February 27, 2020

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 Puerto Vallarta Destination Review

malecon.jpgLocated on the world’s third largest bay, Bahia de Banderas (Bay of Flags), Puerto Vallarta, formerly known as Las Peñas, is one of Mexico’s most exciting destinations. Known for its sports fishing, exquisite beaches and luxurious resorts, the city receives approximately five million tourists each year. Unique to any other destination in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta is a colorful illustration etched by an intense Pre-Columbian legacy, strong Catholic traditions and influences from many cultures around the world.


 Beaches DistrictsDressFishingGolfNightlifeShoppingSightseeingThings to doTransportationWhale Watching


Judy & Maria's Impressions of Puerto Vallarta

From any location you can see the mountains surrounding the bay. Lush green mountains jutting to the sky and towering over the city.  Long stretches of beach with the sound of the ocean over sand.  Old World charm. The true sense of how Mexico used to be and still is.  Breathtakingly beautiful -- so much so that we stood back and immersed ourselves in the environment and nature surrounding us.  Magnificent sunrises and sunsets over the ocean and bay.  So Exquisite .... So Beautiful ... So Natural ...  So Relaxing.

Puerto Vallarta represents a step to a time when things were simple.  Donkeys are still used for carrying goods from door-to-door in many parts of this singular city.  Many of the crafts available are made by local Indians who have produced their merchandise by the same methods for hundreds of years.  The mild waters of the bay are ideal for water sports such as scuba diving, water skiing, jet ski, parasailing and banana boats. Puerto Vallarta is a destination that offers the best fishing in the world.

Getting Around in Puerto Vallarta

puerto vallarta statue.jpgLocal buses will take you from one end of the Bay to the other at a very affordable price (a peso and a half - about 20 cents USD. Buses run very often, and can be an interesting and enjoyable experience. Musicians hop on and serenade the passengers (for pesos). You can even catch a clown act on the local buses. Blue buses travel the main route along the Bay and through "Centro". Names of hotels and landmarks, such as "Marina" will be written on the front windshield, so it's easy to know which bus to take. Red or green buses travel a back route that takes you around the outskirts of the city, through tunnels cut into the mountains. No matter which route you go, they all eventually end up in "Centro".

Taxi fares are "set" in Puerto Vallarta.  They range between 10-20 pesos for destinations inside the city limits. (That's between $1.50 and $3.00 US). Fares are posted in most major hotels and around town. Taxi drivers have been known to fudge on the fares. Be sure to establish a price before you get into a taxi. Just ask "Quanto questa..." You are welcome to tip but it is not expected. With more than 1,000 taxis circulating the city, this a fast, economical and convenient way to get around.

Note of interest: The taxi union in Puerto Vallarta is very strong and taxi drivers can be extremely aggressive.

Things to do in Puerto Vallarta

In Puerto Vallapuerto2.jpgrta, adventure is at your doorstep. A plethora of amazing activities are available on a daily basis such as: canopy tours, whale watching, snorkeling, kayaking, ATV tours, sailing and of course fishing.

For a taste of local tradition fused with cosmopolitan flair, visit Puerto Vallarta during one of the elaborate celebrations that take place throughout the year. As the tequila flows, fireworks light up the sky and music, dancing and theatrical performances spill into the streets.

The city’s art galleries are also a big attraction. Sightseeing tours and numerous shopping venues such as the Malecon are at your disposal.

Golf in Puerto Valarta

Perfect for your swing on the jungle-lined fairways of Los Flamingos Country Club in Nuevo Vallarta. The Marina Vallarta Country Club also offers great golf and scenic surroundings. Golf is increasingly becoming a way of life in Puerto Vallarta, where enthusiasts will find two very challenging public courses. 

The Marina Vallarta Golf Club is a Par 71, 18-hole championship course designed by renowned course architect, Joe Fingers. Its magnificent views of Banderas Bay, abundant wildlife, and natural obstacles (such as waterfalls, palms and natural lagoons) have made it increasingly popular in the last few years. It has twice been the site of the Governor's Cup Pro/Am Tournament, as well as other important golfing events. The facilities include a driving range, putting green, golf lessons, golf shop and full-service clubhouse. The golf course is part of the luxurious Marina Vallarta hotel and condominium complex, and is only a short walk from such hotels as the Westin Regina, Melia Puerto Vallarta, Marriott Casa Magna, and Velas Vallarta Grand Suite.

The Flamingos Golf Club offers a Par 72 championship course designed by Percy Clifford. Located in the north part of the bay, about eight miles north of the airport, this picturesque course offers a wide array of facilities, including a driving range, putting green, snack bar, golf lessons and tennis courts. Visitors will also find a handsome stucco clubhouse, and a pro-shop overlooking rolling hills that fade toward the ocean. Reservations for tee times are not accepted, they are on a first come-first serve system


Fishing Puerto Vallarta

Fishing is a way of life in Puerto Vallarta. Depending on the season, the waters of Puerto Vallarta teem with sailfish, marlin, tuna and many smaller game fish.

The waters off Puerto Vallarta, especially the San Blas area offer some of the best deep-sea game fishing to be found anywhere, with Marlin, Sailfish, Dorado (Mahi-mahi), Tuna, and a variety of other game fish in abundance.  Fresh water fishing in the local mountains is also available for the true sportsman. Fishing boats can be hired from most of the popular beaches. Fishing trips are common for many tourists, so be prepared for the ultimate fishing experience in Puerto Vallarta.

Puerto Vallarta
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Whale Watching Puerto Vallarta

From December through April, experience the thrill of whales up close in the bay.  Puerto Vallarta whale watching is fabulous. This is especially so during the winter months as the great humpback and gray whales migrate down the coast to have their calves in the warmer and protected waters of Banderas Bay.  Whale watching tours can be arranged through any activity center or hotel. 

Humpback whales normally winter in this area for the birthing of their calves and to mate. Sightings are numerous and we were not disappointed as we were able to view these wonderful giants up close.

Gambling Puerto Vallarta

There is no legalized casino gambling in Mexico.

Dress Puerto Vallarta

Light, casual dress is appropriate for nearly all occasions in Mexico. Long pants and a casual shirt are generally worn by men at the more up-scale restaurants and clubs at night; women wear informal dresses and skirts. However, Mexico has some particular customs regarding appropriate dress for certain situations: bathing suits (particularly for women) should not be worn away from the beach or resort areas; shorts should never be worn when entering a church; flashy or suggestive clothing is inappropriate in smaller resorts and inland cities.

Yachts abound and can be chartered to catch marlin, sail fish, dorado, tuna and other species.  The surrounding hills are the perfect location for horseback riding, strolling, touring, mountain bike riding and bird watching.

The fishing towns of Punta Mita, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Bucerias, Mismaloya, Boca de Tomatian, and Yelape are located in the northern area and offer visitors a true image of Puerto Vallarta - the way it was and the way it is.  These, together with San Sebastian, Mascota, and Talpa with their Colonial-style architecture invite everyone to sense another side of Puerto Vallarta.

The beauty and charm of Puerto Vallarta gather at the historical church of Guadalupe.  Located in the main plaza, its red brick tower is covered by a crown simulating the one worn by Empress Carlota de Mexico in the eighteenth century.

Unlike Cancun, Ixtapa or Huatulco, Puerto Vallarta is somehow an accidental destination.  In the early years it was not included in the tourist attractions of the country.  Today, the primitive old charm has been substituted with a huge investment and a strong sense of competition.  The world is becoming smaller and traveling to places that once were unavailable has changed.  Puerto Vallarta today is compared to Bali, New Zealand and Ibiza.  Note:  The Malecón section of Puerto Vallarta reminded us so much of the San Antonio section of Ibiza (which we visited in July 2003). Puerto Vallarta still preserves its identity.  The natural beauty of the bay and its deep waters (either warm or cooler depending on the time of the year) maintain a huge biodiversity.  Lakes and birds can be viewed all year long while whales and dolphins play in the bay.  There is fish to be cooked and grilled.  The sail fish attracts international events and colorful fish can be seen under the surface of the bay. 

Puerto VallartaTime Zone

Central Standard Time year-round  -- 1 hour difference from Eastern Standard Time.

Tipping in Puerto Vallarta

Mexico generally follows the 15% tipping rule, and a 15% sales tax will be charged on most items.

Traveling with Children to Puerto Vallarta

Minors traveling with only one parent or adults other than their parents must have a notarized letter from the absent parent(s) authorizing them to be taken out of the country. If the parent is deceased, a copy of the death certificate will be required for check in at the airport.

Puerto Vallarta
Sightseeing -- so much to do and see!
We've listed a small selection of tours available tours below

Whale Watching in Puerto Vallarta

There is no better time for nature and adventure lovers to visit the Bay of Banderas than the winter months when humpback whales make their annual migration from Alaska!  To see such a magnificent creature in the wild is truly a rare experience!  Vallarta Adventure offers 4 very different whale watching tours.  Whichever you choose, each will be accompanied by a professional guide, offering a detailed insight into the world of whales.

1.  Whales,  Wild Dolphins and Snorkeling Tour

Top of the line catamarans act as a splendid viewing platform or whale watching.  This multi-activity day to the famous Marietas Islands, combines the exhilaration of whale watching with a fun-filled day at sea. 

2.  Whale watching and Las Caletas. 

This tour gives you an opportunity to combine both the thrill of whale watching with an afternoon at the exclusive, beachside sanctuary of Las Caletas.  After whale watching in the morning, take time to relax, swim, snorkel, kayak or indulge yourself at the spa.

3.  Sailing with Whales

An unequalled way to discover the thrill of sailing with the added excitement of whale watching!  Raise the sails, turn off the engine and sail alongside the humpback whales with a cocktail in hand!  The perfect way to whale watch while enjoying an exhilarating day at sea!  Truly a memorable experience for the nautical nature lover!

4.  Whale Photo Safari Puerto Vallarta Travel

A variety of different species of whales are known to migrate to the warm waters of Banderas Bay each winter, but the largest and most famous of these is the magnificent Humpback whale.  Led by professional guides experienced in marine mammalian behavior and protection, is designed to offer travelers a closer look at the world in which these magnificent creatures live.  It is an unforgettable experience and an unparalled opportunity to photograph these impressive mammals in their natural environment.  The tour is designed to provide a greater understanding of whale behaviors.

Canopy Adventure Puerto Vallarta Travel

Zip through the treetops.  Sail from tree-to-tree 60 feet above the floor of a dense tropical forest for a thrill ride you will not soon forget!

Sierra Madre Expedition

This expedition is for the more adventurous explorers - a unique opportunity to experience the real Mexican wilderness.

Dolphin Adventure

At Dolphin Adventure, the principal goal is to promote a better understanding of dolphins and their intricate underwater world.  Both the "Swim with the Dolphins" and "Dolphin Encounter" programs have been developed for that purpose, enabling you to select the program that best meets your interest and comfort level. Sea Lions Coming Soon!  The newest additions to the Vallarta Adventure family!  These loveable rascals are mischievous and fun!  Choose from 3 interactive programs:

  • Sea Lion Encounter

  • Diving with Sea Lions

  • Sea Lion Photo Program

Yelapa and Majahuitas

A fun day's cruise to discover two of the most beautiful coves in the Bay of Banderas.

Rhythms of the Night

Rhythms of the Night is an amazing journey that transports you to a spiritual land untouched by time.  Imaging this setting -- flickering torches; swaying palms; water gently lapping the shores; a mystical pyramid surrounded by tropical jungle -- all under a star-studded sky.  This mesmerizing experience will captivate your heart and leave you spellbound.

Las Caletas Puerto Vallarta

A privileged few have the opportunity to enjoy a day at magical Las Caletas, a private beachfront hideaway, set in a sheltered cove.

The Secret World of the Huichol Indians

This is a unique experience for more adventurous travelers looking to venture away from modern civilization.  You will be among the privileged few to witness one of the last remaining indigenous cultures in the world -- the Huichol Indians who are believed to be direct descendants of the Aztecs.  The Huichols are a very proud and private civilization, clinging tenaciously to their lifestyle, language and customs.

Tequila and Guadalajara

This full-day excursion offers a veritable celebration of authentic Mexico.  It starts with a visit to the birthplace of Tequila -- Mexico's national spirit - and continues on with a tour of the country's second largest and most historical city -- Guadalajara.

Scuba Diving

Located along the shores of Banderas Bay, Puerto Vallarta and its surrounding environs enjoy warm, clear waters, fantastic weather, and an abundance of diverse sea life -- making it among the world's top dive destinations.  This region prides itself on having perfect conditions and a wealth of unique diving opportunities for both experienced and beginner divers.  Divers can view countless varieties of   brightly colored fish, spectacular sponge formations and vibrant sea corals. The abundance and variety of sea life in Puerto Vallarta is why experienced divers choose to return, time and time again.

Colonial Treasures -- San Sebastian

Journey to the village that time forgot -- a unique opportunity to venture to one of the most remote reaches of the Sierra Madre Mountains by air.

A Journey through Mexico

The villages of Talpa and Mascota.  Leave the bustle of Puerto Vallarta and venture back to time to old-world Mexico.  


The sailing charters are designed for the more discerning travelers.  They offer the thrill of sailing, in a more exclusive atmosphere -- small groups, personal service and an unrivaled way to experience whale watching in the Banderas Bay.

Air Adventures

At Vallarta Adventure, flight safety and top quality standards are the foremost priority.  Pride is taken in selection of air adventures designed for travelers wanting to discover the more remote reaches of Vallarta, while providing complete assurance of a safe, comfortable journey.

Horseback Riding

Rivers, Waterfalls, Jungle Plantations and Mountains.  Daily horseback rides.  Bilingual guide, 3 hours on horseback, continental breakfast, Mexican lunch with homemade tortillas.


Puerto Vallarta offers a superlative shopping experience. Items available for purchase such as clothing, jewelry, leather goods, blown glass, pottery, hand-crafted furniture and many other arts and crafts are all made in Mexico. The indoor/outdoor Mercado Municipal, Vallarta’s largest craft market, it encompasses an entire city block alongside the Cuale River.

Art lovers have the unique opportunity to purchase pieces by some of Mexico’s most well known contemporary painters and sculptors, as well as internationally renowned artists. The city’s reputation as an art center sets it apart from most other Mexican resort destinations.

Visitors with a good eye for talent have the chance to get in on the ground floor with Mexico’s up-and-coming new artists whose work can be see at the Pueblito del Sol Cultural Center.


As is the custom in Mexico, most shops and businesses close for siesta between 2 and 4 pm but reopen from 4 to 9 or 10 pm. Usually this does not apply to larger department stores.

Shopping Tips

Generally, many things in Mexico cost less than what they would cost in North America and Europe. However, there are some exceptions to that generalization. Some products are more expensive. For example, paper products tend to cost more because there is very little or no pulp and paper industry in Mexico. (Coconut palm trees don't process into paper very well.) However, other items such as clothing, food and alcoholic beverages are considerably less.

In some smaller shops around Vallarta and, for example, at the Flea Market in Centro, prices are not set—it is expected that you barter and bargain with merchants which can be a lot of fun. Keep in mind, prices in more upscale shops are not negotiable.

Beaches in Puerto Vallarta

Twenty-six of Puerto Vallarta’s Thirty-four miles of coastline are beaches. To the north in Nayarit on the Costa Vallarta, the beaches tend to be longer and wider. South of Puerto Vallarta where the water is tranquil and much deeper, the mountains literally descend into the sea allowing for many small coves and intimate sandy stretches.

San Pancho/ San Francisco Beach

Under an hour from Puerto Vallarta—this beach is on open sea just a few miles outside the bay. San Francisco beach is long and wide with more boisterous waters than inside Banderas Bay. Activities on this beach include surfing, kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking are offered here year-round.

Punta de Mita

Located on the peninsula at the northern tip of Banderas Bay. While there are no restaurants or facilities here, this is beach is ideal for strolling. At a leisurely pace it can be walked in about 30 minutes. Punta Mita is a surfers delight.

Nuevo Vallarta

A wide sandy beach is located about 30 minutes from Puerto Vallarta. It is lined resorts and residential communities. This area offers a number of activities Including golf on three professional courses, a water park, yacht club, marinas, shopping at a large air-conditioned mall and dining at several area restaurants.

Hotel Zone

Located 10 to 15 minutes from Puerto Vallarta, this beach is lined with resort hotels. This is Puerto Vallarta's original and still growing tourist playground. Offering every amenity and water sport. Motorbikes are also available for rent about one block away.

Los Muertos

This long sandy beach located on the South side is the town's most active. The beach scattered with restaurants bars hotels and condominiums. From Los Muertos, small boats travel to beaches further south via the Los Muertos Pier.


A jungle-fringed cove beach located 25 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta where the Mismaloya creek meets the ocean. This area has several small restaurants and bars. It is also possible to visit the old movie set from the 1963 film, "The Night of the Iguana."

Photography is king in Puerto Vallarta

Aerial cables are currently being replaced by underground cables - a delight for photographers and strollers who can enjoy the city architecture.  The white walls are adorned with colorful flower pots.  Although the streets have always been paved with cobble stone, the river stones are mixed with concrete  to create a more even and durable surface.

The hills and tropical forests welcomes motor biking, horseback riders and mountain bikers.  While hiking along creeks and enjoying waterfalls, explorers learn to distinguish the flora.  During the summer, in the evening, marine turtles lay their eggs in the sand.  The Bay of Banderas is a true wonder and a strong attraction to visitors.

The palm trees are tall and elegant and never sway too much in Puerto Vallarta despite the wind, the palm trees are rarely touched by the fury of hurricanes as the bay's geographical location protects them from storms that can be destructive to other tropical spots.  As a whole, the climate is considered to be the best in the world, especially during the winter when the days are sunny and the nights are cool.

Places to visit in Puerto Vallarta

South Shores

Unlike the north where the landscape is flat and somewhat dry, the south offers lush jungles within the hillsides of the Sierra Madre Mountains. The highway south to Manzanillo hugs the coastline for approximately 15 miles before it cuts inland to higher elevations.

Located at the start of the highway is primarily residential area is often referred to as Taxco by the Sea, but known to most as Conchas Chinas. Homes and small condominium projects dot the coastline, offering spectacular views of the bay and Puerto Vallarta. The styles of architecture in this area are very traditional—red tiled roofs and white washed walls. Some of the most beautiful homes along Mexico’s Pacific coast are located here.

Numerous hotels, villas and condominiums are located along the coast until you reach the beautiful Bay of Mismaloya and the infamous rocks of Los Arcos. Following the river, there is a cascading waterfall and a wading pool for children. A horseback trip to the falls makes for a pleasant outing in a gorgeous tropical oasis.

Before entering the mountains there is Boca de Tomatlan where visitors can rent a panga (boat) and visit Las Animas, Quimixto or Yelapa beaches. Preceding the mountains, you'll reach a riverfront paradise with river pools, waterfalls and a wonderful selection of restaurants.


This area of Vallarta has had many names, but for many years it was known to the locals simply as El Otro Lado (The Other Side), Los Muertos, Olas Altas, Restaurant Row, Playa del Sol, Colonial Zapata and the Romantic Zone. Tourists tend to stay within the central part of town. Despite its charm and character, Los Muertos is often overlooked.

The Other Side is unique to itself with fabulous restaurants and exciting nightlife. Located about 1 block from the central area, just across the bridge over the River Cuale. 

The Other Side has its own collection of specialty shops, and perhaps being located just outside the central area, the prices tend to be a lower.

The Southside has come into its own for the quality and quantity of small restaurants, usually owner operated that offer some very unique cuisine. Here you'll also find the Water Taxi which leaves regularly from a newly reconstructed Pier.

Many of the restaurants in Los Muertos have in-house musicians or will have small traveling groups of musicians drop in to see if you'd enjoy a romantic serenade.


Downtown is the original Puerto Vallarta known locally in Spanish as "Viejo Vallarta" (Old Vallarta) or more frequently "El Centro". This part of town is very attractive to artists and romantics becaupuerto5.jpgse of its quaint, old-Mexico casas with their red clay-tile roofs and bougainvillea spilling from balconies.

"La Plaza" or the town square, is where you will find the "Palacio Municipal" or Municipal Center and the Guadalupe Cathedral, the pride of all the local people and Puerto Vallarta's most famous landmark. Named for Puerto Vallarta’s patron saint Guadalupe Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) Construction of the cathedral began in 1929 and was completed in 1941. The interior of the church is decorated in opulent detail; on the outside, the church is topped with an elaborate crown. Unfortunately, due to earthquake damage the original crown, which is said to have been modeled after a tiara worn by the mistress of Emperor Maximilian, was replaced. The cathedral is the focal point of Guadalupe Day (Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), a twelve-day festival, which takes place every December 12th. Just about every neighborhood, business, and communal association makes a procession to the church for a special mass they have devoted to the “Virgin of Guadalupe.” For the larger groups, these processions resemble a small parade, which may include folk dancers, floats and fireworks

"El Cerro" (the hill) which rises up behind the Guadalupe Cathedral offering a spectacular panoramic view of "Old Town" and the Bay. In "El Cerro" you will find many elegant houses and villas. This is the location of Casa Kimberley, the former residence of Elizabeth Taylor, which was purchased for her by Richard Burton, his former residence is directly across the street, connected by the now-famous "love bridge."

A mile-long "boardwalk" known as the "Malecon” runs along the downtown oceanfront and the oceanfront streets, Paseo Diaz Ordas. There are several blocks of shops, galleries, gift shops, restaurants and nightclubs in this area.

Along the southernmost edge of the downtown area is the Rio Cuale. A long slender island in the center divides the river, running from the oceanfront to the street that goes to Mismaloya and beyond. This is a beautiful place to walk and peruse adorable specialty shops, top restaurants, the Cuale Museum and even botanical gardens.

The Hotel Zone

South of the Marina is an area known as the "Hotel Zone". This area stretches along the main divided highway of Vallarta, and as the name would indicate, it is an area mostly made up of hotels along the miles of beaches on the Bay of Banderas. There are two major shopping centers in the Hotel Zone - both with a variety of shops and major Department/Grocery stores. The Hotel Zone is just a short hop by bus or by taxi to "El Centro" the center of Vallarta.

Marina Vallarta

Marina Vallarta has been deemed one of the most attractive and well planned tourist, residential, commercial developments in all of Mexico. Marina Vallarta’s nearly 500 acres includes more than just Mexico’s largest Marina. It also has about a mile and a half of beachfront, an 18 hole golf course, luxury hotels, condominiums and villas. There is an American school, tennis facilities and spas, along with a large commercial center. There is also a large water park for children, with slides and wave pools.

The Marina itself is the most modern and complete marina in all of Mexico. With a total of 555 full service slips, ranging from 30 to 140 feet, Marina Vallarta can accommodate yachts of all sizes. The depth and shelter offered by the calm Bay of Banderas is one of the reasons that Vallarta's Marina is popular with boaters from all over the world. Numerous first-class hotels surround the marina complex.

Along the beach you can stroll the Boardwalk of the Marina, where there are a wide selection and variety of restaurants and shops to choose from. Be sure to visit El Faro, the Marina Lighthouse, which offers phenomenal views of not only the marina, but also the entire bay. The boardwalk is a great way to spend a morning, afternoon, with plenty of shops and a wonderful opportunity to view some of the world’s most elegant cruisers and sailboats that are anchored within this beautiful marina. Some of the ships stay all year round, enjoying Vallarta’s pleasant weather and sheltered bay, while for others this is just a stop on their journey to other exotic locations. The marina is also the place to sign up for fishing and sailing charters.

Marina Vallarta is situated just south of the Vallarta Airport and only about a 15 minute drive by taxi or bus to downtown Vallarta.

Nuevo Vallarta

Just north of the Puerto Vallarta International airport is the residential-resort development of Nuevo Vallarta, a project begun by the federal government over 10 years ago. Nuevo Vallarta consists of a 1,150-acre site with 2.9 miles of beachfront. There are many homes that have been built along its canals and its beautiful beachfront. Elegant villas and estates line the channels, each with their own docking pier and manicured gardens of bougainvillea, hibiscus and birds of paradise. The ecology of Nuevo Vallarta is well preserved. The residential dream homes give way to a five-mile stretch of tropical lagoon and estuary frontage for home sites with private docks. South, the channels weave their way through impenetrable tropical foliage.

In the last few years major hotels have been constructed along the expansive beach of Nuevo Vallarta. Plans also include a shopping center 18-hole golf course and tennis clubs. Nuevo Vallarta is surrounded by water on three sides, and a new marina development (with 300 slips) is also under development.

All Points North

Easy to reach within one hour's drive North of Puerto Vallarta on the paved and well marked Highway 200, Bucerias and San Francisco offer colorful culture and miles of uncrowned beaches. Once you cross the bridge spanning the Ameca River just north of the airport you're in the state of Nayarit, which is on PST (Pacific Standard Time).

Journeys to this fascinating country are as interesting as the destinations. Banana, mango, papaya and tobacco plantations, road-side shrines paying homage to lives lost where they stand, trees hosting bee tracking stations and donkeys carrying bundles to market are just a few of the intriguing images you'll likely see en route.

The closest, and largest, pueblo with a population of around 5,000 and the longest beach on Banderas Bay, Bucerias is a definite favorite. The growing community of North Americans appreciates its old-fashioned festive feel, particularly in the evenings around the lively market.

Bucerias means the place of the scuba diver. Its shallow waters and golden sand are particularly inviting to boogieboarders, waders, and shell collectors.

Prior to the early 70's San Pancho/ San Francisco was a drowsy fishing village with a handful of palapa-style houses on the beach with no electricity or running water. Then former president (1970-1976) Luis Escheverria took a proprietary interest in the town, building schools and the only hospital between Vallarta and Tepic - 90 miles away. It's said he had hoped to end up with a prestigious United Nations post by creating a self-sufficient town that would be a model for Third World Development. Instead, Escheverria fled Mexico in the 70's and his family's estate here fell to ruin. But the schools and hospital remain a central focus of village life and a testimony to his vision.

Surfers are attracted by some of the best waves in the area, the coastline picking up swells from the southwest to the northwest. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world's longest rideable wave is just an hour and a half north at Matachen Bay. When a southern swell arrives, this spot goes off with an overhead wave that breaks for up to one and a half miles. Even when the swell is smaller, the bay offers three different point beaks with excellent shape.

Weather in Puerto Vallarta

Visitors will find that the weather in Puerto Vallarta is ideal for a beach vacation because during the day temperatures rarely go below 80F and, except for some cooling showers, sun shines most part of the year. You may want to bring an umbrella for the afternoons in the rainy season (from June to October), but a heavy jacket is only necessary if you are planning to go on a mountain excursion.

Winter, the tourist high season, is warm and sunny. Temperatures range between 77 and 86F during the day, very comfortable for a beach stroll, and during the night they settle between 64 and 73F. Spring and autumn have moderate temperatures, while in summer they reach 92F and the humidity increases.

Although the atmosphere in Puerto Vallarta is fairly casual, if you choose to dress up, do so with the weather in mind. In the winter, nights are usually chilly where as in the summer they are balmy. Cotton and other natural fibers are always comfortable for the day and light synthetic fabrics are more tolerable in the evening.

Nightlife in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta's nightlife ends early -- about 6 am. Suppers are usually very late, eight, nine or even 10 pm so most bands don't start playing until 11 pm. There is music for everyone -- reggae, hard rock, punk rock, pop, and jazz. Even folk music can be heard in Vallarta's more bohemian hang-outs.

Mexican culture is everywhere. Mariachis entertain on the streets and beaches most every hour of the day or night. Presentations ranging from puppet shows to major dramas are put on in an open air theatre on the Malecon and major hotels host weekly folklore and festivals designed to acquaint vacationing tourists with the music, food, drink, and dance of Mexico.

The center of nightlife is the downtown Malecon (beachfront walk) where many of the city's better restaurants specialize in fine food and then bring on the bands or the canned music in the late evening. Not everything happens at street level. Nightclubs can be found on the upper floors of the Malecon buildings and the best way to judge them is to listen for the music you like and watch for the crowds of people overflowing onto the balconies.

South of the Rio Cuale, in the Los Muertos Beach area where the prices are higher, there is a cluster of all night discos, rock and jazz clubs. And outside the city, hidden away in the jungle or along secluded beaches, are luxurious restaurants and nightclubs that offer an evenings entertainment, dinner, drinks, and dancing under the tropical stars.

Most clubs are never more than a short taxi ride away, but the adventurous will want to explore Puerto Vallarta's nightlife on foot, strolling along the Malecon or perusing the Olas Altas - Los Muertos neighborhood.

South to Manzanillo

The 180-mile stretch of mountainous coastal road that connects Puerto Vallarta to Manzanillo is known as the Costa de Oro, or Gold Coast. The well maintained Mex 200 Highway winds along the Pacific Coast, offering breathtaking views, interesting sites, and a wide range of accommodations, from rustic to ultra-luxurious.

Beautiful and secluded beaches front the coastline along this magnificent stretch of highway. About mid-way between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo is Chamela Bay, with a wide, white sandy beach that stretches for miles against a jungle and mountain backdrop.

A few miles further south is Costa Careyes (Turtle Coast) a vast resort area with 8 miles of exquisite coastline boasting 15 beaches.

Less than 15 miles further south is Tenacatita Bay, where a river flowing into the ocean creates a calm and safe swimming beach for miles in either direction.

Then comes Maleque Bay, with a number of small, clean beaches at the base of the foothills. The town of Malaque is somewhat developed, with hotels, restaurants, and shops, and attracts its share of tourists.

Just a few miles south of Maleque is Barra de Navidad, which is about 140 miles south of Puerto Vallarta. Barra de Navidad is located on a huge sandbar with a picturesque lagoon at the back of the village. Here you will find small hotels, shops and restaurants.

Further south, about 17 miles, is the beautiful secluded beach, Playa de Oro. This beach is spectacular and the last secluded beach before entering Manzanillo.

Water in Puerto Vallarta

The water and ice in local restaurants and bars is purified bottled water. Puerto Vallarta is one of the few cities in Mexico that has a water purification system (Seapal) and the water is tested regularly and has been deemed safe for human consumption. But, because your body is used to the water you drink at home, different water can introduce new bacteria that don't agree with you. To be on the safe side, it is probably better to buy bottled water for personal consumption.

Judy and Maria's Summation on their travel to Puerto Vallarta

In our opinion, Puerto Vallarta has the best of everything wrapped up in one destination!  Puerto Vallarta is a value added, affordable destination that offers tourists a large variety of resorts,  Puerto Vallarta was voted one of  the top ten cities for friendliness and safety.  Puerto Vallarta is the real Mexico offering its visitors history and culture of years gone by.  Several of our fondest memories of Puerto Vallarta are:

Strolling the Malecón and viewing the exquisite sculptures strategically placed along the boardwalk.   The magnificence of the sights and sounds of this historic city and the beauty of the majestic mountains towering over it offers tourists a memorable experience.  Shopping is wonderful --- from stylish art galleries and shops to strolling through the Mexican markets purchasing handmade crafts.  Along the Malecón dining options abound, offering visitors dining options for every taste and budget!  Everything from upscale Martini Bars with six cour sea.   Shopse meals to tacos, burgers and pizza.  One must include a dinner or just a drink at the Cafe des ARTISTES Bistro Gourmet located at Guadalupe Sanchez 740, Central Puerto Vallarta www.cafedesartistes.com  --  the most extraordinary meal set in luxurious surroundings and the very best Green Apple Martini on the planet.  You will really appreciate your visit to Cafe des Artistes Bistro Gourmet. 

A great stop along the Malecón is the Cuban Restaurant La B Del M.  Guests can write their names on the walls and ceiling.  We wrote www.jmtravel.com on the top of the stairs on the ceiling! One can't miss it.  Diners can order a Cuban Paella for two or a Cubano sandwich while sipping a Cuban drink called "Mohito" which is made with fresh crushed mint, sugar, limes, vodka and soda water -- so incredibly good.  Many famous guests have visited this restaurant -- Naomi Campbell, Ernest Hemingway and more. Photos are on the walls.  Live music is played in the evening we thought that Restaurant La B Del M was so much fun!.  The Malecón has it all -- history ... local culture, dining and sightseeing --  it reminded us of our travel to Ibiza in the Balearic Islands.

The Marina Vallarta district offers visitors the most magnificent views of the sea along with the ability to view yachts of all sizes and local fishermen arriving with their bounty from the

ping abounds -- from craft markets to art galleries.  Seafood restaurants with the fresh catch of the day . . . cafes . . .  and clubs.  During your vacation in Puerto Vallarta schedule a stop at the world class Marina Vallarta.  Note: Golfers can enjoy the championship golf course located here.

The Hotel Zone of Puerto Vallarta is the perfect location for those visitors who elect to be in the heart of Puerto Vallarta and within walking distance to restaurants, shopping, beaches and activities.  The Hotel Zone is located between the marina and downtown. If you choose to be located within walking distance to shopping, restaurants and tourist attractions, the Hotel Zone in Puerto Vallarta is the perfect vacation selection.

The South Zone Mismaloya is a very secluded area featuring private coves and beaches with lush, green, verdant tropical mountains towering over the sea.  One can view magnificent hillside villas built high on cliffs. One can just envy the villa's inhabitants because they have daily views of the most breathtaking sunrise and sunsets in Vallarta. 

We recall standing on a sixth floor balcony at Dreams Puerto Vallarta at sunset and just staring up at the mountains and trying to mentally absorb the astounding beauty that nature has provided its people -- we both had chills!  You must experience Mismaloya yourself to understand what we are describing.  In our opinion, two excellent hotels located in Mismaloya are the Dreams Puerto Vallarta and Barcelo La Jolla de Mismayola (the Jewel of Mismaloya).  Note: the film "Night of the Iguana" starring Elizabeth Taylor was filmed at La Jolla Mismaloya and guests can dine on the cliffs at the restaurant called "Night of the Iguana."   If your perfect vacation choice is that of privacy and seclusion, along with breathtaking beauty, the South Zone Mismaloya is the perfect choice.

In closing, we fell in love with Puerto Vallarta.  Friends and acquaintances have often told us of the beauty and charm that  Puerto Vallarta had to offer.   One has to experience Puerto Vallarta to fully understand.  Puerto Vallarta is an exciting vacation destination offering guests so many vacation options all wrapped up into one destination!  


Puerto Vallarta is the best of everything wrapped up in one destination!


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