One of the first places tourists go in Puerto Vallarta is the beach. In need of a cocktail and beautiful sunset after a long airplane ride and getting settled in hotels or guest houses, it’s a favored destination. Sink your toes into the sand, tip back in your chair and relax.
This is about the time someone appears at your table hawking a tray of silver in a velvet lined case. You’ve heard about the cheap jewelry in Mexico so your curiosity is peaked. You try on a ring, a bracelet and handle some of the gems hanging from delicate chains. Ask the price and make a counter offer. Banter a little with the vendor and make a purchase. You have bargained your first purchase. Congratulations.
What you don’t expect are the multiple vendors who will now see you as a fresh customer and descend on your with their wares of equal importance. These people are dressed all in white, wear hats, and often have on shoes that make it easier for them to get around in the different terrains. They are recognizable. They will want to sell you blankets, dresses and blouses, food items such as fresh shrimp on a stick, fresh oysters, pies, breads, ice cream, cups of fresh fruit, floor mats, puppets, toys, sparklers in December, lots of jewelry, boat and parasail rides, a trip around the bay on a big yellow banana, tiny bobble-head creatures, t-shirts, sunglasses, beads, hair-braiding, phone cases, candy out of a wheelbarrow, wooden sculptures, baskets, and the list goes on and on. You get the idea.
There is a lot of debate as to whether a vendor likes to barter. Some of them live for it, while others get annoyed and just want you to buy what you want so they can get on with their next customer. They won’t display that annoyance but they might not be willing to give you a good a deal as you might get if you are more compliant. The beach has the best prices on most things. Vendors buy directly from the supplier, have no overhead and can call their own prices. They also have families to feed, so don’t forget that.
When they do flock around like a bunch of hungry birds, be sure to let them know you aren’t interested. Once you start buying, they may think that’s what you came to the beach for, so they could be reluctant to walk away. Give them a stern, but polite no, thank you. Practice your Spanish and say no, gracias, but don’t be rude.
We recommend getting beach shopping out of the way shortly after you arrive. Then you can enjoy every sunset undisturbed.
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