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Puerto Vallarta / Loreto and La Paz Suggestions


llarsen
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Posted (edited)

Hello,

 

This will be our 26th cruise but we have never cruised the Mexican Riviera.

We are going with another couple March 25, 2022 who have taken this cruise before...but they always use cruise ship shore excursions.

They are worried about missing the ship, or something happening to them on a local operated tour in Mexico.

We (normally) book local guides and have never had a problem on any of our cruises. 

 

Looking for suggestions for Puerto Valarta / Loreto and La Paz, either DIY or with local tour company.

We like beaches and food and alcohol tours.

Not sure if the water will be warm enough at the end of March for swimming/snorkeling?

 

Any suggestions on whether we should enjoy the port or head out of town is also appreciated.

 

Thank you!

 

 

 

 

Edited by llarsen
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Posted (edited)
39 minutes ago, llarsen said:

Hello,

 

This will be our 26th cruise but we have never cruised the Mexican Riviera.

We are going with another couple March 25, 2022 who have taken this cruise before...but they always use cruise ship shore excursions.

They are worried about missing the ship, or something happening to them on a local operated tour in Mexico.

We (normally) book local guides and have never had a problem on any of our cruises. 

 

Looking for suggestions for Puerto Valarta / Loreto and La Paz, either DIY or with local tour company.

We like beaches and food and alcohol tours.

Not sure if the water will be warm enough at the end of March for swimming/snorkeling?

 

Any suggestions on whether we should enjoy the port or head out of town is also appreciated.

 

Thank you!

 

 

 

 

Also never done ship shore excursions, also never had a problem. One thing to watch is at a certain time of year (end of March is part of this, I think), because of the difference in Daylight Savings Time there is a one hour difference between ship time and shore time in some ports. As long as you’re aware, you will be fine. 
 

La Paz I can’t help you, but tons of stuff in PV. Would definitely recommend a whale watching  tour, you’re still in the season. Beach would be decent in late March (when we went). Here’s a good tour operator (discovered on these forums): https://www.vallarta-adventures.com/en/  If your itinerary allows it, I would particularly recommend the Las Calletas beach hideaway. Ours did not I was super bummed, but I’ve seen that it’s a wonderful time. We used this company in another port and they were great!  
 

One other thing about snorkeling, heads up. It’s not generally the crystal clear water you get in other places, it’s pretty sandy in many places. There are good spots to snorkel but you have to be selective. Just wanted to warn you ahead of time. 

Edited by jas283a
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For my part, I'm comfortable using ship excursions wherever I can for various reasons, including the benefit of using OBC which try getting a local operator to take that kind of currency.  But even if I paid cash, apart from the cruise won't leave kind of guarantee, I've never found comparable tours to be all that less expensive.  I would say half the times, it is slightly to moderately more expensive than the ship's price.  And where the local tour is less, it's not that substantial (maybe 15% on the higher end of savings).

 

Admittedly, I'm no expert in this area and maybe I just don't know what real deal is.  Also, this does not include "do it yourself" options of researching public transportation methods which can substantially decrease the cost if you want to accept the added inconvenience and possible frustration.

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Posted (edited)

@llarsen  here are some ideas 

 

Loreto 

- Coronado Island tour / Whale watching - march is part of the season

Mission San Francisco Javier - it's a nice drive up into the local mountains and the mission is nice.  A small village is there as well.

- Walking around the tourist district

- doubt you have time, but golf at Danzante Bay is an nice option.  

 

La Paz

-Malecon / downtown

- Balandra beach - super nice water

-Tecelote beach - lots of services.  take boat trip to Isla Espiritu for whale sharks from there.

 

BTW - the water won't be too warm, but it should be ok - especially if the air is warm, which it should be.

Edited by SelectSys
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Wow, thank you all for the replies!

I'm getting excited for this cruise and look forward to checking out your suggestions.

 

Thank you!

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I want to give some encouragement to the OP so a few factoids about Puerto Vallarta.  We have lived in PV for the past 15 winters along with 10s of thousands of other Americans and Canadians who often call the PV region (Bay of Bandaras) their 2nd home.   We do not take tours, do not use guides, etc.  We go anywhere using our feet, local buses (about 50 cents a ride), taxis and Uber!  Nearly everyday in the winter I walk (exercise) from the downtown (Zona Romantica) area to at least as far as the cruise port (about 4 miles one way) and back.  I often do this very early when it is still dark and have little concern about my safety other then getting hit by a car/bus.

 

The OP might want to just explore using public transit, a taxi, or Uber to get downtown (Centro) from where they can walk anywhere (assuming they are fully mobile).  On the southside of town (Zona Romantica or also called the Old Town) we have a free beach (Los Muertos) which is lines with restaurants and bars...many of which offer chairs/loungers on the sand.  The food and drink in PV is excellent (we think it is a great foodie town) and safe.  Walking anywhere in town during the daytime is completely safe (like any tourist town you should always be on your guard for pickpockets) with a large assortment of shops, boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, etc.   English is widely spoken/understood and the area if full of "gringos" (such as myself) who are happy to answer any questions or give directions.  I should add that most of the Mexicans that work and live in PV are also very friendly and helpful.   My one caution would be about swimming off of Los Muertos Beach.  The safest part of the beach for swimming is in the southern section (South of the Pier) where there is a sandy bottom and even some lifeguards.  As you go North of the Pier there are too many stones/rocks in the water to assure safety.  Also keep in mind you are going in the Pacific Ocean which can have rough days (not a good idea to swim when its really rough).  The water temperature at the end of March will likely be in the chilly 70s which seems to be fine for folks used to the Pacific and too darn cold for those of us used to the Southeast US Atlantic.

 

Hank

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Thank you Hank! It's been a while since I've been on CC but it is nice to see you are still helping others with your wealth of experience and information! 

 

I was hoping for a calm beach with warm water, 70 degrees is also too cold for me!

I guess that's why we have spent so many years in the Caribbean, Hawaii and French Polynesia, lol. 

I'm sure we will find other fun things to do, especially with the help of this board.

 

Also jas283a thanks for the heads up on possible time change!

 

🙂

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I prefer to use ship's excursions for anything that involves going out of the normal tourist routes.  For example, Countryside Tours, Canopy Ziplining, Jungle Excursions.  What I consider is "If the transportation vehicle breaks down, how sure am I that we can grab a ride on some alternate vehicle, to get back to the ship before it departs?" 

 

On a typical City Tour, I can grab a cab back to the ship.  On a whale watching boat trip or a snorkeling trip, there are probably other boats that can rescue us.  But in a Jungle Adventure, maybe not!  So I will pay an extra 10% for "insurance" that the ship won't leave without me!

 

That being said, Vallarta Adventures, linked above, is very reputable.  

 

The warning about ship's time vs shore time is important.  Once, since I stopped wearing a watch and began to rely on my cell phone, I got tricked.  I did not know that my phone had automatically adjusted itself to local time, and I thought it was still on ship's time.  But it worked out that my phone clock was one hour fast, not slow, so I got cheated out of one hour shore time but was not at risk of missing the ship.  

 

Have a wonderful trip!

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Hi,

 

I had lunch with my travel companion yesterday and she said her husband will not use any local tours, only Princess shore excursions....

 

This is our first time traveling together, so we will just enjoy our time with them and continue to use local tours when we my husband and I travel again to Europe.

 

Thanks so much for your input and also for the time change tip 🙂 

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  • 2 weeks later...

@HlitnerHola, Hank!  We'll be in PV overnight Sunday/Monday (November 14/15).  A few questions - are galleries usually open in Old Town on Sundays?  Are we likely to see sand sculptures along the Malecon?  And can you recommend a place near the port to get a good massage and maybe a mani-pedi.

 

Thanks!

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2 minutes ago, zelker said:

@HlitnerHola, Hank!  We'll be in PV overnight Sunday/Monday (November 14/15).  A few questions - are galleries usually open in Old Town on Sundays?  Are we likely to see sand sculptures along the Malecon?  And can you recommend a place near the port to get a good massage and maybe a mani-pedi.

 

Thanks!

Your gallery question is a terrific question for which I cannot give you an answer.  Why?  Because COVID changed many things including opening days/hours.  My best guess would be some art galleries will be open and some will be closed and nobody will likely know until that very day.  I would add that some of the best galleries are in Centro so do not limit yourself to our side of the Rio Cujale.  As to sand sculptures, last winter the guy that used to do some of the best sculptures never showed-up which is not surprising with COVID.  The guys (there are sometimes two) work for themselves (they live on donations) and only they would know their future plans.  As you probably know, you just need to walk along the Malecon and hope you see something decent.  Last winter the only thing I saw was the guy who balances stones.  

 

I cannot help you at all with a massage place near the port.  If my good friend, Ine, sees this post (very likely) she might be able to to make a suggestion.  We do have a few massage places near our Condo (in Old Town) but the big question might be which places have survived COVID.   Many local businesses had to close because of COVID and I think we will all need to wait until next Fall to see who has survived, changed ownership, etc.  There are going to be many changes in PV due to COVID and I expect we will all learn together next winter.  The good news for DW and me is that nearly all of our favorite restaurants have survived (many others have gone out of business or changed ownership).  

 

For those who wondered about COVID and PV, the town had a terrible time last winter.  Tourism was very slow,  many of the Canadians had to go home (restrictions in their own country) and others could not come to PV (more restrictions in CA) which really hurt the local businesses.  American tourism was a fraction of the norm, most restaurants were hurting in a very big way, locals were struggling to survive, and those of us who were in PV had to be extra careful because of the COVID risk.  DW and I tried our best to support or favorite restaurants (and I gained over 10 pounds for my trouble) and there were times I wanted to cry for our restaurant friends who were just hanging on for dear life hoping to somehow survive a year of little business.   Our own Condo building (an upscale place with about 150 units....all owned) generally had no more then 30% occupancy.  In a normal high season our building is 100% occupied.

 

Hank

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Unfortunately I can only agree with Hank re massages and galeries. Indeed Covid made most business suffer, many of them closed or had less opening hours/days. . You better ask again by the time you sail, then we might now more. Tourism is increasing at the moment, but mostly americans and mexicans.

We stayed at home, not in Vallarta last winter and missed that a lot!. 

 

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5 hours ago, Ine said:

Unfortunately I can only agree with Hank re massages and galeries. Indeed Covid made most business suffer, many of them closed or had less opening hours/days. . You better ask again by the time you sail, then we might now more. Tourism is increasing at the moment, but mostly americans and mexicans.

We stayed at home, not in Vallarta last winter and missed that a lot!. 

 

And we missed seeing you.

 

Hank

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