Puerto Vallarta Vacation Tips
Puerto Vallarta is increasingly becoming a vacation hotspot. We've got tips and the best products for a Mexico getaway.
It's important when traveling to have a plan and know how to navigate your Puerto Vallarta vacation transportation and communication. Plan out what to do and see in Puerto Vallarta and of course, how to stay safe!
Getting through the airport
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 it be to buy something from them or constant harassment of your time, during your entire vacation. Just avoid it all together - trust us - we've made the mistakes!
Check the exchange rate regularly
If you are carrying $USD, you will need to know what that means for Mexican peso’s otherwise you could be giving away money. There are plenty of hustlers that can spot someone who doesn't travel there often and will take advantage of the opportunity to make extra money on them.
The exchange rates change constantly. We recommend downloading an app such as XE Currency Converter.
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Communication & Safety
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.
While in and around the areas of your resort, you're not really required to know Spanish and you should always be fine communicating in English. If you come across an employee that doesn't speak English, they typically are very helpful in finding someone who does. But as you leave and venture off to more localized areas, you'll want to be able to communicate in Spanish.
This app, iTranslate, works offline so you don't need to worry about having service. And it would also be wise to always have your maps downloaded should you lose service or don't have an international data roaming plan.
Save money by negotiating
Negotiate as much as you can. This will not work for restaurants, bar, and grocery/convenient stores, but for street vendors, smaller shops, transportation services, rentals, etc., they are used to negotiations.
It would be kind to keep in mind that this is how they make a living, so be reasonable, but do negotiate. If you genuinely think they are over-charging, walk away and see how quickly thy 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 yards 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 the hour.
Do NOT use or drink the water
I’m sure you have heard this from someone at some point, and I promise, they are not kidding. We have been to Mexico many times, survived a few just fine, but a couple times have gotten VERY sick. On our most recent Puerto Vallarta vacation, all 6 of us that went were painfully sick to our stomachs for almost a week once we got back.
Do not drink non-bottled water or swallow water in the shower or sink (even when brushing your teeth). And make sure ice in your drinks was frozen through filtered water.
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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. It is much more secluded, if you're looking for a more relaxed vibe.
*Fun fact* ABC's Bachelor in Paradise is filmed at a beautiful hidden beach called Playa Escondida in Sayulita.
Marietas Islands – These are several small islands in the Bahía de Banderas, southwest of Punta de Mita. This area is perfect for snorkeling and exploring the caves and rock beach enclosures created by volcanic eruptions. Get your waterproof camera ready because you'll be able to take Instagram-worthy shots. You can charter a boat or book an excursion through Ally Cat Sailing Adventures. We had a lot of fun on this excursion.
Enjoy paddle-boarding, having some drinks, snorkeling, as well as walking around the gorgeous uninhabited islands. Keep in mind that most excursions are not going to allow you to stay long on the islands. Note that the islands are protected by the government so they will only allow so many visitors a day, and they are strict on not applying sunscreen there, so be sure to plan before going.
*TIP* Try to visit Lover’s beach!
Boca De Tomatlán – This is a hidden gem of any 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 Tomatlán 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, I'd recommend getting reservations there. After that, head to dinner at Le Kliff, which is just North of Boca de Tomatlán. This place had breathtaking views overlooking the Pacific. They have great food, specialty cocktails, all perfect for enjoying a sunset.
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.
Create your own excursion – There are plenty of excursions offered at your resort or you can get creative and make your own.
Rent jet skis, go kite-surfing, learn to surf, paddle board, or rent a dingy. 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.
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Puerto Vallarta Vacation | Ultimate Mexico Vacation Video
For more on where to stay in Puerto Vallarta, click this link.