Puerto Vallarta offers visitors an eclectic mix of the old and new. Original pueblo architecture remains intermingled with modern, luxurious beachfront resorts. Whether you choose to frolic with the crowds or find a secluded hideaway, there is much to see in Puerto Vallarta.
The Bay Puerto Vallarta has a wealth of natural beauty, friendly people, glorious sunsets, world-class sport fishing and great cuisine. Not to mention first-class resorts, shopping, diving and sailing. The gorgeous Bahia de Banderas serves as Peurto Vallarta's playground. It begins where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, forming one of the largest bays in the world and the largest in Mexico. The "Bay of Flags" extends from Punta Mita in the north (at the Sierra De Vallejo Mountains) to Cabo Corrientes (in the lower foothills of the Sierra del Cuale mountain range).
Playa Play First, let's explore the main reason most people come to Puerto Vallarta: the "playas" or beaches. Punta Mita, located in a small fishing village to the north, offers spectacular scenery and water-sport venues. Off the coast lie the Marieta Islands, which provide exceptional snorkeling, scuba diving and whale-watching sites. Going south towards the city is Bucerias, a quaint beach community and fishing village with sandy coves and cobblestone streets.
Heading into town proper, visitors will find Playa de Oro, a paradise for surfers looking for the perfect wave. Beach-goers will begin to notice more people enjoying the beaches at this point, and the multitudes of vendors who cater to them. Playa de los Muertos, the “beach of the dead,” is located south of the Hotel Zone and is notorious for its treacherous undercurrents, but it is a popular venue nevertheless. Conchas Chinas, a quiet beach also in the hotel area, features natural wading-pools created by rock formations. At the southernmost point of Banderas Bay (and accessible only by boat) is the Playa Yelapa, a very secluded and beautiful spot. Breathtaking views, a waterfall, hiking and riding make this a hidden paradise.
Viejo Vallarta A narrow island in the middle of the Cuale River divides Old Vallarta. On the island, people can visit quaint outdoor shops, museums and an arboretum. Speaking of trees, dine in a treehouse overlooking the river at Las Brisas. A seaside walkway, El Malecón , is also in this part of town and is considered to be the heart of Puerta Vallarta. The Hotel Rosita, the first hotel built in this city, enjoys this central location and a spectacular beach view. A couple of the popular restaurants in this area are Las Palomas and Carlos O'Brian's. For the after-hours crowd, the Zoo features reggae and rock music into the wee hours of the morning.
Art lovers will find the works of internationally known Mexican artists featured at the Galeria Pacifico. This gallery is well worth your time to experience a taste of Mexico's cultural best.
Visitors can also enjoy the architecture of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most recognized landmarks of the town. With the beautiful bay as a backdrop, visitors will also see noted statuary such as Los Arcos (the arches), The Dolphins, and El Cabillito (the sea horse) while strolling along the Malecon.
Hotel Zone Boulevard Francisco Medina Ascencio runs north to south through the city and is aptly dubbed "the Hotel Zone." On the north end, the Krystal Vallarta hosts five restaurants and The Christine Discotheque, along with authentic Mexican fiestas held twice a week. The Hotel Buenaventura is another fine choice, offering marvelous ocean views and an extensive list of amenities. Villa del Mar occupies more than eight acres of gorgeous beachfront property along with its sister hotel, the Villa del Palmar. The Playa Del Sol Costa Sur is perfect for combining business with pleasure. A club especially designed for children is on the premises, as well as conference facilities for meetings.
Tours Maybe the best way to see Puerto Vallarta's sights for the first time is to use one of the many tour services available. Nature lovers will enjoy Eco Tours for whale, bird and turtle watching. Vallarta Adventures allows you to swim with dolphins or explore nearby Caletas Beach (hideaway for movie mogul John Huston). Adventure of a different sort awaits aboard the Marigalante, with both day and sunset cruises. This “pirate” ship replicates a 15th-century Spanish Galeon right down to the last detail. Passengers enjoy meals, an open bar, dancing and fireworks.