Dive Into Puerto Vallarta
This escape haven is one of the most dynamic locales on the Gold Coast aka the Mexican Riviera. This dramatically beautiful area has inspired movies and has been the escape for ex-pats, artists and surfers. Generally, it's one of the best places on the planet to escape reality. It's also overflowing with gourmet cuisine, as well as music and culture. Whether it’s chic, thrilling nightlife that serves up all the flavor and color of traditional Mexican culture, the hypnotizing beauty of the region, or the quaint, rustic ranch towns with shops galore, vacation in Puerto Vallarta is nothing less than extraordinary.
Puerto Vallarta Overview
The Swiss Army Knife of Destinations: Mexico
Let’s start with the east coast: Cancun’s got an epic party scene. Cozumel is the mecca for diving and snorkeling. Moving to the west coast, if you’re into adventure, head to Mazatlan to explore historic ruins or hit Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo for a similar vibe, but a bit more upscale. For those who want to escape into the wilds of nature, Huatulco and Manzanillo are your places to explore. Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos have majestic mountains that kiss their beachy shores along with amazing golf courses, breathtaking resorts and fabulous beaches. But Los Cabos, situated at the tip of Baja, where the shimmering Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific, not only has a hip party vibe, it also has the iconic Los Arcos, where you can slow down and let the magic of Mexico wash over you.
El Awesome: El Malecon
During waking hours, the "Malecon" or boardwalk, is bursting at the seams with lots of activities, vendors and fresh sea breezes flowing through the palms. You’re smack dab in the heart of the city, which is a fun place to just hang, grab a cocktail and relax. However, when the sun goes down on Sunday, get ready because things are about to get fun. The Sunday Night Festival is about to kick in. The promenade becomes electrically alive with vibrant street performers, a variety of vendors, live music and much more.
Starstruck: Hollywood on the Gold Coast
It might seem a bit odd, but the Puerto Vallarta you see to today owes much of its roots to Hollywood. Here’s why: Before the all the excitement, thrills and swanky resorts, Puerto Vallarta was just a small fishing village. It didn’t offer much as a tourist spot, but it did have an aesthetic appeal because of its primitive, natural beauty, something that would look fantastic on film. Enter Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and the famous filming in 1951 of “Night of the Iguana.” It also didn’t hurt that John Huston, the director, had a love for Mexico. Put all this together and Puerto Vallarta became a thriving spot for silver screen darlings to vacay, as well as all the other gente of the world.
Nectar of the Gods: Tequila Time
Before the national beverage of Mexico became a party fav for Spring Breakers, the rich heritage of tequila could be traced back to the ancient Mayans. Back then, tequila’s milky-like predecessor was used to fuel their most sacred of ceremonies. Lucky for those who live in the region (and like to party), Puerto Vallarta has the ideal climate for the blue agave plant, so it’s not surprising that the region is considered to be the birth place of tequila. With such a rich, tequila-drenched heritage, Puerto Vallarta attracts visitors who are psyched to tour the farms and distilleries, from which the cherished drink of Mexico is derived. Here's to you.
Ready Your Plastic: Shop ‘Til You Drop
While Playa Los Muertos–Beach of the Dead–received its name from the many ancient battles between pirates and the native tribes, it’s anything but scary or lifeless. These days, Playa Los Muertos is one of the most popular beaches in Puerto Vallarta, and it has a little something for everyone. Want your hair braided or bargain jewelry? Got that. Local art or fresh seafood? Got that, too. Bring some cash or your plastic and treat yourself.
Climate Cousins: Hawaii and Mexico
If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you might have to pinch yourself when you arrive Puerto Vallarta to make sure you’re really in Puerto Vallarta. The sub-tropical climate is often compared to Hawaii’s, but it’s not a freak accident. Puerto Vallarta is located on the exact same latitude as the Hawaiian Islands, so it’s safe to say their climates are like sisters or cousins. With 300 sunny days a year, this Mexican gem on the Pacific is a safe bet for peeps who don’t want their much-deserved vacay to be rained out and who want to stay a little closer to home base.
Puerto Vallarta Quick FactsLanguage: The main language in Puerto Vallarta is Spanish, but many in the tourism industry speak English.
Currency: The official currency is the peso, but USD is also accepted.
Electricity: The standard electricity supply is 110 volts with two-prong outlets.
Passport/Immigration: All U.S. citizens must have a valid passport when traveling to and from Puerto Vallarta.
Drinking Water: To be safe, it is recommended to drink and brush your teeth with bottled water ONLY.
Time Zone: Central Standard Time (UTC/GMT -5 hours)
Peak Season: The peak travel season for Puerto Vallarta runs from December to April.
Tips & Transportation
Unbelievable Seafood: Mariscos Polo
Small and family-operated, this cool seafood joint consistently ranks as one of the top places to eat in Puerto Vallarta. They’re known for their creative approach of blending the tried-and-true traditional flavors of Mexico with just-caught shrimp, scallops, fish and more. The menu is varied and can please even the most discerning palates. One dish that gets a lot of play is the A la Chipotle Mahi Mahi. Your taste buds won’t forget the sizzle. Pinky promise.
Breakfast Bites: Fredy's Tucan
This place has been voted #1 time after time in these parts–and for good reason. The vibe is casual, but the food is gourmet–in a laid-back kind of way. House favorites to start your day are the Eggs Benedict or the Monterrey Omelet. Add a Tropic Smoothie or a cup of Joe, plus a side of their amazing service, and you’ll be set.
Surf's Up: Sayulita
Once a dusty fishing village, Sayulita is now a sunny, boho-centric surf mecca, where the Sierra Madres tumble into glistening blue waves that kiss the shore. Though there are many surf-worthy spots, the best place to do this is Sayulita Beach, where wave-lovers of all levels can take lessons. Boogie boarding (plus kite, paddle and skate) is popular, along with more Zen things like yoga on the beach. If you're longing for gourmet eats and hip bars, you can find it here. Boutiques and local artisans abound along with natural beauty that calls you to shake off that stress and chill. Come visit Sayulita, an unforgettable, magical village by the cobalt sea.
AirportLicenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR) is an international airport located in Puerto Vallarta. The airport is nestled on the Pacific Ocean coast and receives over a million tourists each year. The airport was recently renovated in 2011 and features a host of new amenities and restaurants to serve travelers.
Immigration & CustomsWhen you reach the arriving terminal, you will be guided to the immigration hall where you will form a line and wait for your turn with the immigration officer. You will supply the officer with your passport and answer a few routine questions about the nature of your stay. Regarding customs, all you need to do is produce a current passport in order to enter and leave Puerto Vallarta.
Getting to Your Hotel
Travelers have concerns about vacationing in Mexico. For the past several years, CheapCaribbean.com has partnered with Amstar as our premier transportation company to provide safe, comfortable and professional transportation for our clients from and back to the airport. Amstar also provides transportation to any excursions booked through our site that you’d like to take while you’re in your destination.
It’s easy to find your Amstar team when you arrive at the airport. They wear floral shirts. All drivers are fluent in English, friendly and knowledgeable about the culture, history and things to do while you’re there. By the end of your ride, you’ll have made a new friend. Vehicles are all clean, modern and reliable.
Amstar is also the official transportation rep for CheapCaribbean.com excursions when you book vacations to Mexico on our site. The majority of our partner hotels have an Amstar desk in or near the lobby so they’re easy to find, should you need them.
For this reason, we suggest that our guests do not rent cars while in the Caribbean or Mexico as traffic laws and road quality and street signs are not the same as they are in the US.
Getting Around Puerto VallartaThere are plenty of ways of to get around Puerto Vallarta, depending on your budget and where you want to go. Many of Mexico's destinations are tourist-friendly and easy to explore. If you need to get around, local bus systems are the preferred mode of transportation as they're both affordable and operate throughout the day. If you'd rather have some privacy, taxis are always available, but can be a bit expensive to use. Another popular way to get around is by renting a car, but make sure the car is in good condition.