What is it like to visit Puerto Vallarta, Mexico now?

Ed Walsh

Hurricane Nora created this new fresh water lake at the mouth of the Cuale RIverEd Walsh

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, many people already have plans to travel over the holidays through the New Years 2021/2022 weekend. Many from the San Francisco Bay Area already have plans to travel to Puerto Vallarta. What is it like to travel to Puerto Vallarta right now?

In a word, Puerto Vallarta is busy. Many are traveling for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began and you will notice that as soon as you arrive at Puerto Vallarta's airport. Be sure to pack you patience. You will need it for the long lines at both passport control and customs.

For the uninitiated, you don't need to have proof of vaccination nor a negative Covid test to enter Mexico But you will need a negative Covid test when you leave. That test can be done up to 72 hours or three full days before departure. Don't wait until your day of departure to get a test. If there are any snags in the testing, you could miss your flight.

Puerto Vallarta’s Setac is a good place to get tested. It costs about $30 US and you will have your results in a printout in 30 minutes. Setac does important work in support of the city’s LGBT community.

Many hotels are experiencing their first big holiday travel surge since the pandemic began. A check of various Internet sites show that several hotels are already sold out through the Thanksgiving weekend. You won’t find the same bargains that hotels were offering during the height of the pandemic.

Most Mexican citizens are fully vaccinated and there is far less worry about COVID than there was just a few months ago. The city has recovered well from Hurricane Nora in August 2021. There was little damage to the city except those homes and businesses close to the Cuale River. That river separates downtown Puerto Vallarta (El Centro) from the Zona Romantica area, just south of downtown. That is where you will find the city’s public beach, Playa de los Muertos and the city’s iconic modern pier. One of the bridges over the river was destroyed in the storm but a project to rebuild the bridge is expected to be completed by the end of the year. In the meantime, the vehicular bridge closest to the ocean is open to two-way traffic. As shown in the photo above, Hurricane Nora created a freshwater lake at the mouth of the river, just before it empties in the Pacific. That spot is popular with kids who might be a little scared of the bay waves.

If you plan on going out to eat at any of the city’s most popular restaurants, the best advice is eat early, before 5:30 p.m. to avoid the lines that you will face later. A taste of what it was like over the holidays could be noticed on Monday, which was the day the city observed its Revolution Day which is on Saturday but the bank holiday was Monday. Long lines could be observed even at some of the city’s less popular restaurants. Over the weekend, you would have a hard time finding a chair under an umbrella at Los Muertos Beach.

Bottom line, if you plan on traveling to Puerto Vallarta over the weekend. Book your hotel early and make reservations early at your favorite restaurant, or if they take only walkins, plan on arriving early.

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