Puerto Vallarta SightseeingNearby beaches and islands make easy day trip destinations from Puerto Vallarta, and eco-tourism activities allow participants to explore or learn about the local environment without disturbing it. Vallarta Adventures organizes a variety of sightseeing and eco tours; phone (322) 226-8413, or (888) 526-2238 (from the United States).
Among the fun things to do with friends is an all-day catamaran tour departing Puerto Vallarta's Maritime Terminal, which cruises the coast, stops for snorkeling off Playa Majahuitas and spends between 2 and 3 hours (although often longer) at Playa Yelapa, a beach that is only accessible by boat. Jungle-cloaked hills surround the small bay, and a half-dozen palapa restaurants line the coarse-sand beach. For dessert, Yelapa's roaming “pie ladies” sell slices from lemon meringue and pecan pies that they balance on their heads.
Yelapa itself is reached by a short water taxi ride from the main beach. You won't see any cars on the steep, sandy streets of this tiny pueblo. A 10-minute walk along the Yelapa River leads to a 150-foot-high waterfall. There are rustic accommodations if you want to stay the night and catch a water taxi back to Puerto Vallarta in the morning. Reservations for the catamaran trip can be made at most in-town tour booths.
Puerto Vallarta, JA
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6 meters (20 feet)
In case of emergency, dial 060 and ask to be connected to an English-speaking operator. For non-emergencies phone (322) 290-0507.
Avenida Francisco Villa #900 (second floor); phone (322) 225-0000 (English may not be spoken fluently). The office is open Mon.-Fri. 9-3 and can assist with time share, taxi, store and other consumer-related issues.
Ameri-Med Hospital, in Plaza Neptuno at the entrance to Marina Vallarta (Boulevard Francisco Medina Ascencio), (322) 226-2080; CMQ Downtown Hospital, Basilio Badillo #365 at Insurgentes, (322) 223-1919; Red Cross (Cruz Roja), Avenida Río Balsas (at Avenida Río de la Plata), (322) 222-1533. All of these facilities are open 24 hours.
Local phone calls
If you don't have a cellphone, use public Telmex phones marked “Ladatel” rather than calling from your hotel room, which almost always incurs a hefty per-minute charge. Ladatel phone cards are available in various denominations from most local stores. Avoid phones with pictures of credit cards or decals saying ”3 minutos gratis” that advertise long distance calling to the United States and Canada; the charges will be outrageous.
Vallarta Today is an English-language daily newspaper geared toward tourists; it has information on everything from local restaurants to currency exchange rates.
Avenida Independencia Puerto Vallarta, JA . Phone:(322)224-1175
Banks are usually open Mon.-Fri. 9-5, although hours for exchanging foreign currency may be restricted and there's often a long waiting line. Currency exchange houses are open longer hours. ATM withdrawals are in pesos; receiving U.S. dollars usually requires a Mexican bank-issued ATM/credit card. Stores, restaurants, taxi drivers and street vendors will often accept dollars, but keep in mind that the minimum wage in Mexico is very low and workers in resort areas depend on tips to make a living. Always tip in pesos if possible, since U.S. coins are useless and dollars must be converted.
Crimes targeting tourists are infrequent, and it's safe to walk the downtown streets. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash in public and don't wander along back streets after dark. A hotel safety deposit box is a good place to keep money, passports, airline tickets, tourist permits and so forth. Bilingual “tourist police” wearing white safari outfits and baseball caps patrol the downtown area and are generally friendly and helpful.