Trip Report - 5 weeks in the Puerto Vallarta region (November 30, 2013 – January 4, 2014) and 1 week in Bucerias (January 4 – 10, 2014).
Tours, Walking and Hiking, Events, Places and Things We Enjoyed
Not only did we spend a great amount of time enjoying the wonderful food of Mexico, we did A LOT of walking and hiking. We also had the opportunity to take in several excellent tours while in the PV region. Now I just need to go through the many photos I took and get blogging in greater detail!
VALLARTA FOOD TOUR – Highly recommend! We signed up online to go on this tour our first day after arriving. Alex was an excellent, informative and humorous guide for this 3+ hour tour visiting numerous shops and food stands in PV. This tour helped lay to rest any hesitations we had about eating at street food vendors. We made return trips to the vendors on this tour, no – definitely worth it! Would like to try the ‘Taste of Pitillal’ Food Tour next time.
Sylvie’s ‘POWER WALK THE HIDDEN STREETS OF PUERTO VALLARTA’ – excellent and worthwhile for such a spectacular viewpoint of the PV region from the cross on the hill. A fantastic way to explore the hidden streets of PV! Read my detailed review of Tours de Jour Power Walking Tours on TA.
SUPERIOR TOURS VALLARTA – Guadalajara - we did this 3-day trip with guide Hector – highly recommend. Free time allowed for additional exploring. Had excellent communication with Astrid and her staff.
SUPERIOR TOURS VALLARTA – San Blas and La Tovara – went on this day trip with informative guide, Carlos – excellent photographic tour - again, highly recommend.
PEGASO CHARTERING – fantastic - two tours easily booked online, excellent customer service and email communication, and both were excellent trips. We went on the ISIS for a ½ day whale watching. Saw many whales and had fantastic photo opportunities. We enjoyed it so much we signed up for a full day tour to the Marietas Islands and Whale Watching on the Tinuviet. We had the opportunity to do some sailing on our way back from the islands - also was relaxing and enjoyable. Well worth it and highly, highly recommend.
Walking/Hiking in the region
MALECON - We walked the Malecon and beyond numerous times a day – took photos of all sculptures (there is a free walking tour for this as well and, although I didn’t take advantage of it, those who did found it informative). Hiked past Hotel Rosita on the north end of the Malecon along the beaches up to Hotel Buenaventura a few times. One evening, quite late, there was a crowd gathered on the Malecon near the Sea Monkey and it turns out that a turtle had come up next to the Malecon wall and was laying her eggs. The proper authorities were called to make sure her eggs would be safe. If you like dogs, then the Malecon is the place to go to see everyone out walking their dogs – every shape, size and breed! The Malecon is also the place to be on Sunday evenings as well – the crowds come out to meet up with family and friends and many are decked out in their finest Sunday wear!
Hiked up and down the new foot-bridge to Gringo Gulch from the island in the Rio Cuale. Fantastic views!
Hiked to Ocean Grill and Playa Colomitos (tranquil) from Boca de Tomatlan – it took us longer than most to hike that distance - 1.5 hours due to me taking photos along the way and lingering amongst the fauna & flora. Loved this hike and would like to go on further to Playa Las Animas next time.
Walked throughout Gringo Gulch numerous times – a photographer’s dream – cobblestone streets, colourful homes, gorgeous flowers billowing over balconies, beautifully carved doors.
Thoroughly enjoyed walking in the various colonias – each with their own wonderful feel - around the east end of Zona Romantica (Emiliano Zapata), Amapas, Alta Vista, the hills in Centro, 5 de Diciembre, Lazaro Cardenas, and further north around Marina Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta.
Hiked along the Los Muertos Beach south to Concha Chinas – Amapas beach to Lindo Mar. Very photographic and enjoyed watching schools of fish in the crystal clear water.
We enjoyed the Art Walk in El Centro – Wednesday evening. Many talented artists and great art!
Events, Places and Things We Enjoyed
FESTIVAL OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE – We really enjoyed this 12-day festival - interesting processions, dancers, singing and the ringing of the church bells. Ate at many street vendors located on the streets and square near The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe – 10 peso tacos, yummy crepes, cakes and more.
FOLKLORIC DANCE PRESENTATIONS - Friday evenings at the Lazaro Cardenas Square in Zona Romantica. Enjoyed seeing the various dances, brightly coloured costumes, and the excitement and energy amongst the dancers.
Daily – we often found entertainment in the amphitheatre near the Seahorse on the Malecon.
NEW YEARS EVE STREET PARTY – loved the Olas Altas Street Party – the street was blocked off to traffic for a couple of blocks and the music and dancing was fantastic – everyone was having so much fun even in the pouring rain this year.
NEW YEARS EVE FIREWORKS – good fireworks in El Centro near the Seahorse – we had viewing spots at the very front – perhaps too close for comfort! Great photo ops though!
THE CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE – recommend a must-visit here.
VALLARTA BOTANICAL GARDENS – took the public bus out to the Gardens and did a self-guided tour, loved hiking along the Jaguar Trail which took us 1 hour (we were stopping and photographing the fauna – it can be hiked in less time), loved the great views from their restaurant where we enjoyed tasty food.
MARKETS - Saturday markets in Zona Romantica – Paradise Community Market – excellent vendors and the PV Farmers Market in Lazaro Cardenas Square – another excellent choice. Go to both!
MERCADO - The Mercado on Lazaro Cardenas and many shops on surrounding streets – I loved the great veg/fruit and meat selections.
LEYS -Walked to Leys for some groceries (loved the fresh, tasty salsa from the deli when I was too lazy to make it)
SPA – METAMORFOSIS DAY SPA – took the suggestions from TA and went - friendly owner and staff Hilda and Isabela were excellent – easy to register on clipboards outside by the front door – received excellent massages, clean premises, very reasonably priced. Highly recommend.
BEACHES – LIDO BEACH CLUB – was our go-to beach place when not at our condo’s lovely roof-top deck and pool, nice loungers and excellent food. Recommend this place while enjoying the Los Muertos Beach.
ENTERTAINMENT – THE PALM CABARET & BAR – took in several comedy acts while in town. Lots of laughs in a small, intimate setting. Sat in the cheap seats at the back, which I think, gave us the best view!
BUSES/WATER TAXIS -I really loved the public bus experience in and around PV. Loved the onboard live entertainment such as the various guitarists, the violinist, and singers. Standing room only at times but oh, so much fun. Once I figured out where to catch the buses to the various locations, it was easy. Get on and hold on!
Took the bus to Mismaloya and Boca de Tomatlan. Easy to navigate. Inexpensive.
Bus to Botanical Gardens from PV (20 pesos one way). The bus drops you right at the gate.
Bus to El Tuito (27 pesos one way) – from jungle views to mountains and pine trees. The bus drops you right at the town square.
Bus to Sayulita – it was the local bus to Walmart (7.5 pesos), then we caught the green and white Compostela bus which goes through Mezcales, Bucerias and further to Sayulita (30 pesos) – 1 hr and 10 minutes from Walmart to Sayulita. Lovely ride through the jungle-like foliage nearer Sayulita.
Took the #4 bus through several quaint neighbourhoods to Paso Ancho to El Rio BBQ restaurant.
Took the water taxi from Boca to Yelapa – 140 ps return. Negotiated a price on the beach at Boca.
BANKING in PV – used the Banamex facing the square on Juarez just around the corner from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church with no issues whatsoever.
SHOPPING – there are endless shops in El Centro and Zona Romantica to browse through. Loved those little hole-in-the wall shops. Check them out – you never know what you’ll find!
GALARIAS VALLARTA Mall – Took the bus out to the Walmart drop-off and walked over to this mall – very clean, quiet and not very busy. Malls aren’t really my thing at all but thought we’d check it out.
Thanks for letting me share. Vi Warkentin
NEXT REPORT – places we visited in the PV region and beyond.