I have visited Puerto Vallarta several times. It’s always great and here are some things we did this time. You can always do the usual tourist things, and there is no shortage of websites and companies to lure you to join them.
Money: good exchange rate now, currently 18 pesos/$1. You can use ATM’s anywhere to change your money. Credit cards widely accepted at major tours and restaurants.
Food: being vegetarian is no problem. Besides the vegetarian options at most restaurants, there are some fantastic vegetarian buffets. Planeta Vegetariano, which near the main church downtown has some of the best food ever. Great interesting salads, and soup, rice, black beans daily with a change of main course every day. Cost is 105 pesos, ($5.75 today) for all you can eat buffet, drinks, and desert. Similar fare is at Mary Restuarant Vegetariano. Also down the street from Mary’s, about a block from the beach (5 de Diciembre and Paraguay) is a family taco stand on the street that serves up vegetarian options, the only one in town like this.
Above is one of the many unique places in Sayulita: Here you can sit with your feet in a fish tank and let the fish nibble your dead skin away-for a dollar a minute.
Sayulita: about 25 North of Vallarta is a famous little surf town. We took a taxi there in 30 minutes for $500 pesos, but you can catch a bus near the VIP restaurant, near the Walmart for 30 pesos for an 1 1/2 hr trip. Good place to take surf lessons, lots of unique shops, touristy, but fun. Good vegetarian-option restaurant called Naty’s for tacos, quesadillas, etc. order and eat on the street. the streets leading to the beach is closed to vehicles.
El Eden: lot of tours will take you here, south of town. Known for ziplines, and the place where they filmed scenes from the Predator movie. We went with friends, skipped all that and went for a hike up the river. There is a resturant straddling the river, but beyond that is an easy trail along the river. Lots of greenery, jungle and swimming pools and waterfalls with crisp cool water.
Snorkeling: lots of boats taking people daily in small or larger groups. We were strolling around the marina, and met an older guy that offered their boat for fishing, snorkeling, or whatever. Since it was a Sunday and they hadn’t been booked out yet, and no other customers to share with, I just booked it for the two of us for 4 hours . $200 after some bargaining. They had snacks and drinks, and we brought some of our own. Snorkel gear supplied. They plugged in our Ipod into their sound system for us and off we went to Los Arcos, in the southern part of the bay, where other boats had gathered. Along the way we were close to the coastline, and the captain (or “gordito” as I called him), pointed out the sights, the famous places, homes, hotels, restaurants, etc. Later the crew loved it when I told them to put on some mariachi tunes. On arrival at the islands, they chummed the water by breaking up a loaf of bread…lots of fish. After an hour of snorkeling we headed back to the marina, and had a brief sighting of a whale along our path and some dolphins.
Malecon: The boardwalk (no boards). Everyone goes here, even the locals stroll in the evening. Free entertainment with performers in the small amphitheater in the afternoons/evenings, lots of venders for souvenirs, and foods. Stop mid-way and venture up to the church for a look in side, about 2 blocks away. Our Lady of Guadelupe is one of the most recognizable buildings in town, with it’s crown on top, and chiming church bells.
Sunsets: are free, and the sun always sets over the ocean here. At 9 pm every night the Pirates of the Bay tour boat swings in front of the Malecon area and fires off a few fireworks. If you are on the boat it’s $85/4 hr tour, if you are watching from shore….the fireworks are free.