Shannon & John G. from Renton WA, March 02-12 2006
We enjoyed our trip to Puerto Vallarta very much. Casa Monk was very pleasant to stay at and we hope to stay there again soon. Maria the housekeeper was pleasant and did a great job. The house is located close to the bus lines and downtown. Most of the natives are very friendly and helpful.
There was plenty to do. We went with Chico's dive shop downtown and they had reasonable dive/snorkeling packages to Los Arcos, Las Animas Beach, and Mahujuitas. Los Arcos was our favorite dive because of so many colorful fish and many rock walls with coral and various invertebrates. There was little current in the area, which made diving comfortable. There were a lot of puffer fish and octopus. There was much to see under the waves. During the boat ride the captain made efforts to spot whales and schools of fish. It was amazing being out on the water.
We rented a Volkswagen bug for 50 American dollars a day and drove around the bay and to small towns. During this time I had a small handheld GPS unit from Magellan that worked great. We found it extremely helpful using it as an adjunct to the map.
Le Cliff was the best restaurant we tried. It was at the south end of the bay past Los Arcos. You would need a car or taxi to get there, but worth it. The restaurant sits on a cliff. The combination of good food, drinks, and the breathtaking view leads one to believe they are in heaven. Some other good restaurants that we ate at were Daiquiri Dicks, No Name Café, and the River Café.
The only downside for us was avoiding all the offers for timeshares. All businesses are networked to try to get you to go into this high pressure waste of time. We would be in a shop buying something and a friendly inquiry about what we were doing by the sales associate would turn into a sales pitch to go to a timeshare. It was difficult for some of them to take no for an answer.
We are looking forward to returning one day, and perhaps like John, invest in some property in Puerto Vallarta. We may even retire there! Thanks John for providing us with all the helpful information and Casa Monk.
V. P. from Juneau AK, May 14 2004
It would be good to encourage people to take the local buses, they go anywhere for four pesos and are quite an experience, pretty bumpy. There are 1500 taxis in PV and from your house to downtown is 40 pesos and prices to the airport can vary from 35 pesos (from your house) to 140 pesos so that is good to tell them to ask the driver first and pre-determine the rate.
However, we had fun on the buses and they really go, every bit as fast as the taxis, I think. Often some troubadour would burst into song on the bus. I heard this twice and one time the guy had a guitar and it was a regular concert which was so enjoyable and then he passed the hat for a couple of pesos. I wouldn't have missed this experience for anything.
The bus tour is really worthwhile as the guide has so many interesting facts about the area. For instance, there is no crime in Puerto Vallarta and the Bay of Banderas is the largest bay in the western hemisphere, second only to Hudson Bay in Canada. Also is rains twelve hours per day in summer ....from June thru Sept. from 5 p.m. to 5 am That's what keeps the area so lush & why the downtown has such high sidewalks....the streets become literal rivers.
The bus took us up into the mountains (for some great pictures) and we had a fabulous lunch which ran about twenty dollars each. However, this was such a good meal it was worth it, fresh seafood and the strolling Mariachis to serenade each table. The bus showed us some exclusive shops that were off the Malecon and cheaper than some other stores. It also took us to tour a tequila factory, with free samples which was interesting as they made it in their house in an old fashioned way. I'm not a drinker but the process was interesting.
Prices varied wildly on souvenirs and we found out how to bargain and to never, ever take the first price they offer.
The Time Share people are pretty aggressive and we did cave in and go to a couple of them but each time felt they spent too much time and didn't always come through with what they promised. Also they seem pretty snoopy. They want to know everything, annual income.....where we were staying, and always the panic to sign some big deal the same day....
.So, you should tell people, if they do get snared by the Time Shares to just say they are staying in a friend's house and not paying any rent.(which is what I did).....It's really impossible to get away from them and one promised us to swim with the dolphins for five dollars each (instead of 66 dollars each) so it was hard to pass up. However, they did not deliver this price .......
It turned into a bad experience for us so I ended up just telling them we were staying in a friend's house and not paying rent. They do lie and I feel like a lot of the things they asked are just in the realm of 'none of their business'.
Some of their salespeople are so nice and attractive, and I found out they do not get any salary unless they get someone to go to a presentation and plus, many of the hotels are just gorgeous.
Anyway, you must give people a warning not to give out your address in Seattle (which I didn't) or PV & NOT to say they are paying rent anywhere.......& if they get hooked into going, to make sure they get what is promised and hold them to their word which is usually a free meal and maximum one and a half hours. If they just watch their clock, time it and leave promptly, that is fine. But one we were cajoled into spending 4 hours and it just went on and on.
I found out later there is a four hundred dollar maintenance fee that must be paid yearly and plus, a five per cent increase on this fee, yearly.....so after a few years, the maintenance fee can actually turn into a nightmare and cost more than the original time share does.......
Also, I couldn't believe the bus trip to Guadalajara, these buses are nicer than Greyhound, with movies, bathroom, air conditioning and a free lunch. It leaves every hour from PV and goes through some very pretty areas. Each time the bus stops there are the peddlers. And, my experience was the bus was never even half full.....so different from years ago. There are many interesting things to see in Guadalajara but a person must take a city tour to find them all. However, I kept on going to Chapala as this is the largest inland lake in Mexico and a very interesting area. Thousands of Americans and Canadians have settled in that area.. Anyway, the fare is $32 US one way, about 6 hours .....There are reasonable Mexican hotels everywhere in PV and Chapala for only 15 dollars a night but not all of them are clean and some you can't lock your room......another problem with the hotels is in most of them, a person would not want to just hang around as they are not that comfortable......
My friend and I had a lot of fun just hanging around your house, making our meals and we got ten days worth of food for around fifty dollars! Also the neighbors in that area are all real nice....we had a family over for dinner. Just lovely people...mi casa is su casa. I liked the convenience of knowing that when I stepped off the plane I knew where I was going to stay.
The tour driver told us all beaches are public, even those in front of the fancy hotels so the only thing about the beaches is that they are really plagued with peddlers. I must have had eight of them around me and I felt sorry for them but they got pretty persistent. The beach right by the Malecon is not as pretty as some but the peddlers are not as thick....they hang around the nicer hotels. Since I've been to Mexico before, I knew some of the prices and these peddlers varied wildly on the prices. For instance, this one man offered me a little throw rug which was nice and hand made, for fifty dollars.!...I knew it was worth about five.......
There are very few beggars in PV and the bus driver said they are faking it because there is work for all in PV so not to fall for them...
..We didn't eat out that much as Maria kept your house so nicely. It's just immaculate. She is a very sweet and has a good attitude. My friend was wondering ..if she bought a house, for how many weeks she could rent it out and asked Maria how many months each year you rented yours out. I know she understood the question but would not say anything as she did not want to divulge anything. I felt this was commendable in her although, of course, we wanted the info just for comparison purposes, not to do anything with it.
Also the flea market at Rio Cuale has the best prices ....some of the extremes of what they wanted in other shops were just ridiculous..........