Puerto Vallarta – Mexico

puerto vallarta

A resort town on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta is known for its beaches and nightlife. 

Located in the State of Jalisco, the town is centered within a large bay called Bay of Banderas (Bay of Flags). At the same latitude as Hawaii, which is just about six and a half feet above sea level, Puerto Vallarta has a warm, tropical climate year-round.

 The Sierra Madre mountains curve around the bay and Mexican colonial architecture, lush jungles and the secluded nature preserves offer both relaxation and adventure in Puerto Vallarta. 

During the 16th century, Spanish soldiers would land on the bay’s beach to replenish their supplies of water, firewood and fresh food. At that time, it was considered a safe harbor for ships returning from the Philippines to take refuge in case of pirate attacks. 

Captain Pedro de Uanmuno first proposed a settlement in the area in 1587 after a trip from the Phillippines. A shipyard was built in the bay in 1644 and that site today is Puerto Vallarta. 

The modern town dates from the mid-1880s and the city grew rapidly because of the banana plantations grown on the 70,000 acres of land purchased by the Montgomery Fruit Company. 

Fast forward to 1963 and the arrival at Puerto Vallarta of Hollywood and the production of The Night of the Iguana starring Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Ava Gardner. The cast and crew were so enamored with the beauty of Puerto Vallarta that Richard Burton and director John Huston both purchased homes there. Their presence also attracted paparazzi and made international headlines that helped launch the area into a world-famous tourist destination.  

Today, Puerto Vallarta is famous for its cosmopolitan nightlife that encompasses the city along its cobbled streets. There are bars, cafes and nightclubs all over the city. Sunset is a favorite time in the city as Puerto Vallarta is famous for its spectacular sunsets. The tropical atmosphere diffuses the light to create a “green flash” from the setting sun and the town is bathed in pink and gold light. 

Looking out over the ocean in Puerto Vallarta toward a beautiful sunset with shades of red, pink, orange and yellow.

Photo from The Magical Sunsets of Mexico's Puerto Vallarta – My quest blog of Henry Lewis

Weather:

The weather in Puerto Vallarta is often filled with sunshine and humidity. The winter months from November to May offer the best temperatures, averaging in the mid-70s F (23 C).

Currency:

Pesos are the main currency in Puerto Vallarta, however most vendors and taxis will accept U.S. Dollars. ATMs are plentiful, including at the cruise terminal where you dock.

Wireless Internet:

There are many internet/cyber cafes throughout Puerto Vallarta including several within walking distance of the Marine Terminal where you dock.

Languages:

Spanish is the primary language spoken in Puerto Vallarta, however shops and restaurants associated with the tourist industry speak English.

Where You Dock in Puerto Vallarta – Mexico

Ships dock at the Marina Vallarta Maritime Terminal, which is located three miles north of downtown Puerto Vallarta. The port area can only accommodate 3 ships docked at a time. If there are more, they will be anchored and passengers will be tendered in.

At the terminal you will find a few shops, an ATM and kisoks where you can sign up for tours.

Getting Around Puerto Vallarta – Mexico

Taxis and public buses are available just outside the cruise terminal. A taxi ride to downtown Puerto Vallarta should cost approximately $80 – $100 pesos  a ride, but the fare is negotiable (there are no posted rates or meters). Federal Zone cabs, which are allowed inside the port gates may cost you more than taking a yellow cab which are available outside the gates.

The bus fare is $7.50 pesos (less than 1 U.S. Dollar) per person, per ride (there are no transfers, so you have to pay for each ride). Exact change is needed  Taking a bus marked “Centro” heading south will take you downtown. Don’t take it if it says both “centro” and “tunel” as it will bypass downtown.  To get back to the ship, take a bus marked “Marina Vallarta,” “Marriott,” or “Westin.”

On foot is the most popular way to explore downtown Puerto Vallarta, the seaside boardwalk called Malecon, known for its sculptures, and the Old Town (Romantic Zone).