Here are some interesting facts about Puerto Vallarta:
Location – The city is located on the Pacific coast of Mexico. It is along the country’s largest natural bay, Banderas Bay, in the northwestern part of Jalisco.
Climate – Puerto Vallarta is warm all year. It has tropical temperatures, but early mornings and evenings in the winter can become really cold. Summers are sunny between the months of May and October. Rain comes almost every afternoon from June to July. Humidity and heat are the least comfortable in September.
Currency – Locals use pesos. There are many money exchange houses in the airport and at banks, and on almost every street throughout the city. Many establishments accept credit cards.
Population – Puerto Vallarta had a population of about 177,800 in 2005, according to the 2005 census. Around two million travelers visit the city annually.
Economy – The city’s economy is largely related to tourism. Agriculture, tobacco, tequila production, and cattle ranching also play an important role in the economy.
Law – Mexico falls under Napoleonic Law, which means you are guilty until proven innocent.
Safety – In general, Puerto Vallarta has a low crime rate. You do not have to worry about public transportation since it is safe to use. There are also Tourist Police available to offer assistance, answer questions, and give directions.
Beaches – Readers of the Travel and Leisure Magazine have named Vallarta, all 25 miles of it, as the best beach in Latin America,
Tequila – Only tequila made in Tequila, Jalisco has the right to carry the name of “tequila.”
Mariachi – Puerto Vallarta is home to this traditional Mexican music.
When one talks about Puerto Vallarta, a sunny holiday destination with wide pristine beaches that boast calm and turquoise waters usually comes to mind. In addition to this popular image, the city also has a rich history.
In the early nineteenth century, Puerto Vallarta was a place of natural beauty. It was isolated, and it had virtually no human population until around the middle of the century. It was around that time when boatman Guadelupe Sanchez, tired of going back and forth transporting salt from the area, decided to settle in this place with his wife. This event is considered by many as the founding of the place we now call Puerto Vallarta.
During the early years of the twentieth century, Puerto Vallarta was booming with agricultural activity. Taking advantage of the place’s fertile and rich land, the Montgomery Fruit company started growing and exporting “green gold”, or unripe bananas, to the United States. This brought economic success in the town. The success, however, only lasted until the government repossessed the company’s land.
At this point, Puerto Vallarta had to find another way to sustain its economic growth. The locals then used fish and sharks from the Banderas Bay to make some money. During the Second World War, shark liver oil was in high demand as it provided nutrition to the US soldiers. Also, delicacies made from the shark in American restaurants were in high demand, allowing Puerto Vallarta to rise once again.
During the modernization period, the style for which Puerto Vallarta is now famous for was developed. The white adobe buildings and houses with complex wrought iron gates, stone walls, and red tile roofs became the unique and iconic image of the place. Famous houses like Caracol, Los Arcos, and Casa de la “O” were erected in the 1950s as well. Some old structures can still be seen today.
Puerto Vallarta emerged as a major tourist destination in the 1960s, thanks to intensive promotion and advertising. It eventually became an official city and received funds to build highways, a bridge across the American River, and an international airport. During the presidency of Medina Acencio, telephone service and electricity became available in the area.
The 1990s to present
In the 1990s, Puerto Vallarta was promoted heavily domestically and internationally as a major destination for beach lovers, and it still is today.
Indigenous people have long inhabited Puerto Vallarta and the area around it. Huichol Indians call themselves “the people” or Wixáritari in their native tongue and claim to have drifted west to the Sierra Madre Mountains from the San Luis Potosi area. Some evidence suggests that they may be descendants of the Aztec culture.
Today, about 7,000 Huichol still live in mountainous villages, while some 13,000 have dispersed throughout Mexico. You will have a chance to visit three settlements when on a tour in Puerto Vallarta: San Andrés Cohamiata (Tatei Kié), Santa María Cuexcomatitlán (Tuapuri), and San Sebastián Teponohuastlan (Wautüa).
Besides their ability to maintain their native culture, the Huichol are also known for their unique artwork. After some of them relocated to the city proper, Mexico City and other parts of the country, their artwork quickly became popular among lovers and collectors of art. Huichol artists have been creating large yarn paintings that incorporate traditional motifs. They have also recently begun creating works by pressing metal and wooden beads onto wooden forms.
When you visit Puerto Vallarta, please do not try to impose your standards on their culture. Remember, their history is older than other parts of North America, so respect their traditional culture and customs. Here are some Puerto Vallarta customs that you should know before traveling to the city:
Siesta in the city is from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. You will find some business establishments (not restaurants and bars) closed during these hours. Many businesses, however, stay open after siesta until 8:00 pm or 9:00 pm.
Families and groups of boys and girls promenade up and down the Malecon after sundown every Sunday. Dressed in their best, The groups of boys and girls check out at each other as they pass. Sunday evening is also a nice time for families to meet friends, chat, sit, and watch other people walk by.
People of Puerto Vallarta tend to wear a more formal dress in social and business settings than their American counterparts. Sandals and shorts usually attract raised eyebrows in restaurants. Suits are the norm in the workplace, even on Fridays.
Haggling is very common in Puerto Vallarta open-air markets. To haggle, you should offer half of the original selling price and then bargain up from there. However, you cannot use formal establishments.
Tipping is one of the Puerto Vallarta customs you need to observe. Waiters in the city expect tips between 10% and 15%, while hotel bellhops expect a $2 tip. While taxi drivers do not expect tips, it is customary that you round up the bill.
Puerto Vallarta is generally a friendly and safe city. But like other large cities, pickpockets, muggings, and unprovoked attacks occur. Before you go to this beautiful Mexican city, you need to know some basic Puerto Vallarta safety and emergency procedures.
Caution is always necessary when going to a foreign place. In Puerto Vallarta, security people are dispatched in beaches and hotels to shy away undesirable characters in the area. Like many tourist destinations, Puerto Vallarta has local tourist police who looks out for the safety of visitors. The police and locals value their visitors that is why they make the utmost effort to take care of security concerns while in the area. Puerto Vallarta is relatively safe like any other tourist spot.
Visitors must always be aware of where they keep their wallets. It is preferable to put your wallet in an inner front pocket or in a money belt while purses must be carried securely under the arm. It is better to stay on the main streets when walking around town. Valuables must be left in safe places. Some hotels provide lockers for your valuables that you can do without when going out.
Wearing expensive jewelry is not advisable. If you need to bring cash or credit cards when you go out, carry only the amount you’d expect to spend and avoid bringing too much. Withdrawals through ATMs must only be done when absolutely necessary. Use these machines located on the premises of large banks as they usually have security personnel.
To avoid being victims of theft, leave your valuables (cameras, purses, passport) in a safe in your hotel room. Always observe warning flags on public beaches for the strong undertow. Some parts of the water along beaches might have unsafe surfaces like rocks so be careful about these parts. If possible, don’t dive into it if you’re unsure of your safety.
Here are some of the useful numbers you must take note of while in Puerto Vallarta:
- Emergency, Police/Fire: 060
- Fire Dept: 223-9476, 223-9478
- Police Dept: 290-0507, 290-0512
- Red Cross & Ambulance: 222-1533
- Motor Vehicle Dept: 224-8484
- Consumer Protection (Profeco): 225-0000
- Immigration Ofice: 221-1380
- American Consulate: 222-0069, 223-0074 – After hours: 01-333-268-2145
- Ameri-Med: 226-2080
- CMG: 223-1919
- Cornerstone: 224-9400
- I.M.S.S.: 224-3838
- Medasist: 223-0444
- Regional: 224-4000
- San Javier: 226-1010
In Puerto Vallarta, English is widely spoken, but it is fun to learn new languages if you do not know any. Locals will really appreciate it if you speak Spanish while you are there. It will help if you learn the language, even the basics.
Si – Yes
No – No
Hola – Hello
Adios – Goodbye
Gracias – Thank you
De Nada – You are welcome
Buenas Dias – Good Day
Buenas Noches – Good Night
Bano – Bathroom (very important)
There are many Spanish schools in Puerto Vallarta, but Solexico is the best language school to go to. Surrounded by lively city streets and charming colonial buildings, the campus is strategically located near restaurants, stores, cafes, and nightspots.
The building reflects the characteristic architecture of the city. And, like its other campuses in Oaxaca and Playa del Carmen, it has a huge café in an open terrace used for fiestas and salsa classes. It is also the meeting point for Solexico students during the breaks and after classes.