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DIRECTIONS TO SMALL TOWNS NORTH OF PUERTO VALLARTA via Bus or Taxi
These directions begin at the PV airport, and were originally intended specifically for people heading toward Chacala, Nayarit via the Pacific Busline. However, I have added info for people heading for:
Mezcales (Pacifico terminal)
Brucerias (Pacifico terminal)
Sayulita - (to town or to highway dropoff - 1.5 miles into town)
San Franciso/San Pancho (on the highway at the edge of town)
Lo de Marcos (on the highway at the edge of town)
Le Monteon (on the highway at the edge of town)
Guayabitos (on the highway) (better to take the bus to La Penita and take a taxi or combi)
Los Ayalos (on the highway) (better to take the bus to La Penita and take a taxi or combi)
La Penita (Pacifico terminal)
and Las Varas/Chacala. (Pacifico terminal)
The same bus continues north to Compostella and Tepic.
This (below) is your first view as you exit the customs/baggage area in the Puerto Vallarta airport. Straight ahead, outside, and to the left is the beginning of the bridge that goes across the street to the cheaper taxis and to the city buses going north to the bus terminal. "ATM" buses headed directly for Brucerias and Sayulita also stop here.
Normally, this area is filled with drivers waving signs and calling to you. And friends, etc.
There is a booth with the more expensive airport-sanctioned taxis here, with prices posted.This would be the doorway (below) you just came out of as you left the customs and baggage area (if you turned around and looked behind you).If you want to use the restrooms, the ATM cash machines, the Cash Exchange, or get a snack or liquid refreshment, or whatever, follow the directions at the top of this post.
(as follows: Leave the Arrivals area at the big taxi sign. Go to your right, and then your right again. Walk along the building for about 100 to the big glass doors and reenter the airport, on the Departures side.)
There are three ATMs at the airport, and none at the bus terminal (so get some pesos at the airport), and there is no baggage holding area at the PV airport.This is a taxi stand you probably want to avoid. It's very expensive and it's the same taxis as across the street.
Once you are back in the airport buildng, on the Departures side, there are all kinds of stores, a bar, bathrooms, a money exchange window, the first of three ATMs, a magazine and gifty-y shop, and a "Cuban" bar. There is a Starbucks upstairs, near the departure area. And a Carl's Jr. This is the Bancomer ATM, which I think has no extra fee. This is another taxi window is for the expensive "official" taxis whose drivers pay the airport to drive into the parking area.
After you do whatever, go back outside and back around the building and notice the bridge overhead, crossing the highway. There's usually a bunch of big charter buses here, taking people to resorts.
Go toward the bridge, and find the rampway, following the guy in the white shirt. And you will see the start of the bridge across the highway. To the less expensive taxis and the buses. You have to cross the bridge to get an affordable taxi, a city bus or an ATM (short distance) bus. And some places to eat and buy drinks, snacks, etc.
You walk across the highway, and down the ramp. The taxis are behind you and the bus stop is in front of you as you come off the ramp.
Taxi waiting area.
If you are heading to Mezcales, Brucerias, or Sayulita, you can catch aa ATM bus (grey new looking buses) or a taxi here. The buses have their destinations written on them in white paint. On the window. Or someone at the bus stop might help you. Wave at the bus you want, otherwise they might not stop for you.
(It's the exact same buses that start out at the bus terminal.)
This is their second stop coming north.
The advantages to taking one of these local buses is
1) you don't have to go to the Bus Terminal (Caminonera Central),
2) they cost between 8 and 20 pesos (75cents/2.00US),
3) in the case of Sayulita, the bus that says "Sayulita" will take you right into Sayulita. Most of the Pacifico buses drop you on the highway where there is unlikely to be a taxi and you have to walk about 3/4 or a mile, maybe further). However, a few Pacifico bus DO go into Sayulita, but I don't know how that works.
There are also collectivos/combis going by, but you would need to know what you were doing and exactly where you wanted to go to take one.
If you aren't taking the ATM bus to Brucerias but want to take the bus to Chacala you must get to the Camionera Central, about two miles away.
Getting to the Central Camionera (Inter-city bus terminal)
You will need to catch either a taxi or a city bus to go to the Central Camionera.
City bus: You have to ask the bus driver if he is going there because it's hard to tell from the window signs where they are going. Again, someone may help you if you ask. 4.5 pesos.(40 cents). You need pesos, not dollars or loonies. It's hard for the drivers to understand gringos saying Central Camionera. Roll your R's. The drivers are usually in a hurry and not passenger friendly.
The blue bus with a sign that starts with Mojo goes right by the corner of the bus terminal. that's the best bet, I think.
Taxi: The taxi drivers across the bridge usually watch for people coming across the bridge and ask if you want a taxi. The taxi to the bus terminal should be about $6o pesos ($6US), a little more if there is more than one person and/or lots of luggage. The driver might offer to drive you to whereever you are going. Chacala is usually about 600 pesos. $55 , but it could be much more.
Don't let the taxi guy drop you off at the Vallarta Plus terminal (new, small, on the right before the real terminal). Those buses are expensive and only leave every few hours, and opposed to Pacifico, whicis is 70 pesos and leaves every 20 or 30 minutes.
This is the entrance to bus terminal. The city bus leaves you about a 70 feet away, and it's obvious where to walk to. The taxi leaves you at the door.
This is the Pacifico window. If you aren't confident with your Spanish, it helps to have a piece of paper and pen handy. You want to go to Las Varas (pronounced Las Baras). I used to write a note, and show it to the guy. They never have change for a 500 peso bill, and sometimes not for a 200 peso bill, so planning ahead is good. It's now $80 pesos for a one-way ticket to Las Varas, about 30 pesos to San Francisco.
After you by your ticket, the ticket guy will usually point on the ticket the number of your bus and the number of the slot it will be at. And what time it will leave.
They have loudspeakers, in Spanish, but I wouldn't count of hearing anything. It's better go outside about 10 minutes before the bus is supposed to leave and stand around with the other people going on the Tepic bus.
There is a bathroom inside the terminal, clean, and now some have toilet seats, for 3 pesos each. There are a couple of junk food places and a small restaurant that sells beer too, I think.
There is also a baggage check. Very cheap. Not for overnight. Some people take their stuff there, go do errands around town, and come back to the Terminal and head north.
There is NO BAGGAGE CHECK at the P.V. airport.
Often there is no toilet on the bus, or it isn't working. Planning ahead is good because the buses doesn't make bathroom stops until Las Varas.
(Below)This is where the buses wait for the passengers at the P.V. bus terminal. The bus to Las Varas (and Mezcales, Brucerias, Sayulita, San Francisco, Guayabitos/La Penita, etc) is actually the bus to Tepic, and the sign in the window will say Tepic.
The driver take you ticket and will notice you are going to Las Varas (or wherever), but you might mention it to him or his helper as you board.
If you have lots of stuff you can ask to have it put underneath, or the driver may insist. They give you claim tickets and are pretty careful about the luggage. But sit on the passenger side and keep an eye on what comes out of the luggage compartment at bus stops, in case there's a problem. And keep your claim check. And your ticket.
Make sure the driver knows where you are going. If there is no one waiting to get on the bus, and the driver don't realize where you want to get off they won't stop. The only Pacifico bus stops with bathrooms are Mezcales, Brucerias and La Penita, and Las Varas, but don't count of being able to get off the bus, or that the toilets will be available at any of those stops. The trip north is about 2 hours to Las Varas.
This is the Las Varas Pacifico bus terminal for northbound buses. The taxi stop (to Chacala) is at the corner going back. It's obvious most of the time, with a line of taxis waiting, until early evening sometime. The gringo charge is usually 90/100 pesos ($8 or 9US) If you want to try to catch the collectivo to Chacala, walk another block down/south the same the bus came into town on, past the CMQ pharmacy, cross at the signal, walk past the furniture store and Dani's Tacos, and turn left.
Right there is the collectivo stop for Chacala (10 pesos) and some other towns. They start running about 7am until about 6 or so at night. If you have alot of stuff and the collectivo is full, you might consider taking a taxi rather than crowding in.If you have a reservation, or a place you want to go to, ask the driver to take you there. If the collectivo driver seems to be going out of his way for you, or helps you, tip him. 10 or 20 pesos.
Many of the taxi drivers and combi drivers know where all the rentals are. Someone will know.
If you don't have a reservation, you might get off the Juan's Joker Tienda, and walk up the hill (away from the ocean). There are some good rentals this way. The ones up on the paved road, 100 feet are Techos de Mexico rentals (Aurora and Concha), Casa Chacala, and Casa Iguana.