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Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Mexico | Sun
|Puerto Vallarta, Mexico|
|Where: Pacific coast of Mexico|
- All-inclusive beach vacations
- Inexpensive all-inclusive beach vacations
- Pacific coast of Mexico combines mountains and beaches
- Mexican culture
- Direct flights within North America
- Beach vendors
- Variable quality/setting between resorts
Why visit Puerto Vallarta in Mexico?
Puerto Vallarta is a spot for inexpensive hot tropical vacations where beaches are combined with mountains and Mexican culture. Puerto Vallarta is located between the Sierra Madre mountains and the Pacific ocean. Mexican Pacific coast is different from the Caribbean manly due the mountains. The Caribbean coast and islands that are closer to the mainland have only small hills. You would need to go to the Atlantic ocean for islands with well formed mountains, like St. Lucia or Saba. The mountains together with the ocean create breathtaking views in Puerto Vallarta. There are also mountain related activities like zip-lining. In comparison with the Caribbean side the Pacific coast is less humid and has a more sharply defined rainy and dry seasons. There are no risks of hurricanes that hit periodically the east coast.
Where in the world?
Puerto Vallarta is a beach resort town on the Pacific coast of Mexico. It is located in a protected bay at about the same latitude as Cancun and Cuba, just on the other side of the North American continent.
There is an international airport (PVR) with several direct flights from some large cities in Canada and US. There will be a connection flying from Europe. Distance-wise, it is about 3 hours from Houston, 4 hours from San Fransico, and 5 hours from Toronto or Vancouver. The airport is close to the city, a short taxi drive away.
120 volts, 60Hz, socket with two flat vertical slots, the same as in Canada and US.
Spanish, but all resort staff speak English.
Mexican peso ~ 0.06 USD, but everybody takes USD. Euro also can be used for cash purchases and tips.
Vaccination and infections
According to CDC no vaccination is required in addition to the routine vaccination established in most countries (subject to your country of origin and your personal vaccination). Typhoid and hepatitis vaccines are recommended. There IS reported risk of malaria in some parts of Mexico. Please consult a travel clinic for possible prevention medications if you travel to those areas. Prevent yourself from insect bites to avoid insect transmitted infections (dengue, zika, west Nile etc.). Please see updated information for health at CDC site or health authority in your country.
At the time of writing nationals of less than 70 countries have visa-free access to Mexico for short stays, either up to 30 days for transit or 180 days for business or tourism stays. However, you may be required to obtain a FMM tourist card to enter the country. Please check updated information at the time of travel.
When to go?
It is warm all year round but the nights can get chillier between December through March. The good part of the Pacific side is that it is drier than the east coast. The rainy season is June through September. October through May is a dry period. So, combining temperatures and rainfall best months are April-June and November. That is by weather stats though. Considering latest weather unpredictability in the world, rainfall may not follow that strict pattern, but overall chances of rain and hurricanes are lower than in the Caribbean.
Where to stay?
A specific issue for Puerto Vallarta is that all beaches are public. That brings vendors, even on beaches in front of the resorts. A solution is to pick a place where vendors have a difficult access. We found that Hyatt Ziva (former Dreams) resort has a perfect location. It is located just outside the city and is surrounded by mountains. The only way to get to the beach is to pass through the private property of the hotel. All rooms in the resort have ocean view. It is 180 degrees unobstructed ocean on the higher floors. The resort also has excellent beachfront restaurants. You will need to take a taxi to and from the town though. The town is worth visiting for general impression of Mexican style architecture, shopping and nightlife. Younger people may choose to stay in the town. We felt safe during daytime but you need to do research and use your judgement for venturing outside the resorts at night. It is Mexico and a number of tourists do get in trouble or even get killed there every year. Follow your current government advisories. We stayed in the safety of the resort, did guided trips and explored town during daytime only.
Where to eat?
The resort restaurants were excellent. As expected, the food was mostly of Mexician cuisine and sea food. Some restaurants in town could be good as well, but we did not try them.
What to do?
Puerto Vallarta town
We went to town several times, for shopping and for general sightseeing. It is an attractive resort town with old Spanish-Mexican architecture. Definitely worth a visit if you are staying at the periphery.
There is a trail into the mountain that starts from the resort. It is worth exploring alone and during a guided tour. There was also rock climbing available when we were there.
For external tours we went zip-lining. The lines extended over a narrow valley and there was a considerable height. We enjoyed it more than zip lining in Costa Rica, however the experience may differ depending on a facility. There are now several different tours of mountain activities available.
Dinner with a fire show
For cultural experience, we did a Cruise and Candlelight Dinner Show at Las Caletas. The experience was unique since we have not encountered a similar setup at any other tourist place in Mexico or elsewhere.
San Sebastien del Oeste
There are also day trips available to an old mining town of San Sebastien del Oeste, also called Magic Town. This tour and some others may include tequila tasting. Santiago de Tequila, the birthplace of tequila is in the same province Jalisco as Puerto Vallarta. Tequila tasting is generally popular in Puerto Vallarta and there is a tequila museum in Puerto Vallarta. We normally drink wine but drifted to have a recurrent tasting at the resort bars. Drink responsibly!
We have no affiliation with any booking agency/site, attraction companies or resorts. We simply share our experience and opinions. Some information may be outdated, please check with primary sources.