On September 19, 2012Derrik Chinn answered the question:Puerto Vallarta is a straight shot across the Pacific from Hawaii, which makes for a subtropical climate with humidity that can prove too heavy during the summer months. Springtime draws a younger, more rambunctious crowd, as well as an influx of Mexican tourists who flood the city during Holy Week in April. Late fall brings an array of festivals, including the monthly Old Town Art Walk (monthly October-May), the International Sailfish and Marlin Festival, the Puerto Vallarta Gourmet Festival in November, and the Festival of Our Lady Guadalupe in December. If you’re hoping to beat both the crowds and the heat, shoot for mid-January after the dust from the holiday rush has settled and when daytime temperatures hover in the mid-70s.
On September 19, 2012Derrik Chinn answered the question:Even though the town of Tequila is just a few hours away, Puerto Vallarta is home to its own brand of agave hooch — raicilla (pronounced rie-sea-ya). And for most of its existence that's exactly what it was, Mexican moonshine, and it hails from the same family tree of tequila and mescal. Only recently did raicilla go from being brewed in bathtubs and backyards of southwestern Jalisco to a legit operation that's now legally sold in stores. Though this alcohol is very strong to the taste, it is a local specialty and a unique gift that you can only get in Puerto Vallarta.
On September 19, 2012Derrik Chinn answered the question:In accordance with most Mexican coastal cuisine, the most memorable Vallarta food experiences spent last night in the ocean. Here is our take on the five best local food experiences:
1. Huachinango sarandeado. Be sure to try this local, signature dish — it is grilled red snapper that has been marinated in a chili paste.
2. Fresh tacos. Beat the midday heat with fresh mahi-mahi tacos and ceviche under a palm tree thatched roof — these casual spots line the shoreline and you won’t have to look hard to find one.
3. Go to the Festival Gourmet International Vallarta. Nearly two decades in the making, the annual festival in November features 10 days of progressive wine and food tastings at more than two dozen restaurants and hotels.
4. Sip on local coffee on Sunday. As you indulge in Sunday brunch (a ritual here, too), a live mariachi serenade will likely be close by. Order up Mexican-style coffee and relax the morning away.
5. Go for late-night eats. Finish a night of bar hopping at Tacos La Cuñada, a Vallarta food cart famous for its tasty tacos.
On September 19, 2012Derrik Chinn answered the question:Two distinct scenes equally dominate Vallarta after dark: one straight, the other gay. For a comprehensive taste of all that goes down in the evening (and early morning), it's best to mix and match locales from both realms when assembling your nocturnal itinerary. Start off uptown at any of the massive discos that line the main road between Marina Vallarta and Zona Hotelera. The party scene is surprisingly sophisticated for being a beach town. If you're still going strong after 1 a.m., grab a cab to Mañana in Viejo Vallarta, a maze of (mostly) gay bars where the party doesn’t often stop before dawn.
On September 19, 2012Derrik Chinn answered the question:Start the day off by doing your body and soul right with an early session of outdoor yoga; instructors abound in Vallarta but we're fans of Kazakh expat Anya Kroth's Iyengar classes held on the roof of Brisas Del Mar. Fuel up with a Mexican breakfast at Doña Cuca's restaurant in the market before heading on foot to the northern end of downtown. Stroll the boardwalk south toward Viejo Vallarta, stopping for lunch at any of the restaurants along the way. If it's too hot to eat or you're still stuffed from breakfast, opt for one of the vendors selling mangos on a skewer and coconut water out of the shell. Wander the entire length of the boardwalk, as far as Playa de Los Muertos at the southern end of Viejo Vallarta. Plop down on in the sand and order a round of palomas while you people watch and bask in the gorgeous ocean views.
On September 19, 2012Derrik Chinn answered the question:Thanks to a saturated art scene that taps into the work of native Vallartans as well as its expat community, the independent galleries dotting the downtown area make Vallarta a collector's paradise. Head to the Mercado Municipal for the traditional roster of crafts as well as gaudy souvenirs, also available downtown on Avenida Independencia. Mundo de Azulejos, a small Talavera pottery factory on Emiliano Zapata, is where you'll find ceramic "mi casa es su casa" signs and loads of kitchen decor options. Keep an eye out for Huichol craftsmen who descend from the surrounding highlands to sell their bead work in the streets — the loud colors and intricate designs make the handcrafted goods nearly impossible to miss.
On September 19, 2012Derrik Chinn answered the question:Snorkeling, sand castle building and swimming are enough to keep the little ones smiling, but we’ve got a few more ideas to add to your kid-friendly itinerary. These five picks from Forbes Travel Guide editors are sure to keep kids entertained:
1. Saddle up for an Eco Ride bike tour. You’ll start in downtown Puerto Vallarta and ride along the Vallejo River into the Sierra Madre rainforest. Any and all sweating becomes worth your while once you make it to the waterfall, so make sure everyone's donning a swimsuit.
2. If the circus is in town, go. Even if you're sure you won't understand the Spanish banter between the tuxedoed ringmaster and numb-knuckled clowns in sequined serapes, it’s still worth a visit. The circus is a chintzy but incomparable cultural experience that takes place under a bright tent. Circo Rolex is one of Mexico's more popular traveling troupes, known for its teenage acrobats dressed in Superman outfits.
3. Go play at Splash Water Park. Near Puerto Vallarta International Airport in Nuevo Vallarta are eight full-scale slides and a lazy river. You’ll also find something SeaWorld-like attractions including dolphin encounters and seal and sea lion shows. The place rents bungalows for overnighters, too.
4. Meander the Vallarta Botanical Gardens. Jalisco is home to more orchid species than any other state in the country, and you’ll see plenty on display here. The botanical gardens is an ideal spot for families traveling with kids, as admission is free for those 10 and under. The jungle paradise is open daily until 6 p.m. except for Mondays April through December.
5. Explore the Puerto Vallarta Zoological Gardens. About a half mile off the main road leading inland from Mismaloya sits this large zoo with some 700 or so critters waiting to be discovered by your little ones.
On September 19, 2012Derrik Chinn answered the question:Puerto Vallarta may be known as a beach town, but there’s plenty to do besides lounging on the area’s spectacular golden sand. Here’s a look at the best things to see and do on the “Gold Coast”:
1. Go surfing. Whether you decide to paddle board or catch waves in the traditional way, you’ll find plenty of surfers as company. Beaches throughout the region have decent conditions; more experienced surfers will enjoy the spots just north of Puerto Vallarta.
2. Try snorkeling. Snorkeling is what usually baits iffy first-timers onto day cruises, which run $30-$70 per person and depart from Marina Vallarta by mid-morning. For those who are scared of jellyfish, hop in a kayak (usually onboard) and paddle the gorgeous blue waters instead.
3. Hatch a turtle. Lend a hand in hatching a few of the 300,000 marine turtles that are born every summer in Puerto Vallarta. Staff members from many of the hotels that line the beach collect turtle from the shore at night and take them to an incubation center. Once hatched, hotels invite guests help release the newbies on the beach so they can find their way to the water.
4. Roam the city center. Don some huaraches (traditional Mexican sandals) and set out at dusk to roam the city center on foot. Gallery-hop the 15 or so spaces at Art Walk if it happens to be Wednesday or the South Side Shuffle, which takes place every other Friday. Both showcase the best of Vallarta's local and expat creative class.
5. Catch a bus to Mismaloya. A 30-minute ride from the Puerto Vallarta's south terminal at Constitución and Basillo Badillo, Mismaloya is known for beautiful beaches and the thick herds of sealife that make their home in the forest-lined cove. No need to grab your own lunch out of the Pacific here — plenty of mariscos palapas lining the beach serve up fresh fish tacos and ceviche tostadas. You may want to scout what's left of the set of The Night of the Iguana, the racy 1964 classic starring Richard Burton and Ava Gardner.