Wander logo

The Birthday that Never Was.

A beach vacay birthday sounds pretty good, right?

The Birthday that Never Was.
Photo by Julianna Arjes on Unsplash

I’m dancing my way into my fourth decade on this earth in the light of the moon, with sandy feet and the heat of mild sunburn across my cheeks.

We bought tickets to Mexico on a whim. Planned for just after my second ever aerial circus performance, my thirtieth birthday and my friend’s twenty-fifth birthday, it seemed like the perfect way to kick off a new phase of life. No longer in my twenties — a time to make mistakes and be selfish — would I feel different? Any of the usual discomfort caused by growing older would surely be eased by a vacation.

A Sketch of an Itinerary

Planning a trip is one of my favorite activities, I like to have one thing per day to see or do, and leave the rest to chance. Kind of a flexible, sketch of an itinerary, to be coloured in by different moments.

Everybody has different tastes when it comes to vacation, but I’m not great at sitting still for a week on the beach. Like building the perfect salad, a well-rounded trip for me has five elements: relaxation, adventure, play, party, and wonder. Those were all easily found in Puerto Vallarta.

By Sua Truong on Unsplash

Relax and Decompress

I put relaxation at the beginning because we all had to decompress from work, and slip into holiday mode. We checked into an insanely beautiful penthouse AirBnB with a small private pool, and a bigger one with cabanas and a bar in the main building. We arrived late afternoon, so we stocked up on a few essentials (tequila and beer) and sat on our terrace, playing some games. The sunset was so beautiful even I was lost for words.

The next day we spent meandering the town, spotting places we wanted to eat, and stopping for lunch at Los Cocos on he beach. A little full, a little buzzed, and a little toasty on a sun lounger, I fell asleep for an hour siesta and ended up a little bit sunburnt.

Release Your Inner Child

Our second full day was planned for the inner child in us all: PV has a notoriously amazing water park. We lazy rivered, wave pooled, and raced ourselves to exhaustion. AquaVentura may not be made for grown-ups but I think we had the most fun of everybody there. Feeling tuckered out we had an early dinner and a chill night in, ready for an early start.

By Roberto H on Unsplash

Wonder On the Water

Our third day was the day of wonder. We rented a boat and went sunrise whale watching. If you’ve never seen a whale, I highly recommend you try. There’s no guarantee you’ll see them here, but we did as much research as we could, and ultimately got lucky. With not another soul in sight, these vast creatures crested the horizon. We watched them frolick over iced coffee while the sun came up, and I’ve never known a more worthy reason to wake up before dawn. When the whales had gone off to their daytime adventure, we lifted anchor and went hopping around tiny islands all day for ours. Off the coast of PV and away from the bustle of the town we enjoyed deserted beaches, incredible coves, and ocean swims off the back of the boat.

By MuFei Xu on Unsplash

Calm Before the Storm

Day Four was our time to meander the streets of endless flea markets, delighting in the wares, the fresh fruits, gorging ourselves on tacos and buying souvenirs. Night Four, however, was time to party. After a little siesta and refresh, we were ready to hit the town.

We started at the Twisted Palm rooftop, where we sat at the bar and chatted to the bartender, drinking their specialty martinis with fresh jalapeño and pineapple. Our plan was to head to La Noche for a famed drag show — we were not disappointed. The energy at La Noche is electric. It was busy, vibrant, and the dancers and drag performers were astoundingly good.

The rest of the night was a blur of cocktails, dancing, and laughing until we took the beach route home. We passed a beach bar called Mandalas, and got enticed into the throng. This is where, in a moment of clarity, I looked out into the black of the water and decided thirty was ok.

By Alev Takil on Unsplash

Figments of my Imagination

The only problem with our perfect Puerto Vallarta trip is that, as you may have guessed, it never happened. COVID swept across this vector of the world in March, travel was restricted and birthdays were held over zoom. For now, we look forward to restrictions being lifted, and simple pleasures like seeing our friends again. Maybe one day we’ll reconvene on the beach though, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

central america
Lauren Baer
Lauren Baer
Read next: Camping > Hotels
Lauren Baer

Copywriter with an affinity for food, rooftops, travel, and circus. Instagram: @laurenrosebaer

See all posts by Lauren Baer

Find us on socal media

Miscellaneous links