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Puerta Vallarta or Playa del Carmen?

In cooperation with: Visit Mexico
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Puerta Vallarta or Playa del Carmen?

Planning my first trip to Mexico. At this point debating between PV or PDC.

A couples trip, 5-7 days in January. Prefer Boutique hotels, nice beach, walking & exploring town.

Local food & mingling with others. Can anyone give me the "Vibe" between both destinations?

Any Favorite moderately priced Boutique hotels in PV?

Thank you.

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1. Re: Puerta Vallarta or Playa del Carmen?

Both place have everything you ask about.

I think the biggest difference is physical setting - the beach/ocean quality. PDC being on the Caribbean has the white sand/turqouise water thing going on. PV being on the Pacific Ocean (well actually the Bay of Banderas) has somewhat more rough beaches, coves, sharper drop-off to the water, etc.

I'm not sure what you consider "moderately priced" but I would call Casa Isabel, Quinta Maria Cortez, maybe Casa Dona Susana or Casa Andrea all "boutique hotels" in Puerto Vallarta.

|Wisconsin Rapids...
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2. Re: Puerta Vallarta or Playa del Carmen?

Hi and welcome to the forum!

My wife and I have stayed on both sides (PDC and PV). We started out doing the all-inclusives, first on the Playa del Carmen side and then came over to the Pacific side staying in Nuevo a couple of times. The Caribbean side does have the soft white sand with the clear blue water. If that is the most important criteria, then I would recommend that side. However, for the last several years we have stayed in town on the south side at Casa Isabel and simply love it! The town is very walkable and safe with many great restaurants, bars, and shops to browse. PDC was fun when we visited there, but I would describe PV as being 100 times better. There is so much more to do in PV than PDC.

Here are a couple links to browse to help get the feel of PV:



Good luck on making a choice! If there are any specific questions you may have, feel free to ask away!

Happy Travels, The Cheeseheads

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3. Re: Puerta Vallarta or Playa del Carmen?

Thank you for the tips. I'm getting a better picture now.

I'm leaning towards PV. Although the sand & water of Carib. Is very appealing---the old world charm of the town & its walkability & other comments I've been getting now are swaying me towards PV. I'm sure I would like both & hope to get to both eventually----looks like PV is winning me over at the moment.

Thanks a bunch for everyone's comments & suggestions.

Milford Michigan
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821 posts
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4. Re: Puerta Vallarta or Playa del Carmen?

I feel like I am in Mexico when in Puerto Vallarta...not so much in Playa Del Carmen. 5th Avenue reminds me of a street fair in the States. It is beautiful in PV with the mountains and the Bay of Banderas. It's pretty flat on the East side of Mexico. Love PV in the fall. Rarely ever a drop of rain.

You will have a great time, whichever side you choose, but, other than the crystal clear water of the Caribbean and, overall, nicer beaches, my pick is PV.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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5. Re: Puerta Vallarta or Playa del Carmen?

We just booked our trip today. My wife and I went to PDC for about 12 years in a row, it used to be really cool. But it has lost a lot of it's small beach type village feel. Turned very yuppie and continental about 50% of their clientele coming from Europe.Along with that has come a big rise in prices. My wife a creature of habit always brings a certain amount of money to spend, and we would always hit the ATM for another $500 before we left.

After switching to PVR about 3 years ago we get by with the money we bring and go home with a few hundred. This allows us to take 2 trips many years.

Also PVR has many more restaurants and a much better price range and quality of food.Without saying, if your a drinker it's PVR hands down!

On the other hand PDC can't be matched for beach and water. The one problem there is beach front erosion and the last time I looked the beach was pretty skinny and very crowded due to lack of sand!

Shawnee, Kansas
Destination Expert
for Puerto Vallarta
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6. Re: Puerta Vallarta or Playa del Carmen?

I've been to PDC a couple times and other places on that side, and on that side I like PDC the least.

PV is my favorite Mexico destination so far. The drama of the Sierra Madres meeting the ocean is beautiful so that makes up for the Caribbean water for me. I love the PV people and, the fact that it's a town I can walk and walk and walk in and never get bored. PDC just didn't have the depth and it's much more touristy.

In PV tourists and residents rub shoulders all the time....not just with waiters. In PDC there seemed to be a lot of separate-ness. I never saw locals on 5th ave. in PDC, but you'll see just as many locals on the Malecon in PV as you will tourists....if not more sometimes. That's something that is very important to me.

If you like to take day trips I think PV wins hands down on many choices that don't require a full day, some are afternoon trips and you can't really do that around PDC. For the major sights you have to travel longer on the Caribbean side, and the main road is boring imo. Mountains and jungle really make a big difference in the scenery. :-)

7. Re: Puerta Vallarta or Playa del Carmen?

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