The more time we spent in Puerto Vallarta, the more it grew on us, from our initial underwhelming impressions to the real nostalgia we felt as we enjoyed our last evening in the city. The weather stayed perfect for our entire four weeks (we had sprinkles once at the very end of the stay) and the quality of everything we ate was fantastic. Here are some highlights of our stay in Puerto Vallarta.
Our Home in Puerto Vallarta
Our Airbnb (review below) was very comfortable and an amazing value. We paid under $900 for our four-week stay. As I mentioned in my prior PV post, we especially loved the rooftop terrace, where we ate many of our dinners. The size was just right for us and we were able to have the cleaner come for a very affordable price (300 pesos, or a little over $15, though I also left her a nice tip for the mid-stay cleaning and at the end), which we arranged to happen while we were away on our overnight trip to Sayulita.
Our apartment was one of five in the building, all of which seem to be rented out by our host on Airbnb, so it was sort of like an aparthotel. We were the only ones who had a long stay there. The other guests we happened to meet from time to time were generally there for one to three nights, which seems about right for a Puerto Vallarta vacation. The location was my favorite part, though it was a little noisy at night from the road, an uphill climb up cobblestones that cars sometimes struggled with. Generally, though, we slept very well.
Although it was on the edge of Zona Romantica, which is very touristy (and also extremely gay-friendly, which we liked), our street felt more like a real Mexican neighborhood with a little school across the street and a nightly visit from a man selling ice cream out of the back of a hatchback. He blasted very distinctive music so we could always hear him coming and he’d park just under our window each night for five minutes or so. Plus we had access to all the local vendors I mentioned in my prior post, including a good same-day laundry service for 80 pesos (just over $4) per load.
More Amazing Food
Just after my prior PV post, we discovered a vendor at the beach under the bridge by Isla Cuale that sells fresh oysters for 150 pesos for a dozen (about $8). By fresh I mean fresh and they seem to do a brisk business all day with several people shucking them. They were absolutely delicious, some of the best oysters we’ve had, and we went three times during those last two weeks of our stay.
We also enjoyed many of the street foods on offer in Puerto Vallarta, including pellizcadas (thick blue corn tortilla with melted cheese and toppings – we chose mushrooms, beans, and salsas for ours), Mexican street corn (corn with mayo, cheese, and spices), birria tacos (birria is a sort of beef stew popular in Jalisco state), and many more visits to the churro cart and paleta stand. We also made a second trip to the fantastic seafood restaurant Marisqueria Los Lirios on one of our last nights in Puerto Vallarta and it was just as good as our first visit. Oh, and we made it back to the drink cart by the mercado (mentioned in my prior post) to try the horchata de coco. It was a bit too sweet for my taste, but yummy.
Quality of Life
I mentioned our two fun Airbnb Experience tours in my other PV post and I did individual posts about our overnight trip to Sayulita and our day trip to Playa Las Animas. Basically we had time for one major adventure per week during our stay. But our general quality of life in Puerto Vallarta was very enjoyable. We enjoyed trips to the beach, lovely sunsets; evening walks on the malecon; and daytime walks along the river and through the island. I was able to practice my Spanish a lot and really improved during our four weeks in a very low pressure environment since so many people in Puerto Vallarta speak English.
Two highlights were going out to watch the Kansas City Chiefs playoff wins. We have VERY mixed feelings about the NFL, but I grew up rooting for the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes is so fun to watch. So when it’s postseason time, I can’t help paying attention. For their first playoff game, we watched only the second half, choosing a bar called Pinocho’s in our neighborhood that had good reviews. The margaritas were strong, it was a great game, and one of the other patrons (who were mostly Canadian and American) told us the owner was a Chief’s fan, which seemed to be indicated by the place of honor the Chiefs flag received on the ceiling covered with flags from various teams (I also liked the message nearby – “No Bad Days”).
The second game fell on our last night in Puerto Vallarta. We went out in the afternoon to finally hike up to the main PV viewpoint, Mirador el Cerro de la Cruz. We enjoyed a nice beer up there then came down and got some oysters at the beach, then it was time to head over to the bar.
We wanted to return to a very chill bar we’d discovered on an earlier night out called Gringo Loco. Like Pinocho’s, most of its customers aren’t Mexican, but we chose to watch the game on their lovely back patio where there was just one other patron who happened to be from Guadalajara, our next destination. He had lived for a while in Independence, Mo., so was a Chiefs fan like us and he shared a few tips about Guadalajara with us. The cook also joined us for most of the game (after making us some delicious chicken tenders and fries), and in the fourth quarter a sweets seller came in and decided to sit and enjoy the rest of the game (and yes, Chad did buy some candy from him). That game had a super-dramatic ending, so it’s an experience we’ll always remember, watching with those three guys.
Even with eating out three times a week and enjoying our weekly adventures, we came in well under budget on our four weeks in Puerto Vallarta, saving over $200 on our four-week budget of $2,900.
Puerto Vallarta still isn’t our favorite beach city in Mexico, nor the place I’d recommend to someone visiting Mexico for the first time (possible exception: it seems like a must-visit place for gay men and perhaps the queer community in general. I loved seeing all the couples and rainbow flags; they made PV feel unique compared to other beach destinations.). But, we really enjoyed our time there and will always look back fondly on those four weeks. And maybe we’ll be back. The coast of Jalisco state has a lot to offer.
Airbnb listing link and review – My husband and I had a fantastic four-week stay in this apartment. The location is perfect, on the edge of Zona Romantica and an easy walk to the beach, the malecon, and Mercado Emiliano Zapata (best fresh produce and seafood). Lots of great restaurants around (especially Los Lirios!). Communication with the host, Luis, was excellent through our whole stay. The wifi was reliable and fast enough for streaming and video calls. We had two brief outages but not during business hours and Luis was on top of it. The kitchen was equipped with the usual basics for cooking and drinking water provided. The best part is the rooftop terrace with a lovely view. Even though it is shared with the other units, there was never anyone up there when we went up to have dinner or enjoy an evening beverage. I’m glad we chose this place for our time in Puerto Vallarta.