Mexico is well known around the world for tacos, large hats, and friendly people. The climate is both tropical and arid and attracts many tourists each year. Well-known cities include Cabo San Lucas and Cancun, but if you’re looking for a cheaper but just as exciting holiday destination, Puerto Vallarta may be the place to visit. Winter is quite busy but the height of summer will find you surrounded by families from the US. Spring and Autumn are the times to travel anywhere in Mexico as temperatures are comfortably warm and tourist hot spots won’t be too crowded, with mainly adventure-seeking adults visiting the country.
Situated on a large bay on the Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta was made famous by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the 1960s. The couple conducted their affair under the palm trees, sipping martinis and making press headlines around the world. The town was since then known as a hot spot for celebrities and wealthy Americans looking for luxury. Today the city is surprisingly affordable, unlike its counterparts, and offers a range of accommodation and holiday types.
For a family holiday or a couples retreat, the Hilton situated south of the main town suits comfortably. The four-star hotel boasts a private beach so you can enjoy quiet sunbathing during both high and low seasons. The hotel offers a very large family swimming pool and a rooftop adult-only pool, the former serving traditional and international food and drinks all day from the snack bar. Booking.com and other hotel websites are the way to go when booking this hotel for your solo or family holiday, with prices half the cost than when booking from the Hilton website. Room service is 24 hours and there are six restaurants in the resort to choose from. The hotel is sprawling and offers a range of room types to suit all travellers. A solo traveller can stay 7 nights for approx $1500 during the high season.
There are also many adult-only and gay-friendly hotels to choose from suiting a range of budgets. Vallarta is a gay hot spot in Mexico and is known for its adult-only hotels as American couples have chosen the boho-chic beach town to holiday in for +50 years now.
The Marina area boasts many large hotels at a cheaper nightly rate than the well-known four or five-star resorts. The beach will be busy but you can enjoy walks around the marina and there are many restaurants serving all types of cuisines.
During the high season, winter, Vallarta Adventures offers a whale watching tour beginning in early December. Humpback whales pass by the Mexican Pacific coast on their way from Alaska to breed in the warmer waters nearer the equator. The three-hour tour costs $62 per person and is open to all ages. You’ll hear magnified whale sounds while sitting on an inflatable boat as you watch accompanying sea turtles and dolphins pass you by. A light snack and water bottles are provided and you’re advised to bring your own camera, sun hat, and light jumper.
Another tour by Vallarta Adventures is a three-hour sunset sailing trip. You’ll enjoy the open bar and appetizers as you take in the skyscraper view from your private French-made catamaran. Sailing around the Bay of Banderas you may see a pod of dolphins swimming around your yacht and you’ll sip fine wine while gazing into a red, orange, pink, and blue shining sky.
If you’re looking to buy property in the sun for next to nothing, Mexico may be the place for you. 2 and 3-bed new build houses in gated communities usually sell for approx $150K and large 2 bedroom apartments a few blocks from the beaches can be seen for $300k and less. Prices significantly drop the further away from the beach you go.
If you’re looking for quieter places to visit the nearby town of Sayulita is known for its quiet atmosphere and a very long stretch of beach. An hour bus drive from Vallarta, the town boasts many trinket shops and has a far less touristy vibe than PV.
Sunsets are part of what made Puerto Vallarta famous. The town faces the open Pacific to the west and is famous for its sunset views. Many hotels and apartment rental buildings have rooftop pools and Mexican culture is still very much alive, differing from the very famous and commercial Cancun on the other side of Mexico.
The town offers great options for living and vacations. Prices are noticeably cheaper than other places you’ll visit but the quality is just as high. There are hundreds of restaurants offering all types of delicious-looking food and many beaches to choose to relax on. A trip here is very worth the money for a holiday offering a traditional Mexican or classic holiday experience.
Written by: Dmitri Alyona, Volunteer Writer for Amunì Travel Forum