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-   -   Puerto Vallarta - First Time - HELP! (https://www.fodors.com/community/mexico-and-central-america/puerto-vallarta-first-time-help-820672/)

beatty1000 Jan 8th, 2010 08:38 AM

Puerto Vallarta - First Time - HELP!
 
We are going on a trip in April. At first we were looking at Cabo, but now I think we are going to go to Puerto Vallarta. I have read on here that PV is not a place to do all inclusive. I think we are getting such a good deal though, $3000.00(per couple) for a junior suite at Dreams Puerto Vallarta, and I just can't imagine not doing all inclusive. What I think we will most likely do is spend 4/5 days just at the resort, hanging by the pool and beach and then 2/3 days exploring town and/or taking excursions. I would think 4 or 5 days of free food and drinks (really we would benefit on the other 2 or 3 days from free food and drink too) would make an all inclusive worth it. I guess I shouldn't say free, just already paid for : ) What do you think?
Also, I don't want to zipline or do touristy stuff like that...what kind of things shoud we do/see to get a feel for authentic puerto vallarta?

suze Jan 8th, 2010 09:14 AM

I have spent a lot of time in Vallarta (19 trips), and Dreams has a great reputation. It is a short bus or taxi ride to the south, of the south-side of PV, located on its own beach. If you are used to going All-Inclusive and want to just relax, I think it is a fine choice!

I have never done ziplines or tours. I spend my days walking around the Centro (downtown) area to the north or the Rio Cuale (river) and on the south-side (of the river sometimes called zona romantica). Some people refer to this as Old Town, although it's really not all that old.

The Malecon is a long beautiful seawall promade with art/statues, sand sculptures, often with music or other entertainment at the stage by the arches. The church with the crown on the top downtown is nice to visit.

Playa Los Muertos is a busy public beach lined with beach bars, activities, vendors, etc. if you want to do something like that one day. For the price of food & drinks you can get a set-up of chair, umbrella/palapa, etc. with service right on the sand.

Get street maps and just take a walk around, it's an easy town to explore on your own. Lots of galleries, shops (both tourist and local), arts & crafts, tile factory, etc.

Find a place to watch the sunset, either down on the beach, or up in the hills overlooking the city and the Bay.

Good information at: www.allvallarta.com or www.vallartainfo.com and also the PV forum over at Trip Advisor.

tom42 Jan 8th, 2010 01:24 PM

Ahhh I miss the Malecon!

clarasong Jan 9th, 2010 04:23 PM

When we go to PV, we always stay at the La Joya de Mismiloya and find it great for families..great beach, pool, some have little kitchens, and it is only a little quaint bus ride into town...you might check that out too...lots of nice hikes and places of interest too...I think they have 'all inclusive' opotions, but to us, that seems a waste, as we enjoy eating some of the little mom and pop places, and exploring good restaurants in town. Hope you have fun.

jetsetj Jan 11th, 2010 03:52 PM

suze, thanks for the links. I had never gone to www.allvallarta.com
I am going to read some of their forum. It looks like it has alot of info.

it looks like we may stay in PV 4 nights and in Bucerias 4 nights.
How does that sound?

suze Jan 11th, 2010 04:28 PM

Yes it's the website of an *extremely* knowledgeable and wonderful woman who now lives in Vallarta permanently. There's a forum section to it as well.

I've don't know... never been to Bucerias, so sorry, can't comment on that part of your question.

suze Jan 11th, 2010 04:32 PM

The correct name that Clarasong is referencing is: Barceló La Jolla de Mismaloya and the All-Inclusive is mandatory not optional.

beanweb24 Jan 11th, 2010 07:55 PM

I stayed at Dreams for 5 nights this past November (2009). I only chose Dreams based on a good deal, but I will say that it was a really great stay. The food was about as good as I thought it would be...in other words, completely average. However, the breakfast buffet was pretty good, and by far our best meals were at Oceana (the sea bass in particular was very good). Drinks were well made, and if you didn't like it, you could ask the bartender to "fix" it for you. We quickly learned that for a good strong margarita, you should order a shot of tequila on the side and just add it to the drink yourself.

The best part about Dreams, IMO, is the beach. It is a really lovely and largely secluded beach with just a few vendors who are not at all pushy. I contrast this with a lunch I had on Los Muertos beach where I probably said "no gracias" 150 times and found myself constantly turning away vendors...it was obnoxious.

Beware that there is truly nothing to do at Dreams after the sun goes down. If you want nightlife, you'll need to take a quick cab or bus into downtown.

$3000 seems awfully expensive to me...that is per couple for 4 nights? If so, there is NO WAY I would pay that much money for a stay at Dreams. Did you get that quote on the Dreams website, or did you find it on another travel site? I found that rates on Hotels.com for Dreams were cheaper than the rates offered directly through the Dreams website.

rpowell Jan 12th, 2010 01:45 PM

IMO don't spend the first 4 to 5 days entirely at the resort, you'll miss too much in town! I'd suggest going into town after dinner early in your stay. Once you see how awesome the Malecon and town are, you'll want to go there often. (Grab a bus on the road right outside Dreams. It'll give you a real feel for PV.) You can also go into town after breakfast, eat lunch somewhere in town and return to Dreams for dinner. That way you won't feel like you're wasting your AI money.
Buceras is a cute town and has wonderful beaches. It is much quieter than PV. That may be where you get your quiet, beach, Laying around time.
Activities: Walk the Malecon
Take the bus to Tomatlan and rent a water taxi to take you to Yelapa
Rent a car for the day and explore Bucerias, or drive into one of the smaller
towns
Don't miss a sunset
Explore art galleries in town
Have fun!

beatty1000 Jan 13th, 2010 06:55 AM

Thank you all so much for your opinions/tips.
$3000 is per couple for a Junior Suite Preferred Club for 7 nights with airfare and transfers, etc. So my TOTAL package. I also ended up getting it for $2700.00. I thought that was a great deal.

clarasong Jan 14th, 2010 10:18 AM

suze; THANKS for telling me about the resort La Jolla de Mismiloya...we went there several times and loved it..Last time we went was about 6 years ago...they were trying to sell time shares and the resort was sort of decaying...wonder what it's like now...I don't like "all inclusive" as it denys you the fun of going to other fine restaurants...

Can you personally recommend a nice resort/hotel, not too far from city central, price not an object (within reason) and with access to beach...would appreciate it...like I say, it's been many years since we were there.

suze Jan 14th, 2010 01:56 PM

up high with view, not on beach:
Casa Isabel
Hacienda San Angel

on beach:
Quinta Maria Cortez
Villa Premiere
Westin
Casa Magna Marriott

I cannot "personally recommend" these though, only by reputation, or having visited the property, because they are all way out of my price range. Each has a website, take a look for yourself.

beanweb24 Jan 14th, 2010 06:34 PM

I normally would not stay at an AI, either, but got such a good deal at Dreams that eating out did not make me feel guilty. I have to say that the beach at Dreams was amazing compared to the beach closer to the city center.

I have also stayed at the Marriott. It's a gorgeous property, but not on a swimmable beach. Pool is nice. Walking distance to lots of restaurants in the marina (about 10 mins away). Great open air lobby and bar for spending some time in. About a 15-20 minute cab ride to downtown (and about 80 pesos).

I highly recommend both the Marriott and Dreams.

andrews98682 Jan 19th, 2010 04:50 PM

I just spent nine nights at the Barcelo-La Jolla and had a great time. It's in a great setting (Night of the Iguana was filmed there) a few miles south of Dreams and in a quieter area than the hotel zone, nice grounds/facilities and good staff. It's an all-inclusive, and the food is good. Keep in mind, you don't have to eat every meal there. You can -- and should -- go into town to eat at least a few days, but it is nice not seeing a bill for every drink or snack or meal.

Weekender Jan 20th, 2010 10:48 AM

I am going to the Marriott CasaMagna in February and again in March. Have stayed there many times and love it. We always go into town for dinner as cabs are cheap.

Marriott has a great sale going on now which is due to expire any day. 20% discounts. Ocean View room w/breakfast is $202 per night.

beatty1000 Jan 22nd, 2010 11:44 AM

Is there anything I need to know with regard to going to town, cabs, currency exchange (where to exchange at), etc.? Anything I should be aware of that may have not crossed my mind?

suze Jan 22nd, 2010 01:17 PM

beatty~
The taxi you take from the airport will be more expensive because they are Federal ones (white in color), than the regular taxis you'll use to get around town (yellow in color). You buy a ticket from one of the clearly marked TAXI booths in the airport lobby. Prices are posted.

Arriving the airport, after you come thru immigration, baggage claim, and customs (red light/green light like a traffic light) you walk thru an area with lots of people in it who may try to tal with you. These are TIMESALES REPS!! Don't talk to anyone. Just walk on thru out into the open lobby, where you'll see the taxi stands by the exit doors.

You can exchange USD/Canadian at a "casa de cambio". These are exchange windows or booths that are all over the downtown area. The daily rates will be posted. The other way is to use your regular bank debit card at an ATM machine and withdraw pesos directly.

As far as going to town, you can catch the bus on the highway near your resort. Or you can take a taxi, check at the front desk what the fare should be, and double-check with the driver before you get in the taxi to confirm the price.


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