Saturday, April 14, 2007

Chacala Nayarit: Transportation From the PV Airport

(Part of this post is duplicative of the previous entry)
There are a couple of options for getting to Chacala from the Puerto Vallarta airport.

You can make prior arrangements to be picked up at the airport
you can take public transportation (taxi or bus).

In either case, I would suggest you get something to eat before you head out for Chacala, or bring some snacks, because if you arrive after about 6 or 7pm most restaurants are closed. Also, the ATMs (three at the moment) at the airport are the cheapest way to get pesos. There are also money changing windows at the airport (Cambios).

A pre-arranged airport pickup is not cheap, however, particularly for people with lots of luggage, surfboards, disposable income, small kids, or for people with later arrivals who don't want to arrive in Las Varas after dark, this is a very practical option.

During the winter it is dark in Chacala before 5pm. However the airport is one time zone earlier, which gives you an extra hour to get to Chacala before dark.

There a locally-based van service that will pick you up, by reservation, at the airport, and bring you to where ever you are staying in Chacala. The fare is set ahead of time and depends on various factors (arriving or departing, other guests arriving/departing at the same time, season of the year, etc). In both cases you are met by the driver with a sign at the baggage/immigration exit in the airport.

Cundo's Chacala Taxi Service can be reached as follows:

Via email at
By phone at 011 52 327 219 4018
Trini speaks English and the drivers speak some English.

You will be offered a specific fare after you make contact with the specific details of your flight, including airline and the arrival time in Puerto Vallarta. Your arrival time may impact the cost of your trip (shared rides, etc).
Cundo has several large vans with 7 or 8 comfortable seats with seat belts. These vans are clean, new looking, have good insurance, are federally licensed, can carry lots of lugagge and surfboards, and have AC. The drivers speak at least some English, and are licensed and insured.

As of September, 2007, as you walk out of the immigration/baggage area of the airport you will be in the main floor of the airport, which is generally full of resort reps, taxi drivers etc, most with signs. At this moment, if you need a restroom, ATM, phone, money exchange, food, or a newspaper don't walk out the doors in front of you, but walk back around behind the area you just came out of and find what you need. You will notice the new wing of the airport is open, with more shops and restaurants, including an escalator to the second floor departure area.

If you are ready to head for Chacala, and haven't made prior arrangements to be picked up you have several choices.

1. You can take a taxi to Chacala. If you engage a taxi driver within the airport or right outside the door you will pay top price. If you walk out the doors right in front of you as you leave the baggage area and look to the left you will see a ramp leading to a bridge across the highway. On the other side there are other taxi's who haven't paid the special airport fees to be allowed to work right in the airport parking lot. So they are cheaper and no different, as far as I know.

Be sure to negotiate the fare before you get in or allow the driver to take your bags.
You will need pesos from now on, and the airport ATMs are good because they give out smaller bills, which you will need. I think the cheaper taxis are between 60-80 dollars (400-800 pesos) to Chacala. Might be less, might be more. The driver takes less than two hours, depending on this and that.

The taxi driver probably won't know where you are staying in Chacala, but he can ask around and find out for you. Be sure you are taken right to where you are staying and that someone is there with a key. Most planes land in mid to late afternoon in Puerto Vallarta, and chances are you will arrive in Chacala after dark from December-March. If you have reservations, that person will probably make clear arrangements with you about the location of your rental and accessing the key.

2. You can hitch-hike which would be very unusual in urban Mexico and you would possibly attract the interest of the police or (other) disreputable people

3. You can catch the ATM (grey) bus (signs say Bruceria, Punta de Mita, or Sayulita). Get off and Brucerias Pacific mini-terminal, and catch the Pacific bus (runs every 30 minutes) to Las Varas. This is for people without much stuff and some confidence about travelling in Mexico.

3. You can take the bus to Las Varas and taxi or combi to Chacala.(Via the ATM bus to Brucerias and ten Chacala)
You can take the ATM bus from the bus stop across the bridge from the airport to Brucerias. It costs 10 pesos. The buses are grey and modern looking. Wave one down when you see it.
In Brucerias get off at the Pacifico busline stop, which is about halfway thru town, on the highway, on the right. (Say to the driver "Por favor, Pacifico".)
Then catch the Pacifico bus to Las Varas-Tepic. It comes every 30 minutes as is 60 pesos. This is the easiest travel plan. And quickest.

3. You can take the bus to Las Varas and taxi or combi to Chacala.
(Via the Central bus terminal /Camionera Central)
To catch the Pacifico bus, first either take a taxi (by either method above) or a city bus and go to the central bus terminal (Camionera Central). The bus stop is across the bridge, from the airport, near the cheaper taxis. Ask the driver is he is going to the Camionera Central, which is about a mile and a half north of the airport, on the way to Las Varas and Chacala (Nayarit). The bus that has "Mojo....." is the right one.

There is another Chacala (Jalisco) to the south, so be clarify that to the taxi driver. For some reason the gringo pronunciation of Chacala sounds like Chicago to many taxi drivers, so be sure you are hearing each other correctly. There is no ATM at the bus terminal so get pesos at the airport ATM's. The taxi fare from right at the airport is about $15USD or a little more, and from across the bridge is about $6USD. The city bus is about 5 pesos/50 cents US.

When you arrive at the bus terminal enter and go to the Pacifico bus counter and ask for a ticket to Las Varas (V pronounced as B). Usually they run every half hour or so. The ticket is about 76 pesos or about $7USD. Ask what gate the bus leaves from and what time. There are clean bathrooms with TP and turnstiles (30centsUSD). They usually have small change only. No bills. There are a couple of snack shops and little restaurant. You go through little security gate where the guy writes his initials on your ticket. This is a new thing and I have no idea what the point is, except to slow you down when you are late for the bus.

They load the buses quickly. If you have more stuff than you want to take on the bus with you, you can check your stuff under the bus. It's probably a good idea to sit on the passenger side so you can watch you stuff during the brief stops on your way north. If they give you a luggage tag, don't lose it. They will want it when you claim your luggage.

There are taxis to Chacala at the Pacifico bus terminal in Las Varas until maybe 9pm or so, sometimes later, and the fare is usually about $100pesos (US10$). There are two collectivo's going back and forth to Chacala from about 7am to about 5 or 6pm for 12 pesos ( $1.10US). The taxi drivers may be willing to point out the collectivo stop to you. It's about two blocks back the way you came into town and front of the Taco sign. Most of the taxi driver's know their way around Chacala, and the collectivo drivers know everybody in town.

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