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DAY ONE: LAY OF THE LAND AND SEA
PV is lucky to have one of the best gay guides you will find for any destination. Gay Guide Vallarta is free and available at most gay businesses. You will get good use out of the centerfold maps.
For your caffeine fix, make your first stop at the gay-owned Coffee Cup (146 Rodolfo Gomez; +52-322-222-8584; coffee $1.20, sandwich $5). Just a block from the beach, it is also a good place for a light meal and you can check your e-mail for free at one of the computers.
Vallarta?s unofficial gay beach is the Blue Chairs Beach, near the southern end of the city?s public beach, Playa de los Muertos. It's located in front of the Blue Chairs Resort by the Sea, at the intersection of the Malecon and Almendro Street; the blue chairs are roped off and fill up quickly, but the green chairs and the rainbow chairs are right next to them and just as gay. You can hang out on a chair as long as you buy a drink.
After you?ve worked up an appetite lounging in the sun and frolicking in the surf, head for lunch at The Beach House (+52-322-222-3198; $7-$13), just a short stroll north of Blue Chairs along the beach, next to the El Dorado Hotel Restaurant. Look for the sign on an old-fashioned mailbox. Gay owner Marco Quinonez opened this beautiful beachside restaurant/bar in January 2008, and his former role as a Four Seasons manager translates into great attention to detail.
Burn up more calories in time for dinner and see downtown by walking north along the beach and then when the beach stops, take the Malecon walkway. A modern pedestrian bridge crosses the Rio Cuale as it meets the bay. Keep walking and you will pass the famous concrete arches, which are next to a sunken amphitheater and directly across from the Puerto Vallarta?s most famous landmark, Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Hidalgo Street; +52+322-222-1326). By the way, when you cross the river, you have officially left the Old Town or Zona Romantica and you are in El Centro or downtown. Follow the sidewalk north along the bay and you will see some amazing sand sculptures constructed among the rocks below.
While you are downtown, stop for dinner at the lesbian-owned El Arrayan (344 Allende; +52-322-222-7195; $21-49), a popular place both for food and ambience. It's like being at a country place with a central courtyard. They are known for their authentic Mexican dishes from around the country.
DAY TWO: CRUISE AWAY
Spend at least one day of your stay with gay cruise director Diana DeCoste. Diana?s Tours (+52-322-222-1510; $75 day cruise, $50 sunset cruise) offers a daylong cruise on Fridays that includes continental breakfast, snacks, unlimited beverages, and lunch at a beachfront restaurant. The tour makes a snorkeling stop at Los Arcos, a trio of rocks with surf-carved grottos just outside PV, and visits a secluded beach with a waterfall. During the high season, she also offers a day cruise on Thursdays and a sunset cocktail cruise on Mondays. Predominantly gay men, but some lesbians. (Yes, a bathing suit is required.)
Spend at least one sunset in PV on the rooftop bar at the Blue Chairs Resort by the Sea (Malecon and Almendro; 888-302-3662; +52-222-322-5050). Gay bingo is on Tuesday nights and drag shows are Wednesday and Sunday nights, but they can't compete with the sunset.
For gourmet food on the beach, you can?t beat Coco Tropical (101 Basilo; +52-322-222-5485; $22-42). The restaurant features international cuisine with a Mediterranean flair. Go early enough to take in the sunset.
Dance away at the upscale Club Manana (290 Venustiano Carranza; +52-322-222-7772; cover charge), home to strippers, international guest performers, a swimming pool, waterfall, disco with air conditioning, cabanas, cantina and more, all created within a villa in Zona Romantica. See Web page for drink specials as well as theme party nights.