If you are planning a trip to Mexico, Puerto Vallarta is most likely one of the top areas on your radar. Puerto Vallarta is known for its beautiful water and its top-of-the-line coastal environment. There are plenty of activities for just about anyone to have a memorable time in Puerto Vallarta, whether you are going alone, with a loved one, or with your friends.
Puerto Vallarta is, on average, a very safe city, and there are no distinct neighborhoods or areas that need to be avoided during daylight hours. However, there are other hazards that you should know about and avoid at all costs.
Avoid these things in Puerto Vallarta:
- Drinking tap water
- Mosquito bites
- Swimming while under the influence
- Getting scammed and taken advantage of
The Crime Rate of Puerto Vallarta
Although certain areas in Mexico, such as Juárez, have high crime rates, Puerto Vallarta is known to be one of the safest cities in Mexico.
A study done in 2010 had shown that many cities in the United States, such as New Orleans, have a higher burglary, robbery, and homicide rate than Puerto Vallarta.
Puerto Vallarta may have a lower crime rate than many cities that we know in the United States, but that does not mean that you should not remain vigilant. Any time that you are leaving your country and visiting another country that you are not aware of, it is important to remain aware of your surroundings and avoid any situations that you may find as dangerous.
Due to the low crime rate in Puerto Vallarta, you may think that you are ready to pack your bags and head to the coast. However, before you begin planning your vacation, there are many other things to consider and to learn to ensure that you have a completely positive experience.
Water Dangers in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta has amazing scenery and some of the most beautiful beaches I have seen, but just like any other large body of water, there are precautions that you must take in order to stay as safe as you possibly can.
Swimming Under the Influence
Most people that go to Puerto Vallarta at least have a couple of alcoholic drinks to really add to the experience of having a fancy drink by a beautiful beach. If for whatever reason, you have some drinks and think it is a good idea to go for a swim while you are under the influence, I strongly advise against it.
Alcohol can make your body feel warm and blushed, and when that is mixed with the cool waters of the beach, that can be a recipe for disaster. When your body is warm and suddenly gets cold, it can cause shock and a condition known as caloric labyrinthitis. Caloric labyrinthitis is damage to nerves on the inside of your ear.
A mixture between caloric labyrinthitis and being intoxicated can cause severe disorientation and, in return, cause someone to swim downward instead of up.
Gasp Reflex and Alcohol Consumption
Another reason swimming under the influence is dangerous is because it can cause an involuntary gasp reflex. An involuntary gasp reflex is an inhalation caused by shock from cold temperature water.
This reaction to shock from cold water is already somewhat of a threat by itself. If you add that threat plus being under the influence, it can be a really fatal combination. Alcohol delays your reaction times, so if you experience an involuntary gasp reflex while under the influence, the effects can intensify, and your reaction time can be delayed, which will cause you to drown.
Swimming under the influence is by far one of the biggest threats of swimming in the waters of Puerto Vallarta. However, unpredictable wave patterns are another threat that you may want to pay close attention to, even sober.
Unpredictable waves can especially intensify when far off the coast, so it is probably best to stay relatively close to land unless supervised by someone there who knows what they are doing.
Waves can reach strengths that can pull even some of the best swimmers underwater and further out into the water.
The best way to protect yourself against this threat is to look at the weather before you decide to go for a swim. Windy environments are some of the worst environments to go for a swim in deep waters. Wind raises the strength and height of waves substantially which can cause waves to overpower you and toss you around very easily.
Mosquitoes in Puerto Vallarta Can Spread Illness
Mosquitoes are one of the more uncontrollable forms of a threat that you can find at Puerto Vallarta. The reason for that is because if you get bitten by a mosquito, there is a chance that you may just have an itchy bump for a day or two. Whereas there is also a chance that the mosquito previously bit someone with a disease, and you can, in return, catch that disease.
It is definitely worth the time and effort to purchase bug spray to keep mosquitoes away from you. There are millions of tourists that visit Puerto Vallarta on a yearly basis. This means that there is constant transmission from peoples’ blood from all around the world that you want to avoid.
Some of the more prevalent diseases that get spread via mosquito bites include:
- Dengue fever – Rash, high fever, muscle ache, vomiting. Lasts up to 7 days.
- Zika virus – Rash, eye infection, muscle and joint pain, headache, fever. Lasts up to 7 days.
Both of these diseases have severe symptoms. In fact, they may even be life-threatening.
Protecting Your Money in Mexico
Because Puerto Vallarta is a place for tourists to travel to Mexico, there are many people attempting to sell products to convert currency for absurd rates and prices. It is important to know what to avoid in order to save money on your trip for the things that matter.
Currency Exchange Rates
Just like many things that you may find are overpriced at the airport in Puerto Vallarta, the currency exchange rate there is higher than you can find in other places in the city. It is recommended that instead of exchanging currency at the airport, you search for an atm or bank that will give you a much fairer rate.
In order to exchange money at a bank, it is important to note that you need to have an extra copy of your passport that you can give them. In most cases, they will not make a copy for you, so it is a great idea to have copies of your passport safe and ready to go.
As I stated earlier, Puerto Vallarta is a place millions of people visit per year. Because of the frequency that people are visiting, there may be people out in the city attempting to sell you overpriced goods such as jewelry, clothing, and various other products.
One way vendors may determine the amount they are going to charge you for something is solely based on your appearance.
If you approach a vendor wearing a flashy watch and expensive appearing clothing, they may raise the prices of their products specifically for you. In order to avoid this, I recommend that you do not take your best vacation clothes out on the town.
The Best Way to Stay Safe in Puerto Vallarta
Overall, the crime rate is the least of the worries in comparison to the environmental risks of Puerto Vallarta.
To ensure that you stay safe and have a memorable vacation, you should take all of the above safety precautions regarding swimming, alcohol, weather, insects, and money matters.
If you are aware of what to look out for, you are sure to have a great time and enjoy yourself to the fullest on your vacation to Puerto Vallarta.