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Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: A Beautiful Coastal Experience

Updated: May 31



For those of you familiar with our blog, you know that I have a passion for telling the stories of our travels through photography. What you might not know is that I also create short video montages that feature the best photographs from each place we visit. Our latest video, showcasing Puerto Vallarta, is above.


My goal in creating these videos is to capture the essence of each place we visit - from the bustling streets and quiet hideaways to the vibrant local culture, distinctive architecture, and breathtaking landscapes. The videos are designed to do more than just document our travels; they are crafted to inspire you to set out on your own adventures and create lasting memories.



I appreciate you taking the time to watch our video montage. Now, with that imagery fresh in your mind, let's dive into our six-week adventure in Puerto Vallarta.



From the moment I laid eyes on Puerto Vallarta, what immediately captured my heart was its stunning landscape. The city has both a gorgeous coastline with beautiful beaches, and the majestic Sierra Madre mountains that seem to melt into the ocean. The breathtaking beauty of the mountains and ocean together is simply an awe-inspiring masterpiece of nature.



This striking mix of mountains and ocean reminds me of my first trip in 1973 to Southern California. It was there in Santa Barbara that I first saw the mountains and ocean together in one magnificent panorama - a sight that left an indelible impression on my 19-year-old self. This wonderful memory has remained with me over the years.



Setting foot in Puerto Vallarta, with its strikingly similar landscape, felt like a heartwarming reunion with that treasured memory. This city shares the very same qualities that make Southern California’s coastline so well loved: stunning beaches and mountains, the beautiful and seemingly endless Pacific Ocean, and the pleasant year-round weather. Puerto Vallarta, while having its own unique charms, serves as a beautiful reflection of the scenic beauty of Southern California, making it a haven for anyone who appreciates the spectacular meeting of land and sea.



The Malecón, a gorgeous 1.6-kilometer stretch of boardwalk, is the vibrant heart and soul of Puerto Vallarta, where people, art, and nature converge. This oceanfront promenade stretches nearly a mile along the edge of the Pacific Ocean and provides a scenic route for pedestrians and cyclists that combines the raw natural beauty of the ocean with the cultural heartbeat of the city.



Along the Malecón, you'll find about a dozen beautifully crafted bronze sculptures by celebrated Mexican artists. Each has its own story and together they turn the boardwalk into a living open-air museum. During my early morning strolls, as I pass each of these amazing works of art, I linger and reflect, both on the works of art themselves, and on the magnificent seascape that serves as their backdrop.



I've cherished my morning strolls along the Malecón as much as any walks I've taken in our travels. Although it's the same route each day, and I often encounter the same faces, each walk feels fresh and vibrant. It is the beauty of nature and her awe-inspiring creations - the majestic mountains and the vast sea - that breathe new life into each step, transforming my familiar walk into something extraordinary.



The Malecón is more than just a walkway by the sea; it is a vibrant, ever-evolving space where art, nature, and community converge.  It is an iconic landmark in Puerto Vallarta, and a true celebration of what the city has to offer, showcasing the beauty of its surroundings and the warmth of its people.



Puerto Vallarta is a city with diverse neighborhoods, each with its own unique charm and attractions. Among these, the three main touristed areas are 5 Diciembre, Centro (Downtown), and Zona Romántica. Each of these neighborhoods provides a slightly different experience of Puerto Vallarta.



5 Diciembre

The 5 Diciembre neighborhood is a vibrant and authentic part of Puerto Vallarta that is less touristy than other parts of the city, so it gives one a taste of more authentic everyday Mexican life. This area is known for its bustling markets and the streets are lined with traditional eateries, quaint cafes, and family-owned shops that offer everything from handmade goods to souvenirs. It's a great place to experience a more laid-back, local side of Puerto Vallarta, while still being close enough to walk to the Malecon and the more touristy areas.


Eating the largest Vegan Burger in Puerto Vallarta . . . and maybe anywhere


We've been staying in the 5 Diciembre district and have enjoyed both the calm and the local food scene. After three months of indulging in traditional Mexican dishes, we were a little tired of Mexican food and, much to our delight, we stumbled upon three vegan restaurants as well as a Paleta shop just a short stroll from our Airbnb. Lately, we've been particularly fond of the Poke bowls at Elixir Spot Vegan.


Simcha with Lily, the owner of Elixir Spot Vegan


The food at Elixir Spot Vegan is delicious, but what really sets this place apart is its owner, Lily. Her genuine friendliness, excellent service, and her commitment to preparing each dish with love makes every visit memorable. Lily’s genuine hospitality leaves us feeling appreciated and welcome, and it’s no wonder that Elixir Spot Vegan is our favorite restaurant in the neighborhood.

 

I Could live on Paletas . . . and for a While, it seemed like I tried


Just across the street from Lily’s delightful restaurant, you’ll find another gem that specializes in Paletas, Michoacana. At first sight, these frozen delights look like regular American popsicles, but Paletas are in a league of their own. Crafted with generous chunks of real fruit, these treats truly embody their Spanish name, "Paleta," which means "little stick."  While I have a soft spot for the raspberry, pineapple, kiwi, and cantaloupe flavors, honestly . . . they’re all incredibly refreshing and delicious, and put ordinary popsicles to shame. Word to the wise: stock up on these delicious treats, because once you've had a taste, resisting the temptation to reach for another is an exercise in futility!



Centro (Downtown)

Centro is the historic heart of Puerto Vallarta and perhaps the most iconic area of the city. It is home to the Malecon and the Basilica of our Lady of Guadalupe, as well as many galleries, museums, and theaters - all making it the cultural hub of the city. There is also a fun art walk on Wednesday nights during the season. At night, the area comes alive with a variety of bars and restaurants that offer everything from traditional Mexican cuisine to international dishes.



Zona Romántica

Also known as the "Old Town," Zona Romántica is perhaps the most picturesque and charming part of Puerto Vallarta. This area is known for its cobblestone streets, quaint cafes, and a vibrant nightlife scene. It's particularly popular with the LGBTQ+ community and is celebrated for its inclusive and welcoming atmosphere. The neighborhood is packed with boutique shops, art galleries, and some of the best dining options in the city. It’s a perfect place to stroll, dine, and enjoy the relaxed, romantic atmosphere that gives this zone its name.


My beautiful view at lunch . . . and at every meal


When we first arrived in Puerto Vallarta, our initial impression was one of skepticism; we feared it might be overly touristy, with lots of beach parties and not quite our style. The lively beach scene and bustling nightlife seemed to confirm our suspicions that Puerto Vallarta was geared more towards tourists seeking a perpetual celebration by the sea.



However, as we spent more time here, our perspective shifted. Puerto Vallarta turned out to be more than just a popular tourist destination. Despite its popularity with tourists, Puerto Vallarta has managed to maintain its genuine Mexican charm. The city absorbs and manages tourism without allowing it to overshadow its cultural identity. This balance is a testament to how well Puerto Vallarta has developed its infrastructure and community spaces to handle the influx of visitors in a way that benefits both locals and tourists.



Puerto Vallarta is a vibrant city that thrives amidst tourism but never loses its soul. Walking through the streets, one doesn't feel overwhelmed by the presence of tourists; instead, there's a harmonious blend of foreign and local elements that seem to coexist seamlessly. Puerto Vallarta isn't just a party destination - it's a very livable and complex city where the allure of the beach and the mountains is just the beginning of its story.







139 views10 comments

10 comentários


Another wonderful and brightly colored piece, Simcha! I so enjoy reading about your travels and taking in your views. I think I need to include PV to my long travel list. Weather-wise, do you have a recommendation on the best time to visit when it's not too hot?

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Simcha
Simcha
01 de jun.
Respondendo a

Hi Monica, thank you for your kind and generous words. I'm thrilled that you enjoy my perspective and that it even inspires you to consider visiting Puerto Vallarta. As I wrote in the blog, it reminds me quite a bit of Southern California, with its beautiful combination of mountains and sea. Today, it's 93 degrees and sunny here. We usually go out in the mornings and evenings when it's cooler - mid day is already pretty hot at this point. Being here during the offseason (as it is now) is great because it's not overly crowded with tourists. However, from December 1 to March 15, it's a different story - very busy. A visit between April 15 and May …

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Convidado:
31 de mai.

You did it again! a magnificent epistolary and visual painting!

👏👏😘😘

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Simcha
Simcha
31 de mai.
Respondendo a

Thank you! And love seeing the the word epistolary in action . . . nicely done.


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Wow!! The colors are so incredibly vibrant and rich. Was that Vegan Burger big enough for you??😁. I agree with "guest" - a contender..

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Simcha
Simcha
31 de mai.
Respondendo a

Hi Ron, and thank you. Yes . . . that burger was absolutely big enough. It was easily the largest burger (beef or vegan) that has been put before me on a plate. The sad part is that I finished the entire burger. 😀 So, is Puerto Vallarta a contender? As I replied to the previous person, we love Mexico and its people, but Carla and I just resonate more with European living. We feel a certain connection there that we haven't found here. But, we remain wide open!

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Convidado:
31 de mai.

So is this place “a contender”?

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Simcha
Simcha
31 de mai.
Respondendo a

I don't think so. While I can see how one could enjoy living here, I don't think it's for us. While the Mexican people are lovely . . . about as kind and generous as any people we've encountered anywhere . . . and there are some beautiful places here, Carla and I just resonate more with European living. We feel a certain connection there that we haven't found here. We're planning to return to Europe for three months this fall. .And thanks for asking! We'll keep you posted.

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Jerry Sherman
Jerry Sherman
31 de mai.

Great post! Before you leave, I hope you'll check out the Botanical Garden: https://www.vbgardens.org/ The receptionist (if she's still there) is named Carla! Thanks for taking us with you to these colorful places.

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Simcha
Simcha
31 de mai.
Respondendo a

Thank you, Jerry . . . and thanks for the tip about the Botanical Gardens. We have 10 more days here and we will definitely check it out . . . and I'm pretty confident I can remember the receptionists name. 😀

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