Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is a common port stop at on cruises to Mexico. The Mexican Riviera boasts it’s own unique beauty and history. Aboard the Carnival Panorama, we were able to spend a day at this port. We chose not to book an excursion, but to ask a local to take us around to what he thought were the must-see sights. I had done research on cruise stops to PV and this was a commonly suggested way to explore. This turned out to be a great choice!
Not only was our driver more affordable than company excursions, but we got to see a multitude of sights instead of just one or two. It was also on our timeline, so we could start and end when we wanted. Our first stop was to Old Vallarta, or the Romantic Zone.
This part of town is filled with old, cobblestone streets. So fun and colorful! We zipped through the narrow streets and hilled landscape to get to some great city viewpoints. Since we weren’t on a scheduled tour, we were free to stop wherever, whenever, and for as long as we wanted. The flexibility was great for us first time visitors. We learned about the history of the area and stopped for some shopping at the local markets. What pleasantly surprised me about the area was the lush greenery mixed in with old buildings, and then the coastline in the distance. The best of three worlds!
After our drive through Old Vallarta, we headed to the beach. We had just had a beach day in Cabo, so we were more interested in the area surrounding the beach. This particular beach felt very local and did not have a ton of tourism muddling it’s unique beauty. This was a short stop for us before moving on.
Next stop: the Malecon. The classic boardwalk with the Puerto Vallarta photo op sign. Shopping, live music, sculptures, and awesome water views filled the scene. We waited in line to get our picture taken with the PV sign, and this experience alone made for some great people watching. Luckily, everyone was patient and friendly, with many people offering to take photos for others so their whole group could be in the shot. It’s silly, but I almost felt like a celebrity when it was our turn: We walked up to the sign and posed. Three people with our phones in their hands took multiple pictures while a slew of people watched. Really, the watchers were just waiting for their turn, but all eyes were on us for those 30 seconds! I appreciate how respectful people were so everyone could get a decent shot. That kindness, patience and consideration is definitely a group effort!
Another discovery during this experience: it’s hard to get the whole sign in the picture! Here’s what we ended up with:
Our driver took us back to the ship after this. We were satisfied with this port day and how we chose to spend it. The great thing about cruises is if we go back, we can research and find something new to explore that we may have missed this time around. Since we were there less than 12 hours, I’m certain Puerto Vallarta has more to offer than our little taste of the city.
Have you been to Puerto Vallarta? How did you spend your time? What’s a must see or must do if we get a chance to go back?