This post is about how a group of friends (also known as Travel Club) spent one quick week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico equipped with a rental car and several recommendations.
We stayed in the quiet Zona Hotelera part of PV. Filled with high-rise buildings and chain restaurants, it is not the exciting bustle of the historic center of Puerto Vallarta, but we did have gorgeous sunset views and a large, private space to enjoy them. We also had a full kitchen and large pantry which allowed us to cook most of our meals.
For our first beach day, we drove to Sayulita, about a 30+ mile drive from Puerto Vallarta. Sayulita is a popular surfing destination with a hippie vibe. I can see why the town is attracting tourists, it is charming for sure. But it’s busy, and we’re not big on busy.
In addition to the crowd, there is a constant rotation of people selling jewelry, hats, henna tattoos, hair services, excursions, umbrellas, shrimp, and donuts from large trays. While everyone is friendly, it can be a bit exhausting. But it can be fun too, having conversations with the vendors and watching the seagulls try to steal donuts.
We also wandered around town to check out a few markets. I love all the color.
Our next beach day, we visited Chacala, about an hour from PV. Chacala is completely opposite of Sayulita in terms of the crowds, but definitely not in charm. Chacala is loaded with charm.
At Restaurante Acela, one of the few restaurants along the beach, we were entertained by this group. They were having a blast at what I’m pretty sure was an impromptu performance. I imagined them to be a high school band or fraternity brothers reuniting.
As we were heading back into Puerto Vallarta, we made a left turn to stop by the grocery store for supplies, and we were promptly pulled over by the police. Matt got out of the car and talked to them for quite a while.
They asked him to pay them $100 or they would take his driver’s license to the police station where he could pick it up and pay a fine. Matt talked them down to $50. While you hear of these scams from other people, it had never happened to us before. If it ever happens to you, they key is to stay calm. And if it makes you feel better, I’m pretty sure the left turn we made was illegal, even though plenty of other people were taking the same route.
Another day, we hired a couple of guys to take us to the town of Yelapa, accessible only by boat. Whales were everywhere on our journey, along with manta rays. In Yelapa we walked the quiet streets and enjoyed lunch on the beach before stopping to snorkel for a bit on our way back to PV.
In Yelapa, electricity is relatively new. It’s rustic and laid back, a perfect place to relax.
We spent a bit of time in the historic part of Puerto Vallarta, as well as walking along El Malecon and Los Muertos Pier.
It’s not on the beach, but something you cannot miss is the Art Walk that occurs every Wednesday from 6-10 pm (seasonally) in the historic district. It is fabulous.
The variety of galleries participating in the Art Walk offer everything from Mexican folk art to contemporary pieces to pottery and paintings. We came across many affordable pieces and were happy to bring a few things home. Also, the galleries all serve complimentary cocktails!
Have you been to Puerto Vallarta or any of the gorgeous beaches along the Riviera Nayarit? I’d love to hear about your favorite places!