Puerto Vallarta

We made the overnight coastal passage south from Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta timing our arrival for Sunday, Feb. 21. Long-time friends and fellow sailors Bill and Nina were flying down from Portland, scheduled to arrive later in that same day. We’d been looking forward to their visit for weeks; not only because they were bringing with them some kit we’d requested, but also because they’re two of the most enjoyable people to spend time with that we know. They had booked a room in one of the hotels overlooking Marina Vallarta, so that’s where we put Velic for the duration of our stay here in P.V. Marina Vallarta is also a convenient location from which to begin our voyage to the Marquesas.

We put our visitors to work, of course: Bill and Randy got the engine realigned (a maintenance item: engines shift fractionally on their mounts over time as they run & vibrate). They also completed a static tune-up for the standing rig. Nina and I scoped out Costco, completed some errands, and generally caught up with each other’s lives. The four of us also did some sight-seeing. No visit to central Puerto Vallarta can miss the cathedral or the malecon – the paved pedestrian boulevard on the waterfront.

A city's beloved icon: Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral in the center of Puerto Vallarta. The crown atop the bell tower (yes, the bells toll the hours) is wrought iron, designed after one worn by the Empress Carlota of Mexico.

A city’s beloved icon: Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral in the center of Puerto Vallarta. The crown atop the bell tower (yes, the bells toll the hours) is wrought iron, designed after one worn by the Empress Carlota of Mexico.


View from the malecon. Directly across the street is the city’s main public square, with a central bandstand and elaborate wrought-iron benches under the trees.


Nina, Bill and I. Like every other city we’ve been in here, the malecon is furnished with interesting, amusing and often simply beautiful bronze and stone sculptures. Public art is everywhere.




Local kids beat the heat in the cool Cuale River.

The Cuale River cuts through older Puerto Vallarta, flowing into Banderas Bay. An island in the center of the river contains several restaurants, street vendor stalls, and, at its upper end, a shady park surrounding a cultural and arts center.  Suspension bridges over the Cuale give pedestrian access to the island.


One of several suspension bridges over the Cuale. Rebar is bent over parallel cables to hold the swinging bridges up. I think the wire fencing is for the tourists; the locals cross with insouciance, even when carrying heavy loads in both hands.


This is a typical panga, or small fishing boat. Simple to operate and maintain, fast and stable, relatively inexpensive to obtain, these are ubiquitous in coastal waters and we’ve seen them everywhere we’ve been.


Tourist beach. Puerto Vallarta is a popular tourist destination, both for Mexicans and foreigners.


An “Art Shot.” We stopped in this small restaurant for lunch one day. A small group on a food tour of P.V. was also in the restaurant, so we figured we’d made a lucky choice. Lunch was very good. Most restaurants include a wash basin in the public space for customers to wash hands before and after eating. This one was particularly nice, with a decorative tile basin and surround. You can just make out Nina, Bill & me in the mirror’s reflection. My hat on the table.

On one of the days Bill and Nina were here, we took Velic out for a day trip across the bay to a village called Yelapa. Yelapa is part of a land-grant made in the sixteenth century by Philip II to a tribe of indigenous people. Although the village has grown a lot recently, it still belongs to the tribe, who own all the land collectively. Located in a small, picturesque cove, it’s become a popular destination for tourist boats out of Puerto Vallarta, who bring dozens of tourists to play on the beach and eat at the restaurants for the day. This provides substantial income to the locals, who are happy to have the tourists come by boat. Remarkably, the community voted recently to reject construction of a road into Yelapa; they wanted to preserve as much of the uniqueness of their village as they could. However, they did accept electricity (2011) and we saw at least one cellular tower. The streets remain narrow and unpaved, however, and water is delivered to the houses via rooftop cisterns. There is a small population of expatriates living in Yelapa as well.

13 Yelapa

Climbing up the hill and looking back toward the beach over rooftops. Velic is the near boat on the left. The far end of the beach is where the tourist boats come in and where the restaurants are located. Off-beach para-gliding is one activity some tourists enjoy. We saw a short string of small horses tied near the restaurants, so presumably you can take a tour on horseback. We preferred to walk.

10 Yelapa

A river flows from the forest behind, forming an estuary next to the beach.

15 Yelapa

Burros for carrying heavier loads. These fellows were delivering cut lumber for a construction project in the village. This is a nice, wide street.

7 Yelapa_buzzards

Buzzards. Just hanging around.

After a much-too-short week, we said goodbye to Nina and Bill. They flew back to Portland, and we went back to Velic and departure preparations.

As of today, we are planning to leave on Saturday, assuming the side curtains we are having made for the boat’s sun awning are finished, and that we can schedule & complete all of the necessary departure clearances with various officials by then. We may end up hiring an agent to help with this, just for expediency’s sake.

NOTE: We have heard that internet connections in the Marquesas can be “iffy.” We’ll try to update this blog after we arrive, but are not sure when after actual arrival that may be possible.


3 thoughts on “Puerto Vallarta

  1. We enjoy your posts about your Mexico coastline excursions. A few years back we spent 5 weeks on someone else’s boat going from Mazatlan to Barra. We wanted to see if this thing called cruising was something we would like to do. It was which led to us buying our larger boat and joining RCYC. You inspire us! Journey on!…. and it is great that Bill and Nina were able to drop in. Pam and Carl


  2. I’ve been enjoying following your journey and the splendid writing and pictures. I hope the big crossing goes well and I look forward to seeing the next set of posts once you arrive.


  3. Grant and I love getting your updates, you two are tip-top blog keepers. We are in Guatemala re-upping our immigration status and on our way back to La Cruz. If your time allows it would be great to see you before you slip the lines. If not, fair winds!




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