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Puerto Vallarta Basics

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Los Arcos

The beautiful, relaxed tourist town of Puerto Vallarta is nestled on the southern shores of Banderas Bay, one of the largest natural bays in the world. Behind the town, the Sierra Madre Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to the south and east of the city. Puerto Vallarta is located in Mexico's Jalisco State, and has around 300,000 inhabitants.

Puerto Vallarta's economy is largely based on tourism and construction. The city's economy also has an agricultural component, with tropical fruit, such as mangos, papayas, watermelon, pineapple, guanabana, cantaloupe and bananas being grown here.

Puerto Vallarta has a tropical climate--warm and humid year round. The Dry Season (winter) lasts from November through mid-June, and the weather can be quite pleasant. The Rainy Season (summer) extends from late June to October, with sporadic rainstorms breaking out in the afternoon, and the occasional violent tropical storm will unleash its fury.

Puerto Vallarta map


First Impressions


As you approach Puerto Vallarta by sea, you'll see the old city on the south end of the bay, with the roofs of its buildings crowned with tile, then a spread of high-rise hotels up to the Marina Vallarta area. As you look further north, more high-rise hotels crowd the beaches. The Sierra Madre mountains provide a stunning backdrop for the city.

Your ship will dock in the Marina Vallarta Maritime Terminal, about three miles north of downtown. Some ships, however, will anchor in the harbor, and passengers must use the ship's tender. Check with your cruise line to determine your circumstances.

If you're taking a ship's excursion, you will board your bus or other transportation at the Maritime Terminal. Across the street from the Terminal are a number of small shops, snack bars, liquor stores, a Banorte ATM machine and several cyber cafes.

If you're looking for transportation into the city, you can pick up a taxi or a bus just outside the Terminal area. The bus fare is $5 or $5.5 pesos per ticket, depending on the distance, and since there are no transfers, you have to buy a new ticket each time you board a bus. You need to pay the exact fare on the bus. Taxi fare to the downtown area is negotiable, but should run about US$5-7.

You can spend a lot of time walking around the city. Downtown is where you'll find the sculptures on the Malecon, or sea-side boardwalk, with the church and the city hall sharing space around the city square. A short (5 minute) walk further south will have you passing over the Rio Cuale, with its outdoor vendors and pretty park-like setting. The arty district of Olas Altas (also called the Old Town or the Romantic Zone) is just south of the Isla Cuale. Restaurants abound in this area, as well as along the seashore.

Seahorse statue

Time Zone


Puerto Vallarta is on Central Time, six hours earlier than Greenwich Mean Time during standard time, or five hours during daylight savings time. In Mexico, daylight savings time begins on the second Sunday of March, and ends on the first Sunday of November.

Mexican flag Puerto Vallarta Local Time
 


Language


Spanish is universally spoken in Puerto Vallarta; all of the shopkeepers catering to tourists also speak English.


Travel Advisory


Dept of State

The U. S. Department of State has issued this Travel Warning, dated August 22, 2017, to inform U.S. citizens traveling to and living in Mexico about the security situation in Mexico.

Jalisco (includes Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, and Lake Chapala): U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to areas that border the states of Michoacán and Zacatecas because of continued instability.

U.S. government personnel are prohibited from personal travel to areas of Jalisco that border Zacatecas, intercity travel after hours, and from using Highway 80 between Cocula and La Huerta. U.S. government personnel are authorized to use Federal toll road 15D for travel to Mexico City; however, they may not stop in the town of La Barca or Ocotlan for any reason.


Dealing with Money in Puerto Vallarta


Currency



Mexican Peso

The Peso is Mexico's official currency, and uses the "$" sign to denote the peso amount. Each peso is made up of 100 centavos. Bills come in denominations of $20, $50, $100, $200, $500 and $1000 pesos. Coinage comes in denominations of 50 centavos, and $1, $2, $5 and $10 pesos.

Just be aware that larger notes (e.g., $500 Peso notes) are often difficult to change.

The current US Dollar/Mexican Peso exchange rate is as follows:


Banks and ATMs

Banks with ATM machines are found throughout the downtown and Old Town areas of Puerto Vallarta and other tourist venues. There is a Banorte ATM machine just outside the Marine Terminal. Other ATM machines in the city can be found at the following locations:

  • HSBC Mexico: At the corner of Libertad and Miramar, just north of the bridge in Old Town Vallarta.

  • BBVA Bancomer: At the Plaza Caracol shopping mall, just south of the Marina.

  • Banorte: At Olas Atlas 246, in Old Town Vallarta.

  • Citibank: Citibank has 19 ATM machines in Puerto Vallarta, including at the Plaza Marina at the Marina, and at the corner of Zaragoza and Juarez, just north of Rio Cuale.

  • Santander Serfin: At the Plaza Genovese, south of the Marina; and on Ave. Mexico, at the south river bridge, in Old Town Vallarta. People with Bank of America accounts aren't charged a fee when using a Santander ATM.

Puerto Vallarta ATM Map


Map icon

See our Puerto Vallarta ATM map for the locations of the above ATMs.


Using US Dollars in Puerto Vallarta

As US dollars are widely accepted in Puerto Vallarta, you don't have to change your dollars into pesos. If you're using dollars alone, make sure to bring smaller denominations to pay for incidentals and taxi rides.


Weather


Puerto Vallarta has a climate very similar to that of Hawaii, as they share the same hemispheric latitude of 20 north. The sun shines an average of 325 days a year here.

The best weather to be had in Puerto Vallarta is in the Winter months, from November to May, when the average temperature is in the low to mid-70s F (20° to 25° C), and the rainy season has passed. The heat and humidity increases considerably during the summer months (July through October), with the average temperature reaching the mid- to high-80s F. During the summer, sporadic rainstorms break out in the afternoon, with occasionally violent tropical storms unleashing their fury. Puerto Vallarta gets around 50 inches of rain each year.

It's humid in paradise. Throughout the year, morning relative humidities hang around the 90% mark, dropping during the day to around 70%.

The average water temperature in winter ranges from the mid-60's to the mid-70s F. In the summer, the water temperatures rise to between the mid-70s to the mid-80s F.

Hurricane season runs from August through October.

Average Temperatures

Averaqge Precipitation

Keeping In Touch


Internet Access in Puerto Vallarta

You can find cyber cafes everywhere in Puerto Vallarta. Rates are reasonable, running from $10 to $50 pesos per hour. There are several internet cafes at the Marine Terminal area, just across the street from where your ship docks. Here are just a few of the many choices:

  • Vallarta 179 Website Cafe, Ignacio L. Vallarta 179, Puerto Vallarta; 1-1/2 blocks from Rio Cuale in the Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta. They have a cigar bar upstairs, too.

  • pvCafe.com, at Olas Atlas 246, in the Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta. Here you'll also find a deli and a bar. Open daily from 7:00 am to midnight.

  • Plaza Neptuno, at the entrance of Marina Vallarta. Open daily, from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm.

  • Internet B@r, Plaza Neptuno E-1 in Marina Vallarta. This cybercafe offers a restaurant, cafeteria and bar to go along with their internet service.

  • PuertoNet CyberCafe, at Juarez 388 in the Downtown area. They offer sandwiches along with coffee and sodas.

Puerto Vallarta Internet Access Map


Map icon

See our Puerto Vallarta Internet Access Map for the locations of the above internet access points.


Internet Cafe

Cellular Phone & Data Services

Customers of U.S. wireless carriers can expect the following levels of service in Puerto Vallarta:

Verizon

Cell service: Verizon's CDMA service in the Puerto Vallarta area is provided by local partner Iusacell.
Data services: Through partner Iusacell, Verizon offers EVDO coverage in the greater Puerto Vallarta area.
See details on Verizon's cell and data services pricing and coverage maps.

ATT Wireless

Cell service: AT&T's GSM service in the Puerto Vallarta area is provided by Telcel and Telefonica.
Data services: AT&T offers 3G service in the Puerto Vallarta area through its partners Telcel and Telefonica.
See details on AT&T's cell and data services coverage maps.

Sprint

Cell service: Sprint's CDMA service in the Puerto Vallarta area is provided by partner Iusacell, and with partners Telcel and Telefonica when using a quad-band GSM phone.
Data services: Through Iusacel, Sprint offers EVDO coverage in the Puerto Vallarta area. Sprint also offers 3G coverage in Puerto Vallarta when using a UMTS-capable device with an active SIM card and global plan.
See details on Sprint's cell and data services coverage maps.

T Mobile

Cell service: T-Mobile's GSM service is available in the Puerto Vallarta area through its partners Telefonica and Iusacell.
Data services: T-Mobile offers 2G service in the Puerto Vallarta area through its partners Telefonica and Iusacell.
See details on T-Mobile's cell and data services coverage maps.


Samsung Galaxy S III

Puerto Vallarta Telephone Information

Travelers with American or Canadian cell phones should be aware that their carriers will add a variety of international roaming charges when their phones are used in Mexico. You can also buy an international roaming plan and/or a "Mexico plan" from your carrier; check with your carrier for the precise details.

If you plan on using your cell phone a lot while on your cruise, you may want to consider getting a SIM card for your trip from OneSimCard.com. These SIMs work in over 200 countries, and provide very affordable prepaid talk, text and data plans. Not only will you save a lot of money, but you'll also avoid a big cell bill surprise when you get home.

Country Code: 52

Puerto Vallarta Area Code: 322

Local Phone Numbers have seven digits: XXX-XXXX

Calling Puerto Vallarta from the US or Canada: Dial 011-52-322-XXX-XXXX

Using your US or Canadian cell phone in Puerto Vallarta

To make a call from:

Puerto Vallarta to the US or Canada: Dial 001 (area code) XXX-XXXX

Puerto Vallarta to a US or Canadian cell in Puerto Vallarta: Dial 001 (area code) XXX-XXXX

Puerto Vallarta to a local Puerto Vallarta number: Dial 001-52-322-XXX-XXXX

Woman with a cell phone

OneSimCard - prepaid international roaming, works in over 200 countries, free calls in over 150 countries

Local Events, Holidays & Festivals


Look for the following local holidays, festivals and events taking place in Puerto Vallarta in 2017:

  • Ano Nuevo (New Year's Day), Sunday, January 1. National holiday celebrated with dances and fiestas.

  • Dia de los Santos Reyes (Day of the Three Kings), Friday, January 6. A national holiday celebrating the New Testament story of the arrival of the three wise men who each brought a gift to the Christ child. It's the day that children receive their Christmas gifts as well as shoes full of candy, and people buy a pastry called the rosca de reyes.

  • Dia de la Constitucion (Constitution Day), Sunday, February 5. Public holiday commemorating the signing of the Mexican Constitution of 1917. The day is usually marked by festivals and street celebrations. Since the day falls on a Sunday, Mexicans also get Monday, the 6th, as a day off.

  • Carnaval
  • Carnaval (Mardis Gras), Wednesday, February 22 to Tuesday, February 28. Throughout the city, you'll find venues featuring music, food, costume parades and art exhibits, plus nighttime fireworks.

  • XXV Regata Internacional, Tuesday, February 28 to Saturday, March 4. Legendary sailing regatta from San Diego to Puerto Vallarta; features music, events and fun for all.

  • Birthday of Benito Juarez, Tuesday, March 21. A public holiday celebrating the birthday of Benito Juarez, who rose from humble origins to occupy the Presidency of the Republic in the second half of the 19th century. Since the day falls on a Tuesday, Mexicans get Monday, the 20th, off to observe the holiday.

  • Semana Santa (Holy Week), Monday, April 10 to Sunday, April 16. The week before Easter is the busiest week of the year. The city provides free concerts, theater performances and fiestas. It's party time in Puerto Vallarta! Easter takes place on Sunday, April 16. During Semana Santa, banks are closed on Maundy Thursday, April 13 and Good Friday, April 14.

  • Primero de Mayo (Labor Day), Monday, May 1. A national holiday. Live music, family orientated entertainment, food stalls, dancing, parades and ceremonies on the Malecon.

  • Cinco de Mayo, Friday, May 5. A Mexican holiday commemorating the Battle of Puebla in 1862, when the Mexican army defeated a French force twice its size just south of Mexico City.

  • Restaurant Week, Monday, May 15 to Wednesday, May 31. Several dozen of Puerto Vallarta's best restaurants present inexpensive, fixed price menus.

  • Festival Cultural de Mayo, Monday, May 1 to Wednesday, May 31. In May, the city of Puerto Vallarta showcases national and international musicians, painters, sculptors and artisans exhibiting and performing for the public.

  • Anniversary of the Founding of Puerto Vallarta, Wednesday, May 31. A locally-focused event featuring concerts and activities in the amphitheater located in the Malecon.

  • Day of the Charros, Saturday, September 16. Jalisco's charros ride on horseback through the heart of town in a colorful parade. The parade is followed by traditional festivities including authentic food, dancing and rodeo demonstrations of skill and showmanship. This is a celebration in honor of Mexico's Independence Day.

  • Independence Day, Saturday, September 16. Look for the delivery of the "El Grito de Dolores," the official grunt that marks the day.

  • Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day), Thursday, October 12. In Puerto Vallarta, they celebrate the mixed cultural and racial heritage that resulted from Columbus' discovery.

  • Mariachis
    ©2013 Inocencio Vasquez Melchor, under cc-by-sa 3.0 license
  • Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Wednesday, November 1 (which is All Saints Day) and Thursday, November 2 (which is All Souls Day). Celebrants build private altars to honor the deceased, using sugar skulls, flowers and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed.

  • XXIII Festival Gourmet International, Friday, November 10 to Sunday, November 19. A week long celebration of food, wine and spirits for foodies and those who want to enjoy the cuisine of Puerto Vallarta's finest chefs.

  • Revolution Day, Monday, November 20. A national holiday celebrating the Mexican Revolution of 1910.

  • Tributo a la Virgen de Guadalupe, Friday, December 1 to Tuesday, December 12. Tributes to the Virgin of Guadalupe take place during the first 12 days of December. Daily evening processions to the church from various "colonias," or residential sections, of the town.

  • Fiesta de la Inmaculada (Feast of the Immaculate Conception), Friday, December 8. Marks the beginning of the Christmas celebration season.

  • Dia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe (Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe), Monday, December 12. Commemorates the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint.

  • Las Posadas, Saturday, December 16 to Sunday, December 24. Commemorates the story of Joseph and Mary's search for shelter in Bethlehem. You'll see candlelight processions as celebrants stop at various nativity scenes throughout the city.

  • Navidad (Christmas Day), Monday, December 25. A public and religious holiday celebrating the birth of Christ.

Cruise Port Schedules


Port in Puerto Vallarta
©2010 MutantE AZUL under cc-by-sa 3.0 license

Puerto Vallarta is the second most popular cruise port on the Mexican Riviera, after Ensenada.

As a general rule, ships arrive at the city's cruise ship pier between 7:00 am and 9:00 am, and depart between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Cruise ship passengers should expect to spend an average of 10 hours in Puerto Vallarta in 2017.

In 2017, Puerto Vallarta is slated to host 303,900 passengers sailing on 138 ships. See our Puerto Vallarta Cruise Ship Schedule - 2017 for further information.

In 2018, Puerto Vallarta is slated to host 351,500 passengers sailing on 141 ships. See our Puerto Vallarta Cruise Ship Schedule - 2018 for further information.


Cruise Lines Making Port in Puerto Vallarta


The following cruise lines will make port in Puerto Vallarta in 2017:

Carnival icon Carnival Royal Caribbean icon Celebrity
Princess icon Princess NCL icon Norwegian
Holland America icon Holland America Hapag Lloyd
Disney icon Disney Cruises Crystal Cruises
Azamara Cruises Oceania Cruises
Cruise Ship


       
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