The Do’s and Don’ts of Puerto Vallarta
Is it your first time in the city? Or do you come every year? Maybe you live in this wonderful city we get to call our second home…whatever it is, here are some tips you might already know or something new to add to your repertoire. Enjoy!
Who does not love tacos? Want to try some local fare made by locals? Then…
Do eat at Pancho’s Tacos
What is al pastor? Brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants, the meat resembles shawarma or a Turkish donair kebob. The Mexican’s, of course, have their own spicy take on it marinating the pork in spices, grilling it on a big stick and then serving it with pineapple, onions, cilantro and salsas from mild to very spicy on what else but a corn tortilla! Pancho’s Takos is considered one of the best Al Pastor joints in town, and is…worth the wait!
Do tip 15 to 20% for services
Did you know the minimum wage in Mexico is just under $5 USD per day? Most people that are working in restaurants and hotels are literally supporting their families from their tips. Of course, if you receive terrible service or a waiter is rude to you, you should not reward rudeness, bad service should not warrant tips. But for the most part, service is exceptional in Mexico and leaving a little extra is always greatly appreciated. This includes tours as well and any services you receive in Puerto Vallarta. If you are wondering what is a good tip? We suggest calculating 15% to 20% of your bill at your discretion just like you would do at home.
Don’t be scared to use English or to practice your Spanish with the locals
Puerto Vallarta is a tourist destination. Thousands of people grace our shores and walk our streets every year, making the local population pretty savvy with most of them speaking English fluently or at least having a general vocabulary. So do not worry, if you are stuck there will always be someone around that speaks English and is happy to help out. If you are interested in picking up a few more Spanish words, your holiday in Vallarta is the perfect time to practice. If anyone can appreciate trying to learn another language it is someone that speaks a second language, so practice away and do not be turned off is someone replies back to you in English, reply back in Spanish or find someone else to practice with.
Do visit the beaches of the south bay
We can’t lie the beaches in town can get pretty packed, especially around Christmas and Easter time. One of our top recommendations is to head south by boat and visit some of the crystal clear waters of the south beaches. One of our top picks is Colomitos beach pictured below. Some people say it is the smallest beach in Mexico, which we are not sure is scientifically proven, but it is pretty dam small and cute and as you can see has turquoise water perfect for snorkelling, swimming, building sand castles and Instagram worthy photos.
Don’t stay in Nuevo Vallarta – you will miss out on the incredible walking culture of old town!
Don’t get me wrong, Nuevo Vallarta is beautiful and has a lot of positive aspects, beautiful beaches and many world-class resorts, but many visitors do not realize it is about an hour away from the original townsite of Puerto Vallarta. The Romantic Zone or Old Town as it is known is not only historic it boasts the best street food in the area as well as a plethora of cute shops, galleries, bars and restaurants. It’s not that big so it is perfect to walk around, do not be intimidated by the uneven sidewalks that give it its old Mexico charm. Of course, if you want the resort style holiday which many crave, buffets for days, holiday friends and giant pools for the kids Nuevo Vallarta is the destination for you. But if you are looking for a more authentic taste of Mexico opt to stay a little closer into town.
Do use a coral safe sunscreen
Not only is chemical sunscreens bad for your health, some researchers say there are chemicals present in these sunscreens that cause damage to our DNA, cancer among other not so appealing side effects, they are also full of chemicals that are having an adverse effect on the worlds coral reefs. A report written by Marine Life, a marine conservation NGO states that sunscreen is one of the biggest permanent contributors to coral reef pollution. Approximately 14000 tons of sunscreen ended up in our worlds corals reefs in 2015 causing irreversible damage. So let’s all do our part and support sunscreen companies that are not causing damage to the environment and are still protecting our skin. One of our favorites is Sun Bum that is based out of Hawaii. It is not heavy like some natural sunscreens and has yummy scents: https://www.trustthebum.com
Don’t order bottled water
We find the subject of water here in Mexico always seems to be one that comes up. Coming from a place where they maintain the infrastructure of the public water system is a true first world luxury. Unfortunately, here in Puerto Vallarta, even though they have very clean drinking water sources, the infrastructure is not maintained, making the water that comes out of the tap not safe to drink, as well as making drinking bottled water, regrettably most visitors and locals only option. Local people do not drink water from the tap either, most use large plastic water jugs in their homes and of course, they always have these in restaurants. I always make a point to order purified house water which is free when I go to restaurants, it is the same as bottled water, but you save the bottle and the money. And we all could use a little more cash and a little less plastic in our lives.
Do feel safe on the streets of Vallarta
Dubbed the safest city in Mexico, Vallarta is our second home, and like any city occasionally there is crime, for the vast majority of visitors, you will not ever have a problem. Not to mention it has the second most popular LGBT+friendly beach in the world next to the beautiful beaches in Barcelona, making Vallarta a place of inclusion and acceptance. Set smack dab in the middle of Mexico’s largest bay, you will feel safe here and never run out of things to do. Vallarta has it all, jungle, ocean, day trips, boat trips, ATV’s, it is impossible to get bored here.
Don’t get caught in the “Shark Tank”
The dreaded “Shark Tank”, not to be mistaken for the popular show, is a stark white corridor you have to go through after customs to get to the exit of the airport. The room is full of “sharks” or timeshare salespeople will use anything in their power to get you to come to one of their sales meetings. Everything from free margaritas to a free ride to your hotel, and even lying to get you to go out the “exit” to a room full of more sharks where it will be even harder to say no. Unless you are in Vallarta to buy a timeshare, we recommend keeping your head down, not making eye contact and saying no if anyone offers you anything
Do take a tour with Jet’s Private Boat Tours
Ok so a little shameless self-promotion, but hey, we know you will not regret it. We do not have the promotional budget of Vallarta Adventures, but we will give you a personalized tour of the bay you will not forget. Local guides, the best restaurants that we take you to because they are our favorite, not because we get paid. And the option to completely personalize your tour so you do what you want, not what the itinerary says.