Pamela MacNaughtan


Sand squishing between your toes, ocean waves rolling towards the shore, then crashing against the sand and receding back. Only to do it all over again. Touts offering everything from blankets, to sweets, to seafood, and drugs. Waiters serving frozen margaritas, and the sun beaming down and warming your skin. This is what most of us think of when we think of Puerto Vallarta. A beachside paradise on the west coast of Mexico.

But guess what? Puerto Vallarta is so much more than that. Yes, you should definitely hit the beach on your trip to PV, but you should also venture off the beach and check out the rest of the city.

Did you know that Puerto Vallarta is snuggled between the mountains, and the ocean? You didn’t, did you?!?! Well, it is, which is why I focused more on the city, and less on the beach during my visit this week.

I stayed with Hotel Catedral, a boutique hotel located in the heart of central Puerto Vallarta, and just minutes from the ocean, Malecon, Church of Our Lady of Guadaloupe, and several other interesting sites. My room was posh, complete with a canopied  king size bed, two balconies, a small kitchen, and access to a private rooftop terrace. And although I wanted to stay in my forever, I forced myself to go out and explore.

Walking on cobble stone streets wearing flips flops is not the most ideal situation, but I refuse to wear closed in shoes while I’m in Mexico so I made it work. With camera in hand I left the hotel and wandered down the small side streets, looking for things to photograph, and areas where shops didn’t sell touristy souvenirs. My walk took me to a cigar and chocolate shop where I was able to order freshly made chocolates as a woman prepared tobacco for rolling.

With chocolates in hand, and the faint smell of tobacco permeating around me I left the shop and wandered down smaller streets. I was wandering into the more Mexican parts of town. The streets were quiet, and the shops (and sometimes the stairs) were colourfully painted. As I walked passed locals I would greet them with a smile and “Hola!”, and then continue on my way. I was in a kind of euphoric bliss, and found beauty in everything I saw.

Don’t you love those kind of travel days?

The sun was warm, and my feet were sore as I wandered aimlessly through the city. I didn’t explore large areas, but I did explore and that alone was enough to make me happy. Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful city, and with each tourist season the city continues to grow in popularity, and beauty. The cobbled streets can be tough to navigate if you’re not paying attention, but as with everything in Puerto Vallarta, they add character and charm.

Puerto Vallarta has only been a tourist destination for the last 60 years – thanks in part to the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton scandal – and I can see why. The city is wonderful, as are the people. I haven’t had a lot of time to wander around Puerto Vallarta, but I’ll be returning to Bucerias in September to housesit for friends for a few months, so I plan to explore more then.


  • March 22, 2013

    Yes, you’re right! PV is much more than sun, sand and sea. It’s also a hot spot for art and great dining. And there are so many fun daytrips one can do, like exploring the jungle trails in the Botanical Gardens and sailing to Yelapa. Hope you get to enjoy more of PV when you return in the fall…

  • March 25, 2013

    No I didn’t know about the mountains! I hope to get there some day, your photos are stunning.


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