Puerto Vallarta

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Hotel reviews summary
5.0

Our guest rating from 9 reviews

Overview

Known as the Pearl of the Pacific, Puerto Vallarta is a paradise for vacationers. Over the years, Puerto Vallarta has become one of Mexico's most popular winter destinations due to its great diversity and almost perfect climate. Along with golden beaches, mountains and jungles, visitors can discover modern amenities and enticing attractions here.

If you love the water, you can swim, snorkel, scuba dive, visit with sea lions and even spot a whale in Puerto Vallarta. If you like your vacations packed full of adventure, rent a sailboat, zipline through the jungle, or go on a mountain hike or jeep safari.

When it comes to romance, Puerto Vallarta delivers. Dazzling sunsets, swaying palms and candlelit beach dinners accompanied by mariachi quartets are sure to fan the flames of passion. Food lovers will also find the dining options here appealing. With all the variety, there's plenty to savour at this city's many fine restaurants.

Just north of Puerto Vallarta, you’ll find Riviera Nayarit spread across nearly 200 miles of Pacific coastline. The region is made up of smaller beach towns with a wide variety of resorts and beach hotels. Surrounding the area is the Bay of Banderas, boasting a spectacular view of the mountains and the sea. Golf on world-class courses, shop, snorkel, kitesurf and much more.

Riviera Nayarit offers everything from breathtaking landscapes to once in a lifetime, luxury vacation opportunities. Enjoy the warm days on land with a hike, bike ride, or canopy tour. Ride on a zip line, go on a jeep safari or golf. The warm waters invite you to scuba dive, snorkel, surf, stand-up paddle board, and kayak.  You can swim with dolphins, fish, and enjoy whale watching from the boat.

Puerto Vallarta is a fantastic destination for:

  • beach
  • culture and history
  • nightlife

Airport served by: PVR

Destination basics

Puerto Vallarta enjoys a tropical climate. During the sunny dry season from November to May, daytime temperatures hover around 27 C to 30 C and there is virtually no rain. At night, the temperature drops to a comfortable 14 C to 18 C. But do pack a light jacket for evenings out. The hotter, more humid season lasts from June to October.

During July, August and September, mornings are typically bright and warm with temperatures around 30 C. Early afternoons tend to be cloudy with short rainy periods. But by late afternoon, the sun returns and there's usually a pleasant, balmy breeze.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Puerto Vallarta

When Spanish conquistador Francisco Cortés de Buenaventura arrived on the Jalisco-Nayarit coast in 1524, he and his men were confronted by an army of 20,000 Aztecs, their bows decorated with colourful banners. Cortés was so impressed by the group of warriors that he called this area around the Rio Ameca (north of present-day Puerto Vallarta) the Valley of the Banners. That's also how the great body of water came to be known as the Bay of Banderas.

By the mid-1800s, the lure of gold and silver drew many to the region and by 1918, the municipality officially became known as Puerto Vallarta. Eventually, the mines petered out and the town became more of a ghost town or sleepy fishing village. However, when John Huston and the cast of his The Night of the Iguana film arrived, they brought with them global attention and the beginning of Puerto Vallarta's tourism industry.

Nowadays, tourism thrives in this resort town that has expanded both north and south of the Cuale River. Locals seem genuinely happy to welcome visitors here and many Canadians who travel here annually during the winter have made it their home away from home. Drawn to the region's ideal climate, many visitors end up investing in real estate and businesses here.

Even though most people here will converse with you in English, try practising a bit of Spanish too.

Puerto Vallarta is second only to Mexico City for its diversity of eateries, ranging from taco stands and beach vendors to glamorous gourmet restaurants tucked in the hills with views of the Bay of Banderas. The service here is excellent as well. In fact, the expression "service with a smile" may just have originated here.

The Mexican peso is the official currency in Puerto Vallarta. Canadian debit cards are also widely accepted but Canadian currency and travellers cheques are not. That said, most stores in Mexico do not accept debit, so using pesos is usually easiest.

To exchange your Canadian cash or travellers cheques, stop by one of the many banks, exchange kiosks or your hotel front desk. Just don't forget your passport—it's required to cash your travellers cheques.

You can also withdraw cash from ATMs found in banks, grocery stores and hotels. Normal banking hours in Puerto Vallarta are Monday to Friday, typically from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with some branches open Saturday. Most exchange kiosks are open late.

Although American money is widely accepted, regulations are now in place to limit the amount of US cash both residents and visitors can exchange in Mexico.

By regulation, the maximum visitors can exchange per month is US$1,500. Many financial institutions have imposed additional rules, limiting this amount further to US$300 per transaction.

As for using American money for purchases, local businesses will only accept a maximum of US$100 per transaction; however, there is no limit on the maximum number of transactions per customer. You should also keep in mind that many businesses in Mexico have chosen to forgo accepting US money altogether. The best way to pay is therefore with Mexican pesos or credit card.

Puerto Vallarta sits in the middle of the Bay of Banderas, Mexico's largest bay with 68 km of coastline. North of the city, the Ameca River forms a natural boundary between Jalisco and the state of Nayarit, where newer resorts and developments form Riviera Nayarit.

Once you get away from the beach, Puerto Vallarta's hilly cobblestone streets seem to merge into the green foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains. The Cuale River that divides Puerto Vallarta in half flows down from the mountains and empties into the Pacific.

From mid-December to the end of March, humpback whales migrate to the Bay of Banderas, where females mate and give birth. Take a whale-watching excursion and see pods of whales close up. Or, catch sight of a pod from the comfort of your lounge chair on the beach. Orcas and various species of dolphins also call these waters home.

Taxis in Puerto Vallarta are inexpensive, easily accessible and the most common way of getting around. But do check with your hotel concierge to inquire about average cost to common points of interest. Even though the Mexican Taxi Syndicate works to regulate the rates of taxis, it is best to know what to expect.

If you're looking for a great way to experience Puerto Vallarta and immerse yourself in Mexican culture, try catching the local bus. To find the nearest bus stop, look for a blue sign with a picture of a bus and the words "parada" (bus stop).

When you see buses around town, you will notice that they all look different from each other. This is because they are all privately owned. Bus destinations are written on the front of buses. "Centro" and "Tunnel" are popular bus routes that take you to downtown Puerto Vallarta and Olas Altas, respectively.

If you're looking to travel to the airport by bus, look for buses will be marked "Ixtapa", "Juntas" or "Las Palmas".

Arrival

During your flight into Puerto Vallarta Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport, you'll receive two forms to fill in. One is your Customs Declaration Form. The other is your Multiple Migratory Form for Foreigners or FMM for short. One Customs Declaration Form needs to be filled out per family, while each guest must complete an FMM.

In Mexico, there is a tourism tax of US$20 per person. For your convenience, when you fly WestJet, this tax is included in the price of your airfare.

Upon arrival in Puerto Vallarta, you'll be guided to the immigration hall where guests will form a line to meet with a Mexican immigration officer. This officer will ask you for your passport and your FMM and may also ask you a few questions as to the purpose of your trip, how long you will be staying and if this is your first time in Mexico. The officer will then stamp the FMM and return a portion of it to you.

Important: Keep your FMM with you in a safe place at all times during your trip. Mexican authorities can ask you to present this form at any time and you will need this document when you depart the country.

After passing through immigration, you'll pick up your bags and proceed to customs. A customs agent will ask you for your Customs Declaration Form and ask you to press a button on a traffic light-looking device. A green light means you get to pass through without inspection, while a red light means your baggage will be inspected. Should you get the red light, you'll need to open your baggage and the Customs Officer will perform a quick inspection.

After departing the customs area, you will find several representatives from transfer companies, tour operators and timeshare sellers in the corridor soliciting business. If you have purchased transfers to and from your hotel with WestJet Vacations, continue through the corridor until you're outside the airport terminal.

Outside, you will be greeted by a friendly Timon Tours representative holding a WestJet Vacations sign. Timon Tours representatives can be identified by their white shirts with the Timon Tours logo on the front and the WestJet Vacations logo on the back. Please identify yourself as a WestJet Vacations guest.

You'll then hop on the shuttle to take you to your hotel or resort. And with the airport located only 6.5 km away from town, you'll arrive in no time.

In the Puerto Vallarta Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport you will also have access to a bank, currency exchange and cash machines, providing you with many ways to obtain Mexican pesos.

Departure

When departing Puerto Vallarta, you'll need to provide officials with your signed FMM card. Lost FMMs can be replaced at the airport or at the immigration office before you check-in for your return flight. However, there is a fee to obtain a replacement card.

Feel free to browse the shops on the ground level of the airport and duty-free shops on the upper level while you wait. Or grab a bite to eat at the café, restaurant and bar on site.

Vaccinations

Be sure your routine vaccinations are up-to-date. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Malaria, typhoid and tetanus are commonly recommended. The Public Health Agency of Canada also recommends that all travellers to Mexico get vaccinated for the H1N1 flu virus before leaving Canada.

Mexico uses the North American standard plug, however some properties have only two-pronged receptacles in the room rather than three-pronged receptacles.

Puerto Vallarta was recently voted "the friendliest city in the world" by Conde Nast Traveler, "the best place to retire globally" by The American Association of Retired Persons, and "the best Mexican vacation destination" by U.S.News.com.

The Puerto Vallarta region is actually several destinations rolled into one, each with its own character and charm. The Cuale River (Rio Cuale in Spanish) divides the town into north and south. The Romantic Zone on the southern end is where the Playa los Muertos beach attracts sun worshippers to its golden sand and numerous beach bars. Farther south, you'll find the seaside villages of Boca de Tomatlán and Mismaloya (where The Night of the Iguana was filmed).

North of the river, the Old Town meanders uphill to Gringo Gulch. Along the bay, you'll find the Plaza de Armas (the main square) and Los Arcos amphitheatre, where daily free cultural performances of comedy and music draw crowds.

Even farther north, the Hotel Zone continues. You'll find many resorts and restaurants here. Cross the modern bridge from the State of Jalisco into Nayarit and you'll enter the rapidly developing destination of Riviera Nayarit. It features charming towns, such as Bucerias and Sayulita, and a host of resorts.

Puerto Vallarta's renowned seaside promenade, the Malecon, runs from the Romantic Zone to the start of the Hotel Zone. Here, you’ll find a whimsical collection of bronze sculptures – including the town's iconic seahorse.

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ˆTotal price one-way per guest. See terms and conditions. *Prices are per guest, based on double occupancy and are limited; may not reflect real-time pricing or availability. See terms and conditions.

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