Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Unique, sophisticated and surprising are all words that sum up Puerto Vallarta, one of Mexico’s most cosmopolitan tourist destinations. Set along the Bahia de Banderas (the Bay of Flags,) Puerto Vallarta is located against a stunning backdrop of mountainous jungle and long stretches of idyllic sandy beaches.
Visitors can easily take advantage of the many adventure-based tours available in the region. Whether it’s racing around dusty jungle roads on quad bikes, zip lining Tarzan-style above the jungle canopy, or traversing rocky creeks on horseback, there are all manners of eco experiences for those looking to get out of the urban jungle and into the real thing.
Those who decide to stick to the city centre will also be rewarded. Cobblestone streets ensure that despite the busy crowds, Puerto Vallarta maintains a small town atmosphere. The Olas Altas, the city’s historic centre, is filled with colonial architecture and dissected by the Rio Cuale, which opens out at the vibrant waterfront precinct.
Cruise ships anchor at the Marina Vallarta Maritime and Cruise Terminal, which is about 5 kilometres north of the city centre on Mexico’s central Pacific coast. While the terminal can accommodate a few commercial cruise liners at any one time, on days where additional cruise ships are in town, passengers will be tendered to shore.
Several facilities for tourists exist at the Puerto Vallarta cruise terminal. Transport options include a taxi rank and rental car kiosk. Passengers can also stay connected with pay phones and an Internet café. Directly opposite the marina is a Walmart for passengers wanting to pick up supplies.
Other facilities include:
- Currency exchange
- Visitor information desk and tour bookings
- Handcraft markets
- Café and dining options.
How to Get Around
Getting around the city centre and waterfront of Puerto Vallarta is relatively easy for cruise passengers; however, proper footwear is recommended for walking the cobblestone streets.
From the cruise terminal, buses and taxis can be taken into the city centre. Rental cars are also available for reasonable rates but be sure to check that your travel insurance covers driving in Mexico.
Travel times from the port:
- It is a 1 hour and 30 minute journey to the waterfront Malecon (promenade)
- It is approximately a 2 hour journey to Los Muertos Beach
- It is a 1 hour and 44 minute journey to Rio Cuale Flea Market.
- It is a 12 minute journey to the waterfront Malecon
- It is a 15 minute journey to Olas Altas (Old Town)
- It is a 6 minute journey to Puerto Vallarta International Airport.
- Currency - Puerto Vallarta uses the Mexican Peso, which comes in 50c, MXN$1, MXN$2, MXN$5 and MXN$10 coin denominations and MXN$20, MXN$50, MXN$100, MXN$200 and MXN$500 banknote denominations.
- Time Zone - Puerto Vallarta operates on Central Standard Time (CST), which is 6 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
- Weather - Puerto Vallarta enjoys a distinct tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons and high humidity. A typical January maximum temperature is 28.8 degrees Celsius, while during July the average daytime high can be expected to reach 33.3 degrees Celsius.
- Isla Rio Cuale - This green refuge near the mouth of the Rio Cuale and Bahia de Banderas is not far from Puerto Vallarta’s historic heart. Connecting to the city’s Romantic Zone by suspension bridge, Isla Rio Cuale offers visitors an insight into where the city’s earliest residents lived. On the island there are regular pottery markets as well as several restaurants and a small museum.
- Playa Los Muertos - Located in the city’s romantic zone, Puerto Vallarta’s main beach is a thriving centre of beachfront bars, restaurants and water sport activities. Entry to the Miami themed Mantamar Beach Club at the southern end of the beach covers the use of paddleboards and snorkelling equipment and has a spa on premises. Further back from the beach is where you will find some of the city’s vibrant nightclubs and bars.
- Jungle Tours - Surrounded by dense jungle and home to more than 350 species of birds, the Sierra Madre Jungle surrounding Puerto Vallarta is a nature lover’s dream. Whether you’re exploring by 4X4, or above the canopy on a zip line course, you are bound to have an unforgettable experience. Most tours can be booked from the cruise terminal tour desk with combo tours available; for example, you can combine zip line and horseback riding activities on the same tour or dune buggy and river cruising activities on another tour.