is a small elegant gallery who
exhibit and sell the Exquisite Mata Ortiz Pottery,
the finest pieces of pottery in Mexico, and possibly
in the world. Visit us in Viejo Vallarta ('old
town') to see the most exquisite collection of
this exquisite art pottery.
The shopping scene in Vallarta
generally takes place in small independently-owned
stores rather than in large impersonal malls. Downtown
(‘El Centro’) and Viejo Vallarta (the
‘old town’ just south of Downtown) are
the primary centers of commerce. The beach-walk malecòn
downtown is lined with stores, but some of the more
unique are on the streets two and three blocks away
from the beach. Viejo Vallarta has a huge variety
of unique stores and galleries along their cobblestone
streets. There are a couple notable shopping centers:
Plaza Caracol in the middle of the hotel zone, and
Plaza Marina between Marina Vallarta and the airport.
You will find little in the way of unique art or handicrafts
here, but are great for necessities such as groceries
and the like. Paradise Village Shopping Center in
Nuevo Vallarta has a wide range of interesting stores
as well as a nice grocery store if you’re staying
in that area.
SILVER and JEWELRY
You’ll find an abundance of silver here…Mexico
is a leading producer of ‘plata’ and the
beautiful jewelry that can be made from this wonderful
metal, so you’ll find lots of bargains to be
had. True silver is stamped “.925”, but
beware that much of the ‘silver’ sold
on the beach is actually ‘alpaca’, a lower-quality
silver metal, even though it may have been stamped
“.925”. This doesn’t mean you won’t
find beautiful rings, bracelets, and necklaces from
the beach vendors…they just might not last as
long and will require more frequent polishing to maintain
The highest quality silver jewelry is sold in the
stores. Prices typically are not marked, but instead
based on the weight of the piece. Your prospective
selection will be placed on an electronic scale, and
the weight multiplied by the store’s price-per-gram.
Most stores will allow a little ‘wiggle room’
for negotiation, especially if you are buying multiple
items or a single large piece.
Native gemstones included in jewelry typically include
jade and polished coral or onyx. You’ll find
silver stores all over town. Notable: One especially
notable establishment is Viva Collection on Basilio
Badillo Street in the Viejo Vallarta section of town.
You may see Huichol Indians on the streets of Vallarta
-- they are easy to spot, dressed in white clothing
embroidered with colorful designs. Puerto Vallarta
offers the best selection of Huichol art in Mexico.
Descendants of the Aztec, the Huichol are one of the
last remaining indigenous cultures in the world that
has remained true to its ancient traditions, customs,
language, and habitat. The Huichol live in adobe structures
in the high Sierras (at an elevation of 1,394m/4,600
ft.) north and east of Puerto Vallarta. Due to the
decreasing fertility (and therefore productivity)
of the land surrounding their villages, they have
come to depend more on the sale of their artwork for
This small but quaint
Huichol Indian art store that is a lot different
than the rest of the stores in Vallarta. The difference
is that this store in Viejo Vallarta is actually
owned by a Huichol Indian family.
Huichol art has always been cloaked in a veil of
mysticism -- probably one of the reasons serious collectors
seek out this form of artesanía. Colorful,
symbolic yarn "paintings," inspired by visions
experienced during spiritual ceremonies, characterize
Huichol art. In the ceremonies, artists ingest peyote,
a hallucinogenic, which induces brightly colored visions;
these are considered messages from their ancestors.
The visions' symbolic and mythological imagery influences
the art, which encompasses not only yarn paintings
but also fascinating masks and bowls decorated with
tiny colored beads.
The Huichol might be geographically isolated, but
they are savvy businesspeople and have adapted their
art to meet consumer demand. Original Huichol art,
therefore, is not necessarily traditional. Iguanas,
jaguars, sea turtles, frogs, eclipses, and eggs appear
in response to consumer demand. For more traditional
works, look for pieces that depict deer, scorpions,
wolves, or snakes.
Notable: There are several shops selling this amazing
art along Lazaro Cardenas between Vallarta and Constitucion
Streets, including Artesanias Flores; just a couple
doors away is Milagros de Mexico which also has a
nice collection of Oaxacan figurines and black clay.
Niuweme is a nice small store (which is actually owned
by a Huichol family) at Carranza #377, just a couple
blocks from the aforementioned.
You wouldn’t guess it from the vibrant designs
and bright colors in their artwork and clothing, but
the Huichol are generally a very shy and timid culture.
It will be tempting to take pictures of these beautiful
people in their colorful native dress, but always
ask permission before taking photographs, and don’t
take offense if you are declined…this will be
for their personal spiritual reasons.
Puerto Vallarta's Municipal Market (the “Flea
Market”) is just north of the Río Cuale,
where Libertad, Insurgentes, and A. Rodríguez
all meet. The ‘mercado’ is packed with
hundreds of individual stores and stalls that sell
clothes, jewelry, serapes, shawls, leather accessories
and suitcases, papier-mâché parrots,
stuffed frogs and armadillos, and, of course, T-shirts.
Be sure to comparison-shop, and definitely bargain
before buying. The market is open daily from 9am to
Upstairs, a food market serves inexpensive
Mexican meals -- for more adventurous diners, it's
probably the best value and most authentic dining
experience in Vallarta. Notable: For the less-adventurous
diner, check out Cafe Roma, just
a half block west along the river. Good pizza and cheap cold beer
available at reasonable prices for the weary shopper.
Another smaller “Flea Market”
market is at the corner of Vallarta and Rodriguez,
just a couple blocks away. An outdoor market is on
Río Cuale Island, between the two bridges.
Stalls sell crafts, gifts, folk art, and clothing.
Both are worth a look, and will take you closer towards
Viejo Vallarta. Click HERE
for more on the Puerto Vallarta 'Flea Market':
The largest gallery and sculpture garden in Vallarta
is in Viejo Vallarta. Galleria Dante specializes
in original works by contemporary artists as well
as recasts of well-known bronze statues. The majority
of the artists we represent are Mexican, but we
do exhibit works by sculptors from as far away
as Pietrasanta, Italy.
Puerto Vallarta has one of the strongest
art communities in all of Latin America, and therefore
boasts an impressive collection of fine galleries
featuring original work from artists throughout the
Americas. Most of the larger galleries host an evening
“art walk” every week between November
Notable among the galleries are all
in Viejo Vallarta: Galleria Dante, which hosts a beautiful
large sculpture garden (Basilio Badillo between Constitucion
and Vallarta); Galería Mata Ortiz is a small
elegant gallery who exhibit and sell the Exquisite
Mata Ortiz Pottery (Cardenas #268); and the Javier
Nino Gallery, upstairs at Cardenas #322…a whimsical
artist who “transforms dreams and fantasy into
HERE for a review of Puerto Vallarta
CLOTHING, LEATHER, SANDALS
Puerto Vallarta will offer you a wide variety of clothing
options for sale. Of course there are lots of silly
T-shirts available nearly everywhere, but higher forms
of fashion are appreciated here too. Notable: Very
popular is ‘manta’, a light and airy cotton
fabric that makes perfect warm-climate clothing. D’Paola
is a popular store with a wide range of women’s
styles (on Basilio Badillo just East of Vallarta Street).
A few doors down is Serafina, a purse and handbag
Mexico is famous for hand-worked
leather goods, and Puerto Vallarta is no exception.
You’ll find leather belts, bags, sandals, and
clothing from jackets to pants to hats to dresses
everywhere, especially in the Viejo Vallarta part
of town. Click
HERE for more information on Leather
in Puerto Vallarta.
the "World of Tile", is Puerto Vallarta's
ONLY talavera factory, producing beautiful tiles,
accents, sinks, pottery, and more. Located in
the heart of Viejo Vallarta ('old town'). Always
happy to produce custom orders.
The beautiful multi-colored pottery you may know as
‘Mexican style’ is actually called Talavera,
and Puerto Vallarta has plenty of it. From flower
pots to dinnerware, vases to platters, figurines,
and even sinks and toilets…you’ll see
it all over town. Look for pieces marked ‘lead-free’
on the back of bottom to insure that’s what
you’re getting. Talavera is pretty sturdy stuff…still,
you want to pack it carefully to get it home in one
piece, and wash it carefully once you arrive.
Much of the Talavera in Puerto Vallarta
comes from Guadalajara or the little town of Delores
Hidalgo. Notable: Vallarta boasts its own Talavera
factory at the corner of Basilio Badillo and Insurgentes
at the south edge of town. They have a huge selection
of Talavera pieces, offer excellent packing and shipping,
and you can commission custom pieces or tiles here
to have a truly one-of-a-kind piece of art in your
CIGARS and TEQUILA
Cuba is a friend of Mexico, so you can buy Cuban cigars
here. Tequila is of course a product of Mexican joy,
so it’s here too. But while you can smoke one
and drink the other, you can only take Cuban cigars
back with you if you are flying direct to Canada.
While you can enjoy genuine Cuban cigars here, don’t
discount those that originate in here! Mexico has
fine tabacco producing regions as well, and you can
find fine cigars hand-rolled to your specifications
here. Several shops in Viejo Vallarta along Vallarta
Street just south of the Cuale River will make a custom
box of cigars to your desires. You’ll find Cuban
cigars as well, but if you’re a resident of
the USA (or changing planes in the USA on your way
back home), these are forbidden by outdated regulations,
and will be confiscated by U.S. customs, and possibly
incur you a hefty fine if found in your luggage. Canadian
and citizens of other countries have little to worry
about as long as their flight plans do not include
a stop on U.S. soil. Click
HERE for more on Cigars.
Tequila is Mexico’s gift to the world of the
distilled-spirits drinker, and Puerto Vallarta lies
at the edge of the country’s Tequila production
region. (For the full story on Tequila, see “Tequila!”
on VallartaSource.com) Puerto Vallarta hosts a tequila
festival in the town square every year, but you can
sample the best of this magical liquor all year long
at a variety of stores around town. Try La Casa de Tequila
at Morelos #589…just a couple blocks back from
the malecòn, they have a large variety of quality
tequila for your sampling enjoyment, as well as a
very nice traditional restaurant. Click
HERE for more about Tequila.
Beautiful hand-blown glassware
stemware, vases, goblets, dishes...and of course:
lots of colorfull shot glasses, singles or in
much much more, in Viejo Vallarta just 1-1/2 blocks
from the beach.
Puerto Vallarta is a dream for those looking for unique
home furnishings, art, and accents. Viejo Vallarta
(the ‘old town’ section of town) has a
particularly eclectic selection of shops holding all
sorts of interesting art and handicrafts with which
to decorate your home and remind you of your vacation
in Vallarta. Notable: Serendipity, Vallarta # 28(between
Madero and Caranza Streets) has a wonderful collection
of native artwork. MarAzul is around the corner on
Madero just a few steps east of Vallarta Street, and
is a veritable emporium of Mexican handicrafts.
Everybody loves the fabulous blue-rimmed glassware
famous in Mexico, but how do you get it home? Not
to worry, the vendors of this beautiful Mexican art
are also experts at packing so you’ll get it
home all in one piece. One of the best selections
of hand-made Mexican glassware is at an unassuming
little store called Pee-Wee on Lazaro Cardeñas,
between Pino Suarez and Vallarta Streets in Viejo
Vallarta. Another good shop is also in Viejo Vallarta:
La Rosa de Cristal, Insurgentes 272, across from the
big Guadalajara Pharmacy.
MERCHANDISE COMES TO YOU ON THE BEACH!
When you’re on the beach, all manner of merchandise
will come to you in the form of the Vallarta beach
vendor. These wandering salesmen will offer you wood
carvings, jewelry, blankets, shirts and wraps, lace,
temporary tattoos, wind chimes, hair braiding, and
more. It’s a great way to do business!: You
with your cold drink in your hand, and the vendor
doing his best to convince you why you need the particular
item in question. Thus begins the bargaining game!
Here’s how it works: You start
admiring an object, and the vendor asks you if you
like it. You ask how much it costs, and he replies
that it is 200 pesos. At this point you tell him that
this is far too much money, and he replies by explaining
about the fine quality of the item, how many days
it took the craftsman to create this piece of art,
and then asks how much you want to pay. You suggest
that you might like to take it home with you if it
were 75 pesos. He chuckles and tells you that this
is simply not possible, as he has a wife and children
to feed, but allows that he could bring his price
down to 180 pesos. You in turn offer to pay 100 pesos,
and on and on.
can, if you like, go on for quite some time, until
you reach a price at which you can both agree. Or,
you can simply put the item back in his hands at any
time and say that it’s just more than you can
afford. Be aware that the vendor may agree finally
to sell it to you at your last-offered price (which
you are now rather obligated to accept), but to “please
don’t tell anybody else”. This can be
a way for both of you to save face and complete the
transaction. This is the way business is and has been
done in Mexico for years and years, and how friends
are made as well!
Bartering should never be insulting.
For the Mexican it is part of life and business; if
it is not fun for you, stick to the stores with price
tags on their merchandise. To insult someone's merchandise
is down-right rude, and will only make you, and your
fellow countrymen, look bad.
When you are not in the mood to do
business, simply waggle your finger or shake your
head at passing vendors when they ask for your interest…they
will politely nod and move on.