Puerto Vallarta was enjoyable for me, but different from what I expected, having been to other areas in Mexico. The water is pretty cold but calm enough for kayaking. I was slightly uneasy about paddling in the same general area where I had seen whales surfacing, but thankfully there were no surprises.
It was completely random, but one morning I spotted these jumping mobula rays. The “breaching” behavior of jumping and smacking down onto the water can be heard from a distance. From what I have read, no one is quite sure why these rays sometimes do this – possibly a method of removing parasites, a communication technique or part of mating behavior.
Several buses run through town, but walking there is great exercise if you do not mind uneven cobblestone. If you can get down to the malecon to walk early in the morning, you only have to dodge a few aggressive promoters from the bars, restaurants and tour companies and the boardwalk is smooth. Once you are at the water, you can look up the streets in Colonia to find those that are extra steep. They have rugged stairs up those hills that will rival any gym cardio you have done previously. There are no tourists in these areas since the hills are set up high and away from the water, so you just have to be smart and keep an eye on your surroundings.
Shopping and entertainment is centralized close to the malecon. There is an art/craft fair there where you can meet local vendors weekly. We really liked Serafina – an eclectic boutique for women’s jewelry, handbags and scarves. There are some good restaurants in the area (about a block in from the water) but the best street food at night is farther into the neighborhoods where there are less tourists. While they make a tempting dinner meal, save the crepes for dessert and opt for the taco shops with the meat cooking in the street instead. My favorite street meal by far is tacos al pastor – the meat is off a stack of pork cooked for hours on a vertical spit. These tacos are generally served with mango, cilantro, habanero salsa and avocado. Yum – the perfect combination of spicy, savory and sweet.
Before your trip draws to a close, head down to the marina to see the huge sailboats and yachts. I had a unique and unexpected opportunity to join some friends as guests of the owners for an impromptu dinner cruise on one of the beautiful large boats that rarely leaves the harbor. It was quite an experience to observe how this yacht navigated through the narrow passage to the open water. All the while, tourists are waving from the sidewalks – it was a little surreal. When these boats get up to speed, it is fun to watch the dolphins play in the wake, the big mantas jumping and whales surfacing nearby. The best view in PV is definitely from the water. It is a great way to see the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the famous crown of angels. The crew on these yachts are absolutely amazing. They put so much care into keeping every detail of these boats pristine, inside and out.