Someone just asked me some good questions about spending the winter in Puerto Vallarta Mexico. I thought this information might be helpful to others out there and since we have spent the last four winters there, I am willing to share.
Overview. Many places in Mexico such as Cabo San Lucas are full of fabulous resorts, but there is not enough to do if you plan to spend the winter. If someone wants to spend more than a couple of weeks then Puerto Vallarta (PV) is a good choice. It is a pretty good-sized city with an incredible array of really nice restaurants. PV has a large middle-class and Mexicans and tourists mix freely which is one of the things we really like about it. Every Wednesday evening they have an “Art Walk” with drinks and appetizers served at a variety of Galleries. PV has great public art as well. The city is perched on the 2nd largest Bay in North America that is 20 miles wide and 27 miles out to the ocean. The city starts to elevate as you leave the beach so most places have a nice view as the city is stacked. The main part of town has what is called the Malecon, a pavered walkway that runs for a mile or two along the water. Along the Malecon they have great public sculpture, and amphitheaters. The area is full of street performers, sand sculptors, rock balancers and it is teeming with people and music at night and lots of art during the day. Another neat thing- especially compared with the Caribbean is that PV is in the Central time zone, rather than Mountain where it would logically be, so the sun does not set until around 7pm at night in the winter. Compare this to the east coast of Florida where it is dark before 5:00 and you can see what an advantage that would be! Speaking of which sunset over the water is magnificent!
Are there apartments for rent? The best thing to do is to rent a condo. There are numerous condos for rent in a variety of price ranges. You can rent by the week, or by the month. They are well-equipped and beautifully furnished. Most are in complexes with pools, although beware, most pools in PV are not heated. If you do a search for “condo rentals in Puerto Vallarta” you will come up with lots of real estate sites that specialize in these properties.
What neighborhhod is best? Is it a town you can get around in easily? Would you need a car or can you walk? Assuming you are pretty mobile and like to walk then there are some good neighborhoods to choose from. PV is very safe. We have no fear of walking anywhere at night. However, depending on your mobility, you need to consider how steep the area is where you are renting. The good news is cabs are very inexpensive so you can always walk down to the Bay and cab back. There are various neighborhoods and the most popular kind of run together and you can walk across a bridge from one to the other. They are called “El centro” and “Zona Romantica” or “Old Town”. If you do not want to have a car there – we have never had one with the exception of renting one for a day – you will want to rent in one of these areas. If you rent in Conchas Chinas, which is just south of town, you are too far from town to walk and the beach has a lot of rocks and is not really accessible from town except by cab or bus. However, that being said, if you are a beach person and want to walk outside your door to the water then by al means look at what is available there. If you like to see the sunsets the view high up in the El Centro will please you. You will need to walk for ten minutes to get to the water but the sunsets from a high perch are magnificent. I would suggest avoiding the Hotel Zone. This is strictly for tourists, many of whom do an “all-inclusive” and never see the light of day, let alone tour the city or eat in the fabulous restaurants PV is noted for. Some people prefer the Marina but it is a $60 peso ($6 USD) cab ride to the Malecon and you really cannot walk to the City from there. There is also no beach. If you like to look out on a marina, though, it is pretty. It is also very Americanized, which might appeal to those a little nervous about being in a foreign country. It reminds us too much of Florida.
More about Puerto Vallarta shopping and cabs in my next post!