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Puerto Vallarta for Isla Lovers?

Saint Louis...
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Puerto Vallarta for Isla Lovers?

We just wrapped up our third Isla trip on the 23rd and had a great trip, as usual. I just saw a great deal on airfare to Puerto Vallarta and am wondering if there is a place in PV that is walkable, affordable, casual, with great food and a great beach similar to Isla? Any ideas? We have a 18 month old son so walkable is important, we rather not rent a car or deal with taxis. I'd appreciate your suggestions

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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1. Re: Puerto Vallarta for Isla Lovers?

Ah . . . we tried PV a few years ago, because I can get there with my companion fare on Alaska airlines and we missed Mexico. PV does have a ton of great restaurants, but it is SO much bigger than Isla - it is a city and fairly good sized one, and much too big for us rural folks - maybe you will be fine. It is walkable in PV and while some might like the beach, I found it not appealing at all - and nothing like Isla. Also, I didn't care for how aggressive their vendors were. I am glad we went - I did enjoy seeing a different side of Mexico - we were in PV for a week and then we went north to a small town called Sayulita, which we did enjoy MUCH more than PV and stayed there about 6 days. It is more Isla size (a bit smaller) with a great vibe - more of a laid back surfer town and that fit us much better than PV. I would recommend going there if you want something similar to Isla - and you don't need a car there either. http://www.sayulitalife.com/

If you do go to PV, do stay in the Old Town, also known as the Romantic zone. :)

Edited: 29 November 2013, 19:38
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2. Re: Puerto Vallarta for Isla Lovers?

You can certainly walk to many shops and restaurants from you hotel in PV, however it's nothing like Isla. Personally I prefer the Mexican Caribbean to the pacific coast. The beaches in the Caribbean are much nicer and the brilliant blues around Isla are no where to be seen in PV. However, the cliffs and rock formation of the Pacific coast are beautiful and the scenery as the mountains reach right the shore has no equal on the Caribbean side. PV is more of a city feel and as such is much busier than what you experience on Isla.

Edited: 29 November 2013, 20:00
new york
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for Isla Mujeres
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3. Re: Puerto Vallarta for Isla Lovers?

I didn't really care for the beaches on the Pacific side either. For one, the waves are much larger and so the water is rougher in general than on the Caribbean side. Also, the sand is more like ordinary packed down brown stuff than the soft spun sugar white sand of Isla and the water is not as clear or vivid aqua/turquoise. OTOH, the shoreline is more mountainous and dramatic, so each has its charm but I prefer the beaches along the Maya Riviera hands down.

Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: Puerto Vallarta for Isla Lovers?

We tried puerto Vallarta a few years ago back in 2011. We enjoyed it while we were there but I can't say I've thought much about returning. I would say the biggest deal breaker for us is the water / swimmable beaches. We barely spent any time in the ocean and we were there in the middle of summer. Spent most of our time at hotel pool. We did take an interesting day trip to sayulita and I think if we were to return we would consider staying there for the week. It's a small surfer type town about an an hour away from pvr. That was probably our best day though.

Oakville, Canada
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5. Re: Puerto Vallarta for Isla Lovers?

Haven't been in a long time but Bucerias might fit the bill. And if you can get a good flight, Zihuatenejo (not Ixtapa which is a high rise hotel type suburb) is very walkable. Good bus service too. Lots of great places to stay and wonderful views. As others have said, beaches are not like on the east coast but we enjoyed the food and the ambiance of both. I'd go back to either if I could get a great flight.

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6. Re: Puerto Vallarta for Isla Lovers?

Hi I haven't been to Isla yet we head there in Jan. We have been to PV a couple of times and although the beach is different it has a charm of its own. Old town has the Malacon you can walk down with shops and restaurants. You can stay close by or there are lots of Hotels a bit out and it is a cheap cab ride. The bus system is also easy. Lots of people stay in Nuevo or Bucerias area. Bucerias is quaint and the beach is quite nice in the area. Like the other posts mentioned Susylito is really nice but further away from PV. I know Isla is very different but there is lots to enjoy in PV as well!

Texas Gulf Coast...
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7. Re: Puerto Vallarta for Isla Lovers?

Fritzee24, I will take the contrarian view.

I really enjoy Pto. Vallarta and all of its charm. You can certainly swim at the beaches, but as others have said you DO NOT have the beautiful blue / turquoise hues that you do in Isla and Cancun. The sand is the typical coffee with cream color and you certainly can get some medium-sized waves (i.e. 3 - 8 feet unless a storm is a brewing).

Pto. Vallarta is very walkable, with a wonderful Malecoln (boardwalk) along the shoreline replete with about a dozen bronze statues. These make wonderful foto ops Also I believe you can rent strollers somewhere on the Malecoln too.

Sunday evenings are quite festive with nearly everyone turning out to walk the Malecoln, music, familes, and even dancing in the area near the city hall (opposite Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic church). You will also find local youth dancing or performing in an outdoor auditorium along the boardwalk in this same general area.

The Malecoln really is quite terrific for walking, with many a watering hole and people watching if you so desire. Also many eating establishments if you need a bite to eat as well.

Pto. Vallarta is a foodies paradise, with many fine (not necessarily expensive) eating establishments. Reportedly many top chefs have restaurants in town as well. You do not need to rent a car in Pto. Vallarta, as the South side (i.e. Romantic zone) is very walkable and city buses are frequent and cheap ($6.5 pesos per person per ride {about $0.55 USD}).

Sayulita is absolutely a Surfer's haven about an hour North of Pto. Vallarta and makes for a great day trip (also available by bus) or taxi. The beaches are much more open there and you could walk for miles if you are so inclined.

Pto. Vallarta is a much larger community (city) than Isla, but it is quite spectacular in its own right. I have been to both; to me Isla is just too quite to spend a full vacation there but it does make for a nice day trip. Some might say Pto. Vallarta is too busy for them. I enjoy all of Mexico, its many different areas, topographies, people, foods, and culture.

¡Se diviertán!

Trail, Canada
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8. Re: Puerto Vallarta for Isla Lovers?

If you stay near the Los Muertos beach in the old town of PV and stay mostly in that area , say a one mile radius from the new downtown pier , then I think the experience can be close . Way more restaurants of all types and reasonable taxis and city bus service to venture farther . If you venture through town too much you will meet some congestion and loose the relaxing vibe , so just don't venture too far , there's no real need to anyway and stay relaxed .

If you go four miles south , as you can on Isla , you will find different scenery and lower population density , down to Mismaloya . Google image search these names , Los Muertos beach , PV malecon , Rio Cuale Puerto Vallarta , Mismaloya .

The Pacific water is not as blue or crystal clear but then where else is it beside the rest of the Caribbean . I don't remember any really big waves in many wintertime trips .

PV is obviously a much larger place but if you think of crossing the hotel zone of PV and it's uptown like it's your drive through Cancun and and then you mostly stay in your four mile comfort zone from old town south then your wandering and dining and sitting at simple Los Muertos beach restaurants won't feel that different .

There is a good height gain up the mountain bases of the safe walkable neighbourhoods offering nice vistas and some classic west coast sunsets . The unblocked direct western sun can stretch your beach days considerably .

The PV destination experts are as expert as the truly wonderful ones you have here on the Isla forum and I would not say that lightly . High praise in all cases and wonderful resources all around .

Bryans Road
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9. Re: Puerto Vallarta for Isla Lovers?

You might want to check out Mazatlan. While the beaches are no match to the QRoo, the food and fishing can't be beat.

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10. Re: Puerto Vallarta for Isla Lovers?

On my first visit to Mexico in 1980 I visited Isla Mujeres and also Puerto Vallarta, thanks to a great airfare special from Aero Mexico.

I returned to Isla earlier this year and a few years ago to Puerto Vallarta (3 trips). I was totally disappointed in Isla Mujeres. It is so crowded there now and the food was not good and it is very expensive. Not a great vibe. Some things were the same as 1980--north beach is still the same and I got food poisoning, just like in 1980.

Puerto Vallarta is bigger and busier, yes, but it has a true Mexican charm. The restaurants are fantastic (you don't get sick there....) and the people are wonderful, remembering you from one visit a year earlier. I much prefer the Pacific side and after visiting the Yucatan beaches this year I won't return there.

You will enjoy PV and I bet you won't return to Isla Mujeres after being there! Your son will be excited to see the whales frolicking in the water, you can see them from the beach.