Special Events in Puerto VallartaPuerto Vallarta's biggest events occur during high tourist season. The Festival of the Sea (Fiesta del Mar), the International Sailfish & Marlin Tournament and Festival Gourmet International Vallarta, a food and wine event that spotlights the expertise of Mexican and international guest chefs, all take place in November. For specific dates and details so you can time your vacation accordingly, contact the Municipal Tourist Office.
The patron saint of mariachis is honored Nov. 23 during the Festival of Santa Cecilia, when a lineup of mariachi bands plays at the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe . In February, the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Annual Regatta heralds the arrival of some impressive craft.
The year's biggest national celebration is the Fiesta de Guadalupe, honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint. Daily evening processions, called peregrinaciones, make their way to the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe from various colonias (neighborhoods) and local businesses the week prior to Dec. 12. Young and old alike participate in the celebration, many carrying candles or offerings of food and flowers to be exchanged for a blessing by the priest. Mass is held in front of the cathedral, accompanied by dancing and singing. The festivities culminate on Dec. 12 with a grand fireworks display.
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.