Take a bus or drive the Manzanillo Highway 200 (the southward extension of Insurgentes) about a mile south of town and your reward will be the Hotel Playa Conchas Chinas (P.O. Box 346, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco 48390, tel./fax 322/221-5770 or 322/221-5763, www.conchaschinas.com ), which offers a bit of charm and luscious seaside ambience at moderate rates. The stucco-and-brick complex rambles several levels down a palm-shaded hillside (with dozens of stairs) to a petite pool patio overlooking an intimate cove on Conchas Chinas beach .
Here, gulls soar, pelicans dive, palm trees sway, and sandy crescents nestle between tide pool-dotted sandstone outcroppings. The 19 lodgings themselves come in two grades. “Studio superior” rooms ($90 d low season, $110 d high) are spacious, decorated in Mexican traditional tile-brick and furnished in brown wood with kitchenette and tub bath; most have an ocean view. “Studio deluxe” grade ($115 d low, $130 d high) adds a bedroom, oceanview patio/balcony, and a whirlpool tub. Amenities include air-conditioning, phones, and the romantic El Set sunset restaurant above and a beachfront breakfast café below; there is no elevator or wheelchair access. Credit cards are accepted. Low-season discounts, such as one day free for a four-day stay or two days free for a one-week stay, are sometimes offered.