Shopping The Isla Rio Cuale in Puerto Vallarta

The famous Isla Rio Cuale market in Puerto Vallarta is a great place to practice your bartering skills while shopping.  

The Isla Cuale is located on a small piece of land on the Rio Cuale (river)that lies under the two bridges that join Centro Vallarta and Viejo Vallarta and most of the vendors in the market will barter with you and come down from their original asking price.

Here you will find many different vendors selling all kinds of art, jewelry, clothing and souvenirs. Even if you are not looking to buy anything Isla Rio Cuale is a landmark place to visit on your vacation to Puerto Vallarta.

Continue reading “Shopping The Isla Rio Cuale in Puerto Vallarta”

Flourless Corn Flan, Flourless Aztec Chocolate Cake

It’s hard to find tasty baked goods made without flour — so I was delighted to discover Maria Reyes’ delicious treats at the Puerto Vallarta Old Town Farmers’ Market (where vendors must make or grow their products).

For only 30 pesos, you can get Maria’s flourless corn flan, made with corn picked fresh from the garden that morning. It melts in your mouth in a way that will leave you wanting more Continue reading “Flourless Corn Flan, Flourless Aztec Chocolate Cake”

Talavera Tile in Puerto Vallarta

One of the things I like about Mexico is its copious use of beautiful tile, often handmade.

The Talavera tiles from the city of Puebla, which are distinguished by their milky-white glaze, are justifiably famous around the world —  and like champagne from France, tile can only be called Talavera if it’s from Puebla.

But several years ago a Puerto Vallarta tile merchant had a problem with his Puebla suppliers being unable to get enough tile to fill his orders — so he spent much time and work recreating “Talavera” pottery closer to home.

Now, in his Vallarta store, you can find a great selection of the most gorgeous, high-quality tiles and other ceramics — including Talavera-style — in the quantities you need. Continue reading “Talavera Tile in Puerto Vallarta”

Enjoy Tasty Mexican Silverware

You’ll have plenty of opportunities in Puerto Vallarta for the kind of dining that requires you to know which fork is which — but much of the time, you can sit back, relax, and use Mexican silverware.


Whether corn (tortilla de maíz) or flour (tortilla de harina or tortilla de trigo), these “little cakes” are everywhere, replacing yeasted breads, rolls, and, yes, silverware.

You’ll find tortillas in your burritos, chalupas, chilaquiles (crispy fried tortilla quarters simmered in salsa, topped with cheese and Continue reading “Enjoy Tasty Mexican Silverware”

Old Town and Puerto Vallarta

Voted the friendliest place on earth, Puerto Vallarta is surrounded by incredible beaches and jungles loaded with wildlife. The area, like much of Mexico, is both quaint and vibrant with cobblestone streets, charm, and local fiestas. We try it all, from people- to whale-watching, from local authentic Mexican dishes to world renowned gourmet, from shopping to ziplines. Then we pass on our experiences to you.

Shopping Heaven in Puerto Vallarta

Due to the US media reports that incorrectly suggest vacationing in Mexico is dangerous, Vallarta has somewhat fewer tourists this season than usual — which translates into less congestion for you, and merchants more eager for your business.

There are half a dozen malls on the airport road north from Old Vallarta, and they have plenty to recommend them, if you have the time and don’t mind paying list price (often high).

The Galleria, for instance, is situated right on the Marina, so even if you just want to munch something inexpensive and delicious on the food court terrace, you’ll be enjoying fresh ocean breezes and a million-dollar view. Continue reading “Shopping Heaven in Puerto Vallarta”

Six Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta

SailfishesPuerto Vallarta is located on Bahia de Banderas (Bay of Flags), the second largest bay in the Americas.

Its surroundings, characterized by jungle, rivers and cascades, enjoy a temperature annual average of 27ºC (81ºF).

Check out these:

Mismaloya Beach, one of the favorite sites of celebrities, first made famous by the director John Huston who, in 1963, ” filmed “The Night of the Iguana”, with Ava Gardner and Richard Burton (and visits by Elizabeth Taylor). Continue reading “Six Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta”

Traditional Candy Treats in Puerto Vallarta

A "Day of the Dead" Candy Skull Coated in Amaranth

Candy stores in Puerto Vallarta can be luscious upscale confections like the shop Xocodiva, at Calle Rodolfo Gómez 111, specializing in truffles (lime or coconut anyone?) and molded chocolates (including Santas and Day of the Dead skulls at appropriate times of year).

But the Vallarta candy stores that you’ll probably find most fun are the traditional, neighborhood ones, which will usually be located on commercial streets like Constitución, and selling things you’ll have no clue what they are. The cartoony characters on some of the packaging is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Pick out a few sweets that look interesting and then see what you’ve gotten yourself into! Chili pepper and sweet-and-sour are popular flavors. Cactus, tamarind, and things that are not in my Spanish dictionary are frequent ingredients. I really enjoy the coconut rolls, like the freshly made inside of a Mounds bar. You can get these in every size from tiny to clan-size. Continue reading “Traditional Candy Treats in Puerto Vallarta”

Festival Gourmet International in Puerto Vallarta

Not to be missed, the 16th annual Festival Gourmet International is taking place in Puerto Vallarta, November 11–21, 2010. The Festival kicks off on the evening of the 11th, with a “World Fest Gourmet Party: A grand welcome for all the Chefs from around the world, in a stunning setting, with Gourmet Tapas from the 5 continents, in addition to selected wines and Tequilas.

Plus an orchestra, a DJ, dancing, all capped by fabulous fireworks! Hosted at Villa La Estancia Beach Resort & Spa Nuevo Vallarta, $120 USD. Sign me up! Continue reading “Festival Gourmet International in Puerto Vallarta”

Shopping in Puerto Vallarta

Malecon shoppingIn Puerto Vallarta you can find a sampling of just about everything made in Mexico: silver, blown glass, pottery, serapes, sandals, and other arts and crafts.

There are a number of excellent shops — some near the beach, some in major hotels, and a great many on the main downtown shopping strips on Juarez and Morelos streets.

Art galleries are numerous, adding a wonderful artistic ambiance to this resort. Works by some of Mexico’s most well-known contemporary painters and sculptors Continue reading “Shopping in Puerto Vallarta”

Downtown Footbridge Leads to World-Class Flea Market

One of the best flea markets in the world is just outside Old Town across the footbridge at the end of Constitution street (click on Maps, then look at the Old Town and El Centro South maps).

Actually, I mention the footbridge because it’s a fun people-watching spot.

If you desire a more stable footing, the two main traffic bridges are just one block to the north and south.

The two-story flea market is big so plan to wander around for at least an hour or two. (Hint: We carry cell phones so we don’t have to worry about finding each other, but you can simply agree to meet at the footbridge in an hour or whenever works.)

Across the street and upstairs is Cafe Roma, a hangout for the local Americans most Fridays when they sell beers for 5 pesos if you order food. How many 39 cent Coronas can you drink?

Kiosks on Isla Rio CualeKiosks on Isla Rio Cuale

Across half of the footbridge, the island, Isla Rio Cuale, is full of kiosks. Wander down to the beach while you casually discover items you’ve never seen before.

At first Isla Rio Cuale appears to be just another conglomeration of tourist markets, but it is actually a place of local beauty and charm.

From the beach or Malecon, you can start at the market end of the island. Unless it’s your first time, keep walking because the best is yet to come. Continue reading “Downtown Footbridge Leads to World-Class Flea Market”

Puerto Vallarta: The San Francisco of Mexico

Puerto Vallarta earns its nickname, “The San Francisco of Mexico,” not only because it is uncommonly friendly to gays and lesbians, but because PV is open-minded in most ways. Just as in San Francisco, though, open-minded doesn’t as a rule mean tasteless or offensive. Far from it!

As a city that has peacefully and graciously incorporated 50,000 expatriate Americans and Canadians into it over the past couple of decades, while hosting millions more for vacations, Puerto Vallarta has learned that its best interests are served by incorporating the best of what the newcomers want, instead of expecting them to adopt purely Mexican ways. Continue reading “Puerto Vallarta: The San Francisco of Mexico”

Puerto Vallarta: A Massage Primer

Spas abound in Puerto Vallarta, and an hour of massage with scented oils, hot stones, and a cold drink, on the beach or with an ocean view, can set you back a whole $50 USD. We’ll talk about these kinds of experiences again and again as I work my way through PV’s spas, on assignment as a spa tester/reviewer, at least in my dreams.

But in addition to the luxurious spas, you can find a good, reasonably priced massage ($35-$50 USD per hour) around just about any Puerto Vallarta corner. Continue reading “Puerto Vallarta: A Massage Primer”

Things To Not Miss Doing in Puerto Vallarta

Walk the Malecon “boardwalk” from Old Town at Los Muertos (Pier of the Dead, Beach of the Dead) along the bay through El Centro. Along the way, you will find statuary, shopping, panoramas, and shows. Another “malecon” worth a visit winds through the Marina. Each of these boardwalks offers some of the best people watching in the world, especially on Sunday afternoons.Statue of whales at entrance to marina

Enjoy fine dining at any of the many world class restaurants of Puerto Vallarta. Also, there are some very worthy street stands to try. When you are in Old Town be sure to dine at La Palapa, Archie’s Wok, Pancho’s Takos, or Fajita Republic.

Watch whales in Banderas Bay (December through March). The gentle creatures migrate from the Gulf of Alaska to winter in the bay. Continue reading “Things To Not Miss Doing in Puerto Vallarta”

Cuban Cigars are Not Always Cuban

If you’re a cigar lover, you’ll be tempted to try one of the local cigar shops sporting a sign advertising Cuban Cigars.Cuban cigars

Beware. Not all Cuban Cigar shops actually have Cuban cigars. Most are knockoffs, not from Cuba.

To find authentic Cuban cigars in El Centro, try the shop at the corner of Moreles at Paseo Diaz Ordaz. They have a large sign claiming to be the only store on the Malecon with authentic Cuban cigars.

It’s a pirate store so be prepared at the cash register to be offered special discounts and deals if you’ll go to a time-share presentation. Just say no thanks, pay, and go off to smoke your Cuban.