Puerto Vallarta

Seahorse sculpture on Playa de los Muertos; one of several large public works donated by local artists for the malecon.

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.

Get in

By plane

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.

By car

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. See also driving in Mexico for further tips regarding driving in Mexico

Private pre-arranged transportation is also readily available and can be arranged by contacting a company by phone, or booking online.

By boat

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.

By bus

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.

Get around

By taxi

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.

By bus

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.

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.

See

Puerto Vallarta's beaches lie between mountains and ocean

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.


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.

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.

Bay of Banderas - Puerto Vallarta

Events around the year

Mardi Gras/Carnaval

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.

November

The first weekend of November Vallarta holds the Half Marathon and 5k race. Everyone is welcome to enjoy it. "http://www.maratonvallarta.com/"

December

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.

Botanical Gardens

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.

Adventure/Sports

Whale watching

Golfing

Scuba Diving

Surfing

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.

Snorkeling

Explore the Sierra Madre

Canopy Tour / Zip lines

Sailing

Kitesurfing

Parasailing

Jet Skiing

Fishing

Horseback Riding

Turtle-Watching & Repatriation

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).

Yoga

Parks

Entertainment

November Festival

It usually occurs in the middle of November and includes:

Art

Festival of the Arts

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:

Theatre

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.

Music

You can also find blues, pop-rock and jazz.

Buy

Eat

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.

Food is very nice, for around $10/dish.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

Downtown:The Hot Spot for Nighlife - Located along the beachfront walk

Old Town: It may seem strange but Steve's Sports Bar on Basilio Badillo #286 has the best margaritas - and we've been testing.

Malecon:

Sleep

Puerto Vallarta's cobble stone streets

Accommodations around the Bay of Banderas range from well-known international hotel chains and upscale villas and condominiums in the hotel zone, Marina Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, and Punta Mita to moderately priced hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, apartments villas, and condominiums in Old Town Vallarta. The south end of Old Town has a number of gay-friendly hotels.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

Emergency Numbers

Hospitals

General Safety

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.

Beach Activities

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.

Cope

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.

Consulates

Go next

Your exploring does not have to be limited just to the Bay, there are nearby archeological sites to visit as well. Close at hand, in the region of Ixtapa, studies have uncovered sites dating back to 400 B.C.

Mismaloya is a short drive outside town. It is famous for being the location for the movie "The Night of the Iguana" directed by John Houston. You can tour the location.

Chico's Paradise, a river valley with rock formations and picnic/restaurant areas is a short drive or bus ride outside town.

For a trip back in time to the 1600s and 1700s; a day-trip up (4600') to the old silver mining town of San Sebastian del Oeste is worth the time. http://www.sansebastianmexico.com/

Puerto Vallarta is less than a 45 minute flight away from the inland city of Guadalajara and about an hour flight from Mexico City. A 30 minute drive up the coast lands you in Bucerias, a small coastal village.

Routes through Puerto Vallarta

Tepic Bucerias  N  S  La Manzanilla Barra de Navidad



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