In the downtown area, overhead wires are being cabled underground,
to the delight of photographers and strollers, that now will be able to
enjoy Puerto Vallarta's architecture where white walls are interrupted
only by flowerpots blooming with bougainvillea, geranium, hibiscus, copa
de oro and splendid ferns. The city streets have always been paved in
cobbled stones, but now, these river rocks have been set in concrete to
create a much smoother and durable surface.
Relax and eat an ice-cream on the main plaza in Vallarta, watch people
stroll by on the malecón or feed the pigeons that live in large
amounts around the square. Rest on the benches or take your photo with
the green "Kiosko" in the middle of the square, which is normally
used for Sunday music.
Though downtown Puerto Vallarta has its attractions, this resort's
prime raison d'être is the sandy stuff sprinkled along the edges
of the adjacent Bahía de Banderas. The beautiful local beaches
begin in town, south of the Río Cuale, in the guise of the towel-swept
Playa Olas Atlas ('Beach of the Big Waves', though to be honest there's
nary a big wave to be seen here) and next door at Playa de los Muertos
('Beach of the Dead', a name which apparently harks back to some long-forgotten
seaside battle and is more than likely the bane of the local tourist authorities).
North of town, in the aptly titled Zona Hotelera, is a string of beaches
dominated by the multi-storey shadows of five-star hotels. Heading up
towards the Marina Vallarta, you'll pass Playa Camarones, Las Glorias,
Los Tules, Las Palmas and Playa de Oro, while just past where the luxury
sloops gather is Playa El Salado. To the south of Puerto Vallarta is another
string of pearls: Playa Conchas Chinas, Estacas, Los Venados, Punta Negra,
Garza Blanca and Gemelas.
Playa de los Muertos
Some may be frightened by the name Beach of the Dead, but it is really
a beautiful beach to spend some time sunning. Rough waters surround the
area and water activities are not recommended here. (The exception to
this advice being jet skis and windsurfing.) These fun activities can
get a little spendy, so bring plenty of cash along. Try some land sports
such as beach volleyball for a less expensive change of pace. A famous
section of this beach is called the Blue Chair and is Puerto Vallarta's
most popular gay beach.
Bahía de Banderas
The Bay of Flags plunges to around 1800m (5900ft), has 160km
(100mi) of sensational shoreline (bar the enormous hotel complexes crowding
onto parts of the beach) and comfortably makes it into the list of the
10 biggest bays in the world (it's number seven). Ostensibly the submerged
crater of a long-extinguished volcano, Bahía de Banderas is an
environmental wonderland populated by giant manta rays, dolphins and (during
their birthing season from November through March) humpback whales. It's
also inhabited by activity-crazy humans, occupying themselves by diving,
fishing, water skiing and generally dipping their collective big toe in
the bay's waters.
One of the most enjoyable attractions in Puerto Vallarta, here you'll
experience the beautiful view of the emerald colored bay, stroll on the
beachfront side and you'll enjoy a view of the beach and sea plus an unobstructed
view of the breathtaking Vallarta sunsets. Walk on the other side and
you'll enjoy the shops, bars and restaurants along the Malecón.
Extends some 10 blocks from Hotel Rosita to the Zócalo (main square).
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Church
The Church, called, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, on
calle Hidalgo, one block from the Zócalo (main square). A beautiful
church that more than any other symbol represents Puerto Vallarta. A beautiful
crown tops the tower.
An eco-preserve is a place where the environment is Number One. All things
natural are protected here at this popular destination. This is a federal
underwater park that offers people the opportunity to snorkel and scuba
dive in a rare environment. Go underwater and investigate the brightly
colored fish and steep rock walls that protect this marine area. If you
aren't comfortable being in the water, try a glass-bottom boat tour. You
will see many of the same species from that view as you would by swimming
below the surface.
Get ready for a fantastic fun-filled frolick aboard this sea cruise complete
with crew bedecked in pirate garb. Your cruise begins at 9am with a workout
session on deck, followed by a Mexican-style breakfast buffet. A game
of Bingo keeps you occupied while cruising toward local dive spots. By
noon, you will arrive offshore Marieta Island, where you receive snorkel
gear in order to explore the crystal-clear waters. After you have had
your fill of sunbathing and snorkeling, a barbecue feast is served for
lunch. Spend the rest of the afternoon however you wish, but don't miss
the boat back.
Lizards are not generally noted for their star-pulling power,
but when John Huston's 1963 flick The Night of the Iguana was slated to
be shot at the then-deserted cove of Mismaloya, 12km (7.5mi) south of
Puerto Vallarta, Hollywood-nurtured egos like Richard Burton and Ava Gardner
couldn't resist an invitation. Since that fateful shoot, which first put
Puerto Vallarta into the tunnel vision of international holidaymakers,
Mismaloya has been overtaken by condominiums and a couple of gigantic
The small, relaxed beachside village of Sayulita, 35km (22mi)
north of Puntas Arenas and just around the rocky claw of Punta (Point)
Villeta from Bahía de Banderas, is the place sought out by sand-dwellers
and surfers once the exuberant gloss of resort life has rubbed a bit thin.
An unobtrusive town on a magnificent shade-soaked beach backed by iconic
coconut palms, Sayulita balances out its dearth of city ruckus with a
laidback feel and an oversupply of outdoor activities.
On the far southern shore of Bahía de Banderas and accessible
only by a highly popular two-hour cruise from Puerto Vallarta is the teensy
cove of Yelapa, which has a beachload of bright sand (whiter than the
teeth of Haight-Ashbury panhandlers) that you may occasionally spot amidst
the sprawled bodies of foreign guests. Yelapa also has a number of casual
palapa (thatched-roof) restaurants by the bayside and a burgeoning parasailing
industry. To the east of Yelapa and also requiring a short boat ride is
Quimixto, which has a picturesque waterfall, and Playa de las Animas ('Beach
of the Spirits'), arguably the most beautiful beach on the bay. There
are regular organised sailings from Puerto Vallarta to Yelapa which take
you there and back in one long, leisurely day.