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LOCATION:  Pacific coast of Mexico along Banderas Bay, Mexico’s largest natural bay in the northwest corner of the state of Jalisco.  Puerto Vallarta is the same latitude as Hawaii.  Approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes flying time from Los Angeles California and further south approx 30 minutes flying time from Cabo San Lucas and the tip of Baja California.  5 hours flying time from NYC.

TIME ZONE:  Puerto Vallarta is in the Central time zone and also uses Daylight Savings time.  However they rarely change at the same time as the US and Canada as it is a relatively new concept (approx 10 years) to Mexico.  In Nayarit – just north of the Puerto Vallarta International airport is a different time zone at the Ameca River which is the border between the state of Jalisco and the state of Nayarit.  However as the entire zone is considered one destination a few years ago they switched to the same time zone as Puerto Vallarta, Central.

CLIMATE: Tropical humid with approximately 300 sunny days per year, average temperatures of 28 Celsius or 82 Fahrenheit.  Rainy season begins in the end of June to mid-October with average temperature high of 92F and low of 70F. The rains are usually late in the day or at night and only a few days per week.

POPULATION:  Approximately 350,000 persons with 2 million visitors annually

CURRENCY MONEY EXCHANGE:  The legal currency is the Mexican Peso, shown as a “$2” or indicated as MN.  However US and Canadian Dollars can are often accepted and can easily be exchanged at local banks or Money Exchanges.  Most travelers use local Bank Machines to withdraw pesos from their bank accounts.

THE CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE:  This landmark church took 33 years to build from 1918 to 1955.

MARIACHI:  Jalisco is the home of this Traditional Mexican music.

WATER:  The water company of Puerto Vallarta has won many awards for quality. However the aging infrastructure may affect the quality so we suggest you always drink bottled water unless you are staying in a luxury villa or resort hotel with ultra violet state of the art purification.

RESTAURANTS:  There are more than 250 in Puerto Vallarta.

BEACHES:  Puerto Vallarta has been named the best beach in Latin America by Travel and Leisure Magazine Readers Survey all 25 miles of it.

CUSTOMS:  While the world is becoming smaller all the time and there are many American businesses here:  McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks, Costco, Office Depot and Wal-Mart to name a few, there are still customs that may surprise you.  Siesta:  many businesses still close from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. for lunch and a Siesta or nap.  This is changing but don’t be surprised if the store you wanted to see is closed.  Another interesting custom is that you must request your bill in a restaurant.  It is considered very rude to bring you the bill before requested as if the waiter is rushing you out.  Mexicans do not rush and are a very gracious elegant culture.

NATURAL PARKS SANCTUARIES:  there are 2 protected National Parks /Sanctuaries in the Bay of Banderas, Los Arcos Islands in the south bay and Las Marietta’s islands at the North Bay near Punta de Mita.   Las Marietta’s islands are the home of such rare species as the Blue Footed Booby only found in the Galapagos Islands and a few other parts of South America.   Banderas Bay is a famous home of humpback whales in the winter along with dolphins and manta rays.  In the summer, sea turtles a protected species come ashore to lay their eggs in the sand.  There are many local habitats to assist the hatchling sea turtles when they emerge from the sand.  The Marriot Hotel has a habitat where they are watched and protected from birds and other predators to get to the ocean.

FLORA & FAUNA: The nearby Sierra Madre Mountains are covered in lush tropical forests with wild orchids, iguanas and wild parrots.   Just north of Puerto Vallarta before you get to Punta de Mita is a rich agricultural zone which grows everything from Mangos to Avocados.

TRANSPORTATION:  Puerto Vallarta has grown immensely in the past 20 years but still is a small town and you can walk to many of the best restaurants, shopping and nightlife if you are staying in town.  Local taxi service is not expensive and very user friendly.  If you are an adventurous traveler try the local buses. They are a great value and a cultural experience as you might have various vendors on your bus, perhaps a traveling musician singing for tips, a Tamale sales person or other.  Transportation from the airport is very organized and user-friendly. Most rental agents will be happy to help you set up an Airport Transfer or have the name and address of your rental villa or Resort Hotel printed on a piece of paper to show the taxi driver.  Costs are posted at the airport terminal.

CASA KIMBERLY:  Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s love nest was built in 1963 for $5,000 USD and sold years later for $450,000.

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