Wrapped around the Banderas Bay, Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful city that is very easy to get around both by walking and through public transportation. Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive, but be ready to be offered a ride several times throughout your day by drivers looking for work. The area of Puerto Vallarta we stayed in was in the heart of what is known as Old Vallarta and the Zona Romantica. A great part of the city with cobblestone streets, food vendors on every corner and away from the giant resorts of the Hotel Zone. Being as we are on a budget we chose to stay at Belmar Hotel Galeria. A small but colorful and artsy hotel about 6 blocks from the beach and start of the Malecon, a beautiful boardwalk that stretches from Los Muertos Beach all the way to Hotel Rosita in central Puerto Vallarta. The Malecon is lined with numerous shops, restaurants, hotels and entertainment of all kinds. While walking down the boardwalk you will be solicited time and time again. Whether they are trying to sell goods they have made themselves or are trying to get you to come into their shop. Noah and I decided to answer the call from a guy asking us to come into his tequila shop. After several free samples of tequila, free shot glasses and a hard sales push we finally made it out after about 20 minutes. The best thing to do if you aren’t looking to shop is to just say “no thank you” and keep walking.
Before arriving in Puerto Vallarta, Noah and I both knew that the food was going to be amazing. With food carts and small cafes all around, there was an endless list of choices. A few of our favorite places included El Calamar Avenurero which served up a great breakfast option as well as awesome beef and pork tacos for 12 pesos, all while providing a nice open air seating area. . The best tacos we found were at Tacos Del Moreno per the recommendation of the front desk clerk. Tacos Del Moreno is small food cart serving up freshly made tortillas and a nice variety on the menu with tacos starting at 12 pesos. But overall our favorite place to eat was this hole in the wall quesadilla shop named Quesadilla y Aigo Mas Heatu. Serving up jumbo quesadillas at just 20 pesos a piece with fillings including chicken, chorizo, beef, etc, it was hard to beat. Of course we couldn’t leave without hitting up one touristy hot spot to eat, Senor Frogs was hard to miss with its loud music and even louder decor. Serving up a wide range of food and alcohol at premium prices, Senor Frogs was a fun one and done experience.
The Sea Monkey on the Malecon was easily our favorite place to drink. Sitting right on the beach, The Sea Monkey served up $1 beers and $2 specialty drinks including Sangria and Mai Tais. But much of our drinking was done while relaxing in our hotel room talking and coming up with new ideas for our awesome trip around the world. With an Oxxo sitting on nearly every corner, basically the Mexican 7-11, liquor was easy and cheap to get. A few times during our stay we made the quick trip down the block to pick up our liquor bundle which includes for me a 1L bottle of Bacardi, 1.5L bottle of coke and a 7lb bag of ice, all for the price of about $13. Noah did the same but got El Jimador and Fresca. Not a bad deal at all, although the ice did not last very long due to the excessive heat and humidity. Another one of our favorite hangouts to drink at was Nacho Daddy. Run by an expat, Nacho Daddy has surprisingly good live music almost every night and a great Tex-Mex menu with cheap food and drinks.
Overall Puerto Vallarta was a great city to visit. In our 6 days that we were there, we got an overwhelming feeling that we must include more of Mexico on our around the world adventures. The people of Puerto Vallarta were so welcoming and went out of their way to assure us that Mexico was more than just a country being over run by the drug cartels, but a country full of everyday people like you and me who are trying to make a decent life for them and their families.