Skip to Content

RIU Palace Pacifico: The Goldilocks of All-Inclusive Resorts in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

RIU Palace Pacifico: The Goldilocks of All-Inclusive Resorts in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Share with your friends!

The RIU Palace Pacifico is Puerto Vallarta’s newest adults-only all-inclusive hotel (…well sorta – I’ll get to that in a minute).

My husband and I recently stayed here for a week, and I’m calling it the Goldilocks of all-inclusive resorts: it wasn’t too sleepy or quiet, but also not a party resort – it was perfectly in between. 

The RIU Palace Pacifico has been in Nuevo Vallarta for many years, but in 2023 they shut down for a few months for a full top to bottom renovation – and then reopened as adults-only in December 2023. 

If you’re thinking about booking a stay here, in this post I’m covering everything you need to know, including: 

  • Room types
  • Pools
  • Beach & Ocean
  • Food (restaurants and buffets)
  • Drinks
  • Activities & Entertainment
  • Location & Excursions
  • Price
  • Elite Club (is it worth it)

This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and make a purchase I may make a small commission. I only share information about things I know, love and trust!

Key Takeaways & Things I Loved About this Resort: 

  • Easy to get to from the PVR airport
  • Phenomenal beach with soft sand and no seaweed! 
  • Only one U-shaped building so it’s easy to navigate
  • No dinner reservations required for the a-la-carte restaurants and they were all open every day of the week
  • The lobby coffee bar made the best espresso drinks and iced coffee (all included)
  • No issues getting loungers by the pool or beach
  • Everything is brand new – rooms and hotel is modern and fresh
  • Loved the close proximity to Bucerias (you can walk there) and enjoy local beach bars, markets, street food and more!

In summary, I think the RIU Palace Pacifico offers incredible value for an adults-only property. Everything is brand new and fresh from the recent renovations, the beach is massive and perfect for sunning and swimming and the close proximity to Bucerias allows you to enjoy an outing or two into a local community for culture, food, shopping and fun!

Ready to check prices and book?

I would recommend shopping around for prices, because you can definitely find sales. 

So far, the best rates I have found are on Expedia and Plannin. 

Check rates on Plannin here

Check prices on Expedia here 

Read more about why I think it’s better to book third-party when it comes to RIU resorts in the section below called ‘Cost.’

RIU Palace Pacifico Location & Getting to the Resort

The RIU Palace Pacifico is advertised as being located in Puerto Vallarta, but it’s actually in Nuevo Vallarta.

This is an area a little north of the city, where you’ll find mostly large resorts, hotels and condo developments. 

It’s located on one of the most beautiful stretches of beaches in the Banderas Bay. 

The RIU Palace is about 25 – 30 minutes away from the airport. 

If you want to head to downtown Puerto Vallarta, it will take you about 45 minutes, or you can walk or drive into the town of Bucerias in about 15 – 20 minutes (more on that below). 

Airport Transportation 

Getting to the RIU Palace Pacifico from the PVR airport is actually very easy and you have many options. 

Airport Taxi

You can take an airport taxi – as of April 2024 the cost is about 535 MXN pesos for up to 4 people (about $30 usd). 

The Taxi rates depend on the zone, and the RIU Palace is located in zone 3. 

Uber

You can also take an Uber (which is what we did) and it was about 240 MXN pesos (about $14 usd). 

If you want to take an Uber, as soon as you exit the airport, turn left and walk 20 seconds until you see the orange pedestrian overpass.

You’ll have to cross this and you can pick up your Uber in front of the blue Marlin Taco restaurant. 

If you’re unsure about using Uber in Mexico – it’s the exact same as using it at home!

I wrote a full guide with lots of tips about using Uber in Mexico here.

Private Transportation

You can also arrange private transportation ahead of time.

This is always fun to have someone waiting with your name on a sign and cold beverages in the vehicle. 

Here is the airport transportation company I have used in the past and recommend. They have great prices and are always on time.

RIU Shuttle

The RIU also offers an airport shuttle – you will have to call the resort after you book to schedule your shuttle. 

In all honesty, I would recommend just taking a cab or an Uber – they’re readily available, and it’s a quick ride to the resort.

The shuttle won’t wait for you if your flight is delayed.

Check-in Process at RIU Palace Pacifico

Upon arrival, one of the bell desk staff greeted us and handled our bags. He directed us to the front desk where we checked in. 

I recommend checking-in on the RIU app a few days before arrival. This made our check-in time much quicker. 

If you have any specific room requests, you are able to ask and they will do their best to accommodate you.

We were traveling with another party and requested rooms be closer together and they were able to accommodate us.

Yes, you do have to wear bracelets at this resort. 

Tip: if you have large peso bills, the front desk can change them into smaller bills (20s, 50s, 100s) so that you have money for tipping. 

Money Exchange Desk

If you need pesos, there is a 3rd party currency exchange desk that is setup in the lobby everyday.

You may exchange your currency for pesos, but there is a fee and you will need to provide your passport to do this. 

Tip: if you need tipping money, there is an ATM located in the sports bar. Use your debit card and it will dispense pesos. 

What the Rooms are Like

Our room was a junior suite partial ocean view. 

The hotel is shaped like a ‘U’ and the partial ocean view rooms are on the sides, whereas the oceanfront rooms are at the bottom of the ‘U’ directly facing the ocean. 

Our room was on the second floor, and as you can see, we still had a decent amount of ocean view from the balcony. 

There are also mountain view rooms which face the other direction and look out into the hills. These are the least expensive room types. 

All the rooms are modernly renovated and quite spacious, including the private balconies. 

Junior Suite Partial Ocean View

All rooms have a mini fridge which is stocked daily with soft drinks, water and beer. 

There is also a liquor dispenser with 2 types of spirits (vodka, rum, tequila and gin). 

We also received 3-4 1.5L water bottles per day and there is a small coffee machine with coffee and coffee packets provided (whitener, sugar, stir sticks). 

We had a king bed (very plush and soft) as well as a nice little seating area with a loveseat and table. 

This led into the private balcony, which has a bistro set and an area to hang wet clothes and towels. 

There was also a safe and bath robes. 

The bathroom was spacious with 2 sinks and a walk-in shower with a rainfall shower head.

It was equipped with a hair dryer and soap, shampoo and lotion. 

We also received turn down service each night.

Pools

There are 3 pools here and they all had a different vibe from laid-back to socializing. 

We had no problem getting loungers at 9 or 10am, but there are some premium spots that do get snagged pretty early. 

Don’t forget your towel-clips to save your spot while you head to breakfast!

Something smart I haven’t seen before is that most of the loungers are under these shade pergolas which can be opened or closed depending on how much or how little sun you want. 

I like this because it didn’t matter where your lounger was – you can have shade or sun whenever you want. 

Quiet Pool

The quiet pool had the most amount of loungers surrounding it.

There is no music at this pool and it’s best suited for those who want to read, sunbathe, nap or calmly socialize with others.

There is no swim up bar but there are poolside servers. 

You can also use small floaties in this pool. 

This pool-hammock was the most popular (it folds up flat like a pair of shorts).

Swim Up Bar Pool

This pool plays music and can get a little rowdy, but in our week there it was nothing crazy – just everyone having fun and socializing. 

Pool is quite shallow (which I loved because my hair didn’t get wet)! 

And I loved that there were bar tops and bistro sets built into the pool, as well as a bench that surrounded the perimeter. 

This is a perfect setup because there was always a spot to hangout, instead of awkwardly standing in the middle of the pool. 

Tip: if you tip your bartenders you’ll get even better service and will never have to wait for a drink. This is why I recommend using Mexican pesos instead of US dollars because the bills are plastic and waterproof!

Activities Pool

This is the smallest of the 3 pools, but they had lots of activities going on throughout the week such as: 

  • Foam parties
  • Volleyball
  • Water polo
  • Flip-flop flipping contests
  • Water aerobics
  • And more!

You can check the full-schedule for the week on the RIU app so that you don’t miss your favorite activity. 

And between activities you can still lounge around in this pool.

Beach and Ocean

I think the beach is one of the best parts about the RIU Palace Pacifico.

The beach itself is wide, with a large private area for guests of the hotel.

There are lots of loungers available and many of them are under the shade of the palm trees. 

If you do want an umbrella for your beach lounger, there are vendors who will come up and rent you one for the day – I think it was about 150 pesos. 

The sand is soft and light golden in color. 

And the water is very swimmable – it’s very shallow for quite a ways out. 

And there is NO seaweed (sargassum) on this side of Mexico! 

So the beach is very safe for swimming, as there’s no undertow here.

The waves can get choppy but it really depends on the day. Generally speaking the waves were calmer in the morning and got a little bigger into the afternoon. 

There are also lots of beach activities such as parasailing ($75 usd for 10 minutes) and jet-ski rentals (about 60 to 75 usd for 30 mins depending how much you can haggle). 

There are also many beach vendors if you would like to browse trinkets and hand-crafted goods. 

And the horses will stroll by a few times a day if you would like a horseback ride! 

Beach Massage – a must do!

But the number one thing you should do is get a beach massage!

There are a few tents located on the beach to the right of the resort, just a 30-second walk away. 

When we visited in April 2024, the going rate was $35 usd for a one-hour massage.

We tried to negotiate and visited all the tents (blue, purple, pink and yellow), but the rates were all the same. 

Regardless, both my friend and I each had a fantastic massage. 

Your masseuse will offer anything from relaxing to deep tissue or anything in-between. 

Tip: Make sure you communicate with your masseuse – if you want more or less pressure, speak up! This will guarantee you a perfect massage. I’ve done several of these over the years and have never had a bad one! 

Bonus tip: if you want a deep tissue massage or like lots of pressure, I recommend visiting earlier in the day (before noon), as they can start to get tired after several massages.

Activities, Amenities and Entertainment

Amenities – Gym, Spa, Store

Gym

The gym was…ok.

There are 2 treadmills, 2 ellipticals, a spin bike, a couple of cable machines and a dumbbell area with 2 benches. 

It’s quite small and the equipment is well used, but it’s certainly enough to get a workout in. 

I found it got pretty hot in there and was a little busy between the hours of 9 to 11am. 

Gym is open from 7am to 7pm. Make sure you have proper footwear – my husband was not allowed in with flip flops (oops…)

Spa

There’s also a spa (Renova Spa) – and you can book treatments such as massages (including couples massages), facials, body wraps, manicures and pedicures, hair salon services and waxing.

I didn’t try out any of the services as it’s quite expensive.

The cheapest 60 minute massage costs about $160 usd. 

Tip: all hotel guests can access the ‘relaxation pool’ and steam bath free of charge (no need to book a spa treatment!

The spa is where you’ll find the only hot tub in the resort, which is free to use. Just book a time slot at the front desk of the spa and you’ll have it all to yourself.

Store/Gift Shop

There is also a store on site where you can purchase souvenirs, swimsuits, sandals, hats, resort wear and small items like sunscreen, snacks and some pharmacy items. 

Activities and Entertainment

In addition to the pool activities I mentioned above, they also offer RIU Fit classes.

Most days of the week there are free classes to attend such as Taiichi, yoga, step aerobics, stretching, Zumba, salsa lessons, Pilates and more. 

Outside of the pool, the RIU Stage hosts evening entertainment, usually started around 8:30 pm.

We enjoyed things like karaoke, live music, a Michael Jackson show, silent disco, Bingo and more. 

RIU Party Fridays

One of the best entertainment features of staying at a RIU property is their famous RIU parties!

At this resort, the RIU party is every Friday and the theme alternates each week between white and neon. 

In the lobby of the hotel they had face painters offering a little white and sparkly face paint for those that wanted it!

The party is at one of the sister resorts – the RIU Jalisco. But there’s a bus that runs every 15 minutes and you can take your drink on board!

The RIU party goes from 7 to 11pm, and we found that until 9pm it was more geared towards families.

After 9pm they switched the music to be closer to the latest hits and nightclub music. 

Although the party is for all ages.

Access to Other Resorts

RIU Vallarta (located down the beach)

When you’re a guest at the RIU Palace Pacifico you get to take advantage of the ‘stay at 1, play at 3’ perk. 

There are two other RIU properties located just down the beach – the RIU Vallarta and RIU Jalisco.

These resorts are each family friendly – therefore those guests cannot visit the Palace. 

So if you feel like a change of scenery, you can walk down the beach for about 10-20 minutes and visit each of these properties.

You can use the pools and order drinks, breakfast, lunch and snacks – just not dinner.

Restaurants and Food

One feature I really loved about this resort is that there are no dinner reservations required (more on that below in the Elite Club section). 

So when you’re ready for dinner, you just show up.

If there’s a wait, they let you know how long, and then give you a buzzer for when your table is ready. 

I thought this was a great system.

We would go check-in for a restaurant, and then head over to the lobby to find the specialty drink cart and socialize or watch the sunset until our table was ready! 

Here’s a listing of all the restaurants and what I thought: 

Main Buffet

Main buffet – there’s indoor and outdoor seating

The main buffet is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. 

For breakfast and lunch, women can wear beach cover ups and men can wear tanktops and muscle shirts. 

For dinner there is no beachwear allowed. 

I loved the food at the buffet. There was a ton of variety for every meal. If anything was picked over, the staff were quick to replenish. 

For breakfast there was an omelet station, pancake/waffle station, birria tacos and all kinds of eggs, meats like bacon and sausages, different scrambles, fresh fruits and juices, pastries and breads, cereals, and chilaquiles. 

Lunch and dinner always head Mexican staples, American staples (and things like pizza, burgers, chicken fingers, etc), salads, cheeses, meats and veggies prepared in all different ways.

And several days of the week they add in a theme where they add a few extra dishes, like spices night, mexican night and oriental night. 

Of course, tons of desserts to choose from for each meal. 

They had gluten free options, and vegetarian options as well as low-calorie labeled items. 

Steakhouse

The steakhouse is the most popular restaurant onsite, so I recommend planning to visit early on in your trip in case you want to go a second time. 

This was also the longest we had to wait to get in – close to an hour. 

But the menu included things like surf and turf and filet mignon, burgers and chicken, along with sides like mac’n’cheese, fries, and roasted carrots.

For dessert we tried the brownie and the cookie ice cream sandwich – that was the better dessert. 

Guacamole (Mexican)

The Mexican restaurant offered classic options like enchiladas, fish tacos and fajitas, which were great.

But I especially loved the desserts – we tried the churros and the 3 milk cake (highly recommend dipping your churros in the cake)!

Kyoto (Asian)

I enjoyed Kyoto, but for some reason I was expecting a little more Japanese food (like sushi) and it was closer to Chinese food.

It was fun though because it’s all small plates so you can order a bunch of different things to try. 

Krystal (Fusion)

Krystal was the big surprise, all 3 of us loved it way more than we thought we would.

The menu seems a little french, a little mediterranean and a little American. 

The lobster bisque was rich and delicious and the lobster steak tartar was served with crème fraiche – I would have eaten this as my main course. 

We tried the braised short ribs and the octopus!

For dessert we had the coffee crème Brule – which was good, except Chris is a bit of a crème Brule purist and didn’t care for the flavor.

I had the Ferrero Rocher dessert – if you’re a chocolate lover, I don’t need to say anything more!

Toscana (Italian)

The Italian restaurant was also a hit.

It offered all the classics like fettuccine alfredo, chicken parmesan, lasagna, and spaghetti.

For dessert I had the tiramisu. 

American Country (24 hour sports bar)

The sports bar actually had pretty good food – it was was table service, not self-serve like some RIU properties.

You could get things like nachos, mac’n’cheese, burgers, burritos, but the star is definitely the shrimp tacos. 

Pepe’s Food and Tiki Taco

Poolside bar

There are also options to eat by the pool from noon until 6. It was mostly snacky items like tacos, hot dogs and burgers, fries and nachos. 

We ate here a couple of times – it’s a nice option to have when you need a little food but aren’t too picky about the quality. 

However, it’s only another 20 second walk further to get to the buffet for lunch if you want higher quality food and more options. 

Overall, I would say the food was very good and pretty high quality for an all-inclusive resort.

It was quite rich though, many dishes were a little oily or buttery – so after about 4 or 5 days it starts to feel pretty heavy. 

Room Service

24 hour room service is also included for all guests.

You simply order on the app and you’re good to go. It’s a bit of a limited menu – you’ll find things like fries, nachos, Caesar salad, clubhouse sandwhich, etc.

If you’re an Elite Club guest your room service menu is more elevated.

I particularly liked being able to schedule my room service coffee the night before to be delivered at the time of my choosing for the next morning.

Bars & Drinks

Capuchino Bar

This is the coffee bar located in the lobby open from 7am until 11pm. 

Not only do they serve coffee and espresso-based drinks, there were small food items throughout the day like fresh-squeezed juice, pastries, muffins, and wrapped sandwiches.

Later in the day they had desserts like cheesecake, carrot cake and chocolate cake. 

Every day I got an Americano or an iced coffee! 

Tip: if the line is long, don’t worry, it goes pretty fast. But if you don’t feel like waiting – head to the sports bar for your coffee. They have an espresso machine there and the coffee was just as good.

Daiquiri Bar

This is the lobby bar open from 10am until 1am. 

You can get any kind of drink here and what’s great is that there’s also a full drink menu on the app if you don’t know what to order!

They do specialize in Martinis though, I would highly recommend the chocolate or chocolate mint martini!

Drinks

Bumblebee and Mexican Candy were the most popular shots by the pool. 

We found the drinks were quite strong (if you wanted them to be) and could also ask for specific types of liquor.

No need to have an Elite Club wristband to access to the top shelf liquor. 

However, you do have to specify which brand you would like, otherwise they will probably pour you the cheapest stuff (unless you’ve been there for a few days and you’ve been tipping well). 

The usual selection of frozen drinks like margaritas, pina coladas, miami vice, funky monkey and mudslides were a hit. 

In the evenings I really enjoyed sipping o chocolate martinis or carajillos (espresso and Liquor 43 shaken over ice) or carajilla (the same but with Baileys instead).

These were especially good in the sports bar! 

They don’t have a drink menu, but they can make you whatever you want – if you need some ideas, I wrote a whole blog post with the best drinks to order at an all-inclusive resort.

Drinks are all served in plastic cups, so I do recommend bringing your own tumbler if you prefer to keep your drinks cold.

Many people at the resort had them and the bartenders had no problem rinsing them and filling them up. 

Also, they do not serve drinks with straws, so I recommend you bring your own travel straws if you prefer to use one.

Elite Club – Is it Worth it? 

One of the most common questions about this resort is if paying extra for the Elite Club is worth it. 

Here’s what you get with the Elite Club at RIU Palace Pacifico: 

  • Oceanfront rooms with the best views
  • Separate check-in
  • Access to Elite Club lounge
  • Access to Elite Club restaurant (can enjoy a-la-carte breakfast and dinner here)
  • Ability to make dinner reservations
  • Better room service options
  • Access to cabana beds on the beach along with a separate beach bar
  • Mini fridge includes snacks (such as kitkats, granola bars, chips, mixed nuts, etc).

At check-in I asked how much it was to upgrade to Elite Club and she told me it was $130 usd per night (that was for 2 people).

I had heard online that it was more expensive than that, so it could depend on occupancy. 

Either way, it was about an extra $1000 for the week for the two of us to have Elite Club access. In the end we decided not to. 

But I think Elite Club would be worth it if: 

  • You enjoy eating dinner at a particular time (especially prime time 6pm)
  • You don’t care for breakfast buffet and would prefer to be served
  • If you want the best oceanfront room available
  • Prefer to relax on a private cabana bed on the beach. 

Proximity to Puerto Vallarta and Surrounding Communities

Getting to Puerto Vallarta (downtown, Malecon, etc)

If you want to head into Puerto Vallarta, which you absolutely should, you can take a taxi into downtown and the Malecon area in about 40 minutes. 

If you take a taxi and want to do the whole Malecon, get dropped off at the beginning, which is Hotel Rosita, and walk the whole thing.

You could spend an entire day or simply the afternoon – but make sure you stay for sunset!

What to Do in Puerto Vallarta

I recommend starting by strolling the Malecon, visiting some shops, taking photos and maybe stopping for a beverage or two along any of the bars. 

Tip: if you like tart drinks, I highly recommend looking for a place that offers ‘jamaica’ (pronounced ha-my-cah). This is Spanish for hibiscus and it’s my favorite drink in Puerto Vallarta. 

Make sure to continue across the river (there’s a bridge you’ll cross) and this brings you into the ‘zona romantica’ – the most beautiful and interesting neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta. 

While the food at the RIU Palace is very good, it’s nothing compared to the local food prepared on the streets of Vallarta. 

I highly recommend taking a walking food tour or taco tour, where you’ll really get to try  what REAL Mexican food tastes like! 

There are two highly-rated food tours I’ve taken that I love, one is late morning and the other is in the evening, so you can choose one based on your schedule: 

If you have never been to Puerto Vallarta before, read my full visitor’s guide here to get started

If you want some ideas about how to spend a few hours seeing the highlights, here is my list of the best free things to do in the city

If you’ve been to the area before but want something new to do, check out my full list of the best 49 things to do in Puerto Vallarta

Walk into Bucerias

Another great part about this resort’s location is the fact that you can also walk to Bucerias, a great little beach community. 

Walking Directions

You can walk to Bucerias in about 15 minutes.

To get there, there is park-like, shady path that starts near the Oxxo by the Krystal Resort next door.

We call it the ‘yellow brick road’ (you’ll see why when you walk it. 

The paved walkway eventually turns into a sandy path for about 5 minutes. Then you’ll be at Royal Decameron resort (very colorful building, can’t miss it). 

The street you’ll be on is called Lazaro Cardenas, which is the main drag that runs parallel to the beach.

There are some shops right at the Royal Decameron corner, and a great sports bar just up the street called Barchelata. 

Continuing on Lazaro Cardenas you’ll pass condos, more restaurants, some shops and pharmacies, and even local day spas.

If you continue walking you’ll pass Karen’s restaurant ( a favorite for beachside drinks and dining), Luna Lounge (a fun spot for Karaoke, live music, etc.) and La Postal for pizza and pasta (a beautiful open-air restaurant). 

Then the kissing ‘bridge’ that will take you to the flea market area, then beyond that, you’ll find yourself in Centro, which is the downtown.

Here you can find all kinds of street food, seafood and tacos. 

It’s a long walk to get all the way to centro – probably about 45 minutes.

You could take a taxi or an Uber to a certain spot, walk around a bit and take a car back if you’d like. 

You can also rent bikes near the OXXO by the Krystal resort which would be very doable to ride into Bucerias and back. 

My Favorite Beach Bars and Restaurants in Bucerias:

  • Karen’s Place – beach bar (closest one and great happy hour from 3-5 everyday)
  • Mar Y Sol – another beach bar
  • Fatboys – beach bar that many locals frequent, great prices
  • JAX for live music & cold beer!
  • Mr. Taco: the best al pastor street tacos, doesn’t open until 7-ish in the evenings
  • Goalie Bar: if you need to watch a game, they’ll have it on!
  • Jorge’s Cocina (kitchen): my favorite authentic Mexican breakfast spot
  • The Red Apple (located upstairs) – owned by a lovely family – try their coffee margarita (tell them Aly Smalls recommended it)!
  • El Bunker Beach House: colorful spot right on Lazaro Cardenas – the BEST tuna & mango ceviche, usually has live music & you can rent bikes here 
  • Nueve Rooftop: incredible rooftop bar with views of the entire bay – great spot for sunset

Read my full travel guide on visiting Bucerias if you would like to learn more.

Day Trips and Excursion Ideas

I highly recommend taking at least one excursion (or more) when staying at the RIU Palace Pacifico – you’re close to so many amazing experiences in this part of Mexico. 

My Recommended Excursions (in order of preference): 

Rhythms of the Night

This is not only the most popular excursion, but it’s great if you don’t want to be away from the resort for a full day since it’s more of an evening experience (you don’t depart the Marina until 5pm or later depending on the time of year).

You’ll head out on a catamaran with a full open bar and arrive at a private cove. You’ll watch a fantastic Cirque du Soleil-style show and then have a candlelit dinner on the beach. 

Read my honest review of Rhythms of the Night here.

I also made a full video about the ROTN experience here!

This is a perfect excursion from the RIU because it’s only a 10 minute taxi ride to the Nuevo Vallarta Marina. 

Book Rhythms of the Night here

Natural Hot Springs Tour

This is my top recommendation for a full day tour from the RIU Palace: visiting the natural hot springs! 

We booked a small group tour and our guide picked us up around 8am.

Here’s how the say went:

  • we stopped halfway in a local town to do some market shopping, enjoy a coffee and visit a tortilla makers’ shop. 
  • arrived at the hot springs, where there are about 30 stone tubs that get filled with thermal mineral water.
  • we soaked in the hot springs for about 2 hours, while our guides prepared fresh snacks and drinks for us.
  • They also grilled us up a flavorful lunch with many of the ingredients we picked out at the local market. 
  • You can also get a natural mud mask here too. Your skin will be glowing and soft and you’ll feel 20 years younger when you leave! 

But before heading back to the resort, we stopped in the town of Bucerias for a one hour massage on the beach (all included in the price)!

Book the hot springs tour we took here (and make sure to tell them Aly Smalls sent you so they know to take extra good care of you!)

Yelapa Waterfall & Snorkeling Adventure on a Mega Yacht

This is an all-inclusive boat excursion to one of my favorite spots just outside of Puerto Vallarta: Yelapa. 

Again, it’s only a 10-minute drive to the Nuevo Vallarta marina where you’ll board your yacht for a day of cruising!

Breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks are included and you’ll cruise through the bay, go snorkeling and visit the picturesque village of Yelapa where you can hike to a waterfall or enjoy the beach bars. 

Book the Mega Yacht Yelapa Waterfall & Snorkeling Adventure here

Sayulita 

Sayulita is a trendy town known for its surfing, lively beach bars, colorful streets, shopping and yoga retreats. 

You can can take a taxi (or even the bus) but I recommend going to Sayulita with a local guide. 

We booked a small group tour to Sayulita and had the best time. Here’s what we did: 

  • Our guide picked us up, and we stopped at a fun roadside market and learned about all kinds of local treats. 
  • Once in Sayulita we started at a local coffee shop and then our guide gave us a quick overview of all the different areas to explore around Sayulita. 
  • He then let us explore on our own for a couple of hours (we toured the quaint shops, took some photos and enjoyed a beach bar).
  • After that, he brought us to a secluded beach away from the crowds, where we could enjoy the sun, sand and water all to ourselves.
  • He cooked us an amazing grilled lunch and enjoyed a very ‘chill’ afternoon. 

Book this Sayulita excursion here! (again, make sure to mention Aly Smalls sent you so they know to take extra good care of you!)

Whale Watching (December to March only)

If you are going to be at the resort anytime from December to March, a whale watching excursion is a must do!

You’ll get to see humpback whales, but also dolphins, turtles and other marine life. 

This is the highest-rated whale watching tour (and you get your money back if you don’t see whales)!

See my full list of the 14 best day trips and excursions from Puerto Vallarta here for more ideas!

What’s New Since the Renovation?

Reception

If you stayed at the RIU Palace Pacifico before October 2023, you might be curious to know what was changed since the renovation. 

New facilities:

3 new dining options: an Italian restaurant, the “Capuchino” pâtisserie and “Pepe’s Food” Grill and taco station.

2 exclusive bars for the Elite Club by RIU guests.

Spa with steam bath and relaxation pool

RiuFit area for group fitness activities.

Pool Deck

The biggest and most notable change is the pool area.

There was once one large pool with different features and areas within it. Now, there are 3 separate, smaller pools – each with their own purpose. 

I hadn’t been to the Palace prior to the renovations, but some people do miss the large pool and I heard people mention it was more aesthetically pleasing than 3 ‘rectangle looking pools.’ 

Regardless, I think 3 separate pools is a good thing. 

I always wonder about the folks who seem to be able to stay in the swim-up bar pool for hours without getting out to go to the bathroom…

Addition of Elite Club tier

The next biggest change is the introduction of the Elite Club offering. While I’m not usually a fan of the way most resorts run their ‘2-tiered’ guest system – this one didn’t bother me.

We didn’t feel like second-class and were treated very well.

Of note, there are only 62 rooms available for the Elite Club, so about a quarter of the guest capacity. 

With the Elite Club addition, the former Lobby Bar is now the Elite Club lounge.

There is now a new lobby bar called Daiquiri and it was a fun spot to hangout until 1am!

Décor Refresh

Additionally, everything else got a refresh. The lobby is updated and more modern, while still maintaining the classic RIU aesthetic. They really tied in well with the stained glass and orginial pillars. 

All the rooms were also brought up to a contemporary standard. I thought the neutral tones were very elegant and clean looking. 

All the restaurants also got an update – the colors are muted and more greenery and larger windows have been added. 

Facilities that were removed

No more “Colibri” bar

No more children’s facilities

No more whirlpool bath & sauna

No more conference rooms

Cost

We paid about $2400 for two people (about $1800 usd) for a one week stay. 

I would recommend shopping around for prices, because you can definitely find sales. 

So far, the best rates I have found are on Expedia and Plannin. 

Check rates on Plannin here

Check prices on Expedia here

  • Tip: One thing to note is that you might not actually get the best deal by booking through the RIU website. All RIU packages are handled third party by Expedia, so sometimes you can find better prices for your dates when you book through Expedia or other competitors like Plannin. 

It definitely pays to shop around!

Other RIU Palace Pacifico Resort Tips & Things to Know

Tipping

I recommend budgeting about 300-400 pesos per day per two people ($17-23 usd or $25-30 cad). 

This would go towards housekeeping, wait staff, bartenders, etc. 

The front desk will happily exchange your 500 peso bills for smaller 50s and 20s for tipping. 

When asked if the staff prefer USD or pesos, they responded with ‘money is money.’ I think the local currency is preferred, plus the US dollar is not as strong against the peso these days. 

Day Passes

Yes, this resort does offer day passes – it’s $2500 pesos about $150 usd or 200 cad and that’s from 7am to 11pm.

You can also purchase a day pass for half the day, either 7am to 3pm or 3pm to 11pm.

More Posts to Help You Plan Your Trip to Puerto Vallarta:

20 Things You Should Always Pack for an All Inclusive Vacation

Check out all my posts related to Bucerias here: https://likewhereyouregoing.com/tag/bucerias/

Check out all my posts related to Puerto Vallarta here: https://likewhereyouregoing.com/tag/puerto-vallarta/

Jane B

Monday 27th of May 2024

Thanks for all the info, well presented! I have been struggling to find an all inclusive to take extended family to, who have never been to Mexico before. Price point matters but I want them to be wow'd too. My husband and I have been several times (love all your recommendations!) We have stayed at a variety of places, (love Refugio del Mar Bucerías ) none of which are quite right for this family group ....... I think the Rui will work, you are right it looks like the Goldilocks of AI!

Susan

Wednesday 1st of May 2024

Yours is one of the few YouTube videos about the Palace Pacifico post renovation and I very much appreciate the detail. I’m visiting the resort early next year, solo for now.

Aly Smalls

Thursday 16th of May 2024

Thanks for the comment! Enjoy your trip :)