David and I recently took a 3-day weekend trip to Puerto Vallarta (PV), a charming colonial style town on the pacific coast of México. Puerto Vallarta is a well known tourist and cruise ship destination, but it's beautiful scenery, vibrant culture, and growing eco-tourism sector offer visitors so much more than just another kitschy vacation spot. So if you are planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta, here are our top recommendations for what to see, eat, and do.
1. Do something to appreciate nature
PV is what I have termed a "forest beach"; an environment where the beach literally runs into the forest. Spending a day relaxing on the beach is great, but make sure to also take time to explore others aspects of nature. There is so much to choose from from hiking to biking, and snorkeling. We chose a guided hike through Eco Ride, which took about 2.5 hours and ended at the more secluded Las Animas beach.
2. Walk the malecón (boardwalk)
The malecón in PV is just over a mile long, but is the perfect place to spend an afternoon or evening. Along your walk you will see a number of public art sculptures, street performers, food venders, bars and restaurants. Make sure to take at least one walk at night, which is when things really come alive.
3. Relax on the beach
While there is plenty to do in town, a trip to PV would not be complete without at least a few hours relaxing on the sand. If you are looking for something more private and relaxing, take a water taxi to any number of the hidden and quiet beaches along the bay, but if you are okay with distractions, head to Playa de los Muertos. The most relaxing way to experience this spot is by pulling up a lounge chair at any of the restaurants along the boardwalk. As long as you order food or drink, they all let you use their chairs.
One of the best parts of Playa de los Muertos are the food, crafts, and service vendors strolling past. For the equivalent of $15 I received an amazing foot massage without having to move an inch.
4. Grab breakfast at A Page in the Sun
I read about this adorable spot in my travel planning, and ended up returning to it 3 times in only 3 days! Half cafe, half used book store, this is the prefect place to start your morning, or re-energize in the afternoon.
5. And then have lunch at Planeta Vegetariano
This was another spot that appeared during my pre-travel research, and I am so glad we gave it a try. Eating healthy can be tough while traveling, so I'm always excited to find a place that is delicious, but also won't make me feel sluggish. Planeta Vegetariano is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is a 1 price buffet with awesome vegetarian and vegan options.
6. Wonder off the beaten path
As I mentioned at the beginning, PV can sometimes feel like tourist overload, but all you have to do is walk a few blocks up the hill and you will find yourself in a quaint, colonial-era neighborhood. Some of the town's best restaurants also happen to up there too.
General Tips for Visiting Puerto Vallarta
1. PV is the most expensive place we have visited in México so far, so just be prepared for some things (food in particular) to be closer to what you spend at home.
2. Have a rain plan! PV has a rainy season, just like Mexico City, but if you are willing to give it a chance, this is also the time of year to find great deals on flights and hotels.
3. Consider staying at Hotel Posada de Roger, which is located just 2 blocks from the beach, has an adorable courtyard with a dipping pool, and we only paid $47 a night!
4. Uber does exist in PV, but getting it from the airport was a little tricky, as many of the cars seemed to pick up on the other side of the highway. This required taking the pedestrian bridge, which is on the side of the airport. If you don't feel like going that route, there are plenty of verified taxis available as you exit.
Final Costs (3 nights/2.5 days)
Walking enthusiast, and kitchen experimenter currently living out my dream in Mexico City, Mexico.
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