Puerto Vallarta sunset from Hacienda San Angel - Downtown Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta sunset from Hacienda San Angel - Downtown Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Hop a bus or a taxi to explore small towns and the wide, white sandy beaches north of Puerto Vallarta


The pelican sleeping on the dock ignores the man with a fishing rod and a tempting tackle box full of bait. It is equally impervious to the roar of speedboats and the hum from the crowded beach.

When I get too close with my camera, the bird lazily opens one orange eye, stares at me and seems to say, “Slow down. Relax.” Then it closes its eye. I creep closer and get my shot.

In Puerto Vallarta, even the birds are relaxed.

At 10 a.m., I’ve been told to relax four times. The first was my fiance Mike, who told me not to fret when we missed the first taxi. The second was the ticket salesman, who accepted $22 each for the roundtrip tickets and said, “Slow down, senorita. You have plenty of time.”

The third was the 14-year-old waiting to tie the taxi to the pier. “It’s only 15 minutes late,” he says. “Relax.”

The fourth, of course, was the bird.

We’re waiting on the Malecón for the water taxi that will take us to Yelapa, a tiny town on the south side of Banderas Bay.

There are no cars in Yelapa; people get around by foot or by horse. For day-trippers, it can only be reached via a 45-minute boat ride. It received electricity about four years ago, and gives new meaning to the word “relaxed.”

It’s one of four towns I plan to visit during this trip, my second to Puerto Vallarta. I love the city for its laid-back atmosphere, the friendliness of the locals and the many things to see and do, but this time, I want to see what the smaller towns in Mexico have to offer.

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