Mexico is becoming a popular destination for British travellers – so much so that we’re now the third largest group of visitors after Americans and Canadians. The majority of us still stick to the traditional, well-established tourist areas around Cancún, on the Caribbean coast. But the hot tips for 2017 are Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, two neighbouring regions along Mexico’s Pacific Coast. I spoke to Luis Villaseñor from Visit Puerto Vallarta, who told me that travellers used to Cancún will get a very different experience in Riviera Nayarit.
“We are a really traditional town with a beautiful old church. And you’ll experience Mexican festivals like the Day of the Dead and the National Revolution Day,” said Luis. Puerto Vallarta is also becoming a popular destination for those who want a more chilled-out and eco-friendly break. “It’s becoming a laid back, hippy-chic area. Why? Because it’s great weather, you can eat organic food and be connected with nature. You can do Tai Chi, massages and learn to eat properly. It’s popular with people who want to stay away from stress.”
Luis told me there’s another important consideration for British visitors. The great exchange rate means your money will go further. “You can get a beer for about a pound and there’s great food,” explained Luis. “In May we have restaurant week – around fifty restaurants have set menus and you can dine for around £6. You couldn’t eat in Nandos in the UK for that. In Puerto Vallarta you’ll eat in really high end restaurants.”
Being on the coast, the food in the area features lots of fish. “We have great ceviche, made with carrot, tomato, onion and coriander. We also have red snapper grilled with special sauce. And we eat a lot of fish and shrimp tacos,” said Luis.
Even though Puerto Vallarta is only just emerging as a tourist destination, it was once popular with Hollywood royalty, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Luis told me their old house, Casa Kimberley, has just been turned into a luxury, boutique hotel, although with rooms starting at $950 a night, you’ll need deep pockets to live the Hollywood lifestyle.
I asked Luis where he would recommend staying and he suggested downtown Puerto Vallarta. “It’s because you have everything nearby and you’ll be connected with the locals and you’ll be close to the church,” he said. “You’ll also be close to all the bars, clubs and restaurants. And if you want to hit one of the nice beaches to the south, you can get an aqua-taxi. That costs around £8 return.”
There are direct flights from London Gatwick and Manchester to Puerto Vallarta Airport, which is just ten minutes from the main tourist areas. For more information go to VisitPuertoVallarta.com.