Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta

Overview

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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

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.

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.

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.

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".

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.

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
Barceló Puerto Vallarta

Barceló Puerto Vallarta is situated on the secluded Mismaloya Beach.

All inclusive
4.5
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Puerto Vallarta
Buenaventura Grand Hotel and Great Moments

Located in the heart of Puerto Vallarta, embraced by the Bay of Banderas and kissed by a serpentine stretch of gold-sand beach.

All inclusive
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Canto Del Sol Plaza Vallarta

Combining the charm and hospitality of 'Old Mexico' with a modern, activity-filled, beachfront resort.

All inclusive
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Casa Velas Puerto Vallarta

Casa Velas is a boutique hotel nestled on the rolling greens of the Marina...

All inclusive
Exclusive Luxury
5.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Costa Sur Resort & Spa

Costa Sur Resort & Spa is located on the South Shore of Puerto Vallarta...

Hotel
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Crown Paradise Club Puerto Vallarta

This paradise is on a wide beach, close to the marina area.

All inclusive
Exclusive Family
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Crown Paradise Golden Puerto Vallarta

The Crown Paradise Golden All Inclusive Resort is paradise for adults on the shores of Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallarta, México.

All inclusive
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Dreams Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort

Dreams Bahia Mita Surf & Spa is perfectly located in the exclusive area of Bahia de Banderas

All inclusive
5.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Dreams Vallarta Bay Resort & Spa

Perfectly situated within close proximity to the historic sights and sounds of downtown Puerto Vallarta...

All inclusive
Exclusive Family
4.5
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Puerto Vallarta
Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta
The oceanfront Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta treats couples and couples with children...
All inclusive
4.5
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Puerto Vallarta
El Pueblito De Sayulita

A 100% Mexican owned company, committed to the environment...

Family of 5
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta
The beautiful contemporary Mexican architecture blends the traditional...
All inclusive
Exclusive Family
4.5
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Puerto Vallarta
Friendly Vallarta

The most fun hotel.  Friendly Fun Vallarta is a different and unique....

All inclusive
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa

Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa is perched above a pristine beach...

All inclusive
5.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa

The Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort and Spa is nestled on a lush tropical hillside...

All inclusive
Exclusive Family
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Grand Park Royal Puerto Vallarta

Grand Park Royal Puerto Vallarta is located ten minutes south of the romantic zone...

All inclusive
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit

This resort for all ages features an ambiance of sublime tranquility...

All inclusive
Exclusive Luxury
5.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Hacienda Buenaventura Hotel & Mexican Charm

Discover the charm and serenity of a true Mexican Hacienda with lush tropical gardens, palm trees and cascades of fresh crystal water.

All inclusive
3.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta

Experience the allure of the Pacific at Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta...

All inclusive
4.5
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Puerto Vallarta
Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort

Step into paradise at the all Inclusive Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort.

All inclusive
4.5
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Puerto Vallarta
Hotel Mousai

Hotel Mousai in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, sets the pace for a new generation of designer hotels...

All inclusive
5.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta

Located on a private white-sand beach overlooking Bandares Bay...

All inclusive
Exclusive Family
4.5
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Puerto Vallarta
Iberostar Selection Playa Mita

The all-inclusive resort is located in Playa Mita on a beautiful beach.

All inclusive
4.5
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Puerto Vallarta
Krystal Grand Nuevo Vallarta

Perfectly situated on a pristine, golden-sand beach...

All inclusive
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Krystal Puerto Vallarta
Krystal Puerto Vallarta is an authentic Mexican style resort, located right in the hotel zone and also offers a great beach location.
All inclusive
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Marival Armony Luxury Resort & Suites

Situated on the north coast of Baha de Banderas, in the glamorous tourist...

Family of 5
4.5
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Puerto Vallarta
Marival Distinct Luxury Residences

At the Marival Distinct Luxury Residences you will discover a world of beauty and luxury in luxury suite accommodation.

Family of 5
Exclusive Luxury
5.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Marival Emotions Resort & Suites

Marival Emotions Resort & Suites is located on one of the best beaches in the bay.

All inclusive
Exclusive Family
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Meliá Puerto Vallarta
Meliá Puerto Vallarta sets the standard for family oriented All-Inclusive Hotels in Puerto Vallarta.
Family of 5
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Occidental Nuevo Vallarta

As timeless as the Pacific Ocean that washes along its shores.

All inclusive
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Paradise Village Beach Resort Golf and Spa

On this 15-acre resort you'll discover a remarkable array of vacation amenities.

Family of 5
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Plaza Pelicanos Club Beach Resort

The Plaza Pelicanos Club Beach Resort is a great resort for families…

All inclusive
3.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Plaza Pelicanos Grand Beach Resort

The Plaza Pelicanos Grand Beach Resort is located directly on…

All inclusive
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Royal Decameron Complex
The Royal Decameron Complex is located
All inclusive
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Samba Vallarta Hotel
The hotel Samba Vallarta, with hacienda-style architecture...
All inclusive
3.5
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Puerto Vallarta
San Marino Hotel
The Hotel San Marino in Puerto Vallarta is located directly …
Hotel
2.5
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Puerto Vallarta
Secrets Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort

Secrets Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort is perfectly located in the exclusive area of Bahia de Banderas

All inclusive
5.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta
Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta, located just 15 minutes from Puerto Vallarta International Airport.
All inclusive
Exclusive Adult
5.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Sheraton Buganvilias Resort & Convention Center

Only Steps away from the Pacific Ocean and the glorious Banderas Bay...

All inclusive
4.5
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Puerto Vallarta
Sunscape Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa

Located in the heart of beautiful Banderas Bay on a long stretch of golden sand beach.

All inclusive
Exclusive Family
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
The Hacienda at Hilton Puerto Vallarta

A true Mexican tradition in décor, spaces and culinary experience is waiting for you at The Hacienda...

All inclusive
4.5
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Puerto Vallarta
Velas Vallarta Suite Resort

Visit Velas Vallarta to experience one of Puerto Vallarta’s best established All-Inclusive resorts...

All inclusive
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Villa del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta

Family friendly beachfront resort located on the beach of Banderas Bay with close proximity to all that Puerto Vallarta has to offer.

All inclusive
4.0
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Puerto Vallarta
Villa Premiere Hotel & Romantic Getaway

If you need a hotel where tranquility is guaranteed, if relaxing is a must, and if you are looking for an excellent location...

All inclusive
4.5
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Mexico - a world of its own.
Puerto Vallarta. Riviera Nayarit.