Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca

General:
This is my personal favorite. The village is small and compact. A beautiful (but small) cove with several small islands just off shore. This is a 'normal' size Club, meaning about 600 people when it's full. This village draws mainly West coasters - Canadian and American (East coasters don't like the travel time; though they do have a direct from JFK now).

For me, Playa is the most beautiful village architecturally, that I've seen. With all the rooms piled on top of each other, 'rabbit warren' is the best way to describe the village (though it will not make any sense until you've been there). IMO, Playa has the best pool and the best disco of any village I've been to.

This is the only village that I know of that has a dedicated hockey ring (of all things). The second annex restaurant 'El Zapata' is no longer a restaurant, it's now the aerobics area. They are now distributing the room keys before the bus ride. Progress?

The recent referb, what did they do? From the GMs viewpoint this was a pretty minor referb. The two biggest changes, was creating a reception area and moving (kinda) the Fitness Center. The reception area is strategically located for new arrivals, but if you run out of bar tickets in the disco at night, it's a rather lengthy walk. The Fitness Center now faces the opposite direction, toward the courtyard of the disco and boutique. This is much nicer than previously. You actually have something to look at while working out, rather than facing stairs. Of course, all the rooms now have phones and TVs. The TV has one channel of village information; but turn the sound off, the music is terrible. The excursion office is a real office now and next to it is a small shop selling silver items. Lots of small figurines are scattered throughout the common areas; it's a nice touch. Minor changes to the main restaurant and the bar. I have no idea what to say about the changes to the disco. Indiana Jones meets the Flintstones, maybe?

Playa Blanca is really in the middle of nowhere. Are you thinking about getting a taxi to see the area or to run into town to go shopping? Think again, there really isn't anywhere to go. It's just jungle in all directions. There are a couple of very, very small villages, but there is nothing to see and no real stores. The only exception would be the Club Med excursion to a small fishing village (Barra De Navidad) for shopping. Besides, just getting a taxi is an adventure; it isn't like Cancun where they are waiting at the gate. I don't even know where a taxi would come from, other than Manzanillo or Puerto Vallarta. Think of Playa Blanca as a destination rather than a base camp.

If there is even the remotest chance that you might consider going horseback ridding, make sure that you bring a pair of Levis. I've met people that would have liked to do it, but were disappointed that they couldn't because they forgot the pants. Short pants will not cut it. Good rugged shoes or boots are helpful also.


Playa Blanca map (103K)
Playa Blanca map



Some Playa Blanca pictures


Pros:
Personal Favorite.
I like this village a lot. It's a lively, fun Club. Maybe a little more partying than Cancun; but it really depends on the crowd that's there. It's compact so it doesn't take very long to get from one spot to another. The pool area is very much a focal point during the day. Sometimes during the night also. I've seen more people in the pool at 4AM, than at 4PM; they just had less clothes on.

Cons:
Getting there.
This is the one I hear the most sniveling about. Playa Blanca is in the middle of nowhere (which I find appealing). Depending on where you're coming from and which airline, you'll fly into Manzanillo (60 mile - 1 1/2 hour transfer) or Puerto Vallarta (120 mile - 2 3/4 hour transfer). It's a LONG bus ride and makes for a very long travel day. If there is a plus side, the first hour of the drive from P.V. is very pretty - along the coast, then up into the jungle along waterfalls. But after that it's just boring. I've been six times from P.V. and three from Manzanillo; been there, done that.

Stairs.
Nothing in Playa Blanca is on the same level. There are stairs going up or down, seemingly everywhere. All are rock or tile - very hard, don't fall. The rooms on one side of the village seem to be built on 'Mount Olympus'. You'll believe it if your room is at the top (area H) and you've climbed all those stairs. A word of advice, ask for a room near the basketball/volleyball court (unless you are into stair aerobics).

GMs that have been to Playa before, may speak of their best 'stair count'. Meaning, the number of stairs they had to climb to get to their room - lower numbers being better. Counts with 3 digits are not uncommon. My personal best is 19.


The best time to go:
Club Med closes this village for the summer, during late April or early May and reopens it during October or November. I have no idea why anyone ever went there during the summer. Spending a week or two watching it rain, is not my idea of fun (OK, I did it once - I'm glad I was with a lady friend). This means that the times this village is open, the weather should be perfect. If you go in November (just after the rainy season) everything will be lush and green with flowers everywhere. By late April the hill sides will be getting very brown (but remember, that's because the weather has been perfect with the sun out everyday and no rain to spoil the vacation).

SCUBA diving
Sorry folks. They dropped the full SCUBA program here a number of years ago. They have also dropped the beginners only program. It's too bad as I've had some very nice dives at this village. They tell me the currents can be bad certain times of the year.


Excursions
Barra De Navidad (shopping) Thursday, half day, 8:15am-1:30pm
Bird Island Tuesday, half day, 8:30am-1pm
Sunset Cruise - couples Tuesday, 5:30pm-7pm
Sunset Cruise - singles Wednesday, 5:30pm-7pm
Deep Sea Fishing Everyday, 3 or 5 hours, 8am-2pm
Margarita Beach Party Monday, half day, 3pm-7pm
Lobster Lunch Friday, half day, 12pm-4pm
Horseback Riding - beginner Everyday, 1 1/2 hour, $32US
Horseback Riding - low inter Everyday, 1 1/2 hour, $32US
Horseback Riding - inter - adv Everyday, 1 1/2 hour, $42US
Margarita Ride - beginner Everyday, 2 1/2 hour, $52US
Margarita Ride - intermediate Everyday, 2 1/2 hour, $62US
Horseback Riding - lessons, flat Everyday, 1 hour, $35US
Horseback Riding - lessons, jumping Everyday, 1 hour, $40US


Most recent visit: Feb-01


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