There’s a reason those wonderful Mexican beach towns, and especially Puerto Vallarta have become so popular.
Traveling in November (2016), it was an excellent time of year to visit. The weather was deliciously warm, the energy high and several festivals were in swing — a chalk festival and the Festival Gourmet International of which many high-end restaurants were participating with outstanding menus created by guest chefs.
Why we like PV: The ambiance, the history, the food, and location are all very fun. There’s great amenities like affordable massage and spa packages, and killer fluff-and-fold laundry service for wet bathing suits and never traveling with dirty clothes.
- Price: Affordable (especially with the 2016 rate of exchange)
- We found it safe in the tourist areas with a wide variety of food and activities
- The city is improved, but rustic areas lie just out of town (and at that time a significant lack of garbage collection)
The Malecon is a long beach walk of many shops (some local, some international), restaurants, live music and other interesting things to look at and participate in. Missing this would be sad, especially the works of art installed along the way. Sunday night at 11pm in mid-November was surprisingly vibrant.
The town is not so overdeveloped that it is completely urban. I stood under a tree in old town and was astounded by the absolute cacophony of a flock of birds singing at full volume as the evening wained and the traffic passed. Take a quick listen, if you don’t believe me.
Don’t do the all inclusive package at your hotel. With an exchange rate of 20 pesos to the dollar (late 2016), you can get fresh salsa, handmade tortillas, a full meal, and a great margarita for under $10 with tip. I had room service breakfast every day of my stay, cocktails at the bar nightly, and usually a little something during the day to tide me over and my bill for the week at the hotel was only $60. Typically, the all-inclusive packages can run $100 a day.
If you are staying at an all inclusive resort — even though never leaving the grounds might be tempting — you MUST get out and see this wonderful town and try many of the great restaurants.
What we didn’t enjoy: The timeshare people who try and nab you for 20 minutes before you get out of the airport and the sad state of garbage collection. Even though it is apparently free many people don’t seem to have their garbage hauled away. <insert mad face>
Where we stayed:
Hotel Sheraton Buganvilias, PV
Villas Susana, San Francisco