| Bulletin Board
| Spotlight Destination
Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexicos most popular vacation spots, with tourists enjoying it so much they return year after year.
Puerto Vallarta is 620 miles northwest of Mexico City, 260 miles of Guadalajara, and 175 northwest of Manzanillo.
In the 1500s pirates used Puerto Vallarta bays as a stopover on long voyages. In the mid-1850s the bay was developed as a port for silver mines by Don Guadalupe Sanchez. At that time it had about 1,500 residents and was known as Puerto de Penas. In 1918 it was made a municipality and named Puerto Vallarta after the governor of Jalisco, Ignacio L. Vallarta. Puerto Vallartas existence was as a small farming and fishing village. In 1964 with the filming of John Hustons The Night of the Iguana photographs from the paparazzi of Puerto Vallarta's beauty made its way to the public. Word was out and development began. The construction of a highway and airport added to the boom in tourism.
With tropical temperatures, its warm all-year round. May to October is the rainy season, with showers almost every afternoon. Summer (June to September) temperatures are in the high 80s to low 90s (degrees Fahrenheit) In the winter months, December to March, evenings and early mornings can be chilly. Daytime temperatures are in the mid to high 80s (degrees Fahrenheit)
Puerto Vallarta is packed with hotels, motels, inns, villas, and luxury resorts. Rates jump considerably in the high season. Hotel options may include restaurants, bars, delis, tennis courts, spa facilities, boutiques, fitness centers, pools, saunas, steam rooms, golf privileges, massage services, gift shops, beauty salons, and free meals and drinks. Some luxury accommodations offer so many services that you may never have to leave the resorts. Rates range from US$65 to US$1,200.
It is said that the best restaurants are the ones located in hotels. A specialty of Puerto Vallarta is "Jungle Dining". There are several restaurants south of town that offer open-air dining by the sea or a mountain river. Chicos Paradise has views of immense rock, the jungle, mountains, natural pools, and waterfalls. Large portions of seafood and Mexican dishes are on the menu. There are also several branches of American restaurants such as Hooters, the Hard Rock Café, and Planet Hollywood.
Puerto Vallarta has its share of clubs, bars, and sports bars, dance clubs and discos. Many hotels offer fiesta nights for tourists. Jazz, rock, hip-hop, techno, blues, Latin, reggae, and rap are some of the types of music that keeps partygoers going all night long. You can experience everything from romantic quiet bars, to loud, rowdy, energetic clubs. Collage, located at the Marina Vallarta, has several restaurants, two bars, a video arcade, a disco, shuffleboard, billiards, and even a bowling alley. Theres not too much in the way of cultural nightlife so art exhibits have a special social and cultural meaning.
At the municipal market you will find suitcases, jewelery, clothes, T-shirts, stuffed animals, papier-mâché parrots, and leather accessories. There is an upstairs food market that sells authentic Mexican food. There are two shopping plazas with restaurants, shops, stores, real estate companies, timeshare vendors, and boating services. The Neptuno Plaza has a Radio Shack and an Internet café. There are many shops, stores, boutiques, and stalls around town where you can find decorative and folk art, designer clothing, crafts, gifts, souvenirs, cigars, tequila, furnishings, T-shirts, silver jewelery and the famous Huichol Indian art.
Every imaginable type of cuisine is served in restaurants in Puerto Vallarta. Italian, international, European, Cuban, Asian, German, Argentinean, Mexican, seafood can all be found. Chefs have come from Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland and other places to open restaurants of their own.
Banks: Dozens of banks and ATM are located around town, especially in shopping zones. Banks are generally open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm with half-days on Saturdays.
Internet: There are many internet cafes located around town. Business centers in hotels also may offer access. Rates for hourly access in cafes is generally US$4 per hour.
Transportation: To get to some of the restaurants and attractions a rental car or taxi is needed. Taxi can be rented hourly or daily. Rates are charged by zone and most hotels have price lists posted in lobbies. Car rental agencies are located at the airport and around town. Beware of places advertising cheap rates, as this is their gimmick to lure you into timeshare presentations. Public transportation is a cheap, fast, and reliable way to travel. Buses travel all over town and run from 6am to 11pm.
Yelapa: Located only a 45-minute boat trip Yelapa has no cars or electricity and one paved road, for pedestrians only. Its beauty, privacy, and easy-going lifestyle make it a pleasant getaway from busy city life.
Nuevo Vallarta: Located in the state of Nayarit, Nuevo Vallarta has been slated for a mega-resort development that has yet to happen. There are several all-inclusive resorts, a shopping plaza, a marina, and a spectacular beach.
Punta De Mita: The Natives consider this area at the northern tip of the bay a sacred place. The Sea of Cortez, Pacific Ocean, and Banderas Bay all meet at this point. The Four Seasons Resort is all youll find here, but luxury resorts, exclusive residential communities, and three championship golf courses are in the development stages.
San Sebastian: With only 600 year-round residents, this former silver mining town has kept its small town charm.
|WHERE TO GO:
City Hall: A mural of Puerto Vallarta as a fishing and farming
village, painted by Manuel Lepe in 1981, hangs on the wall.
Casa Kimberly: Daily tours are given through Elizabeth Taylors
former house, bought for her 32nd birthday by Richard Burton. When she
sold it in 1990 she left behind the majority of her possessions, which
are on display.
La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe: An elaborate crown worn
by Carlotta the empress of Mexico in 1860 is on display at Puerto
Vallartas main church.
Isla Rio Cuale: Restaurants, boutiques, cafés, an outdoor market
place, and souvenir stands can be found on this island that basically
slices the downtown area in two.
Museo Arqueologico: Located on the Isla Rio Cuale this museum has
Indian artifacts and pre-Columbian figures.
Mayan Palace Aquapark: This waterpark is filled with waterslides,
pools, snack bars, and an inner tube canal.
WHERE TO EAT:
There are over 250 restaurants in Puerto Vallarta serving every cuisine
possible as well as taco stands, food stalls, and market vendors.
Theres a restaurant to accommodate every taste, budget and style. As
well, you will find some American based franchises such as the Hard
Rock Café, McDonalds, and Hooters. Many of the hotel restaurants offer
fine dining options such as Italian, international, seafood and Mexican
cuisine. For a spectacular view of the bay, head to La Nube, where
Italian and seafood dishes are served. The Café des Artistes is said to
be Puerto Vallartas most expensive and sophisticated restaurant.
Mexican foods with a European twist are served with a view of the mighty
Pacific. In the evenings a piano and flute duo serenades patrons. A
favorite of most locals and many tourists is the restaurant Trio. Diners
eagerly consume creative and exotic dishes such as orange crusted sea
bass and shrimp in a roasted pepper and mango sauce. This restaurant is
open only in the high season and a rooftop bar has recently been added.
At Don Pedros, a beachfront restaurant, the chef whips up heavenly
seafood creations at this popular eatery. Everything served here, from
the herb bread to the ice cream to the sauces, is made fresh daily. For
a casual meal in a relaxing but fun atmosphere, head to La Dolce Vita.
The Italian dishes such as pizzas and pastas are made fresh and with
attention to presentation and detail. Prices are reasonable and a jazz
band plays on Thursdays and Friday s evenings. For sumptuous
European and Viennese dishes, head to Café Maxilmilian, a small bistro
like restaurant. With over a dozen patio tables, as well as a dessert
and coffee bar, this restaurant is perfect for people watching while
eating or sipping an after dinner espresso. A long-time local favorite
restaurant, for large Sunday brunches, is Daiquiri Dicks which also
has an excellent view of the bay. The River Café offers international
dishes, such as pasta, steak, and lobster in elegant and romantic
surroundings. For a taste of authentic and delicious Mexican dishes
head to the popular Café de Olla. This eatery, with trees growing from
floor to roof, local artwork on the walls, and lively salsa music,
offers a casual, relaxing, and fun way to spend an evening. For a unique
dining experience, head to one of the jungle restaurants located beside
the sea or in the mountains. Restaurants such as Chicos Paradise, El
Nogalito, and El Eden offer Mexican and seafood dishes in jungle like
surroundings which may include, streams, wildlife, plants and trees,
waterfalls, and natural pools. Some of these areas are good for
hiking and swimming, although swimming in the summer may be
dangerous as flash floods sometimes occur.
|WHAT TO DO:
Beaches: There are 26 miles of beaches in Puerto Vallarta. From
crowded and rowdy to secluded and private, theres a beach for everyone.
Playa de los Muertos is the most popular and crowded beach in Puerto
Vallarta. Vendors walk the beach selling tablecloths, jewelery, kites,
and statues. The majority of the most expensive shops and restaurants
are located here. At several stands you can rent beach toys. In a
sheltered cove with clear water Playa Mismaloya is perfect for swimming
and snorkeling. Vendors sell drinks and snacks. Las Animas, Quimixto and
Yelapa are only accessible by boat. You can hike to nearby waterfalls or
dine at one of the restaurants.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling: Los Arcos, an underwater preserve, is
the best spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. There are several coves
and reefs that are also popular spots. Several companies offer PADI
certified courses, guided dives, and equipment rental.
Fishing: Trips can be arranged through the Cooperativa de Pescadores
or at the marina. Rates generally include gear, tackle, lunch and drinks.
Golf: An 18-hole course, designed by Joe Fingers, is located at the
Marina Vallarta Golf Club. This is a private course but if you are staying
at a hotel with a membership youll generally be able to play. There is
also a restaurant, bar, and professional golf shop. The 18-hole course
at Los Flamingos Club de Golf is open to the pubic. On the premises is a
snack bar and professional golf shop. The newest course was designed by
Jack Nicklaus and is located at the Four Seasons Punta Mita.
There are professionally guided golf tours offered by American
Golf Tours. They can arrange accommodations, personalized packages,
and equipment rental.
Mountain Biking and Hiking: Guided biking and hiking tours up the
Rio Cuale are offered by Bike Mex. Prices include bike, gloves, helmet,
lunch, water, shorts and insurance.
Horseback Riding: Arrangements for guided tours can be made at
travel agencies or at local ranches. The US$45 fee includes breakfast
and lunch. For a more elaborate tour try the "Fly-away to a Hide-away in
San Sebastian." A 15-minute flight will bring you to San Sebastian, a
17th century mining town, where a guide will meet you with horses. Rate
includes a gourmet breakfast and lunch at the Hacienda Jalisco, and an
elaborate tour of the town. An overnight stay can be arranged at the
Boat Tours: There are several companies that can arrange boat
trips that include sunset cruises and trips to distant beaches.
Vallarta Adventures offers a tour to Caletas, a cove where John
Huston lived. Hustons home has been restored to include spa
facilities and the beach has been landscaped for snorkelers. Aboard
the Marigalante, a replica of Christopher Columbuss Santa Maria, you
can experience a "pirates cruise" which includes a barbecue and
treasure hunt or an evening dinner cruise which includes fireworks
and a folkloric dance show.
Whale-watching Tours: From mid-November to March humpback
whales migrate to this bay to reproduce and give birth. Open Air
Expeditions offer excursions in specially constructed soft boats.
Land Tours: There are several companies that offer all sort of
land tours. Vallarta Aventures offers an excursion in special Mercedes
ATV to jungle trails. These tours include a nature walk, swimming, and
lunch. Tukari Tours offers bird-watching trips, shopping trips, or a day
trip to Rancho Altamira.
Air Tours: San Sebastian Air Adventure offers plane tours to
some of the remote areas of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Hot-air balloon
trips over beaches, jungle, farmland, and along the coast are offered,
weather permitting, by Day-Off Hot-Air Balloon Tours.
Festivals: Every November the Fiestas del Mar is celebrates with
a cultural and gourmet dining festivals, regattas, art exhibits, and
tennis tournaments. The Festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe, from
December 1st to the 12th includes floats, fireworks, dances, and
mariachis. Businesses, hotels, and neighborhoods give an offering to
the church in exchange for a blessing by a priest.
Spa: Terra Noble Art & Healing Center is a mountaintop day spa and
Other Activities: Parasailing, water-skiing, and surfing are
becoming popular along the shores of Puerto Vallartas beaches. Rental
equipment for these activities are available at several shops. Many
hotels have their own tennis courts and there are two tennis clubs.
|WHERE TO SHOP:
Puerto Vallarta has sometimes been referred to as a huge shopping
mall. As in any city this size you can expect to find everything and
anything imaginable. Some of the best crafts available in Mexico can
be found in Puerto Vallartas specialty shops and stores. Prices are
generally fixed so bargaining is not necessary, aside from the beach
vendors and at the markets. Puerto Vallarta has the best selection of
Huichol art. This art is generally in the form of yarn paintings or
beaded works. Yarn paintings tell a story and beaded work is said to
have symbolic meanings. These stories and symbols come to the Indians
during spiritual ceremonies. Serious collectors covet this type of
artwork. There are several galleries and shops that sell this art as
well, you can learn about the process at the Huichol Collection. There
is a reproduction of a Huichol hut, displays depicting the Indians way
of life, as well as a large collection of art for sale. In addition to
Huichol art, Puerto Vallarta shops and store carry an excellent
collection of folk art, perhaps the best in Mexico. You can find pottery,
lamps, antiques, woven rugs, ceramics, embroidered clothing, masks,
laquerware, and glass dishes. At Alfareria Tlaquepaque you can find an
assortment of baskets, blown glass, carved wood figures and ceramics
from all over Mexico. Mundo de Azulejos carries a fine selection of
Talavera tiles and can also create tile replicas of your choice in
approximately 24 hours. For one-of-a-kind household items, such as
animal figurines, blown glass, as well as ceramics and antiques, head
to Puerco Azul. At the Mercado Municipal, which takes up a full city
block and located in the busiest section of town, you can find
everything from flowers to piñatas and clothing to jewelry at the many
stands and stalls. Along the beach you will likely run into several
vendors selling items such as masks, jewelry, T-shirts, and even rugs.
Puerto Vallarta is a host to shops and stores selling unique, brand
name, and specialty clothing and accessories. Extremely popular is
clothing created by Laura Lopez Labra. These items, such as skirts,
blouses, dresses, drawstring pants, and lightweight shirts, are made
from 100% cotton and lace, usually in shades of white or natural.
Puerto Vallartas only department store, LOBs, carries furnishings,
clothing, shoes and everyday essential items. Around town you will
find stores and shops carrying items such as tequila, cigars, gifts
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