Situated at the heart of Banderas Bay on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta has a population of over 300,000 residents many of whom work and serve in the thriving tourist industry.
As a world-class destination, Puerto Vallarta has a multitude of attractions, excursions and things to do for visitors and residents alike.
Rest & Relaxation
If relaxation is your thing the bay stretches nearly 40 kilometers with many different beaches to walk and feel the sand beneath your toes, top up your tan or splash about in the warm blue ocean. Catch a glimpse of playful dolphins or whales breaching from the busy Los Muertos Beach (Beach of the Dead) in the heart of the city or the quiet and secluded Playa de Conchas Chinas (Chinese Shell beach) and watch the sky on fire over the horizon as the day disappears and the night begins.
Whilst at the beach, and indeed throughout the city, there’s a plethora of bars and restaurants to cater for your every whim serving Mexico’s famous margarita cocktail during the many ‘happy hours’ or dishing up some of the county’s finest fare – in fact, Puerto Vallarta has over 900 restaurants to choose from, indulging your taste buds with a bonanza of flavors from the four corners of the globe including of course, Mexico. From fine dining to street vendors serving delicious tacos choose a different venue every night of the week! Alternatively, book a food or ‘Walk and Wobble’ drinking tour and let your guide show you some of the best kept secrets off the beaten path where you can eat, drink and mingle with the locals in Vallarta’s cobbled Old Town.
Lets Get Active
If sitting on the beach or by the pool all day is not your thing there are many different activities you can try including hiking the many river, coastal or jungle trails.
A particular favorite by many is to drive, or jump on a bus to Boca De Tomatlan (30 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta costing $10MXN Pesos) and walk the easily found, well worn trail. This moderate amble takes you along the coast and through some jungle to the beach towns of Las Animas and Quimixto.
Only accessible on foot or by boat a cold drink, golden sands and a warm welcome awaits you before the slow trek back to Boca. If the return journey by ‘Shank’s pony’ doesn’t fill your heart with joy you can always book a water taxi and skim across the waves for about $50-$80 Pesos per person.
Closer to home and costing nothing more than a couple of calories and a few droplets of sweat the hike to the Mirador del La Cruz is a must see. From the Malecon and Calle Abasolo head straight up the hill and revel in the stunning panoramic surrounds of Puerto Vallarta and the bay.
For the more adventurous or thrill seeking among us, taxi, bus or book an ATV tour to the one (or all three) of the Eco Parks close to town. Ride the zip-line and fly like a bird through the canopy at breakneck speeds before enjoying a meal or indulging in a spot of tequila at the adjacent restaurants. Perhaps the most popular is the Canopy River tour which takes you across the Jorullo suspension bridge, 470 meters across and 150 meters above the clear waters of the Rio Cuale.
For Nature Enthusiasts
Spending the day in nature is a wonderful way to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and there’s nothing better than immersing yourself in the tranquil setting of Vallarta’s Botanical Gardens. Situated 24km south of the city the entry fee of $200 Pesos is valid for two consecutive days allowing you to slowly absorb the vibrant colours, smells and abundant wildlife the gardens have to offer. There’s also easy hiking trails and the opportunity to swim or dip your toe in the Horcones river which runs through the Sierra Madre mountains to the river’s end at Boca de Tomatlan.
Within the city visit the butterfly sanctuary, Jardin Magico, and enjoy the awesome beauty and the vigorous kaleidoscopic display of colors from these delicate yet amazingly strong creatures. In addition to the sanctuary there is a full restaurant and bar on site. Entry fee is $110MXN Pesos or $6USD.
For a more spiritual experience make sure to try a Mexican Temazcal or Sweat-Lodge. A centuries old ritual, the Temazcal is a dome-shaped hut made out of stone, wood or clay. It is both spiritual, cleansing and healing and the ceremony is usually led by a Shaman. Hot stones are heated outside the Temazcal before being brought in and doused with water to create steam. Herbs, usually sage, and sometimes tequila or mezcal are thrown onto the hot stones to aid the cleansing process and some chanting, singing or giving thanks will commence. The ceremony will usually last approximately two hours and afterwards participants will exit and share food and enjoy each other’s company. Because of the health benefits many hotels and spas have begun to offer this experience as a package and its popularity has grown in recent years. Whilst most spa and hotel packages come with a pretty price tag, traditional Temazcals are usually free of charge with a request that a small donation be given at the end.
If none of the above appeal to you and shopping or browsing one of the many vibrant markets is your idea of fun then the municipal flea market situated in front of the Rio Cuale in Centro offers a range of Mexican gifts and clothing. Open all year round the market traders barter with locals and visitors alike where bargains abound. During the high tourist season a Thursday market operates weekly within the Marina selling food, clothing, art and jewelry. Similar Saturday markets run in the Olas Altas and Emiliano Zapata areas of Old Town. Like other cities, Puerto Vallarta also has its fair share of department stores and shopping malls offering everything and anything your heart desires.
Of course, there is much more to Puerto Vallarta than the small selection above. This thriving tourist destination offers something for everyone whether you’re a thrill seeker, beach lounger, foodie, or mixologist connoisseur. Puerto Vallarta is a ‘choose your own adventure game’…. the possibilities are endless!