Dreams Vallarta Bay Resort & Spa is a luxurious five star property by AMR Collection, nestled on the edge of a golden sand beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. There are two resorts at this location. Dreams Vallarta Bay is a family-friendly resort, while Secrets Vallarta Bay is an adults-only resort. We stayed there at the beginning of March, and the weather was perfect every single day (warm temperatures and lots of sunshine).
Justin and I stayed for one week at the Dreams Vallarta Bay resort, although we had day passes to the Secrets Vallarta Bay resort and divided our time between both properties. If you’re travelling as a couple like we do, you can stay at either the Dreams or the Secrets. If you have children, stay at the Dreams Vallarta Bay.
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You’ll have an amazing vacation at both the Dreams Vallarta Bay and the Secrets Vallarta Bay. As it is a bit more expensive to stay at the Secrets, there are some upgraded amenities and it is a little less busy. However, it’s possible to purchase a day pass to the Secrets Vallarta Bay when you’re relaxing at the property, which we highly recommend.
Here are some more all-inclusive resort tips and tricks to check out before your stay. Another great tip that’s specific to this resort: download the AMR Collection App before you arrive. This app shows you all of the daily activities at the resort. Plus, it’s possible to even order room service and connect with housekeeping staff through the app.
Dreams Vallarta Bay vs Secrets Vallarta Bay
As I mentioned briefly, there are two resorts at this location: Dreams Vallarta Bay Resort & Spa (formerly called Now Amber Puerto Vallarta) and Secrets Vallarta Bay. You can access either property from the main front entrance or from the beach. While there are no wristbands at these resorts, the staff ensures that only guests of the Secrets resort are allowed to enjoy the Secrets property.
Dreams Vallarta Bay Resort & Spa is a family-friendly resort at a lower price point than the Secrets Vallarta Bay, an adults-only resort. Guests of the Secrets Vallarta Bay can use both resorts, while the Dreams Vallarta Bay guests may not use the amenities at Secrets. However, if you’re visiting as a couple, you can purchase day passes to the Secrets for $50 USD per day (payment covers your room, so it is $25 per person). Children are not allowed to visit the Secrets resort.
You will find the majority of the restaurants at Dreams Vallarta Bay. If you want to dine at an a la carte restaurant at Secrets (and you’re staying at Dreams), you may do so by booking your dining through your concierge at no additional cost.
There are a few perks of staying at Secrets Vallarta Bay or getting a day pass. First, the Secrets usually isn’t as busy as Dreams, so you’ll have a better chance of securing a lounger by the beach or pool. It’s also adults-only and generally a little bit quieter without any kids around. The main pool (with the swim-up bar) is heated at Secrets, while the pools at Dreams aren’t heated. The Barefoot Grill restaurant by the pool has a larger menu with more selection.
Preferred Club Status: Is it Worth the Upgrade?
At either resort, you can upgrade to Preferred Club status. At both Dreams and Secrets, there are two buildings with accommodations. There are the taller main buildings in the middle of the resort, and two additional shorter buildings beside them. The shorter buildings with eight floors at the ones featuring the Club Level suites.
Preferred Club Buildings
The Club Level suites are situated in premium locations. First, there are fewer guests in these buildings and the elevators worked quickly. In the main buildings, the elevators were very slow. We opted to take the stairs most times we were walking to the second or third floor to avoid the wait. The elevators were always pretty quick to arrive in the Preferred Club building.
The suites in the Preferred Club building allow you to reach the pools and the beach quicker. While the resort isn’t that big, you will be able to get to the pools and the beach a little bit faster when you stay in this building (especially if you don’t need to wait for that annoying elevator in the main building!).
Checking in as Preferred Club Status
The check-in process in the Preferred Club building is so luxurious. You’ll feel warmly welcomed to the resort by the concierge staff, and they offer to bring you drinks and even light fare to snack on before checking in. There’s a small buffet in the Preferred Club building with food, snacks, and desserts all day long that’s refreshed throughout the day.
The staff is so helpful, warm and welcoming. I can’t say enough good things about the staff at Dreams Vallarta Bay resort. They truly go above and beyond to make your stay extra special. Preferred Club members also have access to personal concierge services, although we didn’t have too many requests ourselves.
Preferred Club Perks
There are a few more perks when you choose a Preferred Club suite over a regular suite. I personally think that it’s worth upgrading to Preferred Club for the location and the amenities. Plus, we didn’t find that it was much more expensive than a regular stay. Here are some more additional perks:
- Access to the Preferred Club lounge and bar with premium liquor and beverages
- Upgraded mini-bar
- Upgraded bath amenities
- Pillow menu
- Exclusive dining option for daily a la carte lunch at Castaways restaurant
You can choose from a Junior Suite Garden View, Junior Suite Ocean View, Junior Suite Swim Out, Master Suite Swim Out Garden View, Master Suite Partial Ocean View, and Master Suite Ocean Front.
Dreams Vallarta Bay Resort: Preferred Club Junior Suite Ocean View
Justin and I stayed in a Preferred Club Junior Suite Ocean View room. There’s a massive king-sized bed that provided one of the most comfortable sleeps of our lives! I’ve never felt so strongly about wanting to bring a bed home with us so we can have this good of a night’s sleep at home. There are a few different kinds of pillows for every preference.
The bathroom is incredibly spacious with double sinks, a bathtub and a huge walk-in shower. The toilet is kept in a separate little room. There are cozy plush bathrobes to wear, as well as a variety of toiletries. You barely need to bring anything with you as it will be provided, including toothbrushes and toothpaste. There’s also a hair dryer and a make-up mirror that lights up.
The room has a large desk, a big lounger chair, and the room itself is huge. There are big closets and drawers for all of your belongings, plus there’s a large full length mirror near the front door. I love how there is a Nespresso coffee maker in the room, and the coffee pods are replenished daily. There’s also a mini fridge with bottles of Coke, Sprite, Fanta, and Corona.
The best feature of this room is the large balcony overlooking the pools and the ocean. There is a jetted tub on the balcony, so you can lounge in your own private hot tub. There is a small patio set where you can sit and relax. I loved having my morning coffee out on the balcony. We also loved leaving our patio door open at night because we could listen to the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. It was so peaceful!
Outdoor Amenities at Dreams & Secrets Vallarta Bay
There are lots of outdoor amenities and activities for those spending an all-inclusive vacation at Dreams Vallarta Bay and Secrets Vallarta Bay. If you want to relax, it’s a great place for it! Get cozy on one of the comfy lounger chairs beneath an umbrella, bring a book, and you’ve got it made. Beyond that, here are some things to do at Dreams Vallarta Bay Resort & Spa.
Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs
There are multiple swimming pools and hot tubs at Dreams Vallarta Bay and Secrets Vallarta Bay. Naturally, some of the rooms come with their own plunge pools and hot tubs. In terms of public spaces, each resort has a swim-up bar where you can find refreshing beer and a variety of cocktails. The swim-up pool on the Secrets side is heated, while the one at Dreams is not.
There are multiple other pools at Dreams Vallarta Bay that are family-friendly, especially the one with the slide. The resort staff also organizes pool games and activities for people of all ages. You can also find activities like water aerobics and yoga paddle boarding, too.
Games and Activities
If you feel like you’ve relaxed enough, perhaps you’d like to participate in one of the activities or games around the resort. We loved playing ping pong every day, and there’s a ping pong table at each resort. You can also play beach volleyball (one of Justin’s favs!) and there’s also a tennis court at the resort, near the gym.
Speaking of the gym, there is a fitness centre on site with cardio machines, free weights, and weight machines. There’s no need to sacrifice your daily workout when you’re on vacation if you don’t want to. You can also participate in yoga classes at the resort, too.
It’s also possible to see whales from the resort if you’re visiting between December and March. We were there in early March and unfortunately did not see any whales. You might have better luck than us. They also have turtle release programs, though we weren’t there in the right season. This usually happens in Puerto Vallarta between July and December.
I’ll also put this one under “activities” though we didn’t experience it ourselves. Dreams Vallarta Bay has a hydrotherapy spa where you can rotate between hot and cold pools, saunas and showers. You can also get a massage or other spa treatments, and enjoy the refreshments bar with fruit and drinks. There is also a salon at Dreams Vallarta Bay to get pampered, featuring manicures, pedicures, and skin/hair treatments.
Relaxing at the Beach at Dreams Vallarta Bay
The golden sand beach in front of Dreams Vallarta Bay is so beautiful. There aren’t any issues with seaweed like we’ve experienced on the Riviera Maya in the past. You can go for a walk beyond the resort in either direction, though you will head a dead end after about 10 minutes or so. The sand is covered with pebbles in some spots, though it’s maintained really well in front of the hotel without many rocks.
Sadly, we weren’t able to swim in the ocean during our stay. The Pacific Ocean was way too wavy. In fact, the resort had a red flag on display the entire week we were there. The waves and the surrounding scenery is so stunning, but it would have been nice to have gone for a swim. It was too dangerous when we visited. I’ve heard that it is swimmable sometimes, so you might have better luck than us.
At the same time, I loved listening to the crashing waves every night, especially when I was falling asleep. If the ocean was really calm, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy that. Also, since the resort faces the west, you will be able to witness the most spectacular sunsets there. We enjoyed beautiful sunsets every single night.
Dreams Vallarta Bay: Restaurants, Dining and Drinks
Dreams Vallarta Bay has several restaurants and dining options around the resort. My experiences are going to be a little bit different from the average guest as I follow a vegan diet. I found that there were vegan options at this resort, but it wasn’t anything that I would rave about.
Dining here was perfectly satisfactory and I enjoyed some yummy food. However, I did really enjoy going off the resort to the local Mexican restaurants for some of the most amazing food. Keep in mind that you can have the best of both worlds: dine part of the time at the resort and frequent some local establishments since the hotel is so close to downtown Puerto Vallarta.
Carnival International Buffet
We dined at the Carnival International Buffet every morning, and we also ate here on our first afternoon at the resort. The staff are always so friendly and helpful, so you can ask if you have any questions about the food.
Every day for breakfast, I ate potatoes in some form (breakfast potatoes / hashbrowns), fresh fruit (watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew melon), bananas, and toasted bagels with peanut butter. They often keep the peanut butter in a small fridge behind the counter, so you may need to ask the staff to scoop some onto your plate for you.
If you’re vegetarian, you may find the buffet to be a little bit easier. There are lots of options for eggs and there’s dairy in some of the dishes. Dining at the buffet for lunch is pretty decent, too. They have various stations with Mexican eats, sushi, and stir fries. You can get a vegetable stir fry with rice (no tofu, sadly) and you can also request veggie sushi.
Tamarindo Mexican Restaurant
Tamarindo Mexican Restaurant was my favourite a la carte restaurant at the resort. They will bring nachos with salsa and guacamole to the table to start. We also ordered these delicious cucumber margaritas that were so refreshing (we saw someone else drinking them, so we asked to try them, too!).
In terms of vegan options at Tamarindo, you can start with the cucumber and beet salad, which is naturally vegan. Then, it’s possible to order vegetarian fajitas, which come with refried beans, guacamole, vegetables, and flour tortillas.
Capers Italian Restaurant
On another evening, we tried the Capers Italian Restaurant, which is adults-only dining. The staff took great care to make sure that my meal was vegan, even including the bread that they brought to the table (they brought out oil and vinegar instead of butter).
I tried the bruschetta bread to start (really yummy, but wish the portion was bigger), the minestrone soup (a tad too salty, but otherwise good), and pasta with tomato sauce as my main meal. The pasta dish wasn’t anything terribly exciting, but I was glad to have a vegan option.
Barefoot Grill (Outdoors by the Pool)
The Barefoot Grill at the Secrets Vallarta Bay had two vegetarian/vegan options: a veggie burger and a falafel pita with tahini sauce. I really loved the falafel pita and ate it almost every day! You can also order fries or visit their nacho station (chips, fresh salsa, hot sauce, guacamole).
The Barefoot Grill on the Dreams Vallarta Bay side unfortunately doesn’t have any vegan options as I didn’t see the veggie burger or the falafel pita on the menu. However, if you do follow a special diet like I do, I would explain this to the staff members. Perhaps they will be able to bring a veggie burger or a falafel over to you.
Did I mention that the staff is amazing? While I usually went up to the Barefoot Grill to order, you can also request food from the servers around the beach and the pool. One day, we felt like eating some fries as a snack, and the staff member brought some huge plates of fries over to us!
Coco Cafe (Coffee Shop)
The coffee shop at Dreams Vallarta Bay, Coco Cafe, was the best coffee shop I’ve ever visited at a resort. They carried both almond milk and soy milk, and you could order a wide range of coffee and espresso beverages.
Order hot or iced drinks. We usually got soy caramel lattes every single day! I also ordered an iced cappuccino one day as well. Highly recommend you stop by for your morning coffee or that afternoon pick me up.
The Bars at Dreams Vallarta Bay Resort
There are several bars at the Dreams Vallarta Bay Resort: the Manatees swim-up bar, Moments (the open air lobby bar), and the Preferred Club Bar (for Preferred Club status guests). If you’re relaxing by the beach or pool, you’ll be able to order your drinks directly through the staff. There’s also a staff member pushing a cart of premium alcohol that you can purchase for an extra cost.
I loved all of the slushy daiquiri drinks while I was by the pool (peach, mango, strawberry, banana) and mojitos. We also ordered tequila sunrises one night from the Moments lobby bar. Plus, there are fancier drinks at the Preferred Club Bar if you’re a Club Level guest.
Room Service at Dreams Vallarta Bay
You can enjoy 24 hour room service at Dreams Vallarta Bay. Make simple room service orders through the AMR Collection app on your phone. My orders were always a little more complex (ordering vegetable fajitas, salsa and chips, etc.) so I usually called room service to
Evening Activities at Dreams Vallarta Bay
There are activities, shows, and live music each night at Dreams Vallarta Bay. While we didn’t really participate in many of the resort activities, you will be entertained if you enjoy them. This resort is pretty laid back in terms of nightlife. Dreams Vallarta Bay is geared towards couples and families, and Secrets Vallarta Bay is geared towards couples (an adults-only resort).
Dreams Vallarta Bay hosts a Mexican Fiesta Night once a week. On this evening, Tamarindo (the Mexican restaurant) is closed because there is a giant Mexican food buffet by the pools. Many of the deck chairs are removed earlier that day to make room for the large circular tables. The staff also brings in a small stage where a Mexican mariachi band performs during dinner. Later, there’s a live entertainment show. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to eat any of the food at the Mexican Fiesta Night (only a plate of fruit and a small salad was vegan), though there are vegan options at the Tamarindo restaurant.
Other performances and activities in the evening include the Huichol Neon Party (a silent disco), the Show Prehispanico, live music (guitar player in both hotel lobbies), karaoke nights, and movie nights. On movie nights, the film is projected onto a big wall at the theatre and they serve little bags of popcorn.
Location of Dreams Vallarta Bay in Puerto Vallarta
Dreams Vallarta Bay and Secrets Vallarta Bay are very close to downtown Puerto Vallarta, known as Centro. While many resorts are quite a distance from town, we chose the Dreams Vallarta Bay based on its location. You won’t feel isolated from the city and it’s easy to divide your time between the resort and the town.
Puerto Vallarta is a very safe place to visit, especially near the resorts, Centro and the Romantic Zone. You can feel safe walking everywhere, even if you’re by yourself. Exercise the usual caution if you’re walking around at night. Generally speaking, Puerto Vallarta is very safe for tourists (and for female travellers).
Getting Around Puerto Vallarta
From Dreams Vallarta Bay and Secrets Vallarta Bay, it’s very easy to walk into town. Walk south on the main street and you’ll walk right into Centro and the Romantic Zone. Centro is about a 20 minute walk from the resort, and the Romantic Zone is approximately a 30-35 minute walk.
You can also take a taxi or an Uber all over Puerto Vallarta. We were so surprised at the low costs of the Uber rides. Between our resort and the city centre, the Uber only costs a couple of dollars at most. We enjoyed walking mostly, but we called Ubers on occasion as well.
If you booked this as a package vacation, the airport transfers are likely included with your package rate. However, we found that the airport transfers took a long time and we had to wait for other passengers to show up/get picked up at other hotels. Half the time, we waited for ages and the other passengers were no-shows.
If you’re looking to save a little bit of money and hassle, you can take the scheduled airport transfer. But, the airport in Puerto Vallarta is not very far from the Dreams Vallarta Bay resort. You can easily take a taxi from the hotel to the airport and vice versa. The cost to get a taxi from the resort to the hotel is only about $15. It might cost a little bit more from the airport to the hotel.
If there’s one thing I can warn you about ahead of time, it’s when you arrive at Puerto Vallarta Airport. There will be very aggressive people in the airport who will approach you to help you with your transportation. Bypass all of these people. They are trying to sell you tours and timeshares. Look specifically for your airport transfer located outdoors, just when you walk outside of the airport (the specific representative from Air Canada Vacations, Westjet Vacations, etc.) or you can also get a taxi outside.
Day Trips and Tours in Puerto Vallarta
There are lots of fantastic and memorable activities, tours, and day trips from Puerto Vallarta that are easy to access from the resort. I’ll list several suggestions briefly, including the things that we did on our trip to PV.
Walk Around Centro and the Romantic Zone
You can’t visit Puerto Vallarta without walking around town! From the Dreams Vallarta Bay resort, walk out of the hotel and south on the main road until you reach Centro. Then, take a stroll along the Malecon Boardwalk by the waterfront. You’ll see lots of interesting sculptures, and you might even witness the Papantla Flying Men (Voladores de Papantla), an ancient Mesoamerican ritual.
There are lots of shops, cafes, and restaurants. Continue walking down the cobblestone streets around the Romantic Zone. You can also see lots of colourful street art and murals, as well as some brightly painted facades. We also dined in Centro and the Romantic Zone and stopped for coffee. It’s a great place to watch the sunset, too.
Mirador el Cerro de la Cruz (Viewpoint and Observation Tower)
Mirador el Cerro de la Cruz offers one of the best views of Puerto Vallarta. Climb up a steep hill to a staircase to reach an incredible viewpoint. You can even climb an additional set of white stairs for an even better view. Enjoy panoramic scenery of Puerto Vallarta and the Pacific Ocean.
On the other side of the lookout deck, there are even more beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. We noticed a lot of people walking up and down the stairs as a workout, and I feel like many locals probably enjoy this spot on a regular basis. Mirador de la Cruz is not to be missed.
Pro tip: take an Uber to the base of the stairs to avoid walking up a big hill to reach the starting point! Also, I should note that there is a funicular at the bottom, but it was not in use when we were there. A friend of mine let me know that it hasn’t been in use every time she’s visited, so I’m not sure if it’s operational anymore. Maybe you’ll luck out and get to ride to the top instead of taking the stairs!
Rhythms of the Night Cruise and Dinner Show
Rhythms of the Night is the number one activity on the list of things to do in Puerto Vallarta. It’s an evening experience that you won’t soon forget! It all starts on a boat cruise at sunset through the Bay of Banderas. Then, you’ll be welcomed onto the beach for an authentic dinner beneath the stars as you watch the Rhythms of the Night performance. There are vibrant dancers and drummers in spectacular costumes. Book your ticket to Rhythms of the Night ahead of time as it’s likely to sell out nightly.
Marietas Islands and Hidden Beach
Take a day trip to the Marietas Islands and the Hidden Beach for an unforgettable day. There’s a maximum capacity of 15 people on this small group tour. In fact, access to the Hidden Beach is protected and limited to a set number of visitors per day to protect the wildlife at the national park.
While you’ll only be able to spend 15-20 minutes at the Hidden Beach (time is limited by the national park), it’s a once in a lifetime experience. You’ll also be able to go snorkeling and enjoy some other beautiful regions around the Marietas Islands on this trip. Book your tour here.
Vallarta Botanical Gardens
The Vallarta Botanical Gardens are absolutely gorgeous. You can visit the plant conservatory, forest preserve, experience the nearby hiking trails, visit a vanilla plantation, and more. Relax among orchids, cacti, and coffee trees. You can marvel at butterflies and hummingbirds that are native to the area.
You’ll need to take an Uber or taxi to the Vallarta Botanical Gardens as it’s located about 30 minutes from Centro. There’s also the local bus to “El Tuito” at the corner of Carranza and Aguacate streets, in the Romantic Zone. The bus stops here every 30 minutes and you can take it back to PV, too. The fare is 30 pesos.
ATV and Zip Line Adventure
Seeking an adventure? You can ride ATVs and go zip lining all in one tour! Travel by ATV through small villages and through the Sierra Madre Mountains. Fly through the jungle on an exhilarating zipline. As you experience this adventure, you’ll get to see some of the most beautiful areas of Puerto Vallarta, too. Book your tour here.
Day Trip to Yelapa and Majahuitas
From Puerto Vallarta, you’ll take a boat cruise to the brilliant coves of Yelapa and Majahuitas. Admire the scenery and you might be able to spot some dolphins and whales. Go snorkeling at the Majahuitas Cove for the chance to see amazing marine wildlife. Then, you’ll be able to enjoy the breathtaking Yelapa beach and its hidden waterfall. Book your tour here.
Day Trip to Sayulita
One thing that we had planned to do (but didn’t end up having the chance) was to take a day trip to Sayulita. Sayulita is about an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta, but it’s a great little spot to spend the day from what I heard from friends. You can enjoy the beach, go surfing, wander around the little restaurants and cafes, and more.
It’s possible to reach Sayulita from Puerto Vallarta by public bus, hiring a driver, or taking an Uber. You might have issues taking an Uber back to Puerto Vallarta from Sayulita, so plan for alternate arrangements back if you take an Uber to get there. To make your journey extra easy and enjoyable, you can book a day trip tour to San Pancho and Sayulita.
More All-Inclusive Resort Reviews
Here are some other all-inclusive resorts that we have reviewed that might interest you. Check out our 30 best tips and hacks for all-inclusive resorts before you travel!
- Marival Armony Luxury Resort & Suites, Punta Mita
- Las Alamandas Boutique Resort in Mexico
- Grand Palladium Riviera Maya, Mexico (Grand Palladium White Sands & TRS Yucatan)
- Sandals Grande St Lucian, Saint Lucia
- Riu Palace Tropical Bay, Negril, Jamaica
More Travel Blog Posts About Mexico
Seeking inspiration and advice for more upcoming trips to Mexico? Here are some more travel articles that can help you:
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- Vegan Guide for Playa del Carmen
- How to Spend 1 Day in Playa del Carmen
- 50 Best Mayan Ruins and Archaeological Sites in Mexico
- Things to Do in Riviera Maya, Mexico
- Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
- Chacchoben Mayan Ruins in Costa Maya
- The Best Day Trips From San Miguel de Allende
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Lauren is the full-time travel blogger and content creator behind Justin Plus Lauren. She started Justin Plus Lauren in 2013 and has travelled to 50+ countries around the world. Lauren is an expert on vegan travel as one of the very first vegan travel bloggers. She also focuses on outdoor adventure travel, eco and sustainable travel, and creating amazing travel itineraries for cities and small towns.