Saturday, January 8, 2011

My Completely Biased, Completely Personal Review of: Pirates of the Bay Day Trip in Puerto Vallarta.

Majahuitas Cove is a pristine wilderness reserve located south of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico. Accessible only by boat, the private cove features thick virgin jungles, beautiful azure waters, a gorgeous beach, and small lagoon.

If you want to experience the peaceful splendour of Majahuitas Cove you could stay at the boutique inn located there. Or you could -- as shown in the photo above -- rent/buy a multi-million dollar yacht (with a staff of 10, two sea-doos, a motorboat, and a few kayaks) and anchor off shore.

Or you could show up with a hundred other people on a replica pirate ship, blaring classic rock at full volume:

What this outing lacked in refined dignity, it made up for in pure unadulterated fun.

Setting aside the fact that I got horribly seasick (NOTE: to the nice woman on the December 26 excursion who gave me two Dramamine: Thank you from the bottom of my heart and the bottom of my queasy stomach), this was a highlight our vacation.

When you first arrive at the dock for the Pirates of the Bay excursion you are assigned a Personal Pirate who is your waiter/assistant/host/buccaneer for the day. We had Senor Fish. He was charming, and helpful. He was great with our boys and handled our over-excited 8 year old (who would not abide by the rules of sword fighting) with good humour.

We went on-board the ship (at 9 am), sat for commemorative photos (at the end of the tour you can buy these for 250 pesos),  then Fish served us breakfast in the ship's galley (eggs, fruit, cereal, milk, juice & coffee). Once underway (at about 10 am) the crew led us through a series of audience participation games. As we got closer to our destination, the pirates put on a play.

I'm not sure "play" does justice to the entertainment level of this affair. There were sound effects, canon blasts, sword fighting, swash buckling, plank walking, and Star Wars references. It was great.

The cove was gorgeous. Though I spent most of my time there asleep. My husband and the boys swam and road a banana boat (a long inflatable dragged behind a motor boat) and I was blissfully unaware of this occurrence. Beverages were supplied. The crew organized games and activities. The children were led through a treasure hunt and were rewarded with gold/chocolate coins.

When we got back aboard the ship, lunch was served. Senor Fish suggested I eat on the deck and so I ate my excellent lunch (a version of beef stroganoff served on a bed of noodles with coleslaw) while looking out at some gorgeous scenery. I saw a pod of dolphins (being chased by a small boat filled with tourists) pass by a few times and they even dove under the Marigalante. There were more games on the return trip.

Look at those guys standing up on the railings. I couldn't even walk across the deck without stumbling! And they were up on those railings, two meters above the deck, DANCING!? AND SINGING?! It was crazy.

Hints and suggestions:
-pack your camera in a waterproof case. To get from the boat to the shore, you ride on a motorboat and then jump into the water and there's risk that your gear is getting wet.
-you should probably wear your bathing suits when you arrive at the ship. Otherwise you need to change in the ship's washrooms as there are no change facilities on the beach
-breakfast and lunch are served on board, and drinks are available on board and on the beach. But you should probably pack snacks for on the beach.
-Tip your Personal Pirate. The information we received with our booking recommended tipping 50 pesos per person in your party.
-The pirates sell tickets to a fundraising raffle. They cost 50 pesos each. The proceeds go to a local orphanage the company helps support. The prize (t-shirt & bandanna) is drawn as the cruise winds down.
-In addition to your Personal Pirate, you'll be asked to tip the entertainment crew (the pirates who perform in the plays, host the games and dance for/with you). Most people were tipping at least 100 pesos.

-bring dramamine. Even if you don't think you'll need it, there might be some pushy, nauseated women who might really need to be medicated for the sake of everyone on board.
-if you are going to vomit overboard, first check which side of the vessel the motorboats (which are lashed to the back of the Marigalante to ferry passengers to the beach) are attached.
-the toilets in the ladies' room are hysterical:

They were obviously designed by a man -- because the skull's teeth keep the lids from staying up. Yes, because it's not hard enough to answer nature's call on a rocking and roiling boat, you need the added difficulty of holding up the toilet lids while answering nature's call?
-We booked our trip online and there were no hitches -- just make sure you bring along a copy of your email confirmation.
-This company also does a nighttime cruise, as well. Another tourist told me it's a complete booze-fest and not appropriate for minors. She did speak highly of the staff for her nighttime trip, but said the audience members who participated in the skit were so vulgar she was embarrassed for them. They were three young Canadian women.


  1. Senor Fish? Really? I love it.

  2. Sounds FUN!!! I went on a "booze cruise" when I was in Mexico for spring break in '98. But it was entirely different experience. You got shot with a water gun if you weren't holding two beverages at ALL times. :-)

  3. If I was an 8 year old boy, I would be too excited to follow the rules too! How awesome. I know Dramamine well, it is called the Road to Hana in Hawaii...just thinking about it makes me queasy.