Just back from Puerto Vallarta

Old Aug 5th, 2011, 05:52 PM
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Suze, I have a ton of questions. Is October a good month? Or would February be better? I heard June-September are way too hot(and I hate to leave Seattle the one time of the year we USUALLY get nice weather). I heard February is crowded, and possibly more expensive, but is it worth it?
And last but not least, is it good for kids? We felt like Kauai was perfect for our kids(we DON'T like doing constant activities, just playing at the beach, some cultural stuff/sight seeing, easy hikes, and good food). We are going to Kauai for the second time this year, but want to go somewhere new next time. If this is too much I can start a new thread! Thanks!
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Old Aug 5th, 2011, 07:44 PM
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Hi Mom0509, Thanks for topping this post. Happy to help.

October might be OK but it is the tail end of the summer-rainy season. February would definitely be "better".

Nov-May are the ideal months weather-wise. I've been down as 'late' as June (3 different trips) which was still nice but was more hot, humid, with occasional rain. The tourists in summer are more Mexicans than US/Canadians which is a good atmosphere.

I haven't found February terribly crowded or any expensive than Jan or March, let's say. Off-season (when hotel prices can be noticeably lower but weather is still good) is Nov thru mid-Dec & then again after Easter thru mid-June. Later summer and early fall is "rainy season".

I don't have kids myself, but the ones I see on vacation in PV sure seem to be having a great time! Just get some sand toys and head to the beach. Food is fabulous, all price ranges and types.

PV is different from Kauai in that it IS a mid-sized city. But no need to do "constant activities"... I've been to Vallarta 20x now and have yet to ever do a single formal tour or activity myself! I just stay in downtown near the beach, do a lot of walking around town, poking around neighborhoods and shops, go to the beach every day, spend lots of time in the sun at the hotel/apartment pool, take a bus or taxi now and then, do a little people-watching, try to get somewhere to watch sunset every day (they are amazing in PV), visit the church, explore around downtown ("Centro"), maybe a day trip to a nearby but outlying town or beach.

Your questions are OK on this thread, or if you do start a new one, I'll answer there too.

Other resources besides Fodors: There is a very active and helpful group on the Puerto Vallarta forum over at www.tripadvisor.com. And www.allvallarta.com and www.info-vallarta.com are two of the best websites for other general info.
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Old Aug 6th, 2011, 07:41 AM
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The last two weeks on October should be fine.
The Malecón is a project by our mayor, most locals don't understand the need to change it and are very upset, basically they are making the roadway and the walkways at the same level, modernisation (not what I think most tourists come here for). Then there's the money thing, contractors would have had to pay something to get the contract, so you would need some 'public works' to get the "wheels" greased.
BTW Printed travel guides are always out-of-date by the time they are printed.
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Old Aug 6th, 2011, 07:47 AM
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I use guidebooks for an introduction to get to know an area. I have a copy of Fodor's & Moon Handbooks for the Vallarta area, both are decent... with history, lots of photos, maps, ideas for daytrips and activities. I agree they are out-of-date by the time they are published for things like restaurants and hotels. Things change fast in PV. For those the internet is definitely better I agree.
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Old Aug 6th, 2011, 12:07 PM
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Thank you suze! Been to the library & barnes & noble a bunch to read things, and that helped me decided on PV. It's great to get up to date advice here!

Glad it's different from Kauai since we do want something different this time. Maybe late Oct/early Nov will be best, unless we find some good deals for this coming Feb. I love everything you describe doing! That sound ideal.

We don't really like staying in big hotels/resorts, and would rather rent a condo, maybe that has a pool. What would be a good area to rent? I like the idea of walking to everything, but we wouldn't mind renting a car - seems like we'd need to with 2 kids?
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Old Aug 7th, 2011, 08:17 AM
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No you don't need a car for most parts of Puerto Vallarta imo. If you are staying right in town I think it would be more trouble than it's worth. It's very easy to get around on foot, by bus, and with taxis. If you decide to stay outside of town to the north or south, you might like to have one.

The maps at www.info-vallarta.com are very detailed and current and will give you an idea of the areas. Basically if you start at the airport, you could go out to the north to the town of Bucerias and the area called Nuevo Vallarta (but that is the newer resort area). From the airport heading into town you go thru: The Marina, north Hotel Zone, south Hotel zone, El Centro (downtown), the Southside (sometimes dubbed Zona Romantica), Conchas Chinas (hillside above the beach lots of condos), then outside town heading south on the highway to resorts like Dreams. That's the basic lay of the land.

There are lots of condos with pools available, many walking distance to the beach and downtown. I rented an absolutely lovely 1-bedroom thru www.vallarta-getaways.com my most recent trip in May.
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Old Aug 8th, 2011, 08:05 AM
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Good for you Suze! I am just back from my 3 month camping trip in California's Trinity Alps.
Looking forward to my next Mexico trip although PV will not be on the list until 2013.
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Old Aug 8th, 2011, 04:52 PM
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Thank you suze! The map helps. If we don't need a car, then we certainly don't want one. It would be great to walk to most things. My only concern was to getting to say Costco or Wallmart to get supplies(diapers, sand toys, etc), and thinking maybe a car would be best...
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Old Aug 8th, 2011, 05:03 PM
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PV is not that large, if you feel the need to go to that type of store you can easily bus there and taxi back (there are always taxis waiting outside grocery stores as many locals don't have cars either). It would be cheap and way easier then renting a car, driving is CRAZY in downtown Vallarta, nothing I would ever attempt personally!

I'd have to ask around over on TA forum (or cabron can clarify if he stops back to this thread since he lives in PV)... I'm not even sure there is a Costco? I think it's a Sams Club and Walmart but am not sure as I've never shopped there.

I buy everything I need just at a normal Mexican grocery stores (Rizo's or Ley's are the closest to southside) and pharmacies, along with hundreds of little corner tiendas or OXXO (like 7/11) all around town.

Right near the beach are a whole bunch of little local shops that offer postcards, souveniers, suntan lotion, beach toys, floats, and stuff.
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Old Aug 9th, 2011, 08:09 AM
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Costco is in the Fluvial area, see it on this map, http://vallartainfo.com/hotelzone.html
But no need to go that far, there are many local markets and supermarkets, like Soriana, Mega and Leys.
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Old Aug 9th, 2011, 08:30 AM
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Thank you cabron. Excellent map. I knew about the Sams and Walmart out by Liverpool. I hadn't realized about those others inland (not a part of town I've ever been).
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Old Aug 10th, 2011, 11:16 AM
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Thanks suze and cabron. If the local markets are the way to go, then that is what we'll do! We just found that for Hawaii it was super cheap to just pack light and get the beach gear/baby supplies at Costco/Wallmart. Was attempting the same thing for PV, but will skip that idea if it isn't needed.
My husband is usually the one that likes to drive on vacations, but he said this time he's excited that no one has to drive. Sounds relaxing to us!
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Old Aug 10th, 2011, 12:10 PM
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You don't need "beach gear" in PV, it's different than Hawaii that way. Other than personal stuff like toys for kids, sunhat, sunscreen, etc. when you go to Los Muertos (the main local beach) there are beach bars/restaurants lining it that open right on the sand. For the price of a few drinks or food during the day you get... a chair or lounger, umbrella or palapa for shade, a small table, waiter service, use of restrooms, sometimes even an outdoor shower. It's very handy and fun.

I find it very relaxing not to have to a car or have to think about driving and parking on vacation in PV. If you stay in or near town, it's definitely not needed (I've never in 20 trips rented one, and of all my friends who also love PV, don't know anyone else who has either).
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Old Aug 11th, 2011, 01:50 PM
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Puerto Vallarta is very modern, the "local markets" we are mention are similar to those in the US (most definitely would stock diapers, etc.). There are also other places that are more traditional neighborhood outdoor market stalls, as far as produce or just to see what's up.
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Old Aug 12th, 2011, 05:54 PM
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Thank you for explaining suze!
I'm a little concerned that pedestrians don't have the right-of-way. Would that make it too difficult to walk around town with the kids? Their safety is my first concern.
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Old Aug 13th, 2011, 07:52 AM
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Pedestrians do have the right of way, they changed the law years ago, unfortunately they didn't tell anyone, LOL, it's not a problem, make eye contact and they will stop for you. BTW www.info-vallarta.com is not a web site, vallartainfo.com is.
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Old Aug 13th, 2011, 08:29 AM
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That's interesting to know cabron. But certainly not what is standard practice (lol)! Mom0509, it's not "difficult" to walk around town at all, you just need to be careful when crossing streets.

More than once a friendly local has shouted out to me or put their hand on my shoulder when I wasn't paying attention and nearly stepped in front of a car or a bus (that was turning a corner right as I was getting ready to step off a curb, at a crossing without benefit of a traffic light in the downtown area).
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Old Nov 3rd, 2011, 11:16 AM
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Can you advise the 'cab' situation there. Are the cabs regulated, metered, etc. It is our first time and we'll be taking a cab from airport to Nuevo Vallarta.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2011, 11:25 AM
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twotravelnuts, Sure... In the lobby of the airport you will see several booths selling tickets clearly marked TAXI. The rates are posted by "zone" and have a set fare. These are federally regulated taxis (white in color). You can pay in USD (exchange rate 10/1) or peso (which is a slightly better deal because you can get peso from the ATM more like 12.5/1).

As a side note, do NOT talk to anyone who approaches YOU. Those are timeshare salesmen who prey on new arrivals.

Your airport arrival goes like this:
1) get off the plane
2) go thru immigrations (passport check; tourist card)
3) pick up luggage
4) go thru customs (red/light green light, customs form)
5) exit thru the next partitioned 'room' which is where all the timeshare folks hang out... just keep walking!
6) you'll come into the large open lobby of the airport, this is where you'll see the TAXI booths. i usually use the one over to the right (as you exit the shark tank), as there is a restroom and ATM machines all there together.
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Old Mar 5th, 2012, 01:25 PM
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Thanks for the recommendation of Joe Jack's Fish Shack, suze........you're right, the ginger mojitos are amazing!!
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