Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Mexico & Central America (
-   -   "Solo" trip to Puerto Vallerta (

sunbum1944 Jan 12th, 2014 08:12 AM

"Solo" trip to Puerto Vallerta
With the encouragement of many of Fodorites, I agreed to do a home exchange with a former neighbor for a month. I had thought it would be mostly solo but turned out 2 friends came for 10 days and daughter for a week so I was really only alone for a week.

The apartment was a beautiful 2 bedroom on the 5th floor of a small complex in the de Decembrie area of PV. We were about 5 blocks to the closest beach and walking distance to the north end of the Malecon so location was great.
The neighborhood was a mix of locals and expats so was interesting to be able to view a non touristy slice of Mexican life. The downside was that it was rather noisy with barking dogs and roosters waking you up in the AM, and just down the hill was a school where band practice was held at 8 AM sharp.
After a quick orientation by my hosts, I was on my own and spent time walking miles along the Malecon and Old Town, learning the bus system so by the time my friends arrived, I almost seemed like I knew what I was doing.

December is a fun time to be there as the first twelve days is the Festival of Guadalupe and every night there is a procession up to the big cathedral, food venders everywhere and much celebrating going on. An interesting time to be there and observe some Mexican customs.

Some of the fun things I did with friends was a bus tour to the small mining town of San Sebastian- an old silver mining town- with a stop for some coffee tasting, and tequila tasting on the way home. The town has a very interesting history and we enjoyed our day there.

One day we took a city bus to the tiny beach town of Boca and spent the day at the beautiful beach there.
We took a water taxi to Yelepa- another fun day, another beautiful beach. If you go, make sure you try the pie served by the pie lady of Yelepa- I had coconut, my friends loved the chocolate.

We also spent a lot of time at the Sea Monkey where they serve $1 margaritas and also the Mango Beach Club where you can use all of their lounge chairs, umbrellas etc for the cost of
just buying some food and drink. You can even use their sea kayaks - fun place to spend the day.

Our favorite restaurant was the Barracuda- a small beach restaurant a few blocks from the apt- loved the fish steamed in foil with lots of veggies.

Friends left, I had a few days alone and daughter arrived a couple of days before Christmas.
Will post more about that later

suze Jan 12th, 2014 08:26 AM

Hurray! I've been hoping to see this trip report pop up. Lucky you with a nice condo in 5 de diciembre. That's a great colonia (neighborhood). Well I guess you got extra lucky with the band practice every morning (lol) but PV's pretty much noisy like that everywhere. Quiet it is not.

And double lucky you were down for the Festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe, such an exciting and fun local tradition to be able to take part in.

Nice job getting to know how to use the busses and your way around before your friends arrived.

I'm so happy you were able to do this. Think you'll go back again sometime?

sunbum1944 Jan 12th, 2014 08:34 AM

Oh yes, I will go back. My friends want to come home for Thanksgiving so maybe we will trade again.
Funny, my daughter thought she would not like for PV for some reason, and she loved it too- says she wants to go back also. So as long as my friends have an apt there, this could be a great deal for all of us.

suze Jan 13th, 2014 08:46 AM

Ah yes, Vallarta is addictive :-) Thanksgiving's a great time to be down. I'm glad your daughter enjoyed herself too. Many people seem to have a preconceived notion of "Mexico" not always favorable. Actually being there... an entirely different thing.

sunbum1944 Jan 14th, 2014 08:38 AM

Daughter arrived and we repeated some of the things I did with my friends ( felt like I was getting to know area pretty well by now)
Christmas Day we had a great dinner at the Blue Shrimp in Old Town- we sat at tables set in the sand, watched another of the glorious PV sunsets. The dinner was great- had coconut shrimp which was delicious and I was happy to not be home in the cold and snow cooking a turkey.

Daughter wanted to do a dive trip which was scheduled a couple of days after Christmas and I was going along as an observer- my plan was to sit in the sun and read while she was diving.
Woke up to pouring rain but off we went anyway. I was soaked before we even arrived at the boat but being a good sport, went along with it. As we headed out to sea in the rain, I wondered how I would survive the day. Finally asked if they had an extra wetsuit I could wear- they did. It was a fluorescent green with a pink trim but I was grateful for it. I must have looked like Kermit the Frog but did not mind. She had a great dive, the rain finally stopped and it was all good. The dive was close to Los Arcos so I enjoyed my time just enjoying the scenery and chumming the water so that tropical fish would come up by the boat. Another great day with my daughter.

We had planned a day at Yelepa but looked like it was going to rain again so we went to the Zoo- what a fun day that was. Its a pretty nice zoo, lots of interesting animals - we paid an extra amount so that we could play with the baby lion, tigers and and jaguar- they were about 4 months old and very active and fun. Daughter was in heaven and we got some great pics.
We took the bus to the Zoo and then its about a 1/2 mile walk from the bus stop through an interesting Mexican town.

The rain started again as we left the zoo so sought refuge at one the restaurants drinking margaritas and eating chips and salsa - one of the waiters offered to drive us to the bus stop which we gladly accepted.

Very fun day- recommend the zoo experience- but don't expect the same type of zoo as you would in the US- this is a little more rustic, animals seemed well cared for.

For the rest of her time there we made the most of the beach, enjoying our time together.

We were scheduled to leave on the same day but my friends invited me to stay awhile longer.
What a decision! I changed my flights and scheduled return 10 days later than planned- wahoo! New Years Eve in Puerto Vallerta.

suze Jan 14th, 2014 08:52 AM

For others reading, the frequent rain this past December (2013) was freakish and extremely unusual for Puerto Vallarta. Nov/Dec are usually some of the nicest months, weather-wise, of the year.

Nice report, sunbum!

sunbum1944 Jan 15th, 2014 07:53 AM

New Years Eve we spent partying at our apt building with expats from a variety of countries. From our 5th floor we had a spectacular view of the fireworks from one end of the bay to the other. We celebrated at midnight with champagne and by eating 12 grapes for good luck ( a Spanish tradition)

Our next venture was a bus trip to some beach towns up north. We took a bus from a station that is a bit north of the airport- round trip to Punta Mita for about $25. Bus was air-conditioned with reclining seats. It was about a 2 hour ride through Mexican countryside and farmland.

We toured the town on arrival where it was market day- lots of crafts, food etc- and then hopped a van to Rincon de Guayabitos. The van is public transportation which you can take between the various beach towns - I think it was only 8 pesos per person.

Arrived in Rincon and headed for the beach- a beautiful shallow bay. It was packed with people enjoying the holidays. Lots of restaurants, food vendors. We walked the beach, had a great lunch on the beach, drank some margaritas, did some shopping. It was a fun day and I could see coming back and spending some time there. There were several beach front hotels that looked nice- but not 5 star luxury- not my style anyway.

I was happy to learn about the Mexican bus system and now feel more comfortable doing it on my own.

Another good day.

sunbum1944 Jan 15th, 2014 09:31 AM

A great place to visit in PV is the Paradise Community Center- located in Old Town. Its a non profit and all proceeds go back to the community

On Sat they have a market place where you can buy Mexican coffee from San Sebastian as well as many other things- foods, crafts etc.
During the week you can sign up for Spanish classes, Zumba classes, yoga- lots of things as well as plays, musicals, movies.
Also have a Sunday church service

Check out the calendar for events.
Many expat volunteers here

suze Jan 15th, 2014 09:59 AM

Those vans out in Nayarit (state north of Jalisco where PV is located) are called "collectivo" they run for local transportation where busses aren't as frequent.

Thanks for mentioning Paradise Community Center. It's an excellent place and good resource for getting involved. Love the Saturday AM market. And have been to Zumba there too!

sunbum1944 Jan 15th, 2014 10:08 AM

I figured you would have been at the Community Center for zumba Suze- imagine you have not missed many!

Leely2 Jan 15th, 2014 06:22 PM

This is great, thank you. I have only bee to PV with others, but it has been on my radar for a winter solo trip (easy from California) for quite a while. I wonder if an apartment would be better solo.

Glad you had fun!

suze Jan 16th, 2014 08:33 AM

Actually I only went to PCC once for Zumba :-) because their class ran at the same time as another Zumba just a few blocks away at Lazara Cardenas plaza (which was cheaper and with a more fun teacher and more people). That's where I was every morning M-F at 9am!

Leely2, I've done both apartments and hotels solo in PV. Each has their benefits. If you're serious about going and wanting an apartment, please let me know... I've got a great agent I work with these days.

sunbum1944 Jan 16th, 2014 09:01 AM

One of the ladies in our apt building owns PVSea Dive so one day we went out on her boat with her- some divers and my friend and I snorkeled at Los Arcos.
I want to recommend this company as they are passionate about what they do, love to dive and to make sure you have a great experience. The owner Sue and her dive master Mark are both from England and are very funny as well as being experts at what they do.

The boat is small, she usually only takes 6 people out at a time- you can snorkel or dive or even hire her for a private day. You can also get your diving certification with them- and she will serve you a nice sandwich and some biscuits ( she is English after all) after your dive/snorkel.
Fun day!!

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:50 AM.