Puerto Vallarta: Mexico’s Coastal Gem is Ready for Prime Time
Why 2016 is the year to go
When “The Night of the Iguana,” starring Ava Gardner and Richard Burton, was filmed in Puerto Vallarta in 1964, it was just a sleepy little fishing village on the Pacific Ocean.
Take half a century, then add one new agreement between the U.S. and Mexico to increase the number of flights, throw in five new hotel openings in 2015 and two more in 2016, add a strong dollar near 10-year highs versus the peso and you have a recipe for a WOW Deal Destination. In fact, travelers can anticipate nightly rates at 4-star resorts under $150 for peak season dates and $100 for low season dates — an 18% decrease from 2013.
Puerto Vallarta is known for
Bordered by the sparkling Bahia de Banderas on the west and lush, tropical mountains to the east, “Vallarta” as it’s affectionately called, is often thought of as an all-inclusive sunbathing and margarita-sipping haven. While its miles of beaches and resorts offer the perfect setting to lounge about and do nothing, we highly recommend making time in your itinerary to see, taste and experience the historic city center and surrounding area.
Picture this: winding cobblestone streets, quirky shops, ambitious galleries, award-winning restaurants, hidden beaches, cruises, adventure sports and yes, plenty of jaw-dropping luxury resorts.
One insider tip
Go north and go south. To the north you have two of the most luxurious resorts in Mexico, the Four Seasons Punta Mita and St. Regis Punta Mita. Off the coast near Punta Mita you’ll find the Marieta Islands, home to an abundance of wildlife and the aptly named “Hidden Beach,” which is only accessible by swimming through a 50-foot tunnel. Keep traveling north and you’ll hit the surfing village of Sayulita, “a little pocket of wave-strewn dreams” says Conde Nast Traveler. And just north of that is the village of San Francisco or San Pancho, with even more of an off-the-beaten-path vibe. A popular day trip south is the sleepy village of Yelapa. There’s no road there, but boats leave frequently from Boca do Tomatlan in Puerto Vallarta.
Best time to visit
Puerto Vallarta is a tropical wet and dry climate, meaning the summers are typically rainy, though the showers don’t typically last all day, and winters are relatively dry. The ideal time to plan your vacation is during the dry season, November – April.
Fodor’s says “First-time travelers come for the sun and sea, but it’s PV’s wonderful restaurants that create legions of long-term fans.” You can eat everything from street food to fresh-caught fish on a private beach at Ocean Grill Vallarta to elaborate (and pricier) tasting menus at Café des Artistes.
- Passport needed: Yes
- Money used: Mexico’s currency is the peso, but it’s common for U.S. dollars to be accepted. It’s useful to get pesos in small bills for tipping and costs like food and taxis.
- Visa needed?: U.S. citizens do not need visas to enter Mexico for stays of up to 180 days.
- Plugs: Same as the U.S.
- Internet availability: Resorts often have expensive daily Wi-Fi fees; some Internet cafes can be found with some research ahead of time.
Visit the Puerto Vallarta tourism board website for more information.