I generally try to travel a few times a year, with water being my main source of inspiration. This year however, due to various home repairs I’ve been landlocked. But I finally broke free and ended up in Puerto Vallarta Labor Day weekend.
Puerto Vallarta Entry and Exit Requirements
If you’re thinking about visiting Puerto Vallarta (PV) make sure you give yourself enough time get a passport. You’ll need one. You’ll also need a Mexican Tourist Permit. Don’t worry. It’s generally provided for you to fill out toward the end of your flight. Once you land, the customs agents will take the top half of the permit and return the bottom portion to you with your passport. You need to make sure that you hold onto it. You’ll need to present both again when you leave this beauty behind.
Once you pass through customs, be prepared to be greeted with complimentary samples of tequila, along with wall to wall salesmen trying to get you to their timeshares. If that’s not for you, feel free to push through and activate your Uber app to get a ride to your hotel. Yes, they have Uber and you can get $5 off your first ride anywhere here! If Uber isn’t your thing, no worries. They have rental cars, taxis, and buses available too. I completely forgot I had to place my phone on roaming to get service in Mexico, so I took a taxi in, but took an Uber back. The Uber experience was exactly the same as I’ve experienced in the States. It was also cheaper than the taxi in.
Old Vallarta/Zona Romántica
While this was my first time in PV, a friend who had grown up vacationing there suggested I book a hotel in Old Vallarta, also known as the Zona Romántica (Romantic Quarter). I’m glad I did. That area of PV still has cobbled streets and very much looks and feels like the Mexico I grew up visiting and vacationing in.
It’s filled with shops, restaurants, art galleries, sculptures, nightclubs, and lots of great places to enjoy 2×1 happy hours along Playa Los Muertos (Beach of the Dead) and El Malecon.
Playa Los Muertos
An ominous name for sure, but there’s nothing to be scared of, as long as you know how to say no to vendors. They’re really not that pushy, but you will have to say no a lot from under your beach palapa (thatched umbrella).
Beach vendors offer everything from souvenirs, to clothing, hair braids, jewelry, La Tuba (a traditional drink made with coconut cream, apple vinegar, small pieces of apple, and walnuts), alcoholic drinks, shrimp on a stick, fresh oysters, boat excursions, and even live music.
Here’s a quick snippet.
If you want it, you can probably get it. You don’t even have to have Mexican pesos to get it. The US dollar is widely accepted in PV. If you want to haggle or stay on budget though, you may want to convert some of your money into pesos so you don’t have to keep doing the conversions in your head.
The thing you do have to watch out for, is the surf. I of course was there during their rainy season, which apparently is what makes the surf rough.
Although not too evident from this quick video.
While I thought I was going to be completely rained out with 100% chance of rain in the Labor Day forecast, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it generally rained overnight. Sure I had to bust out my umbrella a couple of times because of light showers in the afternoons, but my days were filled with plenty of sun. However, the entire time I was there the yellow beach flag never came down. After being knocked down by a wave I saw why they had it up and why they suggest you never swim there alone.
Video prior to getting knocked down.
If you take a stroll, you’ll be happy to see all the beach seating available for the various eateries.
You’ll also be able to take a stroll up the Los Muertos Pier. It peers over the sea a bit, so it’s a great vantage point to take it all in.
In the mornings it tends to serve as the hub for boat excursions to other beaches.
If you want to find a great spot to rest, people watch, and enjoy beautiful mosaics off the sand, walk a little further north.
Head up the street between Daiquiri Dick’s and The Blue Shrimp. At the end of the block you’ll find Lázaro Cárdenas Park and El Parque de Los Azulejos (Tile Park PV).
Here’s a close up view of the mosaic pillars.
As you continue north past the park, you’ll see where the River Cuale meets the ocean, and get a great view of the PV mountains.
You’ll also see an open market at the bottom of the stairs where you can do some more shopping. That’s where El Malecón begins for those of us staying in Old Vallarta.
El Malecón is the Puerto Vallarta boardwalk. It’s the perfect place to shop, get your eat and drink on, marvel at the bay, or pose with various sculptures and other live attractions.
As you continue north you’ll see Los Arcos del Malecón, which not only serves as a great spot to stop and take some pictures, but it’s also the Amphitheatre Aquiles Serdán. During the evenings you can sometimes catch a show.
If you walk a little further you’ll run into the Puerto Vallarta sign. Another great place to take pictures.
If you’re not a professional photographer, try to get your pic during the morning hours, in between the droves of walking tours. You will be illuminated by the sun, instead of being dulled by it. Also, if you want to get all the letters in your pic, don’t take it head on, take it from the sides.
Then walk across to la Plaza de Armas.
It’s a beautiful square, with a kiosk, seating, and a great view of la Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe).
Take a few pics here and then walk into the parish. Pay your respects and marvel at all the beautiful paintings, sculptures, and architecture.
As you can see, there’s so much more to Puerto Vallarta than just the sun and sand. And I only scratched the surface. Cheers to new adventures and travel destinations! Until next time!
What have you enjoyed, or do you think you’ll enjoy most from your visit to Puerto Vallarta?