PUERTO VALLARTA IMPRESSIONSReturn to Home (Last Updated September 2003)
Over the past 20 years we have been regular visitors to Puerto Vallarta. In that time we have seen the town grow and grow but still manage to keep its charm. So here are our impressions about the Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding areas. We'll cover transportation, hotels, timeshares, restaurants, sightseeing, and more.
We fly down from Phoenix, sometimes via LA. Used to use Alaska Airlines but for past 2 years have switched to America West to improve our chances of getting there. Puerto Vallarta is also a one day stop for several West Coast cruise trips.
Best form of transport once you get there are the buses. You can catch a bus right outside the airport and carry on all your bags if you want. This will cost you about 3 pesos each versus the $7 to $10 charged by the sardine packed limosines. The buses go everwhere in and around Puerto Vallarta. Look for the destination signs on the bus windshield to see if it goes downtown (Centro) if you're wanting to get into town. If bus says "Tunel" it goes into town via a bypass and puts you in oldtown. Since everything is relatively compact in town either bus is fine. Leaving town is slightly trickier if the bus does not show your hotel -just ask the driver to make sure it goes your way. The buses are fun - old, rattly, racing each other, each route paints their buses in gharish colors, but they get you there and are cheap. Taxis are fine too once you get to your hotel and price controls are adhered to. From the airport they are a ripoff. But price is fixed back to the airport and is reasonable. In any event never get into a taxi till you have agreed on the fare and location. Rental cars are pricey for what you get going from $40 to $90 per day. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Huge selection ranging from relatively cheap at $40 per night to luxurious suites at the many chains. Provided you stay in hotels between Les Conchas on the south and Marina Vallarta to the north, you'll be able to easily access all that PV has to offer. However if you choose Nuevo Vallarta you'll find it so far from town that you probably will only visit town once and will be captive to your hotel and the limited selection of restaurants in Nuevo Vallarta. Best Hotel in our opinion is the Westin Regina closely followed by the Sheraton Buganvillas.
A huge selection with many fine RCI Gold Crown resorts. Make sure you are getting a one bedroom or larger. Some timeshares have small studios that are as confining as a hotel room. We were fortunate to find a resale 3 bedroom 4 bathroom on 2 floors with 2 huge terraces on the ocean at Los Tules. It cost us a onetime $4000 to buy this unit for the week before Xmas every year for the next 20 years. Bought it on the internet and have also bought one bedroom Gold Crown RCI timeshare properties in London (3 weeks) , San Francisco, San Diego each for less than $2700 per week. Timeshares are the way to go but just make sure you're not the initial buyer who pays a vastly inflated price for the property. If you want to know more about buying resales write to us at email@example.com
Add in: re gelato store, Fajita Republic, no no to Pi Pis and Pie in the Sky is great.
I recommend traveling by bus when you are there. It costs about 4 pesos and you can get the bus from the airport (just take your luggage
and walk out in front of the airport by the road and catch the bus). It is much cheaper than a $7 (70 peso) cab fare, but if you have LOTS of luggage, a van (or cab) would be best. We shop at one of 2 large supermarkets (just like at home) for snacks, etc. Seldom do we cook a meal in because there are too many good places to eat. Some restaurants are:
La Palapa (right on the beach downtown) where you can sit with your feet in the sand, watch the sunset, and have a good meal.
Cafe Des Artstes -- an elegant evening place. The center is open to the sky, there is dining atop the hillside that is part of the restaurant, or you can eat indoors.
I like to discover new places. Some of my new ones are Mezzaluna for Italian and Meguelitos that is in old town and built around a tree -- like you are in a tree house. Milagros -- a courtyard restaurant. is also excellent. One of my favorites is at the Marina -- you can get a bus there (I will tell you more about buses when December draws near). It is Porto Bello -- outdoor dining overlooking the Marina and yacht basin. Fine Italian food by candlelight.The Bistro is an excellent place -- it is on the river and modern in decor. Check it out for breakfast, lunch or candlelight dinner -- soft jazz is playing and I think you'll like it. Or just go by for a cocktail.
There is good shopping in Puerto Vallarta. You can buy from the "beach people" and bargain or go to the shops along the Malecon.
A trip to the Marina (by bus) is worthwhile. Quite a few restaurants are along the water's edge. Sometimes I go for pancakes and waffles at a restaurant that only serves breakfast.
My favorite massage place is "Millennium Clinic." Massages here are less than at home -- they also do manicures and pedicures. My masseuse is named Rosa.
When you arrive and get your money changed (at the Bank you can probably get the best rate) pick up a copy of "Vallarta Today" a one
peso newspaper that tells you what is happening. Sometimes they pass it out free at the airport. You can wear your bathing suit under your clothes and visit some of the most spectacular hotel pools and beaches just to see what the rest of the places are like.
Walking is great and I do a lot of it. Visit Old Town for shops and restaurants and just having a grand time looking at everything in the windows.
Once or twice a week is a "House Tour" that meets downtown. It is for charity and you visit 4 of the most spectacular homes you've ever seen. I've gone on it a couple of times and seen different houses each time. It lasts a couple of hours.
I love writing about my trips. I just recently answered an inquiry from a couple who want to go to Moorea and Bora Bora and saw my post on the "net."
Naoma can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org