast. The Banana Cantina upstairs serves contemporary Mexican cuisine with an ocean view.
If you haven?t loosened up enough from a couple of days in PV, get a massage from the city?s gay founding father, Paco Ruiz (+52-044-322-227-2189). Paco once owned the wildly popular Club Paco Paco and the now-defunct Paco?s Paradise resort. He is a certified massage therapist and his signature rub down is the ?River Rock? relaxation massage.
Round out your last night in PV with traditional Mexican food at the woman-owned, Gourmet magazine-endorsed Red Cabbage Caf? (240A Rivera del Rio; +52-322-223-0411; $13-28). The hard-to-find spot, next to the Cuale River, has about four-dozen seats and a funky cabbage and Frida Kahlo theme throughout.
The gay nightclub scene in PV doesn't get going until after midnight. If you want an earlier start, there's a daily happy hour at La Noche (257 Lazaro Cardenas; +52-322-222-3364). The soft music and dramatic lighting encourage conversation, as do the specialty tequila cocktails. Stereo (267 Lazaro Cardenas) is a small dance bar near La Noche that is particularly popular with locals and is often busy early as well.
Complete your last night in PV in one of the city?s gay mainstays, Paco?s Ranch (formerly Club Paco Paco: 278 Ignacio L. Vallarta; +52-322-223-0537). The second floor is a cantina with a pool table, jukebox, and video games, and the third floor extends out to a rooftop patio, regularly featuring live entertainment. A '70s-style disco for dancing and drag shows fills the main room downstairs. Paco?s attracts more women than the other clubs.