Taking the local bus in Vallarta is one of the most economical and exciting means of transportation. Once you get on, make sure you grab something quick or you might find yourself sitting in someone’s lap when the driver hits the gas pedal. At 5 pesos, you can take a bus from the north end of Vallarta all the way south past Mismaloya. There are no bus transfers, so once you get off the bus, you must pay again to transfer to another.
The most important thing to know about riding the bus here in Vallarta is: drivers will not stop if you do not wave your arm at them as they approach. Even then you may still be out of luck if they happen to be in the midst of a race with another bus, trying to arrive at the next group of passengers first. While the buses usually only stop at designated bus stops to drop off passengers, they may stop to pick you up, if you are between stops, if you wave them down.
The buses usually have some type of system to alert the driver you would like to get off. Look for a button marked "timbre", a chord, or a button near the back door of the bus. If necessary, you may also rap on the bus roof, and/or yell "Baha!!"
The seat behind the driver is typically reserved for elderly, blind or handicapped.
Often, musicians or vendors will sing or offer items for sale to you on the bus.
The bus drivers do give change, but large bills may be a problem.
There is only one bus route to the Marina and all hotels located within the Marina area. The buses that go here will say Marina or Marina Vallarta on their windshield or destination display on upper front. The fare is 5 pesos and can take up to 35 minutes from the bus starting point at Plaza Lazaro Cardenas, south of the Rio Cuale, to the Marina area.
These buses run from a stop near the large sports grounds, just south of the Sheraton all the way to Nuevo Vallarta and back again. These buses are usually quite plush and often times crowded during high season. The route is slow with many stops, but the price is very reasonable compared to other modes of transportation. The fare is approximately 10 pesos and the buses run about every 15-25 minutes.
These are usually silver/gray buses, usually with plush cloth seats and are quite comfortable.
They run from Francisco Medina Ascencio, along the Hotel Zone, and stop at Mezcales, Bucerias, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Punta de Mita/El Anclote, and various other stops and hotels in between. There is another bus line that is not as frequent that also stops in Punta de Mita. They are the Pacifico/Compostela buses that go as far north as Sayulita.
Mismaloya and Boca de Tomatlan
This is the south shore route, and serves highway 200 as far as Boca de Tomatlan. Along the way, you can get off at the Camino Real, La Jolla de Mismaloya or any of the many condos, villas, and hotels along the way. The bus starting point is at Basilio Badillo and Constitution. This route is 4.5 to 5 pesos. Buses run from 6:30am to 10:00pm.
Many of the buses run along the hotel zone. Make sure the bus says CENTRO on the display which means it goes along the hotel zone to the Malecon and over the Vallarta Bridge. If it says TUNEL, it will take the Libramiento bypass road and the tunnel, completely avoiding the downtown/Centro area en route to Mismaloya or Boca de Tomatlan.
Pitillal Two bus routes go to Pitillal. One goes along the hotel zone and takes a right at Sam's Club to Pitillal. This bus is usually blue and white. The other bus takes the route along Francisco Villa and into Pitillal, and this bus is usually green and blue.