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Fra_Diavolo May 31st, 2017 12:30 PM

Ten Days Next Winter in PV and SMdA
For some time my wife and I have thought we might want to spend part of our winters in Mexico after retirement. We figured we'd best get started checking around for likely spots, though retirement is still a ways off.

We'd like to go in mid February or March and considering splitting our time between PV and SMdA, two places we haven't been before. How much time should we allocate to each spot? I thought an even split might be best. It is simple to get to PV and to leave from SMdA, but how should we get from one to the other?

We tend to prefer medium sized hotels with a local flavor, and like to sample the local specialties at lunch and dinner. We like colonial architecture, rain forests, hiking if it's not too hot, some beach time (although an old codger, I thought I might take some surf lessons). We love exploring old ruins but gather that is not a strong suit in either location. I think we'd rather stay in town than at a resort. Budget is not a big deal.

Appreciate any advice!

suze May 31st, 2017 12:59 PM

There's no ruins, rain forests, and not much surfing in Puerto Vallarta since the city sits within the Bay of Banderas.

I can help you with a place to stay in downtown PV though. Centro and Zona Romantica (just to the north and south of the Rio Cuale, the river dividing the downtown area) are the two neighborhoods most central that are not the Hotel Zone or The Marina with the big resorts.

I'll just run some down some of the non-resort places I'm familiar with and you can take a look to get the idea of the kinds of things available:

condo rentals:
el Escondido -
Vista del Sol & Plaza Mar -
Selva Romantica -

boutique hotels:
Quinta Maria Cortez -
Casa Isabel -
Casa Amorita -
Hacienda Alemana -

basic beachfront hotels on Los Muertos:
Hotel Playa Los Arcos -
The Tropicana -

good area maps:

Let me know if you have questions, Vallarta is my town! :-) suze

suze May 31st, 2017 01:17 PM

With the huge disclaimer that I have never done this I believe:

Between the two would be one fairly long bus ride (~12 hours) or you'd fly part of the way (Guadalajara or Mexico City or Leon) then bus from there.

The two cities don't really pair up particularly well and 5 days is awful short to see new places. Maybe two separate trips instead?

Fra_Diavolo May 31st, 2017 02:40 PM

Thanks suze. I know PV is one of your favorites.

suze May 31st, 2017 02:55 PM

It is my fabulous home away from home. I'm on a twice a year vacation schedule these days, staying 2-3 weeks at a time.

cabron Jun 1st, 2017 06:40 AM

Most people fly to Leon and bus from there to San Miguel.
We have some surfing, just north of the bay in Sayulita, San Miguel has zero, LOL ��. Our jungle is classed as tropical dry forest, although we get plenty of rain in the summer.
One of the best attractions for Vallarta is our wide range of restaurants, from delicious taco stands to haute cuisine.

maried11 Jun 1st, 2017 07:13 AM

I would be very hesitant to recommend sayulita right now due to the sickness there that seems to plague many who visit. Some say it's water contamination and others blame norovirus. So no matter what it is, not a great place to be right now.

Fra_Diavolo Jun 1st, 2017 08:19 AM

>>>Most people fly to Leon and bus from there to San Miguel.<<<

Thanks for the information. Airfare seems reasonable.

Hope the Sayulita problem clears up.

Didn't plan to do much surfing up in the mountains!

baldone Jun 1st, 2017 09:43 AM

How long to spend in either place would probably depend on what you want to accomplish since you're kinda scoping out potential retirement spots.
Near San Miguel, there is some spectacular hiking in the Sierra Gorda, but it's about 2 hours and best accessed by car. There are some minor archeological sites there as well. More cloud forest than rain.
Near San Miguel, some 15-20 minutes, is the Otomi site, Canada De La Virgen.
Not pre-colombian ruins, but Mineral De Pozos is a worthy half-day trip. See my trip report.
As far as colonial architecture goes, 45 minutes from San Miguel, Queretaro (our new home) has the largest colonial center in Mexico (outside of CDMX), and of course there's San Miguel itself and Guanajuato. PV has zero, LOL.
This area doesn't have much in the way of unique regional foods, but probably rivals PV's food scene, if not in quantity, then quality.
If budget is not a big deal, the 2 hotels that stand out are the Sierra Nevada in the heart of centro, and the Rosewood, a spectacular building, (new, not colonial), where all the movie stars and dignitaries stay when in town. A fabulous rooftop bar as well.
Getting to San Miguel from PV is easy. TAR has a direct flight to QRO, less than an hour. Then shuttle to SMA. Some tickets sell for about 1,000 mxn, about $55 US. There is no bus from BJX, the airport in Leon, only shuttles such as Bajiogo. Interjet's flights to BJX I believe route through MEX and are more expensive, at least right now.
For us, the best thing about San Miguel as a retirement site, is not so much the town itself, but it's proximity to so many other fascinating destinations; San Luis Potosi and the Huasteca, Leon, Morelia, Patzcuaro, Bernal, etc. are all within a couple of hours, not to mention the many Pueblos Magicos in the area.

Fra_Diavolo Jun 1st, 2017 10:35 AM

Thanks baldone, very informative.

I have been to Queretaro and Guanajuato and enjoyed the visits. SMdA we missed. I have a friend (since high school days) who has lived in San Luis Potosi for almost 20 years now. He loves the city of Zacatecas.

The Sieera Nevada looks great. Haven't checked the Rosewood as movie stars and dignitaries aren't really my type of people.

suze Jun 1st, 2017 10:37 AM

<As far as colonial architecture goes... PV has zero, LOL.>

I'm not sure what's so funny about that?

Puerto Vallarta isn't old enough to have "colonial architecture". It was just a small fishing village historically.

baldone Jun 1st, 2017 11:15 AM

cabron will have to explain it to you.

Stewbear Jun 1st, 2017 04:01 PM

Interjet has daily service Leon to PV & back. About a hours flight. I took it in March for $62 one way Leon to PV.

Stewbear Jun 1st, 2017 07:47 PM

Interjet flight BJX to PV is a direct flight as I took it.

ekscrunchy Jun 2nd, 2017 05:02 AM

The Rosewood is a delightful property, not glitzy at all in my mind, although they do host frequent weddings on weekends. I swam there many times while renting a house in the city and would certainly consider staying there if that is in your budget. Look into rental properties, too.

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