Puerto Vallarta: Small Town Big Soul

January 1, 1970

by Ricardo Chavez



Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico – what’s so special about it?

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco is a small town on the West Coast of Mexico. It has a population of about 250,ooo people. Most of them national citizens, some tourists and some U.S. expats and Canadians citizens who have made the decision to relocate to this quaint little town almost forgotten by time. All of the amenities  have been slowly become available due to the high amount of travelers who visit Puerto Vallarta each year. It has running water, electricity and a telephone system; it does have an airport; but once you get here, you easily forget about high tech devices and high speed internet connections. All you want to do, once you get to your room, or home, is to put your device down on the table, open the windows, feel the warmth of the breeze coming from the Bahia de Banderas, relax, get a margarita or a cold beer, forget all the troubles you just went through to get to the exact spot you are on and enjoy all the awesomeness of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.


PVR is the airport code. It has become this city’s nickname. It is used as a shorthand for anything related to Puerto Vallarta. So from now on, PVR will be used quite often.

Brief History of Puerto Vallarta, or skip it?

So, what is there to say about Puerto Vallarta that most people don’t know. I could give you a history lesson, but, you could do that on your own going to wikipedia; you could very easy google anything you want to know about the facts of, you know, PVR. But what you will not find out is about the feeling of watching a beautiful sunset; a long walk on the many peeble covered streets and alleys; the sense of being lost between the ocean and the mountains; walking thorugh the back yard of someone’s home because you lost your way through the bushy walkways trying to find a different view of the bay. And a lot of views there are. The malecon is PVR’s bordwalk. About three miles along the sea, full of shops, bars, restaurants, coffeeshops, art galleries and mime shows, not to mention the foodcarts offering corn on the cob, tamales and handmade ice creams. Here on the malecon, you have an unobstructed view of the waters and waves that break on the rocky shores. But if you were to walk just two or three blocks up the high steep hills, you will get an even more broad view of the bay. The higher you get, the broader it gets. The view is, an understatement, breath taking – and not really talking about the fact that the steep hills will take away your breath… it is a work out… but so worth it once you are up there watching the boats all along the coast, the endless horizon and the infinity skyview of the stars (at night of course), the moon, and a complete palate of colors that paint the unlimited space between heaven and earth.

Feeling like at home in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Walking is a big deal here in PVR. If you decide to come, you must stay in Old Town. There are plenty of places to stay. There are high end resorts, all inclusive hotels, inns, hostals, villas, rooms for rent, condos, shacks and the always available best friend’s couch. If you cannot find a spot in Old Town and end up in a neighborhood away from it, a short bus ride or taxi fare, will take you to the very alive dowtown where you can find anything you may be looking for. Anything. Night life is happening every night, heck even during the day. Live music coming from all directios. Art shows are big here; lots of local artists have their creations open air in the malecon – it’s a museum all around. The city itself is a meseum. The architecture is just amazing. It combines old columbian, art deco, modern and even stylish spanish and mexican haciendas – all within several square miles. There is no zoning laws here in PVR, so you will find within the same block different structures and buidings, some taken out of the owner’s imagination; you can also find a mom-n-pop shop next to a fine dining restaurant next to an old style cantina next to a modest home to someone’s grandma (where she will be cooking dinner to a wide open front door).

The stomach is the way in to someone’s heart.

Dining is amazing. It doesn’t matter what your palate is. If it’s a demanding one, you will find several, several fine dining establishments, white tablecoth restaurants that provide european plates with a mexican flare. It is not rare to find a weird looking façade enclosing a super high class dining experience. Follow your nose. You cannot miss the typical mexican food vendors all over town, serving homemade dishes prepared right there on their carts while you stand waiting with a glass coca-cola bottle in hand – I am sure I don’t have to go over that one! there are also plenty of casual eateries with live music and entertainment. Most of them have sidewalk seating. If you are a people watcher – you are in heaven. Being on the beach, casual attire is always appropiate, if not mandatory; but you should always considered where you are going.

People do live in their cities, Puerto Vallarta is no exception.

While you are visiting PVR, you are visiting a town where every day life happens. You are walking amongst its citizens. They are going to work; they’re coming from school; they are on dates sitting on the table next to yours; they’re jogging on the streets (many times also alonside with you); they are attending the same shows you are… while walking the streets, don’t be too surprised to find them blocked to traffic due to a celebration like a birthday party or holiday parade, and even less surprised if they invite you in… they are sharing their home with you, go in, have a beer or a piece of cake, a taco or a tamal. They will make you feel part of the family, and as member of this family you immediately become a Vallartan.

You will not get bored in Puerto Vallarta

What is there to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. There are so many activities to do, not only in PVR, but in the towns that surround the area; and up in the mountains, by the rivers, by the beaches that run all the way from Sayulita to Boca de Tomatlan. Each entity has its own offerings. Sayulita is a hippie beach, full of expats who opened vegan pubs and handmade art; Boca de Tomatlan has great local fish dishes and lots of hiking. Again, hiking is very big. There are trails that begin in the middle of Old Town PVR and there are some that you will need to drive to, but that in itself is an adventure, as the usual way of getting there is in a buggy or a four-wheeler. We are right on the ocean, so water activities are endless… snorkling, surfing, paddle boating, fishing, scuba diving… what else can you think of? Yep, there is that too.

The question here is what do you want? Where do you want to go? When you travel, you have to ask yourself that question. And, if traveling with someone, who ever it is, you must ask yourself that question. Be selfish. Go after what you want. You will find it in PVR. And you will also find so many other things to do in Mexico.




Ricardo Chavez

By Ricardo Chavez

mexican traveler. 42. wanderer. photographer. I live in Puerto Vallarta Mexico. Moved here two years ago. Work as a concierge for Casa de las Palapas.

Read more at mexicantraveler.com

Leave a Comment...