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Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

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... Read more

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Destination:

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.

Economy

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.


Tourism trends

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.

LGBT Tourism

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.


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Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: Port Information


The port of Puerto Vallarta receives cruise ships on a regular basis during the tourist season. The docks (Muelle de Cruceros Puerto Vallarta) can berth three cruise ships simultaneously. Trips to the El Centro old town and its beachfront and tourist markets, including some art stores, are available. The beachfront has been recently undergoing additional improvements to the Malecon, a long promenade along the beach with numerous sculptures, restaurants, nightclubs, access to boat pulled paragliding over the bay, and various other tourist specific activities and markets.

Get around Puerto Vallarta, Mexico


By taxi

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.

By bus

  • Local trips

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. 

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 traveling 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. You can also go to Punta Mita. 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 6 AM & 9 AM. Look for the blue bus 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 buses are very reliable & run 7 days per week.

What to see in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico


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 a 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 season 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.

Landmarks in Puerto Vallarta:

  • Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe - Col. Centro
  • Púlpito and Pilitas (Pulpit and Baptismal Font) - Col. Emilio Zapata - two rock formations at the South end of Los Muertos Beach. El Púlpito is the tall headland and Las Pilitas are the formation of rocks beneath it. Las Pilitas was the original location of the Boy on a Seahorse sculpture (El Caballito) now located on the Malecón, an identical sculpture is also located on Los Muertos Beach. There are two streets in the Olas Altas area named after the rock formations.
  • Playa Conchas Chinas (Curly Shells Beach) - Fracc. Amapas - the city's most secluded beach, located to the south of the headland which forms the boundary of Los Muertos beach.
  • The Malecón - paved walkway along the seashore in Col. Centro - especially popular during the Sunday evening paseo. It features a collection of contemporary sculptures by Sergio Bustamante, Alejandro Colunga, Ramiz Barquet and others. The Malecon was extensively rebuilt in 2002-2003 following damage from hurricane Kenna. It was also greatly renovated, having new walkways and iconic sculptures in 2010
  • Mercado Isle Cuale and Mercado Municipal Cuale - there are two large public markets in the Centro along the banks of the Cuale selling a variety of artisanal and souvenir goods, and the Isla Cuale has a number of souvenir vendor shops as well. The Isla Cuale was also famous for its cat population. The Island was a lower class suburb until flooding during Hurricane Lily (1971) forced residents to be relocated. They were moved to Palo Seco (which means "dry stick") and the Island was converted into a site for restaurants, shops and a cultural center.
  • Cuale Archaeological Museum - on the West side of the Isla Cuale, the museum presents a significant collection of local and regional pre-Hispanic art in a number of informative displays. The museum also houses a small gallery for showing contemporary art.
  • John Huston statue on Isla Cuale - dedicated on the 25th anniversary of the film's release and honoring Huston's contributions to the city. John's son Danny was married in a ceremony that took place at the statue in 2002.
  • Plaza de Armas (Ignacio Vallarta) / Aquiles Serdan Amphitheater (Los Arcos) - the city's main plaza - site of public concerts both at the bandstand in the Plaza de Armas and on the stage in front of the arches across the street.
  • City Hall - a modern city hall laid out using a traditional courtyard plan. There is a tourist office in the SW corner, and on the landing of the main (West off the courtyard) stairwell, there is a modest naive style mural by local artist Manuel Lepe.
  • Saucedo Theatre Building (Juarez at Iturbide) - Built in 1922 in a Belle Epoque style reminiscent of the architecture of the Porfirato. The theater presented live shows and films on its first floor, and the second floor housed a ballroom. The building has been converted to retail use.
Landmarks south of Puerto Vallarta:
  • Los Arcos Marine Natural Area - offshore of Mismaloya 12 km south of Puerto Vallarta. The area has been a National Marine Park since 1984. The area is protected as a breeding ground for pelicans, boobies and other sea birds. The park is a popular snorkeling destination both for the rocks themselves and for the fossilized coral beds that surround them.
  • Vallarta Botanical Gardens - A popular showcase of orchids, agaves, cactus, palms, and other native plants. A restaurant and river swimming is also available to visitors. The gardens are located 14 mi (23 km) South of Puerto Vallarta on Highway 200. Buses for the Vallarta Botanical Gardens depart from the corner of Carranzas and Aguacate Streets in the Zona Romantica and are labeled as both "El Tuito" and "Botanical Gardens".
  • Puerto Vallarta Zoo - with 350 animals, and located in a forested setting in Mismaloya.
Landmarks north of Puerto Vallarta:
  • University of Guadalajara's Coastal Center - North of Pitillal and West of Ixtapa, the campus features several public attractions including the Peter Gray Art Museum and a Crocodile Farm.
  • Ixtapa Archaeological Zone - north of the town of Ixtapa along the banks of the Ameca River there is an archeological site with remains going back several thousand years. The site comprises 29 mounds. The largest measures 40 meters in diameter and 8 meters in height. The site also includes the remains of the ceremonial ball court. The original inhabitants of the site were vassals of the Aztatlán kingdom which was located in Western Jalisco between 900 and 1200 AD. The site is the oldest explored in Western Jalisco. The digs have uncovered a number of residential and ceremonial sites, a wealth of pottery (incense burners, bowls, amphora, etc.). Many of these objects are on display at the Rio Cuale Island Museum.
Landmarks east of Puerto Vallarta:
  • Terra Noble Art and Healing Center - a New Age spa, meditation center and artist retreat on the hills east of Puerto Vallarta along the edge of the Agua Azul Nature Reserve overlooking Bahía de Banderas. The complex, built to resemble an early Mexican wattle and daub home was created by architect Jorge Rubio in conjunction with American sculptor Suzy Odom.
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 fishermen 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.

What to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico


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.

Botanical Gardens

  • Vallarta Botanical Gardens (Hacienda de Oro Restaurant), Carretera a Barra de Navidad Km.24 S/N just beyond Las Juntas y Los Veranos, ☎ (322) 223-6182NOCC. From 9 AM to 6 PM (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.

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 nonprofit institution. The Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens was founded in 2004 and was opened to the public in 2005. Its Vision: to build Mexico's greatest botanical garden here in the enchanted highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. Its 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

  • 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 and their calves in Banderas Bay.

Golfing

  • 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 courses designed by Jim Lipe. Address: Paseo de las Moras S/N, Fraccionamiento Náutico Turístico, Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico 63735. 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

Scuba Diving

  • Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico's top dive destinations. There are many rental shops along the beaches.

Surfing

  • 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.

Snorkeling

  • 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.

Sailing

  • Banderas Bay is the second largest bay in North America, behind Hudson Bay. The deep, calm waters offer very rich biodiversity, stunning beauty, romantic sunsets, and relaxed sailing. Vallarta Adventures offers Day Sailing, Sunset Sailing, Sailing with Whales and Private Charters.

Kitesurfing

  • 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.

Parasailing

  • You are able to parasail at pretty much every beach. The sky-high trip usually lasts around 15 min.

Jet Skiing

  • Jet skis can be rented at most beaches by the hour.

Fishing

  • 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.

Horseback Riding

  • 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.

Hiking

  • 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).

Yoga

  • Davannayoga - great sunset yoga classes on a 360 rooftop in the old town in front of the ocean. Well known for its 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.

Parks

  • 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 seen from the road. Open daily except Mondays and Fridays from 10 AM to 6 PM.

What to eat and drink in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico


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 travelers' 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, ☎ +52 322 22 104 70. 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 footbridge 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 restaurant sits in the beautiful marina of Puerto Vallarta. Surrounded by massive yachts and a peaceful ambiфnce. 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 a 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), ☎ 013292955203NOCC. 5 - 10 PM. 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 4781NOCC. M-Sa 6 PM-midnight (low season); 5 PM-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.), ☎ +52 322 222 7537. 12 PM. Central Norte Puerto Vallarta. This is a great find. 
  • 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.
  • 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.

Budget

  • 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! Opens around 5 PM 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. 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 beachside 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 -10 PM. Closed Sundays. Spanish and Basque tapas. 
  • Tia Katrina - A hip take on traditional food. 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. 
  • Alaska's Diner - Lazaro Cardenas 515 ("near the tunnel"). Closed Sundays. American comfort food, award-winning chili, and International dishes. 

Mid-range

  • 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.

Splurge

  • 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.

Drink

Old Town: It may seem strange but Steve's Sports Bar on Basilio Badillo #286 has the best margaritas.

  • 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 thirty with live blues and rock. Ignacio Vallarta #217. Music starts around 10 PM, no cover. Closed on Sundays

Malecon:

  • 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 2 AM
  • 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. 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 every day from 11 AM to 6 AM. Perfect for everyone.
  • Collage - World Famous Foam Parties, as seen on E!, Playboy, MTV, and many other TV Networks. This place can hold up to 2000 crazy partiers at a time! Tuesdays and Fridays open bar.

Shopping in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico


  • 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 something 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 a 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. habanospv@yahoo.com
  • Curvas Peligrosas (Swimwear and Beachwear), Juarez #178 (Downtown- Close to Flea Market), ☎ 322-223-5978NOCC. 10 AM-6 PM. 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 11 AM to 5 PM
  • 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.

Safety in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico


Emergency numbers

  • Emergency, Police and 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

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 go a long way with them, disrespect usually will not be tolerated.

For digestive issues, use Immodium. It is sold over the counter and 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.

Precautions
  • 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.

Language spoken in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico


Spanish is the main language. English is widely spoken. 

LOCAL TIME

5:49 am
September 16, 2019
America/Mexico_City

CURRENT WEATHER

26.05 °C / 78.89 °F
overcast clouds
Mon

28.19 °C/83 °F
light rain
Tue

28.36 °C/83 °F
moderate rain
Wed

27.25 °C/81 °F
moderate rain
Thu

27.25 °C/81 °F
moderate rain

LOCAL CURRENCY

MXN

1 USD = 0 MXN
1 EUR = 0 MXN
1 GBP = 0 MXN
1 AUD = 0 MXN
1 CAD = 0 MXN

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