Here are a few tips if you are planning a Puerto Vallarta vacation anytime in the near future. We went in the spring of 2017 and stayed at the Grand Luxxe by Vidanta. This resort is located in Nuevo Vallarta, which is about 10 minutes from the airport and about 20-30 minutes from downtown Puerto Vallarta. Let me say, that this is probably the nicest resort that we have ever stayed at, and we have stayed at many over the years.
Once you get through the gauntlet at the airport (see our below tips for more about this), you should either have prepared transportation ready or grab a cab to get to where you are going. Transportation is usually provided by most hotels and resorts, but if not, cabs to most of them in Puerto Vallarta will run you anywhere from $10-$15.
Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful place and some of the nicest people around. That does not mean there are not some shady people there though. Always have your guard up. Keep your Passport, credit cards, money and other valuables stashed away if out and about. Pickpocketing is common in a lot of these places. The last thing that you want is to have something stolen and it ruin your vacation.
Puerto Vallarta, well Mexico, in general, is fairly inexpensive compared to that of other countries, such as the USA. Just like in the United States though, if you go to name brand stores, restaurants, etc, you’re going to pay higher costs. As much as Margaritaville and Senor Frogs may look appealing and you feel comfortable because you have heard of it, these are common touristy places that can demand higher prices. Opt for the more local businesses. The food and drink will be better and you will pay much less.
Now that we have given a bit of an overview of Puerto Vallarta, we will walk you through a couple of tips and insights as to what to watch out for, what to see and do, and some products that will make your Puerto Vallarta vacation extremely enjoyable.
Puerto Vallarta Vacation Tips
- Once you get through customs DO NOT stop until you are outside of the airport. This is where you will be talking/tricked into signing up for timeshare seminars, promised endless excursions, free meals, drinks and everything in between. It all comes with a price, whether be to buy something from them or your time. Just avoid it all together!
- Know the conversion rate. If you are carrying USD, you will need to know what that means for Mexican Peso’s otherwise you could be giving away money.
- When you are within your resort or hotel, or among the more touristy areas, you can get by without knowing much Spanish. However, the more you venture off, communication will be difficult so make sure you know where you are going and what you need so you’re not caught in the middle of no-where and unable to communicate.
- DO NOT drink the water. I’m sure you have heard this from someone at some point, but they are not kidding. We have been to Mexico many times, survived a few, but a couple times have gotten quite sick. This last trip to Puerto Vallarta, all 6 of us that went, were sick to our stomachs for almost a week once we got back. This means that you should not drink non-bottled water, swallow shower or sink water (even when brushing your teeth) and make sure ice was through filtered water.
- Puerto Vallarta is fairly safe as it’s a popular place for tourists. Mexico, as a whole, can be very dangerous. If you are concerned about crime, we would recommend staying close to the more touristy places at all times. The further you venture off, the more possibilities to crime you will be.
- Negotiate as much as you can. This will not work for restaurants, bar, and grocery/convenient stores though. But for street vendors, smaller shops, transportation services, rentals, etc, they are expecting you to negotiate. Never just pay for something right away. Keep in mind this is how they make a living, so try to be reasonable, but do negotiate with them. Even walking away, then will chase you down to offer you lower prices. Example: we went to rent jet skis on the beach. The first group offers $50 for 1 hour. We started walking away and he came after us and said he could do $45. We said no and moved on. The group, about 100 years away said the best they can do was $40. We were about to say yes but decided to keep going. We ran into another group, who was the same company we just passed, and then guy offered us $35 for 30 minutes.
Top recommended things to do in Puerto Vallarta
- Punta Mita/Sayulita – these are two small towns about 45-60 minutes North of Puerto Vallarta. These places are known for their beaches and surfing. You are not going to find big resorts and high-end restaurants here. However, you will find some small, local shops and eateries to enjoy fresh cooked food and drinks. Seeing as this is a drive up from the main touristy areas, you will find much more peace and quiet.
- Boca De Tomatlan – this is a hidden gem that we found while on our Puerto Vallarta vacation. It is about 30-45 minutes South of Puerto Vallarta that takes you along the Pacific Coast almost the entire way there. The town of Boca de Tomatlan is very small, so do not expect more than the beach and some small shops. However, there were two amazing restaurants that we ate at. Ocean Grill, which can only be reached by hiking about an hour or by boat, is a very exclusive restaurant that overlooks a small cove outside the town. Definitely, recommend getting reservations there. After that, we had dinner at Le Kliff, which is just North of Boca da Tomatlan. This place had breathtaking views overlooking the Pacific. They have great food, specialty cocktails, all perfect for enjoying a sunset.
- Marietas Islands – these are several small islands in the Bay of Banderas off the Puerto Vallarta Coast. This area is perfect for snorkeling and exploring some of the beaches there. Get your waterproof camera ready, as you will be able to take Instagram-worthy shots. You can charter a boat or do what we did, book an excursion through Ally Cat Sailing Adventures. We had a lot of fun on this excursion. Enjoyed paddleboarding, having some drinks, snorkeling as well as walking around the islands. Keep in mind that most excursions are not going to allow you to stay long on the islands. Also, the Islands are protected by the Government so they will only allow so many visitors a day, so be sure to ask before going as we planned on going to “Lover’s beach”, but that was closed due to overcrowding concerns. Major bummer!
- Excursions – there are plenty of those excursions to take or you can create your own. With all of the beaches, islands and water activities available, you will find that you do not have enough time to get to everything. You can rent jet skis. Grab some snorkeling gear and head out pretty much anywhere for some amazing water. There are tequila tours. Hiking and waterfall tours. You name it. Plenty of things to do for your Puerto Vallarta vacation.
- Restaurants & Shopping – downtown Puerto Vallarta has a TON of restaurants, bars and nightlife to enjoy. It would be wise to plan an evening out there to take some of it in. During the day, you can find many small shops to pop into.
Puerto Vallarta Vacation | Mexico Vacation 2017
Here is our Puerto Vallarta vacation video from Mexico. This will give you a glimpse into our trip to Puerto Vallarta and hopefully some ideas if you plan on traveling there in the near future.
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