POPULATION: Approximately 325,000 inhabitants.
CLIMATE: Tropical, humid with an average of 300 sunny days per year. The average temperature is 28°C (82°F) and the rainy season extends from late June to early October.
FAUNA: Nearby Sierra Vallejo mountain range hosts a great variety of animal species such as iguana, macaw birds, deer, raccoon, etc.
SANCTUARIES: Bahía de Banderas encloses two marine national parks – Los Arcos and the Marieta Islands- where diving is allowed under certain circumstances but fishing of any kind is prohibited. Each year, the bay receives the visit of the humpback whales, dolphins and manta rays in the winter. During the summer sea turtles, a protected species, arrive to its shores to lay their eggs.
TRAVEL: All travelers coming into Mexico are required to have a valid passport regardless of their age or nationality. U.S. and Canadian citizens do not require additional visas or permits. Other nationalities may require special visas to visit Mexico. For more information please visit the Mexican Immigration Institute website at: http://www.inm.gob.mx/index.php/page/Paises_Visa/en.html
ECONOMY: Local economy is based mainly on tourism, construction/real estate and to a lesser degree, on agriculture, mainly tropical fruit such as mango, papaya, watermelon, pineapple, guanabana, cantaloupe, and bananas.
CURRENCY: The Mexican peso is the legal currency in Mexico. Although here in Puerto Vallarta American and Canadian dollars are widely accepted.
BUSES: Puerto Vallarta offers a system of urban buses with different routes. Current fare is $6.50 pesos per ticket on most routes and passengers must purchase a new ticket every time they board another bus. There are no “transfers”.
TAXIS: There are set rates within defined zones of the town. Do not enter a taxi without agreeing on the price with the driver first. City taxis are yellow cars that charge by the ride, not by the passenger.
TIME ZONE: The entire state of Jalisco is on Central Standard Time, as is the southern part of the state of Nayarit. Mexico observes Daylight Savings Time, around the same dates as in the U.S.
MONEY EXCHAGE: Although you may have to wait in the line for a few minutes and bring along your passport, remember that the banks will give you a higher rate of exchange than the exchange booths (Cajas de Cambio). If you have a bank debit card you can easily withdraw on any bank ATM from your account back home. ATM’s usually give an exchange rate as good or better than the banks. Normal service charge is $2 – $5 dollars depending on your bank. Usual bank hours are 9am – 4pm Monday to Friday, some banks open on Saturdays from 10am – 2pm.
LOCAL CUSTOMS: Tipping is usually 10% – 15% of the bill at restaurants and bars. No need to tip taxis. At grocery stores the bag boys/ girls’ only earnings are tips as they do not have a salary. Taking a siesta is a Mexican tradition. Legal drinking age is 18 years. It is illegal to drink in public outside of a licensed establishment such as a bar, club or restaurant. Drug possession and use laws are harsh. Some businesses and offices close from 2p.m. to 4p.m., reopening until 7 p.m. or later. In restaurants it is considered poor manners to present the check before it is requested, so when you are ready to leave, ask “la cuenta, por favor” and your bill will be delivered to you.
WHAT TO DO: Even if your villa is everything you ever dreamed of, you should experience at least a little of all that Vallarta has to offer – it truly is a condensed version of all that is Mexican and existed before big resorts. Millions have been spent to ensure that the original “small town” flavor is maintained downtown, in the Old Town and on the South Side neighborhoods.
WATER: Puerto Vallarta´s water purification system has been certified safe by international standards since 1992. However we still recommend you use purified water. Villa Balboa has an in house water purifying system. It is safe to drink out of any tap inside the villa. You can request extra bottled water for your convenience. Restaurants and eateries all disinfect their vegetables and serve bottled water upon request.