Suggestions for Puerto Vallarta

I’am going to be in Puerto Vallarta in March. Has anyone found a place or activity that they would recommend. I’ve already checked out Trip Advisor and other “PV-to-do” sites. Free or inexpensive is essential.

Well, PV is quite spread out, so a lot of what to do will depend on location.

If you’re staying South in the Romantic Zone, that’s the most LGBT-friendly area. I didn’t go to any of the drag queen shows but I saw so many being advertised I figure at least a few must be real cheap or even free/pay-what-you want. The Río Cuale, separating this area from Centro further North, also makes for a nice walk and a swim if you’re done with the beach for a while. I didn’t go further South to Mismaloya and etc., but if you’re in a group, the boat ride there would turn out fairly cheap. Apparently there are biking trails down the way as well.

Near the river you can also go up to Gringo Gulch. Don’t underestimate how much time you can spend on Gringo Gulch and the neighborhoods uphil from the famous church. Lots of Vallarta style architecture, great views and, with all the ups and downs the hills, you can spend hours up there.

Centro is also pretty good for cheap food. There are a lot of seafood taco and cocktails street stands there. At night, just walking along the Malecón is one of the best options, there’s something going on almost every day.

If you’re staying further North in Nuevo Vallarta or the Marina, there’s… shopping malls. There’s also a few rivers and some more nature walking. From here you can take the buses up to the Riviera Nayarita. The buses to Bucerías, Cruz de Huanacaxtle and Punta de Mita leave from this area and are quite cheap. If you want to get the buses from the rest of PV, you’ll need to get a bus to La Isla or the other malls and then to the Riviera.

This is great. Thank you. We are staying near the Malecon so this is helpful. Did you need Spanish when you were using the local bus? Is the bus fare a set price, or does it depend on how far you are traveling?

Spanish is my first language, so I have no clue what it might be like without it. That being said, I did see quite a few foreigners on the buses.

As in most of Mexico, there’s different bus categories. First class usually departs from terminals, but the main PV bus station is quite far from all the touristic spots. The second class are the ones that stop on the main highway out of PV and if I remember correctly, they charge by distance. 60 pesos to Bucerías, 70 to La Cruz, that sort of thing. Those are probably not even close to the actual prices though, it’s been a while since I visited. The buses themselves are alright, comfortable, no AC but the windows open and the drivers are not too wild.

Try Playa del Amor which is very near Puerto Vallarta. If you visit that hidden beach, come back here and tell us about it!

I would actually advise against Playa del Amor. For starters, it’s not that near Puerto Vallarta. You can get an all-day boat to Islas Marietas from PV or Bucerías, but it’s a few hours so most are loud, open bar party boat rides that’ll let you SEE Playa del Amor.

The closest town to go to Islas Marietas from is Punta de Mita, and that’s 1.5-2 hours away from PV by car. The tour operators said that if you want to actually go to Playa del Amor, this is the only place you can book directly from. Asking around in PV, this seems to be true.

Playa del Amor can only be visited by something like 300 people a day. Only 20 or so at a time, so you have to buy a special permit in advance in Punta and, even in low season, they’ll often be gone before noon. If an Islas Marietas boat tour is 600 pesos, for example, inclusion of Playa del Amor more than triples it to 2000. For 15 minutes access to a beach that, in the age of social media, has basically just been turned into selfie central. One thing I’ll give it is that, getting there is pretty cool as you have to swim in (not underwater, though, the entrance arch is quite high).

I took the Islas Marietas tour without Playa del Amor, and that includes another island, called El Cráter, if I remember correctly, which is very similar. Higher walls, which allow the boats to go inside. The main difference is that it doesn’t have a beach so you only get to see the crater from the water. All in all, I enjoyed the tour but think Playa del Amor wouldn’t be worth it.

thanks for the info. You were there and I defer to you.

or you can take day trips further up the coast to the small towns of San via bus or hire car or head for the hills. Heading north you go from San Pancho up to San Blas and/or go to San Sebastian del Oesteaq step back into the past and filled with history and Silver.

One of my favourite things to do in PV is to get out of town! Take a local bus to Boca de Tomatlan, a fishing village just past Mismaloya. There fishermen will ferry people in an open boat to one of the stunning beaches along the coast. Las Animas, Quimixto and Mahajuitas were my favourites. There’s food and accommodation at each beach, but it’s much quieter and more beautiful than busy PV. Enjoy!

So, next question: We are thinking about going to the Vallarta Botanical Gardens.
What is it like taking the public El Tuito bus there, rather than paying for a guided tour? I presume the public El Tuito bus often caters to English-speakers as it has specific destinations. I can’t imagine that it is worth $110 extra for the guided tour? How often does the public bus run, and how long does it take?