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Info Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is a Mexican beach resort city situated on the Pacific Ocean's Bahía de Banderas. The 2010 census reported Puerto Vallarta's population as 255,725 making it the fifth largest city in the state of Jalisco, and the second largest urban agglomeration in the state after the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area. The City of Puerto Vallarta is the government seat of the Municipality of Puerto Vallarta which comprises the city as well as population centers outside of the city extending from Boca de Tomatlán to the Nayarit border (the Ameca River). The city is located at. The municipality has an area of 502.19 square miles (1,300.7 km2). To the north it borders the southwest part of the state of Nayarit. To the east it borders the municipality of Mascota and San Sebastián del Oeste, and to the south it borders the municipalities of Talpa de Allende and Cabo Corriente.
Puerto Vallarta is named after Ignacio Vallarta, a former governor of Jalisco. InSpanish, Puerto Vallarta is frequently shortened to "Vallarta", while English speakers call the city P.V. for short. In internet shorthand the city is often referred to as PVR, after the International Air Transport Association airport code for its Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport.
|POPULATION :||• City 255,725|
• Metro 379,886
• Municipality 255,725
|TIME ZONE :||Time zone CST (UTC−6)|
Summer (DST) CDT (UTC−5)
|AREA :||1,300.7 km2 (502.19 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||7 m (23 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||20°40′N 105°16′W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.5%|
• Female: 51.5%
|AREA CODE :||322|
|POSTAL CODE :||48300|
|DIALING CODE :||+52 322|
Puerto Vallarta is a city and popular vacation resort on the Pacific Coast of Mexico.
Around the Bay, beautiful beaches, lush jungles, and sparkling waterfalls offer many opportunities for the adventurous, while five star resorts, world-class shopping, and gourmet restaurants satisfy even the most sophisticated traveler. Stretching from the south end of Old Town to central downtown, a newly extended and refurbished boardwalk along the ocean, called the Malecon, passes by any number of shops, restaurants, and hotels, and often plays host to mimes, breakdancers, clowns and artists.
The residents of Puerto Vallarta are very friendly and generally willing to help with directions and other requests. Old Town Vallarta (or the Zona Romantica district) south of the River Cuale is more like a Mexican town and less like a tourist trap.
English is widely spoken, and as a tourist, destination prices are higher than many other places in Mexico. Puerto Vallarta is very crowded at holiday times, if planning a visit to Mexico that coincides with a major holiday consider opting to visit Mexico City or Guadalajara instead. The cities empty out as Mexicans and tourists alike flood to the beaches.
Puerto Vallarta was once named as La ciudad más amigable del mundo (The Friendliest City in the World), as the sign reads when entering from Nayarit. Today, the presence of numerous sidewalk touts selling time-shares and tequila render the city's atmosphere more akin to tourist-heavy resorts like Cancun and Acapulco, but overall the city's reputation remains relatively undiminished.
Tourism in Puerto Vallarta has increased steadily over the years and makes up for 50% of the city's economic activity. The high season for international tourism in Puerto Vallarta extends from late November through March (or later depending on the timing of the college Spring Break period in the USA.) The city is especially popular with US residents from the western U.S. because of the sheer number of direct flights between Puerto Vallarta and Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle,Denver and Phoenix. The city is also popular with tourists from western Canada with a number of direct scheduled and charter flights from western Canadian cities.
Puerto Vallarta is also a highly popular vacation spot for domestic tourists. It is a popular weekend destination for residents of Guadalajara (tapatíos), and a popular national destination for vacations such as Semana Santa (the week preceding Easter) and Christmas. Also in recent years Acapulco has experienced a rise in drug related violence and consequently Puerto Vallarta has absorbed a lot of the Mexico City resort vacation business (Acapulco has long been a common destination for tourists from Mexico City).
Puerto Vallarta has become a popular retirement destination for US and Canadian retirees. This trend has spawned a condominium development boom in the city.
Rapid growth in tourist volume in Puerto Vallarta has given rise to rapid growth in hotel and rental apartment construction. This growth has spilled over from the city limits into Nuevo Vallarta in the neighboring state of Nayarit. The area is one of the fastest growing regions in the Americas.
Guadalajara and Acapulco were common vacation destinations for gay men and lesbians from Mexico City and, especially, the United States and Canada in the 1980s and 1990s. However, since that time, Puerto Vallarta has developed into Mexico's premier resort town as a sort of satellite gay space for its big sister Guadalajara, much as Fire Island is to New York City and Palm Springs is to Los Angeles. It is now considered the most welcoming and gay-friendly destination in the country, dubbed the "San Francisco of Mexico." Previously quite conservative, the municipal government has become increasingly supportive in recognizing and accepting the LGBT tourism segment and in supporting LGBT events such as Vallarta gay pride celebrations which launched in 2013 and is now held annually to coincide with US Memorial Day weekend. It boasts a gay scene, centered in the city's south-side Zona Romántica, of hotels and resorts as well as many bars, nightclubs and a gay beach on the main shore. Puerto Vallarta has been cited as the number one gay beach destination in Latin America, with city officials claiming a 5% tourism increase in 2013.
Puerto Vallarta's proximity to the Bay of Banderas, the agricultural valley of the Ameca River, and the important mining centers in the Sierra have given the town a more interesting past than most Mexican tourist destinations. Puerto Vallarta was a thriving Mexican village long before it became an international tourist destination. Tourism was a major economic activity because of the climate, scenery, tropical beaches, and rich cultural history.
Pre-Hispanic times to the 19th century
Few details are known about the history of the area prior to the 19th century. There is archaeological evidence of continuous human habitation from 580 BC, and there is archeological evidence (from sites near Ixtapa and in Col. Lázaro Cardenas) that the area belonged to the Aztatlán culture which dominated Jalisco, Nayarit and Michoacán from approx. 900-1200 AD. The limited evidence in occidental Mexican archeology have limited the current knowledge about pre-historic life in the area.
Spanish missionary and conquistador documents chronicle skirmishes between the Spanish colonizers and the local peoples. In 1524, for example, a large battle between Hernán Cortés and an army of 10,000 to 20,000 Indians resulted in Cortés taking control of much of the Ameca valley. The valley was then named Banderas (flags) after the colorful standards carried by the natives.
Also the area appears on maps and in sailing logs as a bay of refuge for the Manila Galleon trade as well as for other coastal seafarers. As such it figures in some accounts of pirate operations and smuggling and pirate contravention efforts by the viceregal government. During the 17th and 18th centuries the Banderas Valley and its beaches along the Bay of Banderas served as supply points for ships seeking refuge in the bay. The area also served as a point where smuggled goods could be sent on to the Sierra towns near Mascota, evading the customs operations at San Blas, Nayarit.
El Carrizal and Las Peñas - 19th century
During the 19th century the history of Puerto Vallarta, then called El Carrizal or Las Peñas, was linked to the history of the Sierra towns of San Sebastian del Oeste, Talpa de Allende and Mascota. While today these towns are considered quaint tourist destinations, during much of the 18th century, Mascota was Jalisco's second largest town, after Guadalajara. Mascota and its neighboring towns located in the high plateaus of the Sierra, developed as agricultural towns to support the growing mining operations in the Sierra.
During the 18th century, as Mascota grew, Puerto Vallarta grew with it, transforming itself from a small fishing and pearl-diving village into a small beach-landing port serving the Sierra towns. At the time the main port serving Jalisco was located at San Blas, but the inconvenient overland route from San Blas to the Sierra towns made Puerto Vallarta a more convenient alternative for smaller shipments, not to mention smuggling operations which evaded the tax collectors at San Blas. Puerto Vallarta also became a vacation destination for residents of the Sierra Towns, and by the mid 19th century, the town already had its regularly returning population of vacationers. Most of the early settlers in Puerto Vallarta were families who had left the Sierra towns for one reason or another.
1859 saw an important turning point for the small village, then known as Las Peñas. That year the Union en Cuale mining company took possession of land extending from Los Arcos to the Pitillal river and extending back up into the Sierra for miles. The Union en Cuale company was owned in part by the Camarena brothers of Guadalajara who had developed a small trade in oil palm in Las Peñas. The purpose of the government's sale of the land to the company was to provide for shipping, fishing and agricultural support for the mining operations which were growing quite quickly in the Sierra.
The official founding story of Las Peñas and thus of Puerto Vallarta is that it was founded by Guadalupe Sánchez Torres, on December 12, 1851, as Las Peñas de Santa María de Guadalupe. Unfortunately the record of Sr. Sanchez's purchase of property in Las Peñas dates the sale to 1859. Also even as early as 1850 the area was already peopled by fishermen, pearl divers, smugglers and foragers, all of whom had something of a permanent existence in the area. Given the existing historical documents it is simply impossible to date the first permanent settlement in the area,
There is however no doubt the development of Las Peñas into a self-sustaining village of any significant size happened in the 1860s as the mouth of the Cuale area was exploited to support the operations of the newly enfranchised Union en Cuale company. As such 1859 marks the beginning of Puerto Vallarta as a village. Twenty years later, by 1885, the village comprised about 250 homes and about 800 residents.
The early municipality - early 20th century
During the Cristero War, the municipality was twice taken over by Cristero forces (April 1927 and January 1928). After it was recaptured for a second time, the national government stationed a small garrison there under Major Ángel Ocampo. The garrison was stationed near the mouth of the Cuale River and is responsible for planting many of the palms that now line the beaches near the mouth of the Cuale River to help limit beach erosion during heavy rains in October 1928. One casualty of the skirmishes was local pastor Padre Ayala who was exiled to Guadalajara for his role in fomenting the local revolt. He died there in 1943, though his remains were returned 10 years later and interred in the main parish church of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
As mining activities in the Sierra waned in the early years of the 20th century, Puerto Vallarta and the agricultural valley to the north of the city became important destinations for those leaving the Sierra towns and looking for a place to settle. Many of those who arrived had family members already living in Puerto Vallarta, and the pattern of migration that ensued turned the town into a collection of more or less extended families, giving it the cohesion of a typical sierra town.
From 1925 until 1935, the Montgomery Fruit Company operated in the area around Ixtapa. Friction with the state government over labor issues eventually led to the venture being abandoned, but for ten years it provided an important source of employment in the area.
The first airplane service arrived in 1932, with electrical service on a small scale arriving about the same time. The first suspension bridge over the Cuale went up in 1933. The city's first plumbing system was started in 1939. In 1942, Puerto Vallarta was finally connected by road to Compostela, Nay. Until then the only access to Puerto Vallarta was by sea, air, or by mule trails to the sierra towns. Also in 1942, in the New York-based magazineModern Mexico the first advertisement for a Puerto Vallarta vacation appeared, sponsored by the Air Transport Company of Jalisco. By 1945, the company was landing DC-3s in Puerto Vallarta (carrying 21 passengers).
By the 1950s, Puerto Vallarta had started to attract Americans, mostly writers and artists in search of a retreat from the USA of the era of Eisenhower and McCarthy. Gringo Gulch began to develop as an expatriate neighborhood on the hill above the Centro. The city also attracted Mexican artists and writers who were willing to trade the comforts of life in the larger cities for its scenic and bucolic advantages.
In 1956, the Mascota mule trail was replaced by a packed dirt road. In 1958, 24-hour electrical generation arrived. A new airport arrived in 1962 connecting Puerto Vallarta with Los Angeles via Mazatlán, and the Mexican Aviation Company began offering package trips.
By the early 1960s, the population had started to spread beyond the Centro and Gringo Gulch, and the Colonias of 5 Diciembre (north of the Centro) and Emiliano Zapata (south of the Cuale River) began to grow.
The modern resort - 1960s to the present
Six influences in the 1960s and 1970s launched Puerto Vallarta into becoming a major resort destination.
First: The Mexican federal government resolved century-old property disputes of land that had communal status, land the federal government had appropriated from the Union en Cuale mining company to be parceled out as communal farms. The land's communal (ejido) status had stifled development in the town for much of the 20th century. A significant transition of communal lands into private ownership within present Puerto Vallarta city limits took place in 1973 with the establishment of the Vallarta Land Trust (Fideicomiso) to oversee selling government land into private hands, and using the sales revenue to develop the City's infrastructure.
Second: American director John Huston filmed his 1964 movie The Night of the Iguana in Mismaloya, a small town just south of Puerto Vallarta. During the filming, the US media gave extensive coverage to Elizabeth Taylor's extramarital affair with Richard Burton, as well as covering the frequent fighting between Huston and the film's four stars. The subsequent publicity helped put Puerto Vallarta on the map for US tourists.
Third: The Mexican government invested significantly in transportation improvements making Puerto Vallarta an easy travel destination. To make Puerto Vallarta accessible by jet aircraft the government developed the City's international airport. Ground transportation significantly improved. Government invested heavily in the development of highway and utility infrastructure. Another vital improvement for the city was the El Salado wharf (where the current cruise terminal is located), inaugurated on June 1, 1970, making Puerto Vallarta the first harbor town in Jalisco. Improvements and investment in infrastructure led to Puerto Vallarta experiencing tourist booms, starting in the late 1960s. While tourists from the United States and Canada started flowing in, tourists in Puerto Vallarta were principally from Mexico, who started traveling to Puerto Vallarta because the improved infrastructure (4-lane paved highways) made travel easy and convenient (e.g., Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta).
Fourth: In 1968 the Puerto Vallarta municipality was elevated to City status. The elevation in status reflected interest by Mexican federal and state governments in developing the Puerto Vallarta as an international resort destination. Puerto Vallarta has since also attracted a lively expatriate community from the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Fifth: The City showcased its new image. In August 1970 visit of U.S. President Richard Nixon who met with Mexican then-President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz in Puerto Vallarta for treaty negotiations. The visit showcased Puerto Vallarta's recently developed international airport and resort infrastructure. The U.S. Presidential visit contributed significantly to getting Puerto Vallarta's name in the news and visibility as a resort destination.
Sixth: Resort hotel development in Puerto Vallarta boomed in the 1970s. Prior to 1973 hotels in Puerto Vallarta tended to be modest, mid-priced establishments. Only two large sized luxury hotels existed (the Real and the Posada Vallarta). After 1973, Puerto Vallarta experienced rapid growth in global-brand luxury hotels and international resorts, to where in 2013 there are approximately 41 five star and four star rated hotels.
An economic downturn in Mexico caused tourists to flock to Puerto Vallarta. In 1982, the peso was devalued and Puerto Vallarta became a bargain destination for US tourists. Consequently, the mid-1980s saw a marked and rapid rise in the tourist volume. This uptick fueled additional development, for example the Marina which was started in 1986. But Puerto Vallarta's success caused other Mexican cities to take note. The early 1990s saw Mexico's government and private business develop other resort destinations, such as Ixtapa and Cancún. This took away Puerto Vallarta's exclusivity of sorts on the foreign tourist trade, and caused a slump in travel to Puerto Vallarta.
With growth comes problems. During the early 1980s Puerto Vallarta experienced a marked increase in problems related to poverty. While the devaluation of the peso brought record numbers of tourists to the area, it also stifled investment and thus construction. So while more and more workers were arriving in Puerto Vallarta to try to cash in on the booming tourist trade, less and less was being done to accommodate them with housing and related infrastructure.
So during the mid-1980s Puerto Vallarta experienced a rapid expansion of impromptu communities poorly served by even basic public services. This very low standard of living leveled out Puerto Vallarta's resort boom. In the late 1980s Puerto Vallarta government worked to alleviate the situation by developing housing and infrastructure. However, the legacy of the 1980s boom remains even today where the outlying areas of Puerto Vallarta suffer from poor provision of basic services (i.e. water, sewage, roads).
In 1993, the federal Agrarian Law was amended allowing for more secure foreign tenure of former ejido land. Those controlling ejido land were allowed to petition for regularization, a process that converted their controlling interest into fee simple ownership. This meant that the property could be sold, and it led to a boom in the development of private residences, mostly condominiums, and a new phase of Puerto Vallarta's expansion began, centered more on accommodating retirees,snowbirds, and those who visited the city enough to make purchasing a condominium or a time-share a cost-effective option.
Puerto Vallarta's climate is typical Tropical wet and dry (Köppen climate classification Aw). The average daily high temperature is 86 °F (30 °C); average daily low temperature is 70 °F (21 °C); average daily humidity is 75%. The rainy season extends from mid June through mid October, with most of the rain between July and September. August is the city's wettest month, with an average of 14 days with significant precipitation. Even during the rainy season precipitation tends to be concentrated in large rainstorms. Occasional tropical storms will bring thunderstorms to the city in November, though the month is typically dry. There is a marked dry season in the winter. February, March and April are the months with the least cloud cover.
Prevailing winds are from the southwest, and most weather systems approaching Puerto Vallarta are consequently weakened as they pass over Cabo Corriente. Thus even during the rainy season Puerto Vallarta's weather tends to be mild compared to other areas along the Mexican Pacific coast.
Hurricanes seldom strike Puerto Vallarta. In 2002, Hurricane Kenna, a category 5 hurricane, made landfall about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of Puerto Vallarta, and the city suffered some damage from the resulting storm surge. In 1971,Hurricane Lily, a category 1 hurricane, caused serious flooding on the Isla Cuale, prompting the city to relocate all of its residents to the new Colonia Palo Seco.
Climate data for Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
|Record high °C (°F)||35.0|
|Average high °C (°F)||28.8|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||22.8|
|Average low °C (°F)||16.7|
|Record low °C (°F)||11|
|Source #1: World Meteorological Organization.|
|Source #2: Weatherbase|
|24 °C (75 °F)||24 °C (75 °F)||24 °C (75 °F)||25 °C (77 °F)||27 °C (81 °F)||28 °C (82 °F)||29 °C (84 °F)||30 °C (86 °F)||30 °C (86 °F)||30 °C (86 °F)||28 °C (82 °F)||25 °C (77 °F)|
Puerto Vallarta lies on a narrow coastal plain at the foot of the Sierras Cuale and San Sebastián, parts of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The plain widens to the north, reaching its widest point along the Ameca river. Three rivers flow from the Sierra through the area. From south to north they are the Cuale, the Pitillal, and the Ameca. A number of arroyos also run from the Sierra to the coastal plain. Many of the valleys of these rivers and arroyos are inhabited. Also development has to some extent spread up the hillsides from the coastal plain.
The city proper comprises four main areas: the hotel zone along the shore to the north, Olas Altas - Col Zapata to the south of the Cuale river (recently named Zona Romantica in some tourist brochures), the Centro along the shore between these two areas, and a number of residential areas to the east of the hotel zone. The oldest section of the town is the area of Col. Centro near the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, especially Hidalgo street.
Puerto Vallarta, like much of the west coast of North America, is prone to earthquakes, though Puerto Vallarta tends to experience only peripheral effects of earthquakes centered further south. In 1995, an earthquake located off the Colima coast shook the crown from the top of the Roman Catholic Church.
Nearly 50% of the workforce is employed in tourist related industries: hotels, restaurants, personal services, and transportation. The municipality does however continue to have strong agricultural, industrial and commercial sectors.
Puerto Vallarta comprises numerous neighborhoods (colonias). Notable neighborhoods include (from South to North)
- Res. Conchas Chinas - hillside Southeast from Los Muertos beach.
- Col. Alta Vista.
- Col. Emiliano Zapata - South of the Cuale (called Zona Romantica or "Old Town" in tourist brochures)
- Cols. Caloso and Canoas - east of Col. Emiliano Zapata and up the Rio Cuale.
- Col. Centro - the oldest section of town and its current center - North of the Cuale river to Parque Hidalgo
- Col. 5 Diciembre - just north of the Centro, and with Col. Zapata among the first neighborhoods beyond the Centro to be developed
- Col. Lázaro Cardenas - which houses a large recreation complex and the city's largest fish market - Parque Hidalgo to the Libramiento
- Col. Versalles - the old Zona Rosa, prior to the development of the North Hotel Zone
- Cols. Bugambillas and Ramblases - located on the NW slopes of the hills East of the city and relatively poor areas serviced mostly by dirt roads except for the hillside areas which have good views and thus attract residents with more resources
- Del. Pitillal - once a small town and now a populous neighborhood, a separatedelegación but now part of the City of Puerto Vallarta proper
- Col. Bobadilla - just north of Pitillal and also an important residential area
The city also includes numerous fraccionamientos, densely built residential blocks that provide affordable housing for the city's workforce.
Additionally the municipality of Puerto Vallarta comprises a few other significant population centers (from South to North):
- Boca de Tomatlán (pop. 570)
- Mismaloya (pop. 970)
- Las Juntas
- Ixtapa (pop. 25,700) (n.b. there is a more well known Ixtapa in Guerrero - a resort development near the village of Zihuatanejo)
- La Desembocada
- El Ranchito (El Colesio)
- El Colorado
- Las Palmas de Arriba
Prices in Puerto Vallarta
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.05|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$7.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$11.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$22.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$4.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$1.75|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.20|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$4.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$4.80|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.19|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$2.40|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$1.00|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$59.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M.)||1||$30.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$70.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$0.40|
40 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
170 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport (IATA: PVR) is located just to the North of Puerto Vallarta proper, and just south of Nuevo Vallarta. Most major US airlines serve the airport along with Aeromexico. It has been recently remodeled, though waits can still occur when more than two flights have landed. Note that the arrival area is plagued by timeshare hucksters. They will offer to arrange a cab for you and try to rope you into a timeshare sales presentation. After you clear customs, walk quickly through the next room - the one housing the hucksters - continue walking past the rope-line. Now look for the official taxi kiosk out in the main airport atrium. You purchase your taxi trip here. All other offers of cab rides you will receive between customs and the kiosk will be from timeshare hucksters. Ignore every one of them. The bad experience of those taken in can ruin one's first hours in PVR, and that would be a shame. Or hire private transportation.
If you've packed lightly you can take the city buses into town. Continue straight ahead as you exit the arrivals area and exit the doors in front of you. The bus stop is to your left, under the pedestrian overpass (1/4 block from the airport door). Wait for a bus (5 minutes or so) marked Centro (but NOT marked Pitillal or Bobadilla), wave it down, pay your M$6.50 pesos, and enjoy the ride. The bus stops all throughout the town. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes for the bus to get to its farthest southerly stop. You've just saved $20! You don't need exact change for the bus. Drivers will make change for bills $50.00 pesos & smaller.
There are many party boats that leave the coast from the Marina for day trips. Some stop at various beaches. You are even able to go horseback riding up to a waterfall at one beach south of Puerto Vallarta. Major cruise ships loaded with thousands of tourists from the United States as well as Europe dock in the city's main port typically spending an entire day there.
The main bus station is north of town, past the airport.
Puerto Vallarta buses go to the north or south, you can take a bus to Tijuana or Mexico City that connect to the south.
Luxury lines as ETN and Primera Plus runs many buses from the principle cities as Guadalajara (also stopping at the western Zapopan terminal). If you are traveling in a peak holiday period booking ahead is not essential the bus companies will schedule extra buses.
Second class buses run from coastal towns throughout.
To catch a local bus into town, exit the bus station and keep walking across the parking area. Then walk to your right toward the corner. The city buses will stop here. Any bus you pick up here will take you all the way down to the "Romantic Zone", about a half an hour drive, for just M$7.50! Although not really known to tourists, the buses are one of the best ways to mingle with the locals, as well as getting a nice view of town.
It is possible to walk between the airport and the bus station, however catching a city bus is a cheap and reliable option.
There are modern, well maintained toll roads all the way from the border, other roads are not as well maintained, but are still suitable for the drive.
Private pre-arranged transportation is also readily available and can be arranged by contacting a company by phone, or booking online.
Transportation - Get Around
Hotels may provide a price list for cabs (expect to pay about 50 pesos for short trips, and 200 for longer trips). Hotels will also offer (expensive) transport from airport to hotel., but it is much better to take a taxi. If you've booked with a travel agency, they will most likely provide you with transportation to and from the airport. Be prepared for fast speeds, as the cab drivers have schedules to adhere to. Many of the cabs do not have working seatbelts or speedometers as well. Taxi drivers tend to gather at the intersection close to the liquor outlet in the Centro District. They are friendly and you can negotiate trips outside of Puerto Vallarta at a very reasonable cost on slow days. They will wait for you while you dine or shop as well as photograph you and your mates. Include a small tip with the very reasonable fare.
Tip: From the airport, there are two types of taxis available to get you to where you are going. The white federal taxis are available immediately upon exiting the airport but are more expensive. Cross the pedestrian bridge over the highway for the cheaper yellow taxis that are more common in other parts of the city.
- Local trips
Bus trips cost around 7.50 pesos, which is about 50 US cents (0.45 Euro) that you pay to the bus driver when you get in and every ride is good for as long as you have to stay on... the whole city if you'd like. It is easy to find a bus stop. You will see large amounts of people loitering on the sidewalk. If you wait a few minutes, a bus will stop as they run quite frequently. Look for your travel location on the bus windshield. Buses stop almost every five to ten blocks and at peak hours tend to get very full & can get very hot, so be ready for that. If you are a man, be ready to give up your seat to women if the bus becomes crowded. Bus drivers will make change for any amount up to 50.00 pesos, but won't break larger bills. (these prices updated August 2010)
The buses are very reliable quite handy to get to places like Pitillal (the rapidly growing suburb to the NE) and Ixtapa (including the nearby U of Guadalajara campus with its gallery and crocodile farm). They are also useful for travelling from the hotel zone and marina area to the downtown or old-town areas. Any bus marked Centro will pass through both. Buses marked Tunel will skip downtown and head directly to the old-town / zona romantica via the tunnel bypass.
- Out of town trips
You can visit Bucerias for 14 pesos, $.85. You can also go to Punta Mita for 26 pesos, $1.50. Mismaloya buses charge around 8 pesos. There are also larger buses that can take you to Guadalajara, which is about a 5-hour trip.
You can catch buses for Mismaloya along Basilio Badillo on the corner just West of where you see them lined up.
The easiest way to catch a bus to Bucerias, Punta Mita or points in between is to catch a city bus to Wal-Mart/Sams. Walk along the main road to the northernmost bus shelters in front of Wal-Mart. The buses to Bucerias leave from here.
If you want to catch a bus south to Barra de Navidad or any of the towns south to Costa Allagre, you can catch the bus at the corner of [Dieguez & Aguacate] at the south end of town. Busses leave at 6AM & 9AM. Look for the blue bust stop sign. You will have to pay the driver in Peso's (fares vary on distance). Just tell the driver where or when you want to get off the bus. Most busses make frequent stops but have A/C. Regional busses are very reliable & run 7 days per week.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
Beaches in Puerto Vallarta
- Playa Camarones (Shrimp Beach) - Col. 5 de Deciembre (vicinity of Av. Paragua - Hotel Buenaventura. This is the northernmost public beach in the City of Puerto Vallarta proper. It is named after the shrimp fisherman that once landed their launches on the beach to unload their catch.
- Playa Olas Altas (High Waves Beach) - Col. Emilio Zapata - the beach extends from the Cuale River South to the fishing pier. In spite of the name, the waves offshore are not particularly high, and the beach is a popular place to swim, especially for locals and national tourists. The beach is lined with outdoor restaurants.
- Playa Los Muertos (Beach of the Dead) - Col. Emilio Zapata - the city's largest public beach. Legend has it the beach's name (Dead Men's Beach) stems from a battle between pirates and local miners after which bodies remained strewn on the beach, but it's a legend, since there were never any miners in Vallarta. The South Side of the beach is a popular gathering spot for gay and lesbian tourists. The North end is frequented mostly by locals, and national tourists. The city has recently tried to change the name of the beach to Playa del Sol.
- Playa Boca de Tomates (Mouth of Tomatoes) - a beach located near the mouth of the Ameca River. The beach is not very popular among international tourists due to the rocks that come ashore especially in the summertime. Also watch out for crocodiles. Its proximity to the Ameca River which carries muddy rainwater in the summertime causes the water to lose its clarity making it appear dirty.
Beaches South of Puerto Vallarta
- Playa Gemelas – a beach 3 km (2 mi) north of the mouth of the Mismaloya river and has some of the clearest water in the bay.
- Playa Mismaloya – at the mouth of the Mismaloya River. The beach was featured in several scenes from Night of the Iguana and the main set was located on hillside to the south of the beach. The beach is developed with a number of restaurants.
South Shores beaches
A number of beaches along the South shore of the bay are accessible only by boat (from Boca de Tomatlán or the Los Muertos Pier). The developed beaches include (east to west): Las Animas, Quimixto, Majahuitas and Yelapa. These and other smaller undeveloped beaches can be reached by launch from Boca de Tomatlán.
- Playa Las Animas - a narrow wide white sand beach developed with several restaurants.
- Playa Las Caletas - a secluded beach that was once the private retreat of film director John Huston. Today it is a wildlife preserve. There is a living natural reef close to shore which makes the beach a popular destination for snorkelers.
- Playa Quimixto - a somewhat rocky and secluded beach which is settled by a small village of a several hundred families. There are horse and guide hire concessions in the town which lead visitors through a small canyon behind the town to a series of waterfalls.
- Yelapa - once a small electricity free fishing village and a popular "hideaway" for gringos, now it has electricity, telephones and the internet. Visited by tourist boats for about 3 hours a day, it reverts to its laid back ways when they leave.
Beaches north of Puerto Vallarta
The north shore of the bay is lined with beach towns that offer good wading beaches and the usual tourist amenities. These include (east to west): Bucerias, Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Playa la Manzanilla, Playa Destiladeras, Playa Pontoque, and Punta Mita, all in the State of Nayarit. All can be reached by bus (departing from Wal-Mart).
- La Playa liquors and wines. At least two outlets - one in the old town and one in the centro. This is the place to go for reasonably priced tequila. Most of the flashy tequila shops are either factory stores or time-share gimmicks. Neither are good options for buying tequila at a decent price/quality ratio.
- Manta Maya a shop selling contemporary variations on traditional Mexican cotton clothing. The clothing is made in their shop in Zapopan, on the outskirts of Guadalajara. Basilio Badillo at Ignacio Vallarta.
- Galeria Indigena a shop specializing in Huichol art as well as art from other indigenous peoples. You'll see bead art everywhere, but this is one of a few shops that sell somethint at least a little more authentic than colorful beaded lizards and such. Juarez 628.
- Arte Mágico Huichol another Huichol art shop. In addition to the usual bead art and yarn art they also sell piece of more traditional Huichol handicrafts. Coronoa 179.
- La Casa del Habano Vallarta's best selection of real Cuban cigars. They also have a cigar bar. Aldama 170, Zona Centro. [email protected]
- Curvas Peligrosas (Swimwear and Beachwear), Juarez #178(Downtown- Close to Flea Market), 322-223-5978. 10AM-6PM. Offers high quality swimwear and beachwear for women in sizes 6 to 18 and Plus Sizes 20-40. Great for when you cannot find a swimsuit at home or forget to pack one. Huge selection, reasonable prices, beautiful suits. Closed Sunday. Summer hours M-F 11AM to 5PM
- Oxxo (All over the city, every few blocks). most open 24 hours. Best place to buy beer or snacks, save Wal-Mart (hassle, bus ride). They are all over the city & will save you tons of money. Most have cash machines. A great place to make small change for the bus.
- Wal-Mart. Cheapest place to buy most groceries. Huge produce dept. Good variety of Mexican & some US products. Good place to buy smokes or liquor before flying home. Can be inconvenient to bring back groceries via local bus.
- Woolworths (corner of 31 de Octubre & Juarez). Great & inexpensive place to purchase clothes & household items. Store has A/C. Prices average 10-40% less on similar items from the US. They also take Visa/MC. Bus stop directly outside the front door.
The rich cultural diversity of Puerto Vallarta is reflected in the cuisine that its many restaurants have to offer. From the most casual taco stands, to tropical beachfront palapas, to upscale rooftop restaurants with panoramic views, there are literally hundreds of restaurants serving exactly what you are hungry for.
However, care should be taken to avoid travellers' diarrhea. There are many beachside restaurants to tempt you with tropical drinks, but bottled beer is a much safer option. When water taxis or other guides seamlessly hand you off to their "amigos" at a beachside restaurant, do not be bashful about seeking other options, or just order a bottled beer to be opened in front of you. Do not trust that your guide has made a good decision, he will be gone with your tip long before you show any symptoms. Restaurants listed in reputable tour guides are a fairly safe bet.
- Chez Elena Famous hotel and restaurant located in Puerto Vallarta. It has been cited by Playboy Magazine and well known actors such as Peter O'Toole and Elizabeth Taylor.
- Coexist Cafe (In Hotel Rio). Locals and tourists coexist creating a unique atmosphere, where music is definitely an ingredient you will enjoy. We’re recommended for having an eclectic taste, reflected in our Mexican and international dishes. Live music daily!
- Las Palomas Doradas, . Marina Vallarta's first restaurant (open since 1988). Perfect for watching sunsets in the Marina over a glass of wine or trying out traditional Mexican breakfasts.
- Epoca Just south of the foot bridge over Rio Cuale. Easy to overlook, hard to forget. Excellent food at very reasonable prices.
- Planeta Vegetariano (just around the corner from the church.) Planeta Vegetariano serves a buffet-style vegan meal with a varied and changing menu. All-you-can-eat fresh juices, vegetables, salads, fruit, and many traditional dishes served "sin carne" are to be found. Reasonable prices. They serve a breakfast and lunch buffet, each with different dishes.
- Hard Rock Café, Presidente Díaz Ordaz 652 Downtown. This is a Hard Rock Café just like any other one in the United States but with a touch of Mexico. Just what you can expect good hamburgers and a funky atmosphere. If you are looking for a taste of home this is the place.
- Las Palomas Beyali, Cond. Royal Pacific # 245 Local # 129 Marina Vallarta. This restaurants sits in the beautiful marina of Puerto Vallarta. Surrounded by massive yachts and a peaceful ambience. The food here is very authentic and quite tasteful.
- Pipi’s, Guadalupe Sánchez # 804 Downtown. Fajitas and enchiladas to die for and also delicious margaritas of all flavors. Be prepared for a long wait, however it is worth it you will not regret waiting for this delectable treat. The only downside is that this restaurant is very touristy.
- Señor Frog’s, Venustiano Carranza # 218 Emiliano Zapata, Downtown.This restaurant is mostly known for its club-like environment. At night it is one of the most popular and exciting clubs. During the day though it offers good food that might remind you of Hooters. Owned by the same folks as Carlos O'Brian and similar atmosphere.
- The Blue Shrimp, Morelos # 779 Downtown. As the name implies you must like shrimp to eat at this restaurant. That said it offers some spectacular entrées that will take your hunger away that is for sure. Set partially outside the décor is fun but also very intimate.
- Buenos Aires, in the Marina. This is a steak house that is simply put amazing. Their menu features a 2 LB. tenderloin that is marvelously prepared. They also offer a decent wine list. The setting is beautiful and the food even better.
- Ay Caramba, Ask taxi driver. This restaurant is located atop a roof in the more residential part of Puerto Vallarta. They serve seafood that is freshly caught that day. Also they feature live music and a view that is unmatched. A very intimate setting. One of Puerto Vallarta’s VERY best kept secrets. The restaurant offers an exciting, ascending taxi-ride to the restaurant entrance, (high in the hills of Puerto Vallarta). The entrance to the restaurant is non-descript and belies what is to follow after walking a few shot stairwells. Upon entering the panoramic veranda, the view from table-side is phenomenal - panoramic east-to-west). The prices are very reasonable when taking into consideration the presentation of entree and service/accommodation.
- Black Forest Restaurant, C. Marlin 16 (La Cruz de Huanacaxtle),013292955203. 5 - 10PM. Situated in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle 30 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta - Restaurant Black Forest is the creation of Chef Winfried Küffner and his family. It's thoroughly German, from the half-timbered exterior to the gracious service and authentic Black Forest cuisine which is truly a blending of many European flavors. Each of Chef Winfried's dishes contains traces of his professional background and his classical European training. His emphasis is always on freshness, quality and consistency in preparation and presentation which has earned them a loyal and growing clientele over the years.
- Cafe des Artistes. A beautiful restaurant in the heart of downtown. The restaurant is divided into 3 areas: Inside, outside with a view of the ocean, and the garden. The garden is the most beautiful of the three, with an artificial creek running through it. The food here is very tasty
- La Piazzetta, Calle Rodolfo Gómez 143, Col. E. Zapata. 4 to midnight.Locals come for the delicious Naples-style pizza (the crust not too thick, not too thin, and cooked in a brick oven), but there's also great pasta and a good variety of entrées, like the cream-based salmon with caviar and lemon. For appetizers try the top-heavy (con molto tomate) bruschetta or steamed mussels with lemon, parsley, and butter. Most folks choose to sit on the open patio, but La Piazzeta also has an intimate dining room. The personal attention of the owner, Mimmo, guarantees repeat business. It's open 4 to midnight.
- Mr. Taco (2 blocks east of Malecon, near Hard Rock Cafe). Cheap local street food cooked fresh. Excellent torta's. Although named to draw tourists, it's authentically cooked & priced. Host does speak English.
- Alaska's Diner, Lazaro Cardenas #515 (Three blocks up from Calle Insurgentes), 044 322 137 4781. M-Sa 6PM-midnight (low season); 5PM-midnight (high season). Air-conditioned Alaska's Diner serves only locally caught fresh fish and beef from Sonora. The owner and chef (Roger Wark) was an instructor of Food Service Health, Hygiene and Safety in the U.S. Rock and Roll DVDs each Saturday night!
- La Isla de Marins Seafood Restaurant (Seafood Restaurant Puerto Vallarta Mexico), Allende Y Matamoros 869, Puerto Vallarta, JAL (Take Marina Centro Bus to Downtown Puerta Vallarta. Tell Bus Drive get off at the store Lans. Walk to Allende. Take Allende 3 blocks up to Matamoros (Left). Halfway down block.), . 12PM. Central Norte Puerto Vallarta. This is a great find. A tostada for $1.80 USD and Lobster for $11.50 USD. You can't beat the prices or the freshness of the food.$1.80 to $11.50.
- El brujo, Use google to find it. This is by far the best restaurant that I know for quality/price combination. I could not find it listed in any of the tourist guides but pretty much any local will tell you its one of the best. around USD 10 / dish.
- Le Bus Burgers, Revolution. They claim to make the best burgers in the world and make them out of beef, chicken, fish and veggies, including garlic burgers. The burgers are large, and they source fresh local and regional products. They use 100% grass-fed beef, the chicken is 100% free-range chicken breast, and the fish is Mahi Mahi caught by local fishermen that morning. 80 pesos.
- Cafe de Olla - Basilio Badillo, 168 (near Olas Altas, Zona Romantica). (322) 223-1626. Has good, cheap food. Try the pork ribs or chicken.
- Takos Panchos - Basilio Badillo, 166 approximate. Right next door to Cafe de Olla has awesome Al Pastor tacos for about $1USD each! Opens around 5PM and is open late.
- Super Pollo - Calle Insurgentes and Francisco I. Madero. Whole chickens with Salsa, tortillas and many other side dishes. On Tuesday and Thursdays they have 2 for 1. 2 whole chickens with sides for $10USD. Across the street is a different chicken restaurant that is a chain with similar deals. Shop local though.
- La Joya de Mismaloya - Eat with your toes in the sand and a cold Corona in your hand. Any of these quaint beach side restaurants will delight you with some fantastic and authentic local seafood dishes. Some recommendations: Shrimp empanadas, Pescado Sarandeado, Tostadas de Ceviche de Camaron.
- Coffee Cup - Rudolfo Gomez 146 (near Olas Atlas Street). 222-8584. An American-style coffee house that serves espresso, latte and cappuccino with local baked goods. It is still rare to find this type of coffee in Puerto Vallarta. Local art is displayed on the walls.
- Esquina de los Caprichos - Miramar 402. 222-0911. Open 1 -10PM. Closed Sundays. Spanish and Basque tapas. A few dishes and a glass of sangria is around $17 USD.
- Tia Katrina - A hip take on traditional food. Appetizers from $5, mains from $9 USD. The Tortilla Soup is recommended.
- Red Cabbage - Rivera del Rio 204A. 223-0411. A funky restaurant up the hill from the main streets in the Zona Romantica. It is themed on Frida Kahlo and features pre-Hispanic recipes. Dinners from $15 - $25 USD.
- Alaska's Diner - Lazaro Cardenas 515 ("near the tunnel"). Closed Sundays. American comfort food, award-winning chili, and International dishes. Dishes from $25 - $120 pesos.
- Fajita republic, Basilio Badillo 188. Just as the name implies they serve fajitas. Not just any fajitas, the best I have personally ever tasted. With over 10 varieties you cannot go wrong visiting this restaurant in old town Puerto Vallarta. This restaurant offers a quiet setting and great food. If you are in the mood to savor the best fajitas this is the spot.
- Tinos - Up on a hill overlooking Vallarta, most tourists don't know about this place, frequented by local businessmen, and others looking to spend a buck for some fantastic seafood dishes. Some recommendations: tacos de marlin are excellent, and the "mariscada" or "parrillada" which is a huge sampler platter filled with house specialties.
- El Arrayan - Allende 344, El Centro. (322) 222 7195. A very good menu of specialties from many regions. The food is not "typical" to tourist-oriented Mexican restaurants, but rich banquet and festival foods with upscale service. You will have an opportunity to try many familiar dishes like lamb and pork, as well as cactus salad and seasoned roast crickets, for the adventurous.
Sights & Landmarks
Beautiful Banderas Bay, one of the largest and deepest in the world, may be admired from many of the surrounding hills exuberant in lush vegetation. Located right at the mouth of the Bay, straddling both sides of the River Cuale lays a charming and picturesque little town with true Mexican spirit, Puerto Vallarta.
For those who just want to relax, Puerto Vallarta's many golden sand beaches offer one of the best ways to experience the beauty and magic of the Bay of Banderas.
- Los Muertos Beach. The downtown has a beach called "Los Muertos" that stretches to the Zona Romantica. There you will find the Gay area with are many restaurants, stores and boutiques. At the end of "Los Muertos" you will find some beachfront restaurants with "palapas" that you can rent per day or have drink in. It is a perfect place to relax and meet people who party all day. Also, there you will find the trendiest place of the moment, where to go, what to see, the best shows. The best seasons is between December and May.
To the North, the hills give way a little. Here you will find mile-long stretches of golden sand beaches, rich plantations of papaya and mango and, tucked back along tumbling rivers and streams, small villages where life seems to move at a different pace. There are many different ways to explore the Bay.
To the South, the hills cascade towards the sea creating a rich palette that mixes the vivid green foliage with the deep blues of the water. At their feet nestle secluded coves and small fishing villages, many of which are still accessible only by sea.
To the East, the jungle clad Sierra Madre Mountains, which quickly rise to over 8,000 feet, encircle and protect the town from the winds and regulate the semi-tropical and humid weather.
And, to the West, the Bay of Banderas is home to a wide variety of aquatic life. Humpback whales come here to mate every year from December to March, and sea turtles nest on the beaches from May to October. Schools of dolphins and giant manta rays also inhabit these waters. The Bay and the Marietas Islands offer an amazing kaleidoscope of tropical fish, attracting snorkelers, scuba divers and sport fishermen alike.
Things to do
Puerto Vallarta has many activities and excursions to keep you entertained. The adventurous can hike or mountain bike in the hills, explore the jungle and hidden trails on horseback, take a jeep safari, snorkel, scuba dive, charter a yacht or sailboat, or take a cruise on one of the many party boats, make a personal photoshoot. Oftentimes they are easily booked online.
- Vallarta Botanical Gardens (Hacienda de Oro Restaurant), Carretera a Barra de Navidad Km.24 S/N just beyond Las Juntas y Los Veranos, (322) 223-6182. From 9AM to 6PM (closed on Mondays). Vallarta Botanical Gardens a pleasure garden high in the glorious Sierra Madre Mountains. These gardens are easily accessible, just 12 miles south of Puerto Vallarta (on Hwy 200).
Located on 20 acres of land, these botanical collections features thousands of different species of plants. The gardens are in a unique tropical dry forest ecosystem at 1,300 feet above sea level. Against the breathtaking backdrop of soaring mountain peaks, there is much to experience: Palm Gardens, Rose Garden, Tree Fern Grotto, Orchid House, Jungle Trails, Tropical Bird Watching, Agave Gardens, displays of Mexican Wildflowers and the Carnivorous Plant Collection. Bringing your swimsuit and enjoy a refreshing dip in the crystal clear Rio Los Horcones The Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens is registered with Botanic Gardens Conservation International in Surrey, England and members of the Asociacion Mexicana de Orquideologia. The Gardens are listed in the Lonely Planet 2009 Guide to Mexico as a "Vallarta Must See"
Vallarta Botanical Gardens is a 501c3 nonprofit institution. The Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens was founded in 2004 and was opened to the public in 2005. Our Vision: to build Mexico's greatest botanical garden here in the enchanted highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. Our staff is dedicated to the research and education of plant life, as well as showing the public all the beauty that nature has to offer. Plus providing the finest hospitality around.
Hacienda de Oro Visitor's Center with spectacular mountain views, is also where you will find Hacienda de Oro Restaurant, with a courteous staff, delicious brick oven pizzas, salads and other Mexican specialties. Hacienda de Oro Restaurant was designed by Santa Rosa, CA native and world-renowned fine artist, Anthony Sbragia. Also, in this area are the famous "classy" restrooms. Located in the heart of an old growth native forest, with thousands of native and ornamental plants, a short ride from town - by car, bus, taxi.
- Puerto Vallarta’s whale watching season runs from December to March of every year. Humpback whales are the top liners of this fantastic nature show, but you can also see dolphins, porpoises and other animals. Puerto Vallarta Whale Watching Tours take you to see humpback whale mothers ant their calves in Banderas Bay.
- La Marina Vallarta Golf Course-Have to have good accuracy for this one due to narrow fairways that are guarded by water
- Los Flamingos Golf Course-Known as one of the easiest to play
- The Mayan Palace Nuevo Vallarta Golf Club, 18-hole par 71 coursedesigned by Jim Lipe. Address: Paseo de las Moras S/N, Fraccionamiento Náutico Turístico, Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico 63735, [www]. Fun course with many obstacles is on the spectacular beaches of Vallarta between the Sierra Madre mountains and the Bahia de Banderas bay. The Vallarta course offers interesting competitive advantages and challenges to golf lovers for the vast fairways appear to be the easy part but the lakes complicate the game for the most expert golfers.
- El Tigre Golf Club-Long course with many traps and water
- Vista Vallarta-Hosted the 2002 EMC World Cup Championship
- Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico's top dive destinations. There are many rental shops along the beaches.
- The beaches in Puerto Vallarta are not ideal for surfing, but a daytrip out of town up along the coast of Banderas Bay will take you to some great surf spots! Passing the Ameca river along the way to these spots, you find yourself in the next door northern state of Nayarit. Such trips can be coordinated with a local surfing instructor or done solo.
There are many surfing spots in the state of Nayarit: ranging from beginner waves, to perfect reef breaks for experienced surfers. The names of some of the more popular surf spots are: Veneros, Burros, la Lancha, Punta de Mita, San Pancho and Sayulita. The drive from downtown Vallarta to points inside the Bay takes roughly 45 minutes, and a bit over an hour to get to renowned Sayulita on the Pacific coast. Sayulita is a small village which is frequented by many tourists because it is easily accessible and a vast array of businesses cater to beginner surfers. You can find surfboard rentals, surf lessons and great beaches. Sayulita is known for producing some of the best surfers in Mexico like Tigre Cadena, Kalle Carranza, Diego Cadena and Adan Hernandez amongst others. The main beach at Sayulita has consistent waves and the place is crowded during the winter months particularly. There are waves small enough for beginners and large enough for the locals and experts. Most of the adventure companies don't offer surfing lessons and you might need to find an independent instructor.
- The most popular snorkeling areas are Los Arcos underwater caves and Marietas Islands caverns. Vallarta Adventures snorkeling trips combine an extraordinary day of sun, fun, and adventure with just the right mixture of entertainment, learning and challenge, while snorkeling, sea kayaking, and exploring the tropical ecosystems on the secluded islands and beach hideaways that surround beautiful Banderas Bay.
Explore the Sierra Madre
- The Mexican Outback in the states of Jalisco and Nayarit offers an opportunity of discovery and adventure: A culturally and ecologically trained guide can take you into authentic Mexican villages and through the sub-tropical forest with its extraordinary ecology and wildlife. Vallarta Adventures´ Sierra Madre Expedition takes you in specially designed Mercedes Benz all-terrain vehicles on an off-road voyage of discovery, past forgotten villages into the heart of the Sierra Madre.
Canopy Tour / Zip lines
- Puerto Vallarta is well known for its canopy and zip line tours. Experience the exhilarating rush as you fly over the tree tops, securely fastened, from platform to platform.
- Banderas Bay is the second largest bay in North America, behind Hudson Bay. The deep, calm waters offer a very rich biodiversity, stunning beauty, romantic sunsets and relaxed sailing. Vallarta Adventures offers Day Sailing, Sunset Sailing, Sailing with Whales and Private Charters.
- Kitesurfing is becoming more and more popular in Banderas Bay. Especially in Bucerias, a fishing village north of Nuevo Vallarta, you can see up to 30 people kitesurfing on a Sunday when the wind is good. The calm waters of Banderas Bay, the extended shoreline and the fact that it´s not too crowded with kitesurfers (yet) make it an excellent place to take lessons, for example from Jamison Smith, an IKO Level 2 Senior Certified International Kiteboarding Instructor. The season is from February until May.
- You are able to parasail at pretty much every beach. The sky high trip usually last around 15 min.
- Jet skis can be rented at most beaches by the hour.
- Banderas Bay is home to annual Puerto Vallarta International Fishing Tournament held since 1956. Fish types include sailfish, dorado, marlin, bonita and yellowfin tuna, roostertail, jack cravel, pargo, red snapper and more denizens of the deep, black, blue and striped marlin.
- ProFishingVallarta Sport Fishing in Puerto Vallarta - Offers fishing charter services throughout the whole year in Puerto Vallarta Mexico
- There are many ranches in town that offer horseback Riding into small villages and through the forests. They can last from a few hours to a few days.
Turtle-Watching & Repatriation
- Some tour companies offer educational programs combined with hands-on activities to help save Mexico’s turtles. After the female turtles lay their eggs in nests they create in the sand, volunteers dig up the eggs and re-bury them somewhere safe from predators. After about 45 to 60 days, the eggs hatch. Without help, only about 1 in every 1,000 baby turtles will survive to adulthood because most are caught by predators before they make it back to the safety of the ocean. However, turtle repatriation volunteers keep the babies safe until it is time to set them free to head for the ocean (at night when predators are less active). You can be part of these programs.
- You will be hard-pressed to find information about simple hiking excursions, because no one makes much money from hikers while they are hiking.
So you must research this ahead of time if you wish to hike. However, one short and interesting hike may be accessed as follows. Take a water taxi to Yelapa. On the main beach in Yelapa, walk to the right and cross the creek. Hike upwards a few meters to the cobblestone trail. Turn right, and then follow the trail over a ridge and up the adjacent valley. After hiking about 1.5 km through a tropical deciduous forest, your persistence will be rewarded. The waterfall is about 10 m high, with a pool for bathers at the base. The falls are more impressive during the rainy season (northern summer).
- Davannayoga - great sunset yoga classes on a 360 rooftop in old town in front of the ocean. Well known for it's traditional style yoga. Only certified teachers offering Vinyasa Flow, Morning Yoga, Sunset Yoga, Children's Yoga. Calle Matamoros #542 on the corner of Corona.
- Yoga Vallarta - located in Zona Romantica (Basilio Badillo #325 3rd floor). This studio has high-mounted windows that bathe the studio in wonderful, natural light.
- Sea Life Park by Dolphin Discovery. Discover Sea Life Park. Located off the first exit of Nuevo Vallarta; look for the water slides that can be seeing from the road. Open daily except Mondays and Fridays from 10AM. to 6PM.
It usually occurs in the middle of November and includes:
- Many cocktail parties
- Wine and tequila tastings
- Cooking classes
- Gala dinners
- Art expos
Old Town Art Walk in El Centro - Will occur every Wednesday night, 6-10PM, from October 28, 2009 to May 26. 2010. Some of the local art galleries visited are:
- Galería Arte Latinoamericano - Two floor gallery. Participates in art walk
- Galería Corsica - Contemporary Mexican fine art
- Gallería Dante - Voted #1 Gallery in Vallarta Voice Reader’s Choice 2003
- Galería Feedma - A recent addition to the Vallarta art scene, with renowned Mexican and international artists and photographers (moves to Mexico city [email protected])
- Galería Omar Alonso - Dedicated to antique and contemporary photography, engraving and sculpture
- Gallería Pacificio - One of Vallarta's leading galleries since 1987; Sponsors the Public Sculpture Walking Tour that starts at 9:30AM every Tuesday on the malecon, Nov-April.
Puerto Vallarta didn't have an English language theater scene until recently. Now you can see up to four companies from the venue Theater Agustin Flores Contreras.
- Electro Beach Puerto Vallarta - a yearly Electronic Dance Music (EDM) festival featuring talent like Tiesto, Avicii, Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki, Hardwell and more.
- Malecon - You'll find live Cuban, jazz, rock, Latin American ethnic, Mexican ranchero and Mariachi
- South Side - Los Muertos Beach offers jazz at Daiquiri Dick's happy hour
You can also find blues, pop-rock and jazz.
- Marina Vallarta & Nuevo Vallarta-You can have a Mexican dinner and listen to mariachi, marimba, romantic trios and folk harp.
- North Shore - Offers a variety of live music.
Festivals and events
The Gay Community started a grand parade in 2009 but beginning in 2013 the Parade is now only at Zona Romantica. The main theme has changed but you will still see the gay charm around downtown.
The first weekend of November Vallarta holds the Half Marathon and 5k race. Everyone is welcome to enjoy it. "http://www.maratonvallarta.com/"
The catholic religion has a big celebration for Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th. Puerto Vallarta start on December 1st, The local people, hotel, condominium owners, organization go on pilgrimage around 6PM until 9PM everyday at downtown. You´ll see traditional dancer, mariachis, bands offering tribute to the Virgin.
Downtown:The Hot Spot for Nighlife - Located along the beachfront walk
- La Cave-Piano Bar
- La Dolce Vita-Live Music
- Le Carrousel-Disco/Dancing
- BeboTero-Live Rock at night
Old Town: It may seem strange but Steve's Sports Bar on Basilio Badillo #286 has the best margaritas - and we've been testing.
- The El Pianito piano bar that used to be across the street from Steve's at Basilio Badillo #284 has closed.
- Club Roxy-Live R&B Hit among people over thiry with live blues and rock. Ignacio Vallarta #217. Music starts around 10PM, no cover. Closed on Sundays
- Carlos O'Brians now closed, demolished to make way for the new upscale bar-restaurant Punto V
- Hard Rock Cafe-Live Music/Dancing Restaurant open until 2AM
- The Zoo-Disco/Dancing Attract the 20s crowd with DJ spun music and cages to dance in
- EL Zoo, Paseo Díaz Ordaz # 630 Downtown. This dance club is quite small but very fun. The dance floor doesn’t offer much room to bust a move but offers a great time to be had. Located on the Malecon it is in the center of everything.
- Hilo, Just down the street from El Zoo. Again this club is small. The inside is very cool and the bar is very large. It can get a little crazy because of the small area but is fun for younger kids.
- Señor Frogs, Morelos #518 Downtown. The Tues night foam party is the best and this place is the larger than most clubs. It has two bars and the service is awesome.
- Mandala - Restaurant and Disco-Bar. Located in front of the malecon, beside Zoo bar. This is one of the newest and hottest clubs in town. Open everyday from 11AM to 6AM. Perfect for everyone.
- Collage - World Famous Foam Parties, as seen on E!, Playboy, MTV, and may other TV Networks. This place can hold up to 2000 crazy partiers at a time! Tuesdays and Fridays open bar.
- Christine's, NH Krystal Vallarta Hotel Hotel Zone. This club is HUGE!! It is only open a few nights a week though. It is located close to most hotels.
Things to know
Note that not very many places take credit cards. Some larger hotel complexes, high end restaurants and shops do, but most do not. It is very much a cash only economy with ATMs available in convenient locations and a bank downtown where in-person withdrawals can be made.
For the budget traveler - time your visit outside of peak holiday periods (e.g. Santa Semana/ Easter week). Accommodation prices during peak times can double or triple and the beaches become insanely crowded.
If you are traveling around Mexico leave your souvenir shopping until Guadalajara as prices in Puerto Vallarta are higher, sometimes bordering on exorbitant.
Safety in Puerto Vallarta
- Emergency, Police/Fire: 060
- Fire Dept: 223-9476, 223-9478
- Police Dept: 290-0507, 290-0512
- Red Cross & Ambulance: 222-1533
- Motor Vehicle Dept: 224-8484
- Consumer Protection (Profeco): 225-0000
- Immigration Office: 221-1380
- American Consulate: 222-0069, 223-0074 - After hours: 01-333-268-2145
- Canadian Consulate: 293-0098, 223-0074 - After hours: 01-800-706-2900
- Ameri-Med: 226-2080
- CMG: 223-1919
- Cornerstone: 224-9400
- I.M.S.S.: 224-3838
- Medasist: 223-0444
- Regional: 224-4000
- San Javier: 226-1010
Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful holiday destination, but this is not an excuse to leave your common sense at home. You should not treat the city as if it is a huge beach resort existing solely for your pleasure.
Exercise caution here as in any place that you are unfamiliar. Keep an eye on your possessions (purses, cameras, etc.) at all times. Do not flaunt large amounts of cash and wear a concealed money belt to secure large bills and your passport. Make sure you always have small bills/ coins on hand to pay for small items.
The beaches and hotels have security people who are familiar with the area and tend to ward off most undesirable characters. As in many "tourist destinations", there are local "tourist police", who concentrate on keeping the area safe for visitors. They, and the locals, understand the value of visitors and make life very difficult for those who may consider preying on visitors.
Avoid confrontations with the police. In the event you do have a disagreement with them, expect to be treated poorly and expect to pay many a peso to regain your freedom. Respect and co-operation goes a long way with them, disrespect usually will not be tolerated.
For digestive issues, use Immodium. It is sold over the counter & works for most issues.
Water you have never been to can be dangerous. Leaving your valuables (cameras, purses, passport) alone on the beach, is an invitation to theft at any beach.
- Observe the warning flags on public beaches. There could be a strong undertow.
- Never dive into unknown waters. There may be rocks
- Never have a knife in your bag