Puerto Vallarta – 5 Tips to Rock Your Vacation

Woman weaving in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

It’s time to check Puerto Vallarta off your Bucket List.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico has captured the hearts of people from around the world.

Imagine the vibrant fuchsia colors of the bougainvilleas with the bright blue Pacific Ocean in the background.

Stark white buildings line the ancient cobblestone streets.

The people of Puerto Vallarta are some of the warmest and friendliest people in the world.

Read these tips and book your ticket!


Things to Do on the Malecón


Puerto Vallarta sculptures on the Malecón
Puerto Vallarta sculptures © Donna Kos

A great way to get to know Puerto Vallarta is with a free walking tour. The tour guides are knowledgeable and bilingual. You’ll gain an awesome overview of the city, get some exercise and have plenty of time to head to the beach.

If you’d rather wander solo, head down to the Malecón and see the numerous photo worthy sculptures. The Malecón has a plethora of shops and restaurants right on the water. Listen to the waves while you have a $1USD Margarita on the second or third floor at Cheeky Monkey. (There’s a restaurant on the first floor, so go around to the side and up the stairs for Cheeky Monkey). The people watching and ocean views are unbeatable.

There are plenty of tequila tours, but they’re not cheap and your entire day will be shot. Or shots! An excellent alternative is to head to the footbridge at the Cuale River Island on the Malecón. Stop in at Oscar’s for their free tequila tasting and tour their in-house distillery!

Tacos Arandas is two blocks off the Malecón. Although it looks like a hole in the wall, they have excellent tacos for 12 pesos a piece. There are numerous choices and all of them get rave reviews.

Playa Los Muertos has numerous restaurants with umbrellas and beach chairs and wait service. To save money stop in at any OXXO (Mexico’s version of a 7-11) and grab some snacks and drinks.

Be prepared for numerous vendors asking you to buy their wares. Not interested? Just be polite and say, “No gracias”.


Shopping in Puerto Vallarta


Mexican pesos and currency conversion App
© Donna Kos

If the conversion rate has you confused, no worries. The shop owners in Puerto Vallarta are known for giving change back when a person has offered them too much money. Apps for currency converters are fun and handy too. Knowing how cheap things are in Mexico is enough to fuel your vacation spending.

It’s best to use a bank ATM. And some days there are as many as 20 people in line, so if you know you’re getting low on pesos and the line is short, jump in. Also check to see if they give you your money in pesos or USD.

Many local restaurants and businesses only accept cash. The local currency is pesos. Many businesses will take US dollars. They’ll calculate the exchange rate and your change will be in pesos.

Walk a few blocks off the Malecón and you’ll find the same types of shops but all the goods are less expensive. Shop keepers are less likely to speak English the further off the Malecón you get but it will give you a more authentic view of Mexico.

If you don’t speak Spanish don’t worry. Most people speak some english. Google translate is also a great App to help you with some key phrases that are helpful.


Some Iconic Places to See


Pier at Playa Los Muertos
Pier at Playa Los Muertos © Donna Kos

The Pier at Playa Los Muertos is a landmark with a large sculpture that is picture worthy. If you want to swim, you’ll find the beaches on either side to be the easiest to find and very swimable. Most days families gather there with coolers, umbrellas and music fills the air.

A few blocks off the Malecón is Our Church of Guadeloupe. It’s photo worthy inside and out. If you’re lucky enough you’ll hear passionate music bursting into the streets.

Right outside you’ll often find vendors selling tamales, tacos and numerous other foods to satisfy your palate.

Puerto Vallarta weather is hard to beat. So this very walkable city is a easily enjoyable experience. Feet tired? Taxis are around every corner and Uber is available here too.

Head down to the Zona Romántica for a taste of old Mexico. It’s known as the Gay Disctrict and has lots of great restaurants and some unusual shops. It’s hard to beat the people watching in Zona Romántica.

Looking for something you recognize from the US? There’s a Starbucks in Zona Romántica with an unbeatable staff and a very clean bathroom. Although Starbucks isn’t iconic, Edgar, the man that dances on the sidewalk outside nearly every day at Margaritaville across the street is legendary!


Water Activities in Puerto Vallarta


Whale Watching © Donna Kos

Las Marietta’s Tour will take you on one of the most beautiful, ecologically-diverse island paradises in all of Mexico. Take a walk on the iconic Lover’s Beach. Snorkel and explore the waters as you swim through cave formations and rock archways. The spectacular terrain touts more than 100 species of birds and fish. Be sure and walk on the island’s infamous hidden beach as you soak up the sun.

Whale watching is December through March. Witnessing the spectacular Humpback Whales as they migrate from the arctic to breed and rear their young in the sheltered coasts of Banderas Bay is a magical experience. Make sure your camera is charged so you can capture those unforgettable photos and videos.


Is it Safe in Puerto Vallarta?


Safety in Puerto Vallarta Police officers
Armed Forces on the Malecón © Donna Kos

Puerto Vallarta is known for its safety. People walk in groups or alone at all hours of the day and late into the night. Be prepared to see officers on foot and in trucks carrying various kinds of large firearms. They’re friendly and are also more than happy to pose for photos. Clearly common sense should prevail when traveling. Trouble can be found in any city of any country if your behavior is out of control and you’ve stamped “crime of opportunity” on your forehead.


Puerto Vallarta sunset
Puerto Vallarta Sunset © Donna Kos

The staggering options of unforgettable places to go and things to see can be overwhelming. Witness stunning sunsets nearly every night. Tours, beaches and restaurants abound.

Imagine walking the breath-taking Malecón. Taking photos of the numerous sculptures with the glistening blue ocean in the background. Dipping your toes in the sand while sipping a cold libation on the beach. Eating incredible, authentic Mexican food served by the friendliest people you’ve ever met.

Check Puerto Vallarta off your Bucket List. You’ll be glad you did.

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