7 Unusual Ways to Experience Puerto Vallarta
Stay at the Rivera del Rio, Garlands Del Rio or at Casa Karma
Alexander Andriadis and his partner Diego Bedini created two of the most unique and romantic boutique hotels in the Bay of Banderas. Each room at either the Garlands or Rivera del Rio has its own unique name and concept. You’ll feel as though you’ve stepped through Alice’s looking glass. Expect excellent service, a divine made-to-order Mexican breakfast and the comfiest beds known to man.
If relaxing near the water is more your style, Casa Karma is a delightful boutique hotel perched above the beach at Conchas Chinas. Lovely, unique guestrooms, gorgeous food, a fun sunset, a happy hour (which is open to the public). And with services galore, including yoga, Zumba, massage and even a meditation labyrinth complete with an on call Shaman, should you decide to embark on a spiritual journey.
Gary Thompson Sculpture Tour
Every Tuesday at 9:30am (from November to April) Gary shows up at the Millennia Sculpture at the north end of the Malecón, just seaside of the Rosita Hotel and begins a two-hour walking tour of the assorted bronze sculptures along this Vallarta beach. Fascinating stories by tour guide Gary Thompson of Galeria Pacifico make for a fun and lively presentation. Gary has over 30 years experience in the Vallarta art scene and knows many of the featured sculptors personally.
Walking Tours Puerto Vallarta with Sandra Cesca
Author of Tropical Plants and Walks of Puerto Vallarta and Walking Puerto Vallarta and Beyond, Sandra Cesca, leads intimate small group tours. Some of her offerings include: The Puerto Vallarta Walking Tour, El Centro Historic Walk, Southside Neighborhoods, Gringo Gulch Walk and even a customized Walk for Wheelchairs. Sandra has lived here since 2008 and has an insider’s knowledge and love of Vallarta.
Olas Altas Farmers Market , the Marsol Artisan Market
and Three Roosters and a Hen
The Olas Altas Market is a fabulous showcase for some delicious locally prepared food, fresh organic veggies and fruits, crafts live music and people watching. It gets busy, so come early. Be sure to bring a shopping bag, because you won’t be able to resist buying stuff. Every Saturday (November–April) from 9am till about 2pm. Parque Lazaro Cardenas.
The Marsol Market is a gift hunters delight. Buy some terrific and very unique locally made crafts, clothes, jewelry and home décor items. The market takes place every Friday (November –April) 9:30am-1:30pm in the lobby of the historic Hotel Marsol, just steps away from the Los Muertos Pier.
Three Roosters and a Hen, located more off of the beaten path, in Emiliano Zapata, on the East side of Calle Insurgentes, also features some great artisanal talent. Saturdays from 9am-1pm.
City Bus Ride
Vallarta is amazingly walkable, but if you want to veer off the beaten path, try catching a city bus. Super cheap at 7.5 pesos (roughly 40 U.S. cents), and the convenience can’t be beat. Just remember to check the front window for a sign indicating whether the bus is going to Old Town (Centro) or via the tunnel (Tunel).
There are a few rules of thumb:
- Hold on (it’s bumpy!).
- Press the button by the back door to get off (bus stops are not really marked, but there is usually one every couple of blocks).
- Bring change to give the random musicians, performers or vendors who alight periodically.
- Blue buses go along the main drag Francisco Medina and Green buses go out on Francisco Villa, towards Pitillal.
- The driver or other passengers are helpful if you get confused.
- There are no maps of the routes, so just sit back and take in the scenery.
Art Walk and Southside Shuffle
If you like art and free wine, these are the activities for you!
The Puerto Vallarta Art Walk gives you an opportunity to see some of the best art galleries on the North side of the Iglesia Guadalupe. Local, National and International artists are featured. See how truly vibrant the Mexican art scene is, have a couple of drinks and make some new friends. Too, the Art Walk is adjacent to the beautiful Café de Artistes, which is an amazing spot for a cocktail or romantic dinner. October –May from 6-10pm.
The Southside Shuffle features galleries, shops and restaurants on Calle Basilio Badillo in Emiliano Zapata. This is really the best shopping spot in town. Jewelry lovers will delight in the offering of the amazing Cassandra Shaw and her unique sculptural silver pieces. All of the shops are locally owned, sometimes by the designer and craftsperson themselves. Live music on some nights and, like the art walk, you can wander from storefront to storefront with your glasses of complimentary wine. November-April, every other Friday. For details, go to their Facebook site at: Southside Shuffle
Vallarta Eats Food Tours
Mexican food fanatics rave about the excellent tours at Vallarta Eats. The superb guides are truly the key to the superiority of the food tours. All are Mexican Nationals, so you receive a real insider’s look at the cultural and lifestyle of this beautiful country. There are five tours to choose from:
- The Signature Taco Tour starts at 10am, and is a great way to get to know the morning and lunchtime shopping and street food scene.
- Tacos After Dark takes off at 7pm and features evening favorites, like Tacos el Pastor and Tacos de Cabeza.
- Other tours offered are the Mexican Beer Experience (artisanal beers), The Mole Pozole Tour (an exploration of delicious Mexican indigenous ingredients) and the Tasting Vallarta Tour, a progressive dinner, introducing people to four of Vallarta’s best high-end eateries; Layla’s, El Arrayan, No Way Jose! and Vitea.