Puerto Vallarta Viewpoint – Mirador Cerro de la Cruz, Scenic Overlook

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Shaped like a horseshoe, the Bay of Banderas sits in the State of Jalisco and offers over 50 miles of beautiful shoreline, ranging from jagged cliffs to sandy beaches. In its heart sits the city of Puerto Vallarta.

Puerto Vallarta is famous for many things, including its beautiful old town, El Malecon, the wonderful beachfront boardwalk, and its spectacular sunsets.

 

Needless to say, a viewpoint overlooking the Bay of Banderas and the colonial city promised to be spectacular, especially when you imagine the sun dropping into the ocean!

However, the day we set out to find the scenic viewpoint over the city, the so called Mirador Cerro de la Cruz, was cloudy and hot.

It hadn’t been easy to find information on how to get there beforehand, but with a bit of persistence, a sense of adventure, and a lot of sweat, we made it to the top. It was worth every drop of sweat, despite the cloudy skies!

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To make it easier for those wanting to visit the viewpoint after us, here is how to get there:

MiradorDeLaCruzMap

From the Malecon, take Calle Aldama to walk towards the hilltop. Once you get to Calle Emilio Carrenza, take a left.

This is what it looks like where you turn left into Calle Emilio Carrenza. It is the beginning of the steeper, more dirt road part, of the ascent:

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Walk up the cobble stone pathway towards the white house, all the way to Calle Abasolo. There you turn right. From here it is a straight shot to heaven!

You’ll come by some awesome street art, as well as local houses. No need to worry, the people are really friendly and many of them offer water for sale.

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Calle Abasolo ends at the staircase which will take you directly to the viewpoint.

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On top, you will see the cross which gives the viewpoint its name, as well as the viewing platforms.

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A few tips for the road:

  • Wear sturdy shoes, the road is not always paved and it can get a bit slippery on the dustier slopes.
  • Have a sense for adventure, keep an open mind, show respect, and appreciation for different cultures.
  • To put safety into perspective,  my daughters and I, no man in tow, felt completely safe at all times.
  • Bring water, or have a few pesos to buy water from the locals that live there. I am sure they will appreciate it greatly!
  • Don’t forget sunscreen, hat, and bug spray.
  • If you are physically fit it will take about 20 minutes from bottom to top.

We’d love to hear how your experience was, if you end up going on this little adventure, just comment below!

stefanie pichonnat aavtravelWritten by STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. She is also a Puerto Vallarta Specialist. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

 

Do-it-Yourself Shore Excursion: Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan is known for its steady rainfall. Big, grey clouds and a soft drizzle awaited us the day our ship pulled into the port. The first thing that stood out, were the many seaplanes looping around the port, landing and taking off. As we learned later, these were taking tourists to the nearby Fjord. As always, we had planned to escape our ship and its passengers as soon as we got off.
seaplanes, ketchikan, alaskaOn this particular day, we were heading to the Rainbird Trail. I hadn’t found much information about it online but knew that it should be short enough for us to hike within the 4 hours we had ashore.

ketchikan, cruise, crown princess, princess cruise, alaskaThe official trail-head is located in downtown Ketchikan, by the Alaska University. Since Ketchikan spreads out to both sides of the cruise terminal, we weren’t quite sure whether to go right or left, and ended up asking a local. We asked for the Rainbird Trail. With a broad grin and pointing uphill he said: “If you can make it up there!”

Having hiked at our two prior Alaskan stops we felt very comfortable and were sure we could manage “the hill”. It was steep alright, and probably took 10 minutes to climb. However, I am really glad we started the trail at its end. It makes for a much better beginning. Once on top of the hill we couldn’t quite make out where to go, so we stopped by the local radio station. Not much was going on that early in the morning, but the lady swiftly pointed us in the right direction and we found the trail’s end in no time.

ketchikan, rainbird trail, alaska, hikingketchikan, rainbird trail, alaska, hikingThe Rainbird trail goes along the mountain side backing Juneau. You basically walk from the cruise port to the University of Alaska, located in downtown Juneau (left side), in very dense rainforest. At first we were a bit skeptical as we would see the harbor and neighboring islands. However, it didn’t take long and we were in the midst of it. It looked like a place straight out of Middle Earth, magical. Densely green, lush, and overgrown, large trees, broken trees, lots of moss, and everything wet, it was simply beautiful and always changing.

Ketchikan012 Ketchikan011 Ketchikan010 Ketchikan009 ketchikan, rainbird trail, alaska, hiking, aavtravelAs it was early in the morning, we were the only ones there. Half way into the trail, we spotted a reindeer. Instead of running off it simply looked at us with its dark black and gentle eyes. I felt as if it was communicating with us. We kept staring at each other for a good 5 minutes, before it peacefully trailed off.

ketchikan, rainbird trail, alaska, hiking, aavtravel, reindeerKetchikan006 ketchikan, rainbird trail, alaska, hiking, aavtravelThe Rainbird Trail proved to be a wonderfully authentic adventure, for a town otherwise thriving with tourist shops and masses of cruise passengers.

Here are a few things you will want to watch out for if you are headed to the Rainbird Trail:

  • It will rain, make sure you have the proper gear and protect your electronics
  • Bring some water to drink
  • Your shoes need good tread and need to be ideally waterproof. The terrain goes up and downhill, there are large rocks, gravel, and tree trunks to cross. Make sure your shoes snug tightly to your foot and your gear is adequate.
  • Chances are, not many of your fellow travelers will know about the trail. And, even if they do, if you start at the end, you will likely not run into any of them until the very beginning of the trail.
  • The trail requires a certain level of fitness. You do not need to be a professional athlete, but it is steep at times and can be a bit challenging.
  • You can do the trail with your children, however they need to be old enough to hike on their own, be responsible as some parts of the trail can seem risky.
  • Bring bug spray just in case
  • To walk the entire trail and back to the ship you will need about 2 hours.
  • The official trail-head is located behind the Ketchikan University in downtown Ketchikan (left side when getting off the ship). I recommend starting at the trail end however, which you can find by walking up Schoenbar Road and then turning left onto 3rd Avenue. Once you turn into 3rd Avenue you will quickly come upon the set of stairs that lead you onto the trail.
  • Tread quietly, you never know what kind of animal you might be lucky to spot

ketchikan, rainbird trail, alaska, hiking, aavtravelketchikan, rainbird trail, alaska, hiking, university of alaska, aavtravelstefanie pichonnat aavtravelWritten by STEFANIE PICHONNAT Stefanie Pichonnat is a Princess Cruise Lines Certified Expert at AAV Travel. With her personal experience in Alaska she can help you create and customize a personalized travel itinerary. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

 

Do-it-Yourself Shore Excursion: Juneau, Alaska

Clouds are hanging low over Juneau on this morning in June. No roads lead to this city and it can only be accessed either by plane or boat.  I am not a large cruise ship fan and this particular cruise aboard the Crown Princess represents a means to an end. It gets me where I would like to go. As soon as we disembark, I am determined to lose as many co-cruisers as possible. juneau, cruise pier, crown princess, alaska, aavtravel I had researched hiking trails in Juneau and originally thought we would take the cable car up to Mount Roberts. However, once they started promoting this particular idea to the 3,500 passengers on board, I quickly made up my mind. Instead of taking the cable car, we would actually hike the trail leading up to Mount Roberts. Just before noon we disembark and our first stop is the post office. Juneau’s post office looks like a gift store. You would never recognize it, if it wasn’t for the official sign. The girl behind the open, wooden table counter, is super smiley and welcoming. She points us to The Rookery, a local favorite, famous for its house made burgers. Yes, you might argue that eating burger in Alaska doesn’t really make sense, but when you are trying to escape the other tourists in the area, one is willing to compromise. The Rookery was packed with local people, no tourists in sight. People here were mingling, chatting. The restaurant/coffee bar appeared to be Juneau’s conversation melting pot. The food was outstanding and the service super friendly. juneau, alaska, downtown, aavtravelAfter lunch we head off uphill to the Mount Robert’s trail head. We are “alone” except for the local people that are going for a run or are walking their dogs. The walk uphill to the trailhead takes us along colorful houses, beautiful and lush gardens. We also see the old Russian Orthodox church. russian church, juneau, alaska, aavtravel Just as we are about to get to the trail head we pass a young man. He curiously asked us if we were locals (I guess we did not quite look the part, but then again our gear wasn’t all that off). As we decline he suggests we continue wwalking on straight, as there are waterfalls and a black bear to be seen. On the hunt for the black bear we give up the idea of climbing Mount Roberts and instead embark on the Perseverance Trail. The Perseverance Trail is historically one of Alaska’s most significant trails during the Gold Rush. We had no idea what to expect, but what we found was absolutely stunning. Steep mountain sides, waterfalls, lush and versatile nature, offering a new surprise around every corner. Nature at its purest. We filled our water bottles in the streams that we crossed and continued our way far beyond what we had originally planned. perseverance trail, juneau, alaska, aavtravelperseverance trail, waterfall, juneau, alaska, aavtravelperseverance trail, juneau, alaska, aavtravelperseverance trail, juneau, alaska, aavtravel perseverance trail, juneau, alaska, aavtravel perseverance trail, juneau, alaska, aavtravelThe Perseverance Trail makes for a wonderful do it yourself shore excursions. Here are a few things you will want to watch out for:

  • Weather changes constantly. Be prepared for rain as well as sunshine, it can change in minutes.
  • Bring some empty water bottles so you can fill them up with fresh water from the streams
  • Your shoes need good tread. The terrain goes up and downhill, there are rocks, gravel, water to cross. Make sure your shoes snug tightly to your feet and your gear is adequate
  • About half way into the trail you lose cell phone signal, meaning you are on your own
  • If you see a bear, don’t run. Instead, curl up on the floor in a ball and pretend to be dead.
  • The trail requires a certain level of fitness. You do not need to be a professional athlete, but it is steep at times and can be a bit challenging.
  • You can do the trail with your children, however they need to be old enough to hike on their own and you need to feel comfortable to let them run a little risk every now and then
  • Bring bug spray, just in case
  • It takes about 45 minutes to walk from the cruise terminal to the trail head. By the time we made it to a spot called “Glory Hole” and back to the ship, we had walked about 8 miles.

stefanie pichonnat aavtravelWritten by STEFANIE PICHONNAT Stefanie Pichonnat is a Princess Cruise Lines Certified Expert at AAV Travel. With her personal experience in Alaska she can help you create and customize a personalized travel itinerary. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com