Thursday, February 14, 2013

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico

Entering the boat basin at Puerto Vallarta.
The quick jaunt from Nuevo Vallarta to Puerto Vallarta brought us within sight of humpback whales cavorting in Banderas Bay, lots of tourist boats and the long stretch of hotels along the beaches between the two cities.  We pulled into the estuary that led to the Vallarta Marina, got fuel at the fuel dock and motored into our slip.  The Vallarta Marina is a big basin with hotels and restaurants fringing the edges.  This particular marina has been in bankruptcy for some time now and so there were no amenities and our initially assigned slip was in such disrepair that we opted for another close by (it at least had sturdy cleats to tie up to).   Like other Mexican marinas located in cities, the marina was “lively”, and by that I mean that music flowed out of the restaurants and cafes until late into the evening and there was a very visible military presence walking around the boardwalk.

The tourist district in old Puerto Vallarta.
Every day, Richard and I took the bus into Puerto Vallarta (PV).  These buses are cheap and efficient, running every 10 minutes or so and bring you right into the heart of the old section of PV.  The ride itself was like an amusement park ride: the bus appeared to speed through the narrow, often cobblestoned streets of PV within inches of other buses, buildings and pedestrians.  Most of the time I would pay my fare, grab a seat if one was available and hold on for dear life.  Oh yea, the shock absorbers, if indeed they had any on the vehicle at all, were so old that every bump in the road held the potential to bounce you out of your seat and send you flying into the person sitting next to you.  Richard and I noticed one night when we were coming back from PV to the marina that the aisle seats tended to bounce more than the window seats (just a little FYI in case you suddenly find yourself on a bus in PV and are wondering which seats are more comfortable).

View from the Blue Chairs Hotel rooftop bar
looking up the beach towards Puerto Vallarta.
The old part of PV is quaint with a couple of old churches, a plaza, restaurants, shops and cafes.  The malecón is long and has many statues erected along the way and in the evenings is full of people when everyone seems to come out to enjoy the sunset and people watch.  We avoided the touristy crowd, as best we could, and found our way down the narrow alleyways where stalls were set up selling all kinds of things from tacos to touristy kitsch.  On our last night in PV we went to a bar at the far end of the beach for a drink and to watch the sun set over Banderas Bay.  From the top floor of the hotel where the bar was located, we had a spectacular view of both the sunset and the hotel-lined beach that curved northward towards Nuevo Vallarta.

We will be returning to Banderas Bay for the month of March as we prepare to cross the Pacific for French Polynesia, but, before that, we are going to try and make our way south a bit in order to see a little more of the coast.

Additional pictures from Puerto Vallarta...

Sunset over Banderas Bay.
Dias de los Muertos figurines in Puerto Vallarta.
La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
in Puerto Vallarta.
Yum!  Seafood on a stick on the beach!

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