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Puerto Vallarta

Nickname(s): P.V.
Location (in red) within the state of Jalisco
Puerto Vallarta is located in Mexico
Puerto Vallarta
Location (in red) within the state of Jalisco
Coordinates: 20°40′N 105°16′W / 20.667°N 105.267°W / 20.667; -105.267
Country  Mexico
State  Jalisco
Municipality Puerto Vallarta
Founded 1851
 - Mayor Lic. Francisco Javier Bravo Carbajal (PRI)
 - Municipality 1,300.7 km2 (502.19 sq mi)
Elevation 7 m (23 ft)
Population (2005)
 - Total 177,830
 - Municipality 220,368
 - Demonym Vallartense
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
Postal code 48300
Area code(s) 322

Puerto Vallarta (Spanish pronunciation: [pwerto βaʎarta]) is a Mexican resort city situated on the Pacific Ocean's Bahía de Banderas. The 2005 census reported Puerto Vallarta's population as 177,830 making it the fifth-largest city in the state of Jalisco. The City of Puerto Vallarta is the government seat of the Municipality of Puerto Vallarta which comprises the city as well as population centers outside of the city extending from Boca de Tomatlán to the Nayarit border (the Ameca River). The municipality's population in the 2005 census was 220,368.[1]

The city is located at 20°40′N 105°16′W / 20.667°N 105.267°W / 20.667; -105.267. The municipality has an area of 502.19 square miles (1,300.67 km²). To the North it borders the SW part of the state of Nayarit. To the east it borders the municipality of Mascota and San Sebastián del Oeste, and to the South it borders the municipalities of Talpa de Allende and Cabo Corriente.[2]

Puerto Vallarta is named after Ignacio Vallarta, a former governor of Jalisco. In Spanish, Puerto Vallarta is often shortened to "Vallarta", while english speakers call the city P.V. for short. The city occasionally is spelled or pronounced as Porto Vallarta. Being a Spanish name, Vallarta is usually pronounced 'vie-arta', not 'val-arta'. In internet shorthand the city is often referred to as PVR, after the IATA code (ICAO MMPR) for its international airport.[citation needed]



Puerto Vallarta's proximity to the Bay of Banderas, the agricultural valley of the Ameca River, and the important mining centers in the Sierra have given the town a more interesting past than most Mexican tourist destinations. Puerto Vallarta was a thriving Mexican village long before it became an international tourist destination.[3]

Pre-Hispanic times to the 19th century

Few details are known about the history of the area prior to the 19th century. There is archaeological evidence of continuous human habitation from 580 B.C., and there is archeological evidence (from sites near Ixtapa and in Col. Lázaro Cardenas)[4] that the area belonged to the Aztatlán culture which dominated Jalisco, Nayarit and Michoacán from approx. 900-1200 A.D. Unfortunately the limited evidence and relative lack of interest in occidental Mexican archeology have meant that we still know very little about pre-historic life in the area.[5]

Spanish missionary and conquistador documents chronicle skirmishes between the Spanish colonizers and the local peoples. In 1524, for example, a large battle between Hernán Cortés and an army of 10,000 to 20,000 Indians resulted in Cortés taking control of much of the Ameca valley. The valley was then named Banderas (flags) after the colorful standards carried by the natives.

Also the area appears on maps and in sailing logs as a bay of refuge for the Manila Galleon trade as well as for other coastal seafarers. As such it figures in some accounts of pirate operations and smuggling and pirate contravention efforts by the viceregal government. During the 17th and 18th centuries the Banderas Valley and its beaches along the Bay of Banderas served as supply points for ships seeking refuge in the bay. The area also served as a point where smuggled goods could be sent on to the Sierra towns near Mascota, evading the customs operations at San Blas, Nayarit.

El Carrizal and Las Peñas - 19th century

During the 19th century the history of Puerto Vallarta, then called El Carrizal or Las Peñas, was linked to the history of the sierra towns of San Sebastian del Oeste, Talpa de Allende and Mascota. While today these towns are considered quaint tourist destinations, during much of the 18th century, Mascota was Jalisco's second largest town, after Guadalajara. Mascota and its neighboring towns located in the high plateaus of the Sierra, developed as agricultural towns to support the growing mining operations in the Sierra.

During the 18th century, as Mascota grew, Puerto Vallarta grew with it, transforming itself from a small fishing and pearl-diving village into a small beach-landing port serving the Sierra towns. At the time the main port serving Jalisco was located at San Blas, but the inconvenient overland route from San Blas to the Sierra towns made Puerto Vallarta a more convenient alternative for smaller shipments, not to mention smuggling operations which evaded the tax collectors at San Blas. Puerto Vallarta also became a vacation destination for residents of the Sierra Towns, and by the mid 19th century, the town already had its regularly returning population of vacationers. Most of the early settlers in Puerto Vallarta were families who had left the Sierra towns for one reason or another.

1859 saw an important turning point for the small village, then known as Las Peñas. That year the Union en Cuale mining company took possession of land extending from Los Arcos to the Pitillal river and extending back up into the Sierra for miles. The Union en Cuale company was owned in part by the Camarena brothers of Guadalajara who had developed a small trade in oil palm in Las Peñas. The purpose of the government's sale of the land to the company was to provide for shipping, fishing and agricultural support for the mining operations which were growing quite quickly in the Sierra.

The official founding story of Las Peñas and thus of Puerto Vallarta is that it was founded by Guadalupe Sánchez Torres, on December 12, 1851, as Las Peñas de Santa María de Guadalupe. Unfortunately the record of Sr. Sanchez's purchase of property in Las Peñas dates the sale to 1859.[6] Also even as early as 1850 the area was already peopled by fisherman, pearl divers, smugglers and foragers, all of whom had something of a permanent existence in the area. Given the existing historical documents it is simply impossible to date the first permanent settlement in the area,

There is however no doubt the development of Las Peñas into a self-sustaining village of any significant size happened in the 1860s as the mouth of the Cuale area was exploited to support the operations of the newly enfranchised Union en Cuale company. As such 1859 marks the beginning of Puerto Vallarta as a village. Twenty years later, by 1885, the village comprised about 250 homes and about 800 residents.[7]

The early Municipality - early 20th century

In 1918, the village was elevated to municipality status and renamed after former state governor Ignacio Vallarta. During the early years of the 20th century most of Puerto Vallarta was owned by the Union en Cuale company controlled by the American Alfred Geist. Mr Geist sold land only in large plots at prices that were quite high for the time and otherwise leased the land on short term leases. To remedy this situation and to enable the new municipality to develop, the citizens petitioned the government for a land grant based on the new constitution's provisions. In 1921 the Local Agrarian Commission approved a grant of some 9,400 hectares (23,000 acres or 39 square miles), with the land to be expropriated from the Union en Cuale company.[8] The grant was established as an ejido holding (a farming cooperative administered by the government). Legal squabbling over the size of the land grant, and the ejido status of the properties involved would stymie growth in Puerto Vallarta into the 1960s, as developers were reluctant to build anything too substantial on land for which one could not obtain clear title. (Ejido land is controlled by individuals who are given licenses to use it, but it could not be sold, subdivided or leased.)

During the Cristero War the municipality was twice taken over by Cristero forces (April 1927 and January 1928). After it was recaptured for a second time, the national government stationed a small garrison there under Major Ángel Ocampo. The garrison was stationed near the mouth of the Cuale River and is responsible for planting many of the palms that now line the beaches on near the mouth of the Cuale River to help limit beach erosion during heavy rains in October 1928. One casualty of the skirmishes was local pastor Padre Ayala who was exiled to Guadalajara for his role in fomenting the local revolt. He died there in 1943, though his remains were returned 10 years later and interred in the main parish church of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

As mining activities in the Sierra waned in the early years of the 20th century, Puerto Vallarta and the agricultural valley to the North of the city became important destinations for those leaving the Sierra towns and looking for a place to settle. Many of those who arrived had family members already living in Puerto Vallarta, and the pattern of migration that ensued turned the town into a collection of more or less extended families, giving it the cohesion of a typical sierra town.

Also from 1925 until 1935 the Montgomery Fruit Company operated in the area around Ixtapa. Friction with the state government over labor issues eventually led to the venture being abandoned, but for ten years it provided an important source of employment in the area.

The first airplane service arrived in 1932, with electrical service on a small scale arriving about the same time. The first suspension bridge over the Cuale went up in 1933. The city's first plumbing system was started in 1939. In 1942 Puerto Vallarta was finally connected by road to Compostela, Nay. Until then the only access to Puerto Vallarta was by sea, air, or by mule trails to the sierra towns. Also in 1942 in the New York based magazine Modern Mexico the first advertisement for a Puerto Vallarta vacation appeared, sponsored by the Air Transport Company of Jalisco. By 1945 the company was landing DC-3s in Puerto Vallarta (carrying 21 passengers).

By the 1950s Puerto Vallarta had started to attract Americans, mostly writers and artists in search of a retreat from the USA of the era of Eisenhower and McCarthy. Gringo Gulch began to develop as an expatriate neighborhood on the hill above the Centro. The city also attracted Mexican artists and writers who were willing to trade the comforts of life in the larger cities for its scenic and bucolic advantages.

In 1956 the Mascota mule trail was replaced by a packed dirt road. 24-hour electrical generation arrived in 1958. A new airport arrived in 1962 connecting Puerto Vallarta with Los Angeles via Mazatlán, and the Mexican Aviation Company began offering package trips.

By the early 1960s the population had started to spread beyond the Centro and Gringo Gulch, and the Colonias of 5 Diciembre (north of the Centro) and Emiliano Zapata (south of the Cuale River) began to grow.

The modern resort - 1960s to the present

Four influences converged during the 1960s and early 1970s to launch Puerto Vallarta into its trajectory toward becoming a major resort destination.

First the federal government finally resolved century old property disputes involving the status of communal land originally appropriated from the Union en Cuale mining company to be parceled out as farms. The communal (ejido) status of the land had stifled development in the town for much of the 20th century. The transition to private ownership of much of the land within present city limits culminated in the appropriation of much of the land in 1973 and the establishment of the Vallarta Land Trust (Fideicomiso) to oversee selling the land and using the revenue to develop the city's infrastructure.

Second, the American director John Huston filmed his 1963 film The Night of the Iguana in Mismaloya, a small town just south of Puerto Vallarta. During the filming, the US media gave extensive coverage to Elizabeth Taylor's extramarital affair with Richard Burton, as well as covering the frequent fighting between Huston and the film's four stars. The subsequent publicity helped put Puerto Vallarta on the map for US tourists.

Third, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Mexican government invested in the development of highways, airport and utility infrastructure, making Puerto Vallarta easily accessible both by air and ground transportation for the first time. The city's first tourist boom occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s because of this work. During those years most tourists in Puerto Vallarta were Mexican, and the reason they started travelling to Puerto Vallarta then was because the trip between Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta was made sufficiently convenient because of the governments investment in infrastructure.

Finally, in 1968 the municipality was elevated to the status of a City. The change in status reflected the renewed interest shown by the federal and state government in developing the city as an international resort destination.

Also significant was the August 1970 visit of US President Richard Nixon who met with Mexican President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz in Puerto Vallarta for treaty negotiations. The visit showcased Puerto Vallarta's recently developed airport and resort infrastructure, and thus contributed to the growing visibility of the city as a resort destination.

Prior to 1973, hotels in the city tended to be modest, and only two large sized luxury hotels existed (the Real and the Posada Vallarta). After 1973 Puerto Vallarta experienced rapid growth in the number of larger luxury hotels, culminating in 1980 with the opening of the Sheraton Buganvilias. In 1982 the peso was devalued and Puerto Vallarta became a bargain destination for US tourists. Consequently the mid-80s saw a marked and rapid rise in the tourist volume. This in turn fueled more development, for example the Marina which was started in 1986. By the early 90s development of other destinations in Mexico like Ixtapa and Cancún caused a slump in travel to Puerto Vallarta.

It was also during the early 1980s that Puerto Vallarta experienced a marked increase in problems related to poverty. While the devaluation of the peso brought record numbers of tourists to the area, it also stifled investment and thus construction. So while more and more workers were arriving in Puerto Vallarta to try to cash in on the booming tourist trade, less and less was being done to accommodate them with housing and related infrastructure. So during the mid 1980s the city experienced a rapid growth in impromptu communities poorly served by even basic public services, and with a very low standard of living as the boom of the early 80s leveled out. During the late 1980s the city worked to alleviate the situation by developing housing and infrastructure, but even today the outlying areas of Puerto Vallarta suffer from poor provision of basic services (i.e. water, sewage, roads) as a legacy of the early 80s.[9]

In 1993 the federal Agrarian Law was amended allowing for more secure foreign tenure of former ejido land. Those controlling ejido land were allowed to petition for regularization, a process that converted their controlling interest into fee simple ownership. This meant that the property could be sold, and it led to a boom in the development of private residences, mostly condominiums, and a new phase of Puerto Vallarta's expansion began, centered more on accommodating retirees, snow-birds, and those who visited the city enough to make purchasing a condominium or a time-share a cost-effective option.


Puerto Vallarta's climate is typical Tropical wet and dry (Köppen climate classification Aw),[10] with a marked dry season in the winter. The high temperature and variations in humidity can make July through September nearly intolerable. It has pronounced wet and dry seasonal variation, with sudden monsoon-like rains from July through September, normally for a few hours in the evenings.

The average daily high temperature is 86 °F (30 °C); average daily low temperature is 70 °F (21 °C); average daily humidity is 75%. The rainy season extends from mid June through mid October, with most of the rain between July and September. August is the city's wettest month, with an average of 14 days with significant precipitation. Even during the rainy season precipitation tends to be concentrated in large rainstorms. Occasional tropical storms will bring thunderstorms to the city in November, though the month is typically dry. February, March and April are the months with the least cloud cover.[11]

Prevailing winds are from the southwest, and most weather systems approaching Puerto Vallarta are consequently weakened as they pass over Cabo Corriente. Thus even during the rainy season Puerto Vallarta's weather tends to be mild compared to other areas along the Mexican Pacific coast.

Hurricanes seldom strike Puerto Vallarta. In 2002 Hurricane Kenna, a category 5 hurricane, made landfall about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of Puerto Vallarta, and the city suffered some damage from the resulting storm surge. In 1971 Hurricane Lily, a category 1 hurricane, caused serious flooding on the Isla Cuale, prompting the city to relocate all of its residents to the new Colonia Palo Seco.

Geography, geology and ecology

Geographical characteristics

Puerto Vallarta lies on a narrow coastal plain at the foot of the Sierras Cuale and San Sebastián, parts of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The plain widens to the North, reaching its widest point along the Ameca river. Three rivers flow from the Sierra through the area. From South to North they are the Cuale, the Pitillal, and the Ameca. A number of arroyos also run from the Sierra to the coastal plain. Many of the valleys of these rivers and arroyos are inhabited. Also development has to some extent spread up the hillsides from the coastal plain.

The city proper comprises four main areas: the hotel zone along the shore to the North, Olas Altas - Col Zapata to the South of the Cuale river (recently named Zona Romantica in some tourist brochures), the Centro along the shore between these two areas, and a number of residential areas to the East of the hotel zone. The oldest section of the town is the area of Col. Centro near the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, especially Hidalgo street.

Seismic history

Puerto Vallarta, like much of the west coast of North America, is prone to earthquakes, though Puerto Vallarta tends to experience only peripheral effects of earthquakes centered further south. In 1995 an earthquake located off the Colima coast shook the crown from the top of the Roman Catholic Church.


Nearly 50% of the workforce is employed in tourist related industries: hotels, restaurants, personal services, and transportation. The municipality does however continue to have strong agricultural, industrial and commercial sectors.


Agriculture is especially important in the Ameca valley to the northeast of the city center. Principal crops there include flour corn, sweet corn, dry beans, fresh chile, watermelon and tobacco. Fruit growing operations are more dispersed, with banana farms in the Ameca valley, mango orchards in the low hills, and avocado farms on some of the higher ground above the city.

There are also significant livestock operations in the Ameca valley, and fishing in the Bay of Banderas is also a significant industry.

Industrial products include foods and beverages, furniture, and construction supplies. Thirty years of consistent development have given Puerto Vallarta a very strong construction sector which employs nearly 10% of the Puerto Vallarta workforce.

The commercial sector comprises nearly 17% of the workforce, including shipping, trucking, wholesale and retail operations (though the retail sector is probably understated because of the large underground economy in the sector).[12]

Shipping traffic consists of cruise ships, which arrive almost daily, and occasional visits by U.S. Navy frigates. The Mexican Navy maintains a base at the port, as well as a former naval hospital in the city center, which is now a Naval Museum. Puerto Vallarta is not however very active as a commercial port. Most goods arrive in Puerto Vallarta by truck along the Compostela highway from Guadalajara.

Tourism and travel represent a large part of Puerto Vallarta, with many rental and accommodations available. While the U.S. economy has created a downturn in overall tourism business, the other markets including Canada and Europe are still quite strong.

Tourism trends

Puerto Vallarta was once named as La Ciudad Mas Amigable en el Mundo (The Friendliest City in the World), as the sign reads when entering from Nayarit. Today, the presence of numerous sidewalk touts selling time-shares and tequila render the city's atmosphere more akin to tourist-heavy resorts like Cancun and Acapulco, but overall the city's reputation remains relatively undiminished.

Tourism makes up roughly 50% of all economic activity in Puerto Vallarta according to The high season for international tourism in Puerto Vallarta extends from late November through March (or later depending on the timing of the College Spring Break period in the USA.) The city is especially popular with US residents from the West Coast because of the number of convenient flights between Puerto Vallarta and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. The air routes between Puerto Vallarta and Los Angeles and Puerto Vallarta and San Francisco are by far the most heavily traveled of all air routes to the city.[citation needed]

Puerto Vallarta is also a popular destination for domestic tourists. It is a popular weekend destination for residents of Guadalajara (tapatíos), and a popular national destination for vacations such as Semana Santa (the week preceding Easter) and Christmas. Also in recent years Acapulco has experienced a rise in drug related violence[13] and consequently Puerto Vallarta has absorbed a lot of the Mexico City resort vacation business (Acapulco has long been a common destination for tourists from Mexico City).

Puerto Vallarta has become a popular retirement destination for US and Canadian retirees. This trend has spawned a condominium development boom in the city.

Rapid growth in tourist volume in Puerto Vallarta has given rise to rapid growth in hotel and rental apartment construction. This growth has spilled over from the city limits into Nuevo Vallarta in the neighboring state of Nayarit. The area is one of the fastest growing regions in the Americas.

LGBT Tourism

Guadalajara and Acapulco were common vacation destinations for gay men and lesbians from Mexico City and, especially, the United States and Canada in the 1980s and 1990s. However, since that time, Puerto Vallarta has developed into Mexico's premier resort town as a sort of satellite gay space for its big sister Guadalajara, much as Fire Island is to New York City and Palm Springs is to Los Angeles.[14] It is now considered the most welcoming and gay-friendly destination in the country, dubbed the "San Francisco of Mexico."[15] It boasts a gay scene, centered in the Zona Romántica, of hotels and resorts as well as many bars, nightclubs and a gay beach on the main shore.[15] Puerto Vallarta has been cited as the number one gay beach destination in Latin America.[16]

Population and growth rate for the Municipality of Puerto Vallarta

1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
Total 10,801 15,462 35,911 57,028 111,457 184,728
Annual growth prior ten years --- 3.6% 9.1% 4.6% 7.1% 5.2%

source: Cuaderno Estadistico Municipal[17]

Growth related problems

Water pollution

Visibility in the water off of Puerto Vallarta, close to the mouths of the rivers is poor in the summer, but away from these locations visibility in the summer is greater than in the dry season. In Puerto Vallarta the sewage is treated by a British/Dutch company with a "State of the Art" facility. Outside of the City there may be no connection to this and in the rainy season some pollution can happen around the river mouths, but it quickly dissipates in the bay, which is a huge body of water. Recently jellyfish blooms in the fall have become an increasing problem, making many of the area beaches unsuitable for swimming. It's likely that the blooms are the result of increased algae levels and decreases in predator populations due to the ever declining quality of the water in the bay. While the city government has done a lot to improve sewage treatment, it has done little to enforce its usage and, and the worsening jellyfish bloom is probably a consequence of the resulting plankton blooms.[18]

Recently (2006) beaches in Jalisco were ranked as the worst in the country in a government study. The beaches at Boca de Tomatlan and at the mouth of the Cuale in the heart of Puerto Vallarta tested repeatedly at rates 3 to 4 times internationally accepted standards for human fecal bacteria.[19] Even the beaches at seemingly idyllic Yelapa and Mismaloya tested at the same high levels on several occasions. During the rainy months of June and July the situation becomes worse. For example in July 2007 Los Muertos beach tested at 12 times the limit that the US EPA considers safe for swimming.[20]


Poverty remains a problem in Puerto Vallarta, fueled by the constant influx of persons seeking employment. Many areas of the city are still poorly served by roads and sewers. For example Colonia Ramblases is served by roads in generally poor condition only 10% of which are paved, and Ramblases has been a populated neighborhood since 1940s.[21]

The Municipality of Puerto Vallarta comprises about 45,000 regular dwellings. Of those, 10% do not have a potable water supply (carrying their water from a public tap), 8% do not have connections to a sewer system or septic system (using instead crude septic pits or dumping sewage directly into waterways), and 4% do not have electricity.[22]. One reason for this is the difficulty the city has enforcing building regulations.

Although compared to Mexico as a whole employment levels are quite high, many of the jobs available in Puerto Vallarta are classed as inferior by the Secretariat for Social Development, and even jobs that are generally well paying tend to be seasonally so. E.g. waiters depend heavily on tips to supplement incomes that can be as low as 47 pesos a day - the applicable minimum wage in Jalisco.[23]

There have recently (2005 to 2007) been improvements like the new IMSS facilities in Col. Versalles, improvements to several recreation facilities, improved communal beach access policies, etc. Still efforts seem to aim more at quick and visible infrastructure improvements than at solving the more pressing and perduring problem of insufficient infrastructure for basic service.[24]

One positive result of recent growth has been that in relative terms a smaller percentage of the population lives in older and poorly served neighborhoods. A growing number of residents live in housing projects and low income housing developments which provide at least adequate basic services. So perhaps having stemmed the growth of the problem with the new developments, the City will eventually be able to devote its resources to improving existing neighborhoods[25].


Lic. Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport

The Lic. Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport comprises a commercial international section and a general aviation section.[26]

The commercial section has a single runway, 3,100 meters in length and 45 meters in width, capable of handling all current traffic without restrictions. The airfield is capable of handling 40 takeoffs or landings per hour. The airport has 11 active gates, three serviced directly from the terminal, and eight serviced remotely using shuttle buses.

As of 2010 the active airlines utilizing the commercial section were: Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska, American,Continental, Interjet, Magnicharters, Northwest Airlines, Mexicana, US Airways, Viva Aerobus and Volaris.

The general aviation section handles small planes leaving for San Sebastian del Oeste, Mascota, and other towns in the Sierra and along the Coast. It has 18 loading positions and shares the commercial airfield.

During the high season the airport handles approximately 300,000 passengers a month. During the low season it handles about half of that volume. During 2006 the airport handled a total of 2.8 million passengers. One fifth of those were domestic passengers and four fifths were international.

Bus station and regional buses

National bus lines connect Puerto Vallarta (via the Central Camionera near the Modelo building north of town near the airport) with Guadalajara, Mazatlán, Manzanillo and points beyond. Bus lines include ETN and Primera Plus. Smaller bus lines connect Puerto Vallarta to small coastal and sierra towns.

Local transportation

Puerto Vallarta is serviced by three municipal bus unions that provide coverage for most of the greater Puerto Vallarta area (e.g. Ixtapa, Mismaloya, Pitillal). Most of the population of the Municipality of Puerto Vallarta travels by municipal bus. Automobile ownership is not rare, but automobiles are seldom used to commute to and from work. They are typically reserved for family outings and major shopping trips. Parking in Puerto Vallarta is scarce, and this makes automobile commuting impractical.

Throughout the central area of the city and along the coastal strip, roads are generally paved, often with cobblestones. In the residential areas outside of the central commercial area dirt roads are the norm, and many of them are in poor condition and not suitable for normal automobiles except at very low rates of speed.

The city is also served by a large fleet of taxis. Rates are controlled by a taxi driver's union, and set in negotiations between the union and the city. Rates are based on established zones rather than using taxi meters.

Prominent citizens, past and present

  • Francisca Rodriguez y Rodriguez - Puerto Vallarta's first teacher. She arrived in Puerto Vallarta in 1918 from Tomatlán, and served as Puerto Vallarta's schoolmistress until she retired in 1943. Initially she taught in improvised schools, but eventually moved to the 20 of November School on Ca. Juárez. She was affectionately remembered as La Pachita (the little Pasha) by generations of Vallartan schoolchildren. She was killed by an automobile in Ca. Juárez not far from the school where she taught, and a bronze plaque at the site commemorates her life and death.[27] There is a street named after her in Col. Emilio Zapata.
  • Manuel Lepe Macedo (1936-1984) - a painter renowned for his naive style paintings, a style that has become closely associated with Puerto Vallarta. His works are exhibited in town at the Peter Gray Gallery at the University of Guadalajara's Coastal Center near Ixtapa.
  • Carlos Munguía Fregoso (d. 2005) - well known as Puerto Vallarta's official historian and chronicler. He was author of countless articles on the history of Puerto Vallarta, and of several books, including most recently Panorama Histórico de Puerto Vallarta upon which much of the historical narrative in this article is based.

Culture: Arts, music, cuisine

Local food specialties

  • Huachinango Sarandeado - red snapper marinated in a birria paste (roast peppers, garlic and spices) and grilled.
  • Grilled Marlin - served on the beaches and at some taco stands - the meat is skewered and cooked over coals then served with hot sauce and lime.
  • Ceviche - raw fish, scallops, or shrimp, with onions, chiles such as serranos or jalepenos, and lime juice. The lime juice cures the fish, turning the flesh opaque and giving it a chewy texture. The ceviche is usually served with tortilla chips or on a whole tostada, and quite frequently accompanied by guacamole.

Puerto Vallarta in the movies and TV

  • The Night of the Iguana (1963) - filmed on location at Mismaloya and other minor locations in the Puerto Vallarta area. The filming brought Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr, Tennessee Williams, and Elizabeth Taylor (who was not in the film). The off-screen activities of Burton and Taylor were reported in the tabloids and tabloid newsreels of the day. After filming was completed, John Huston decided to build a home in the vicinity, he built a home on remote Las Caletas beach and a house in town. John Huston's children Angelica and Danny are founders and supporters of the Puerto Vallarta Film Festival. (In The Night of the Iguana children are shown selling iguana by the roadside. The iguana was once an important food animal, popular in Jalisco and Colima.)
  • Predator (1987) - the jungle scenes were filmed on location in the hills behind Mismaloya. The film starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and was directed by John McTiernan. McTiernan lost quite a bit of weight during the filming because he was afraid to eat the local food. The cast also endured a lot of dangerous obstacles in the jungles such as changing weather, cold water and wildlife.
  • Blow (2001) - When George Jung (Johnny Depp) went to buy marijuana in Mexico.
  • The Love Boat (TV series) - Puerto Vallarta was often mentioned as a port of call for the Pacific Princess.
  • The Heartbreak Kid (2007)- In the film there is a scene where Ben Stiller fights with a sea lion and these portions were shot on location in Puerto Vallarta at the Sea Lion Adventure of Vallarta Adventures one of the tour companies there.
  • Gauntlet 3 (2008) (TV series)- An MTV series consisting of challenges between two teams, the "rookies" and the "veterans" for $500,000.

Landmarks, sights, activities

Landmarks in Puerto Vallarta

  • Parish Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe - Col. Centro
  • Púlpito and Pilitas (Pulpit and Baptismal Font) - Col. Emilio Zapata - two rock formations at the South end of Los Muertos Beach. El Púlpito is the tall headland and Las Pilitas are the formation of rocks beneath it. Las Pilitas was the original location of the Boy on a Seahorse sculpture (El Caballito) now located on the Malecón. There are two streets in the Olas Altas area named after the rock formations.
  • Playa Conchas Chinas (Chinese Shells Beach) - Fracc. Amapas - the city's most secluded beach, located to the South of the headland which forms the boundary of Los Muertos beach.
  • The Malecon - paved walkway along the seashore in Col. Centro - especially popular during the Sunday evening paseo. It features a collection of contemporary sculptures by Sergio Bustamante, Alejandro Colunga, Ramiz Barquet and others. The Malecon was extensively rebuilt in 2002-2003 following damage from hurricane Kenna.
  • Mercado Isle Cuale and Mercado Municipal Cuale - there are two large public markets in the Centro along the banks of the Cuale selling a variety of artisanal and souvenir goods, and the Isla Cuale has a number of souvenir vendor shops as well. The Isla Cuale was also famous for its cat population. The Island was a lower class suburb until flooding during Hurricane Lily (1971) forced residents to be relocated. They were moved to Palo Seco (which means for dry stick) and the Island was converted into a site for restaurants, shops and a cultural center.
  • Cuale Archaeological Museum - on the West side of the Isla Cuale, the museum presents a significant collection of local and regional pre-Hispanic art in a number of informative displays. The museum also houses a small gallery for showing contemporary art.
  • John Huston statue on Isla Cuale - dedicated on the 25th anniversary of the film's release and honoring Huston's contributions to the city. John's son Danny was married in a ceremony that took place at the statue in 2002.
  • Plaza de Armas (Ignacio Vallarta) / Aquiles Serdan Amphitheater (Los Arcos) - the city's main plaza - site of public concerts both at the bandstand in the Plaza de Armas and on the stage in front of the arches across the street.
  • City Hall - a modern city hall laid out using a traditional courtyard plan. There is a tourist office in the SW corner, and on the landing of the main (West off the courtyard) stairwell there is a modest naive style mural by local artist Manuel Lepe.
  • Saucedo Theatre Building (Juarez at Iturbide) - Built in 1922 in a Belle Epoque style reminiscent of architecture of the Porfirato. The theater presented live shows and films on its first floor, and the second floor housed a ballroom. The building has been converted to retail use.

Landmarks south of Puerto Vallarta

  • Los Arcos Marine Natural Area - offshore of Mismaloya 12 km south of Puerto Vallarta. The area has been a National Marine Park since 1984. The area is protected as a breeding ground for pelicans, boobies and other sea birds. The park is a popular snorkeling destination both for the rocks themselves and for the dead coral fossilized coral beds that surround them.
  • Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens - agaves and other native plants, orchids, restaurant, river swimming - 20 km South of Puerto Vallarta
  • Puerto Vallarta Zoological Gardens - with 350 animals, and located in a forested setting in Mismaloya

Landmarks north of Puerto Vallarta

  • University of Guadalajara's Coastal Center - North of Pitillal and West of Ixtapa, the campus features several public attractions including the Peter Gray Art Museum and a Crocodile Farm.
  • Ixtapa Archeological Zone - north of the town of Ixtapa along the banks of the Ameca River there is an archeological site with remains going back several thousand years. The site comprises 29 mounds. The largest measures 40 meters in diameter and 8 meters in height. The site also includes the remains of ceremonial ball court. The original inhabitants of the site were vassals of the Aztatlán kingdom which was located in Western Jalisco between 900 and 1200 AD. The site is the oldest explored in Western Jalisco. The digs have uncovered a number of residential and ceremonial sites, a wealth of pottery (incense burners, bowls, amphora, etc.). Many of these objects are on display at the Rio Cuale Island Museum.

Landmarks east of Puerto Vallarta

  • Terra Noble Art and Healing Center - a New Age spa, meditation center and artist retreat on the hills east of Puerto Vallarta along the edge of the Agua Azul Nature Reserve overlooking Bahía de Banderas. The complex, built to resemble an early Mexican wattle and daub home was created by architect Jorge Rubio in conjunction with American sculptor Suzy Odom.[28][29]

Beaches and beach towns

Beaches in Puerto Vallarta

  • Playa Camarones (Shrimp Beach) - Col. 5 de Deciembre (vicinity of Av. Paragua - Hotel Buenaventura. This is the northernmost public beach in the City of Puerto Vallarta proper. It is named after the shrimp fisherman that once landed their launches on the beach to unload their catch.[30]
  • Playa Olas Altas (High Waves Beach) - Col. Emilio Zapata - the beach extends from the Cuale River South to the fishing pier. In spite of the name, the waves offshore are not particularly high, and the beach is a popular place to swim, especially for locals and national tourists. The beach is lined with outdoor restaurants.[31]
  • Playa Los Muertos (Beach of the Dead) - Col. Emilio Zapata - the city's largest public beach. Legend has it the beach's name (Dead Men's Beach) stems from a battle between pirates and local miners after which bodies remained strewn on the beach, but it's a legend, since there were never any miners in Vallarta The South Side of the beach is a popular gathering spot for gay and lesbian tourists. The North end is frequented mostly by locals, and national tourists. The city has recently tried to change the name of the beach to Playa del Sol.[31]
  • Playa Boca de Tomates (Mouth of Tomatoes) - a beach located near the mouth of the Ameca River. The beach is not very popular among international tourists due to the rocks that come ashore especially in the summertime. Also watch out for Crocodiles. Its proximity to the Ameca River which carries muddy rainwater in the summertime causes the water to lose its clarity making it appear dirty.

Beaches South of Puerto Vallarta

  • Playa Gemelas - an undeveloped beach just North of the mouth of the Mismaloya river. The beach lies close to Los Arcos Marine Natural Area and can be used for access to the park from shore.
  • Playa Mismaloya - at the mouth of the Mismaloya River. The beach was featured in several scenes from Night of the Iguana and the main set was located on hillside to the South of the beach. The beach is developed with a number of restaurants.
South Shores beaches

A number of beaches along the South shore of the bay are accessible only by boat (from Boca de Tomatlan or the Los Muertos Pier). The developed beaches include (east to west): Las Animas, Quimixto, Majahuitas and Yelapa. These and other smaller undeveloped beaches can be reached by launch from Boca de Tomatlán.

  • Playa Las Animas - a narrow wide white sand beach developed with several restaurants.
  • Playa Las Caletas - a secluded beach that was once the private retreat of film director John Huston. Today it is a wildlife preserve. There is a living natural reef close to shore which makes the beach a popular destination for snorkelers.[32]
  • Playa Quimixto - a somewhat rocky and secluded beach which is settled by a small village of a several hundred families. There are horse and guide hire concessions in the town which lead visitors through a small canyon behind the town to a series of waterfalls.[33]
  • Yelapa - once a small electricity free fishing village and a popular 'hide away' for Gringos, now it has electricity, telephones and the internet. Visited by tourist boats for about 3 hours a day, it reverts to its laid back ways when they leave.

Beaches north of Puerto Vallarta

The north shore of the bay is lined with beach towns that offer good wading beaches and the usual tourist amenities. These include (east to west): Bucerias, Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Playa la Manzanilla, Playa Destiladeras, Playa Pontoque, and Punta Mita, all in the State of Nayarit. All can be reached by bus (departing from Wal-Mart).

Local festivals

  • December 1 to 12 - Festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe
  • May Festival (last week of may and first week of June) - commemorating the anniversary of the municipality. The festival features outdoor concerts, artistic expositions, sporting events and a parade.


Puerto Vallarta comprises numerous neighborhoods (colonias). Notable neighborhoods include (from South to North)

  • Res. Conchas Chinas - hillside Southeast from Los Muertos beach.
  • Col. Alta Vista.
  • Col. Emiliano Zapata - South of the Cuale (called Zona Romantica or "Old Town" in tourist brochures)
  • Cols. Caloso and Canoas - east of Col. Emiliano Zapata and up the Rio Cuale.
  • Col. Centro - the oldest section of town and its current center - North of the Cuale river to Parque Hidalgo
  • Col. 5 Diciembre - just north of the Centro, and with Col Zapata among the first neighborhoods beyond the Centro to be developed
  • Col. Lázaro Cardenas - which houses a large recreation complex and the city's largest fish market - Parque Hidalgo to the Libramiento
  • Col. Versalles - the old Zona Rosa, prior to the development of the North Hotel Zone
  • Cols. Bugambillas and Ramblases - located on the NW slopes of the hills East of the city and relatively poor areas serviced mostly by dirt roads except for the hillside areas which have good views and thus attract residents with more resources
  • Del. Pitillal - once a small town and now a populous neighborhood, a separate delegación but now part of the City of Puerto Vallarta proper
  • Col. Bobadilla - just north of Pitillal and also an important residential area

The city also includes numerous fraccionamientos, densely built residential blocks that provide affordable housing for the city's workforce.

Additionally the municipality of Puerto Vallarta comprises a few other significant population centers (from South to North):

  • Boca de Tomatlán (pop. 570)
  • Mismaloya (pop. 970)
  • Las Juntas
  • Ixtapa (pop. 25,700) (n.b. there is a more well known Ixtapa in Guerrero - a resort development near the village of Zihuatanejo)
  • La Desembocada
  • El Ranchito (El Colesio)
  • El Colorado
  • Las Palmas de Arriba




  • Munguía Fregoso, Carlos - Panorama Histórico de Puerto Vallarta y de la Bahía de Banderas. Guadalajara (2003) Secretaría Cultura Jalisco
  • Montes de Oca de Contreras, Catalina - Puerto Vallarta en mis recuerdos. Guadalajara (1982) Gobierno de Jalisco, Secretaria General, Unidad Editorial
  • Guia Roji - Ciudad de Puerto Vallarta - Area Metropolitana Map 2005-6
  • Moon Handbooks - Puerto Vallarta Emeryville, California (2003) Avalon Travel Publishing
  • Martínez Campos, Gabriel - Recetario comlimense de la iguana - Mexcio DF (2004) Conaculta
  • Mantilla, Lucia - Los barrios pobres en 31 ciudades Mexicanas: Barrio Ramblases, Puerto Vallarta - Mexico (2004) Secretaria de Desarollo Social
  • Harris, Richard - Hidden Puerto Vallarta Berkeley (2006) Ulysses Press
  1. ^ Census data is available from the website of the Mexican National Statistical Institute
  2. ^ Guia Roji - Ciudad de Puerto Vallarta (map)
  3. ^ For a sense of the extent even of the city's modern history, note that Puerto Vallarta and Seattle were founded in the same year 1851.
  4. ^ the archaeologist in charge of these digs maintains a website with information related to them (in Spanish), one for the Ixtapasite, and one for the Calle Costa Rica site.
  5. ^ An example of this neglect is the City of Puerto Vallarta's destruction of the active excavation in the area of Calle Costa Rica and the Libramiento in 1995 to create a soccer field. See the website of the archeologist who led the dig for details.
  6. ^ Munguia Fregoso - Panorámica p. 66
  7. ^ Munguia Fregoso - Panorámica p. 68
  8. ^ Munguia Fregoso - Panorámica p. 82
  9. ^ Read almost any issue of the local newspapers and you will see an endless procession of complaints by the residents of outlying neighborhoods about poor road, sewage and water supply. See Munguia Fregoso - Panorámica p. 132-3 for the chronology that ties this situation to the peso devaluation crisis of the early 80s.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Climate data taken from the Weather Underground site for 2001-2006.
  12. ^ Sector employment breakdown comes from the Jalisco state statistical encyclopedia listed in the reference section. Data is for the year 2000.
  13. ^ Since January 2006 Acapulco has seen a dramatic rise in drug related gun battles. See e.g. The San Diego Union-Tribune February 15, 2006 Acapulco's Loss of Innocence
  14. ^ Lionel Cantú, Nancy A. Naples, Salvador Vidal-Ortiz. The Sexuality of Migration: Border Crossings and Mexican Immigrant Men. NYU Press, 2009. 245 p. (101 p.) ISBN 0814758495.
  15. ^ a b Howard L. Hughes. Pink tourism: holidays of gay men and lesbians. CABI, 2006. 234 p. (110 p.) ISBN 1845930762.
  16. ^ Sara Lieber, Liza Monroy, Ann Summa, Jeff Spurrier, Rachel Tavel. MTV Best of Mexico. Frommer's, 2007. 722 p. (56 p.) ISBN 0764587757.
  17. ^ Cuaderno Estadistico Municipal (2000) H. Ayuntamiento de Puerto Vallarta
  18. ^ The SEAPAL site lists water quality reports and a recurring theme is that while sewage facilities are available many buildings still discharge untreated sewage directly into to the bay and rivers. For the linkage between nutrient runoff and jellyfish blooms see the section on jellyfish blooms in the Wikipedia article about jellyfish.
  19. ^ "Las playas de Jalisco están entre las más sucias del país", El Informador de Guadalajara, July 4, 2007
  20. ^ "Boca de Tomatlán, una de las playas más contaminada de Jalisco", El Informador de Guadalajara, July 24, 2007 - the test results were 329 org/dl at Conchas Chinas and 259 org/dl at Los Muertos, both are measures of enteroccocal bacteria, and the US EPA's limit is 35 org/dl.
  21. ^ Mantilla Barrios Pobres p 16
  22. ^ Cuaderno Estadistico Municipal 2000
  23. ^ minwages2006
  24. ^ This is a simple observed fact: high profile projects like those mentioned succeed while year after year little changes in the poorer colonias where basic services continue to be lacking.
  25. ^ Compare a map of the city in 1990 to one from 2006 and you will see dozens of new fraccionamientos (housing projects) developed to help absorb the influx of workers.
  26. ^ Airport information comes from the website of the Díaz Ordaz Airport
  27. ^ Munguia Fregoso - Panorama Histórico p. 100
  28. ^ Official Terra Noble website
  29. ^ Listing for Terra Noble at Moon Travel Guides
  30. ^ Harris - Hidden p. 159
  31. ^ a b Harris - Hidden p. 175
  32. ^ Harris - Hidden p. 192
  33. ^ Harris - Hidden p. 193

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

North America : Mexico : Pacific Coast : Jalisco : Puerto Vallarta
Seahorse sculpture on Playa de los Muertos; one of several large public works donated by local artists for the malecon.
Seahorse sculpture on Playa de los Muertos; one of several large public works donated by local artists for the malecon.

Puerto Vallarta [1] is a city and popular vacation resort on the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

Around the Bay, beautiful beaches, lush jungles and sparkling waterfalls offer many opportunities for the adventurous, while five star resorts, world-class shopping and gourmet restaurants satisfy even the most sophisticated traveler. Stretching from the south end of Old Town to central downtown, a newly extended and refurbished boardwalk along the ocean, called the Malecon, passes by any number of shops, restaurants, and hotels, and often plays host to mimes, breakdancers, clowns and artists.

The residents of Puerto Vallarta are very friendly and generally willing to help with directions and other requests. Old Town Vallarta (or the Zona Romantica district) south of the River Cuale is more like a Mexican town and less like a tourist trap.

Get in

By plane

Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport (IATA: PVR) is located just to the North of Puerto Vallarta proper, and just south of Nuevo Vallarta. Most major US airlines serve the airport along with Aeromexico. It has been recently remodeled, though waits can still occur when more than two flights have landed. Note that the arrival area is plagued by timeshare hucksters. They will offer to arrange a cab for you and try to rope you into a timeshare sales presentation. After you clear customs, walk quickly through the next room - the one housing the hucksters - continue walking past the rope-line. Now look for the official taxi kiosk out in the main airport atrium. You purchase your taxi trip here. All other offers of cab rides you will receive between customs and the kiosk will be from timeshare hucksters. Ignore every one of them. The bad experience of those taken in can ruin one's first hours in PVR, and that would be a shame. Or hire private transportation. If you've packed lightly you can take the city buses into town. Continue straight ahead as you exit the arrivals area and exit the doors in front of you. The bus stop is to your left, under the pedestrian overpass. Wait for a bus marked Centro (but NOT marked Pitillal or Bobadilla), wave it down, pay your M$6.50 pesos, and enjoy the ride. You've just saved $20. You don't need exact change for the bus. Drivers will make change. But you will need some small change. Drivers won't break large bills.

By private transportation

If you are visiting Puerto Vallarta, you should consider private pre-arranged transportation directly from your airport to your hotel. This transportation can be arranged by contacting a company by phone, or booking online.

By car

There are modern, well maintained toll roads all the way from the border, other roads are not as well maintained, but are still suitable for the drive.

By boat

There are many party boats that leave the coast from the Marina for day trips. Some stop at various beaches. You are even able to go horsebackriding up to a waterfall at one beach south of Puerto Vallarta. Major cruise ships loaded with thousands of tourists from the states as well as Europe dock in the city's main port typically spending there an entire day.

By bus

The main bus station is far to the north of town, a little north of the airport. A local bus or taxi is required to reach the main city. To catch a local bus into town, exit the bus station and keep walking across the parking area. Then walk to your right toward the corner. The city buses will stop here. Any bus you pick up here will take you all the way down to the "Romantic Zone", about a half an hour drive, for just 5.50 pesos! Although not really known to tourists, the buses are one of the best ways to mingle with the locals, as well as getting a nice view of town.

Get around

By taxi

Hotels may provide a price list for cabs (expect to pay about 50 pesos for short trips, and 200 for longer trips). Hotels will also offer (expensive) transport from airport to hotel., but it is much better to take a taxi. If you've booked with a travel agency, they will most likely provide you with transportation to and from the airport. Be prepared for fast speeds, as the cab drivers have schedules to adhere to. Many of the cabs do not have working seatbelts or speedometers as well. Taxi drivers tend to gather at the intersection close to the liquor outlet in the Centro District. They are friendly and you can negotiate trips outside of Puerto Vallarta at a very reasonable cost on slow days. They will wait for you while you dine or shop as well as photograph you and your mates. Include a small tip with the very reasonable fare.

Tip: From the airport, there are two types of taxis available to get you to where you are going. The white federal taxis are available immediately upon exiting the airport but are more expensive. Cross the pedestrian bridge over the highway for the cheaper yellow taxis that are more common in other parts of the city.

  • Local trips

Bus trips cost around 5.50 pesos, which is about 40 US cents (0.30 Euro) that you pay to the bus driver when you get in and every ride is good for as long as you have to stay on... the whole city if you'd like. Buses stop almost every five to ten blocks and at peak hours tend to get very full, so be ready for that. If you are a man, be ready to give up your seat to women if the bus becomes crowded. Bus drivers will make change, but won't break large bills. (these prices updated Feb 2009)

The buses are quite handy to get to places like Pitillal (the rapidly growing suburb to the NE) and Ixtapa (including the nearby U of Guadalajara campus with its gallery and crocodile farm). They are also useful for travelling from the hotel zone and marina area to the downtown or old-town areas. Any bus marked Centro will pass through both. Buses marked Tunel will skip downtown and head directly to the old-town / zona romantica via the tunnel bypass.

  • Out of town trips

You can visit Bucerias for 12 pesos, $.85. You can also go to Punta Mita for 20 pesos, $1.50. Mismaloya buses charge around 6 pesos. There are also larger buses that can take you to Guadalajara, which is about a 5-hour trip.

You can catch buses for Mismaloya along Basilio Badillo on the corner just West of where you see them lined up.

The easiest way to catch a bus to Bucerias, Punta Mita or points in between is to catch a city bus to Wal-Mart/Sams. Walk along the main road to the northernmost bus shelters in front of Wal-Mart. The buses to Bucerias leave from here.

Puerto Vallarta's beaches lie between mountains and ocean
Puerto Vallarta's beaches lie between mountains and ocean

Beautiful Banderas Bay, one of the largest and deepest in the world, may be admired from many of the surrounding hills exuberant in lush vegetation. Located right at the mouth of the Bay, straddling both sides of the River Cuale lays a charming and picturesque little town with true Mexican spirit, Puerto Vallarta.

For those who just want to relax, Puerto Vallarta's many golden sand beaches offer one of the best ways to experience the beauty and magic of the Bay of Banderas. A section of the beach called The Blue Chairs is the focal point of the gay village.

To the North, the hills give way a little. Here you will find mile-long stretches of golden sand beaches, rich plantations of papaya and mango and, tucked back along tumbling rivers and streams, small villages where life seems to move at a different pace. There are many different ways to explore the Bay.

To the South, the hills cascade towards the sea creating a rich palette that mixes the vivid green foliage with the deep blues of the water. At their feet nestle secluded coves and small fishing villages, many of which are still accessible only by sea.

To the East, the jungle clad Sierra Madre Mountains, which quickly rise to over 8,000 feet, encircle and protect the town from the winds and regulate the semi-tropical and humid weather.

And, to the West, the Bay of Banderas is home to a wide variety of aquatic life. Humpback whales come here to mate every year from December to March, and sea turtles nest on the beaches from May to October. Schools of dolphins and giant manta rays also inhabit these waters. The Bay and the Marietas Islands offer an amazing kaleidoscope of tropical fish, attracting snorkelers, scuba divers and sport fishermen alike.


Puerto Vallarta has many activities and excursions to keep you entertained. The adventurous can hike or mountain bike in the hills, explore the jungle and hidden trails on horseback, take a jeep safari, snorkel, scuba dive, charter a yacht or sailboat, or take a cruise on one of the many party boats, make a personal photoshoot. Oftentimes they are easily booked online.

Bay of Banderas - Puerto Vallarta
Bay of Banderas - Puerto Vallarta
  • Vallarta Botanical Gardens (Hacienda de Oro Restaurant), Carretera a Barra de Navidad Km.24 S/N just beyond Las Juntas y Los Veranos, (322) 223-6182, [2]. From 9AM to 6PM (closed on Mondays). Vallarta Botanical Gardens a pleasure garden high in the glorious Sierra Madre Mountains. These gardens are easily accessible, just 12 miles south of Puerto Vallarta (on Hwy 200). Located on 20 acres of land, these botanical collections features thousands of different species of plants. The gardens are in a unique tropical dry forest ecosystem at 1,300 feet above sea level. Against the breathtaking backdrop of soaring mountain peaks, there is much to experience: Palm Gardens, Rose Garden, Tree Fern Grotto, Orchid House, Jungle Trails, Tropical Bird Watching, Agave Gardens, displays of Mexican Wildflowers and the Carnivorous Plant Collection. Bringing your swimsuit and enjoy a refreshing dip in the crystal clear Rio Los Horcones The Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens is registered with Botanic Gardens Conservation International in Surrey, England and members of the Asociacion Mexicana de Orquideologia. The Gardens are listed in the Lonely Planet 2009 Guide to Mexico as a "Vallarta Must See" Vallarta Botanical Gardens is a 501c3 nonprofit institution. The Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens was founded in 2004 and was opened to the public in 2005. Our Vision: to build Mexico's greatest botanical garden here in the enchanted highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. Our staff is dedicated to the research and education of plant life, as well as showing the public all the beauty that nature has to offer. Plus providing the finest hospitality around. ---- Hacienda de Oro Visitor's Center with spectacular mountain views, is also where you will find Hacienda de Oro Restaurant, with a courteous staff, delicious brick oven pizzas, salads and other Mexican specialties. Hacienda de Oro Restaurant was designed by Santa Rosa, CA native and world-renowned fine artist, Anthony Sbragia. Also, in this area are the famous "classy" restrooms. Located in the heart of an old growth native forest, you simply can't miss this enchanting destination, with thousands of native and ornamental plants - just a short ride from town - by car, bus, taxi the ride alone is part of the adventure.  edit


Tours and Activities

  • Puerto Vallarta Tours and Activities [3] - Established in 2003 we offer Tours and activities in Puerto Vallarta, Punta Mita and more. Located in Conchas Chinas 104a Sainta Barbara Calle tours include Whale Watching, Zipline, Pirate Cruise, Sunset cruise, Booze Cruise and more. This is the official website for Amigo tours Vallarta. 1.877.404.5958


  • La Marina Vallarta Golf Course-Have to have good accuracy for this one due to narrow fairways that are guarded by water
  • Los Flamingos Golf Course-Known as one of the easiest to play
  • The Mayan Palace Nuevo Vallarta Golf Club, 18-hole par 71 course designed by Jim Lipe. Address: Paseo de las Moras S/N, Fraccionamiento Náutico Turístico, Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico 63735, [4]. Fun course with many obstacles is on the spectacular beaches of Vallarta between the Sierra Madre mountains and the Bahia de Banderas bay. The Vallarta course offers interesting competitive advantages and challenges to golf lovers for the vast fairways appear to be the easy part but the lakes complicate the game for the most expert golfers.
  • El Tigre Golf Club-Long course with many traps and water
  • Vista Vallarta-Hosted the 2002 EMC World Cup Championship
  • Vallarta Discovery, [5]. Offers an excellent selection of Puerto Vallarta tours including dolphin encounters, whale watching from mid-December to the end of March, sea lion encounters, scuba diving, snorkeling and speedboats. They can also arrange 4x4 MB Unimog and mule bring you 2200ft above sea level deep into the sub-tropical forest of the Sierra Madre mountains. You make your way back by ziplining from canyon to canyon, rappelling down waterfalls, crossing jungle bridges and splashing through streams and natural river pools, or arrange a canopy tour including ziplining from tree-top to tree-top, crossing hanging bridges, a tarzan swing and rappeling from 90ft (30m) above forest floor.

Scuba Diving

  • Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico's top dive destinations. There are many rental shops along the beaches.


  • The most popular snorkeling areas are Los Arcos underwater caves and Marietas Islands caverns. Vallarta Adventures snorkeling trips combine an extraordinary day of sun, fun, and adventure with just the right mixture of entertainment, learning and challenge, while snorkeling, sea kayaking, and exploring the tropical ecosystems on the secluded islands and beach hideaways that surround beautiful Banderas Bay.

Explore the Sierra Madre

  • The Mexican Outback in the states of Jalisco and Nayarit offers an opportunity of discovery and adventure: A culturally and ecologically trained guide can take you into authentic Mexican villages and through the sub-tropical forest with its extraordinary ecology and wildlife. Vallarta Adventures´ Sierra Madre Expedition takes you in specially designed Mercedes Benz all-terrain vehicles on an off-road voyage of discovery, past forgotten villages into the heart of the Sierra Madre.

Canopy Tour / Zip lines

  • Puerto Vallarta is well known for its canopy and zip line tours. Experience the exhilarating rush as you fly over the tree tops, securely fastened, from platform to platform.

Puerto Vallarta Atv Tours and Activities

  • Puerto Vallarta Atv Tours and Activities [6] - Established in 2007 we offer ATV Tours and activities in Puerto Vallarta, Punta Mita and more. Located in puerto vallarta in the Romantic section . This is the official website for Unique Atv Tours. 1.866.391.6901


  • Banderas Bay is the second largest bay in North America, behind Hudson Bay. The deep, calm waters offer a very rich biodiversity, stunning beauty, romantic sunsets and relaxed sailing. Vallarta Adventures offers Day Sailing, Sunset Sailing, Sailing with Whales and Private Charters.


  • Kitesurfing is becoming more and more popular in Banderas Bay. Especially in Bucerias, a fishing village north of Nuevo Vallarta, you can see up to 30 people kitesurfing on a Sunday when the wind is good. The calm waters of Banderas Bay, the extended shoreline and the fact that it´s not too crowded with kitesurfers (yet) make it an excellent place to take lessons, for example from Jamison Smith [7], an IKO Level 2 Senior Certified International Kiteboarding Instructor. The season is from February until May.


  • You are able to parasail at pretty much every beach. The sky high trip usually last around 15 min.

Jet Skiing

  • Jet skis can be rented at most beaches by the hour.


  • Banderas Bay is home to annual Puerto Vallarta International Fishing Tournament held since 1956. Fish types include sailfish, dorado, marlin, bonita and yellowfin tuna, roostertail, jack cravel, pargo, red snapper and more denizens of the deep, black, blue and striped marlin.
    • ProFishingVallarta Sport Fishing in Puerto Vallarta [8] - Offers fishing charter services throughout the whole year in Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Horseback Riding

  • There are many ranches in town that offer horseback Riding into small villages and through the forests. They can last from a few hours to a few days.

Turtle-Watching & Repatriation

  • Some tour companies offer educational programs combined with hands-on activities to help save Mexico’s turtles. After the female turtles lay their eggs in nests they create in the sand, volunteers dig up the eggs and re-bury them somewhere safe from predators. After about 45 to 60 days, the eggs hatch. Without help, only about 1 in every 1,000 baby turtles will survive to adulthood because most are caught by predators before they make it back to the safety of the ocean. However, turtle repatriation volunteers keep the babies safe until it is time to set them free to head for the ocean (at night when predators are less active). You can be part of these programs.
  • Puerto Vallarta Atv Tours [9] - Puerto Vallarta Atv Tours provides funfilled Atv Tours in Rio Cuale, Quimixto, Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding areas..Located in the Romantic zone Calle San pedro C5a.


  • You will be hard-pressed to find information about simple hiking excursions, because no one makes much money from hikers while they are hiking.

So you must research this ahead of time if you wish to hike. However, one short and interesting hike may be accessed as follows. Take a water taxi to Yelapa. On the main beach in Yelapa, walk to the right and cross the creek. Hike upwards a few meters to the cobblestone trail. Turn right, and then follow the trail over a ridge and up the adjacent valley. After hiking about 1.5 km through a tropical deciduous forest, your persistence will be rewarded. The waterfall is about 10 m high, with a pool for bathers at the base. The falls are more impressive during the rainy season (northern summer).


  • The beaches in Puerto Vallarta proper don't give such good waves but a daytrip out of town up along the coast of Banderas Bay will lead you to such decent spots as Veneros and Punta del Burro (these two are the most consistent) as well as in Punta de Mita. Passing the Ameca river along the way to these spots, you find yourself in the next door northern state of Nayarit. Such trips can be coordinated with a local surfing instructor or done solo. The drive from downtown Vallarta to points inside the Bay takes perhaps 30-45 minutes, and a bit over an hour to get to renowned Sayulita on the Pacific coast, a small village which consistently produces some of the best surfers in Mexico. The beaches there have very consistent waves and the place is crowded during the winter months particularly. There are waves small enough for beginners and large enough for the locals and experts. Most of the adventure companies (such as Vallarta Adventures) don't offer surfing lessons and you might need to find an independent, licensed instructor. One suggested instructor based in Puerto Vallarta: Alejandro Fuentes, or 044-322-117-6257.


  • Davannayoga [10] - great sunset yoga classes on a 360 rooftop in old town in front of the ocean. Well known for it's traditional style yoga. Only certified teachers offering Vinyasa Flow, Morning Yoga, Sunset Yoga, Children's Yoga. Calle Matamoros #542 on the corner of Corona.
  • Yoga Vallarta [11] - located in Zona Romantica (Basilio Badillo #325 3rd floor). This studio has high-mounted windows that bathe the studio in wonderful, natural light.
  • Sea Life Park by Dolphin Discovery [12]- Discover Sea Life Park.

Dolphin Encounters

How to Get there Located in the first exit of Nuevo Vallarta, very easy to find, look for the Water Slides that can be seeing from the road.

Open daily except Mondays and Fridays from 10AM. to 6PM.


November Festival

It usually occurs in the middle of November and includes:

  • Many cocktail parties
  • Wine and tequila tastings
  • Cooking classes
  • Concerts
  • Gala dinners
  • Art expos
  • Screenings


Festival of the Arts
Festival of the Arts

Old Town Art Walk in El Centro - Will occur every Wednesday night, 6-10PM, from October 28, 2009 to May 26. 2010. Some of the local art galleries visited are:

  • Galería Arte Latinoamericano - Two floor gallery. Participates in art walk
  • Galería Corsica - Contemporary Mexican fine art
  • Gallería Dante - Voted #1 Gallery in Vallarta Voice Reader’s Choice 2003
  • Galería Feedma - A recent addition to the Vallarta art scene, with renowned Mexican and international artists and photographers (moves to mexico city
  • Galería Omar Alonso - Dedicated to antique and contemporary photography, engraving and sculpture
  • Gallería Pacificio - One of Vallarta's leading galleries since 1987; Sponsors the Public Sculpture Walking Tour that starts at 9:30AM every Tuesday on the malecon, Nov-April.


Puerto Vallarta didn't have an English language theater scene until recently. Now you can see up to four companies from the venue Theater Agustin Flores Contreras.


  • Malecon - You'll find live Cuban, jazz, rock, Latin American ethnic, Mexican ranchero and Mariachi
  • South Side - Los Muertos Beach offers jazz at Daiquiri Dick's happy hour

You can also find blues, pop-rock and jazz.

  • Marina Vallarta & Nuevo Vallarta-You can have a Mexican dinner and listen to mariachi, marimba, romantic trios and folk harp.
  • North Shore - Offers a variety of live music.
  • La Playa liquors and wines. At least two outlets - one in the old town and one in the centro. This is the place to go for reasonably priced tequila. Most of the flashy tequila shops are either factory stores or time-share gimmicks. Neither are good options for buying tequila at a decent price/quality ratio.
  • Manta Maya a shop selling contemporary variations on traditional mexican cotton clothing. The clothing is made in their shop in Zapopan, on the outskirts of Guadalajara. Basilio Badillo at Ignacio Vallarta.
  • Galeria Indigena a shop specializing in Huichol art as well as art from other indigenous peoples. You'll see bead art everywhere, but this is one of a few shops that sell somethint at least a little more authentic than colorful beaded lizards and such. Juarez 628.
  • Arte Mágico Huichol another Huichol art shop. In addition to the usual bead art and yarn art they also sell piece of more traditional Huichol handicrafts. Coronoa 179.
  • La Casa del Habano Vallarta's best selection of real Cuban cigars. They also have a cigar bar. Aldama 170, Zona Centro.


The rich cultural diversity of Puerto Vallarta is reflected in the cuisine that its many restaurants have to offer. From the most casual taco stands, to tropical beachfront palapas, to upscale rooftop restaurants with panoramic views, there are literally hundreds of restaurants serving exactly what you are hungry for.

However, care should be taken to avoid food poisoning. There are many beachside restaurants to tempt you with tropical drinks, but bottled beer is a much safer option. When water taxis or other guides seamlessly hand you off to their "amigos" at a beachside restaurant, do not be bashful about seeking other options, or just order a bottled beer to be opened in front of you. Do not trust that your guide has made a good decision, he will be gone with your tip long before you show any symptoms. Restaurants listed in reputable tour guides are a fairly safe bet.

  • Chez Elena Famous hotel and restaurant located in Puerto Vallarta. It has been cited by Playboy Magazine and well known actors such as Peter O'Toole and Elizabeth Taylor.
  • Coexist Cafe [13] (In Hotel Rio)Locals and tourists coexist creating a unique atmosphere, where music is definitely an ingredient you will enjoy. We’re recommended for having an eclectic taste, reflected in our Mexican and international dishes. Live music daily!
  • Epoca Just south of the foot bridge over Rio Cuale. Easy to overlook, hard to forget. Excellent food at very reasonable prices.
  • Planeta Vegetariano (just around the corner from the church.) Planeta Vegetariano serves a buffet-style meal with a varied and changing menu. All-you-can-eat fresh juices, vegetables, salads, fruit, and many traditional dishes served sin carne are to be found. Reasonable prices. They serve a breakfast and lunch buffet, each with different dishes. Many dishes are not only "sin carne" but with fake meat.
  • Fajitas Republic, Pino Suárez # 321 Col. Emiliano Zapata, Downtown. Just as the name implies they serve fajitas. Not just any fajitas, the best I have personally ever tasted. With over 10 varieties you cannot go wrong visiting this restaurant in old town Puerto Vallarta. This restaurant offers a quiet setting and great food. If you are in the mood to savor the best fajitas this is the spot.  edit
  • Hard Rock Café, Presidente Díaz Ordaz 652 Downtown. This is a Hard Rock Café just like any other one in the United States but with a touch of Mexico. Just what you can expect good hamburgers and a funky atmosphere. If you are looking for a taste of home this is the place.  edit
  • Las Palomas Beyali, Cond. Royal Pacific # 245 Local # 129 Marina Vallarta. This restaurants sits in the beautiful marina of Puerto Vallarta. Surrounded by massive yachts and a peaceful ambience. The food here is very authentic and quite tasteful.  edit
  • Pipi’s, Guadalupe Sánchez # 804 Downtown. Fajitas and enchiladas to die for and also delicious margaritas of all flavors. Be prepared for a long wait, however it is worth it you will not regret waiting for this delectable treat. The only downside is that this restaurant is very touristy.  edit
  • Señor Frog’s, Venustiano Carranza # 218 Emiliano Zapata, Downtown. This restaurant is mostly known for its club-like environment. At night it is one of the most popular and exciting clubs. During the day though it offers good food that might remind you of Hooters. Owned by the same folks as Carlos O'Brian and similar atmosphere.  edit
  • The Blue Shrimp, Morelos # 779 Downtown. As the name implies you must like shrimp to eat at this restaurant. That said it offers some spectacular entrées that will take your hunger away that is for sure. Set partially outside the décor is fun but also very intimate.  edit
  • Buenos Aires, in the Marina. This is a steak house that is simply put amazing. There menu feature a 2 LB. tenderloin that is marvelously prepared. They also offer a decent wine list. The setting is beautiful and the food even better.  edit
  • Ay Caramba, Ask taxi driver. This restaurant is located atop a roof in the more residential part of Puerto Vallarta. They serve seafood that is freshly caught that day. Also they feature live music and a view that is unmatched. A very intimate setting. One of Puerto Vallarta’s best kept secrets.  edit
  • Black Forest Restaurant, C. Marlin 16 (La Cruz de Huanacaxtle), 013292955203, [14]. 5 - 10PM. Situated in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle 30 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta - Restaurant Black Forest is the creation of Chef Winfried Küffner and his family. It's thoroughly German, from the half-timbered exterior to the gracious service and authentic Black Forest cuisine which is truly a blending of many European flavors. Each of Chef Winfried's dishes contains traces of his professional background and his classical European training. His emphasis is always on freshness, quality and consistency in preparation and presentation which has earned them a loyal and growing clientele over the years.  edit
  • Cafe des Artistes. A beautiful restaurant in the heart of downtown. The restaurant is devided into 3 areas: Inside, outside with a view of the ocean, and the garden. The garden is the most beautiful of the three, with an artificial creek running through it. The food here is very tasty  edit
  • La Piazzetta, Calle Rodolfo Gómez 143, Col. E. Zapata, Puerto Vallarta. 4 to midnight. Locals come for the delicious Naples-style pizza (the crust not too thick, not too thin, and cooked in a brick oven), but there's also great pasta and a good variety of entrées, like the cream-based salmon with caviar and lemon. For appetizers try the top-heavy (con molto tomate) bruschetta or steamed mussels with lemon, parsley, and butter. Most folks choose to sit on the open patio, but La Piazzeta also has an intimate dining room. The personal attention of the owner, Mimmo, guarantees repeat business. It's open 4 to midnight.  edit
  • Cafe de Olla - Basilio Badillo, 168 (near Olas Altas, Zona Romantica). (322) 223-1626. Has good, cheap food. Try the pork ribs or chicken.
  • La Joya de Mismaloya - Eat with your toes in the sand and a cold Corona in your hand. Any of these quaint beach side restaurants will delight you with some fantastic and authentic local seafood dishes. Some recommendations: Shrimp empanadas, Pescado Sarandeado, Tostadas de Ceviche de Camaron.
  • Coffee Cup - Rudolfo Gomez 146 (near Olas Atlas Street). 222-8584. An American-style coffee house that serves espresso, latte and cappucino with local baked goods. It is still rare to find this type of coffee in Puerto Vallarta. Local art is displayed on the walls.
  • Esquina de los Caprichos - Miramar 402. 222-0911. Open 1 -10PM. Closed Sundays. Spanish an Basque tapas. A few dishes and a glass of sangria is around $17 USD.
  • Tia Katrina - A hip take on traditional food. Appetizers from $5, mains from $9 USD. The Tortilla Soup is recommended.
  • Red Cabbage - Rivera del Rio 204A. 223-0411. A funky restaurant up the hill from the main streets in the Zona Romantica. It is themed on Frida Kahlo and features pre-hispanic recipes. Dinners from $15 - $25 USD.
  • Tinos - Up on a hill overlooking Vallarta, most tourists don't know about this place, frequented by local businessmen, and others looking to spend a buck for some fantastic seafood dishes. Some recommendations: tacos de marlin are excellent, and the "mariscada" or "parrillada" which is a huge sampler platter filled with house specialties.
  • Boca Bento - Basillo Badillo 180, south side. (322)-222-9108, 223-4727. Features an original menu of Latin and Asian fusion cuisine. Try the mouthwatering Thai-Crusted Calamari with Chipotle Dipping Sauce. Signature entrees include: Adobo Shrimp with Chimichurri Sauce and Chipotle Honey Glazed Pork Ribs with a warm Peruvian Potato Salad. Best cocktails in town include: Pomegranate Martini and Mandarin Lemonade. Music selection is fabulous: Buddha Bar, Mezzanine de L'Alcazar and Hotel Costes. An experience for the senses - not to be missed!
  • El Arrayan - Allende 344, El Centro. (322) 222 7195. A very good menu of specialties from many regions. The food is not "typical" to tourist-oriented Mexican restaurants, but rich banquet and festival foods with upscale service. You will have an opportunity to try many familiar dishes like lamb and pork, as well as cactus salad and seasoned roast crickets, for the adventurous.


Downtown:The Hot Spot for Nighlife - Located along the beachfront walk

  • El Dorado-Live Music
  • La Cave-Piano Bar
  • La Dolce Vita-Live Music
  • Le Carrousel-Disco/Dancing
  • BeboTero-Live Rock at night
  • Stars-Disco/Dancing

Old Town: It may seem strange but Steve's Sports Bar on Basilio Badillo #286 has the best margaritas - and we've been testing.

  • Right across the street from Steve's at Basilio Badillo #284 (upstairs from the El Cabaret Restaurant) is a great piano bar called El Pianito. Live entertainer, sing-along, etc.
  • Club Roxy-Live R&B Hit among people over thiry with live blues and rock. Ignacio Vallarta #217. Music starts around 10PM, no cover. Closed on Sundays
  • The American Legend-Dancing/Live Music


  • Carlos O'Brians now closed, demolished to make way for the new upscale bar-restaurant Punto V
  • Hard Rock Cafe-Live Music/Dancing Restaurant open until 2am
  • The Zoo-Disco/Dancing Attract the 20's crowd with DJ spun music and cages to dance in
  • EL Zoo, Paseo Díaz Ordaz # 630 Downtown. This dance club is quite small but very fun. The dance floor doesn’t offer much room to bust a move but offers a great time to be had. Located on the Malecon it is in the center of everything.  edit
  • Hilo, Just down the street from El Zoo. Again this club is small. The inside is very cool and the bar is very large. It can get a little crazy because of the small area but is fun for younger kids.  edit
  • Señor Frogs, Morelos #518 Downtown. The Tues night foam party is the best and this place is the larger than most clubs. It has two bars and the service is awesome.  edit
  • Mandala - Restaurant and Disco-Bar. Located in front of the malecon, beside Zoo bar. This is one of the newest and hottest clubs in town. Open everyday from 11AM to 6AM. Perfect for everyone.
  • Collage - World Famous Foam Parties, as seen on E!, Playboy, MTV, and may other TV Networks. This place can hold up to 2000 crazy partiers at a time! Tuesdays and Fridays open bar.
  • Christine's, NH Krystal Vallarta Hotel Hotel Zone. This club is HUGE!! It is only open a few nights a week though. It is located close to most hotels.  edit
Puerto Vallarta's cobble stone streets
Puerto Vallarta's cobble stone streets

Accommodations around the Bay of Banderas range from well-known international hotel chains and upscale villas and condominiums in the hotel zone, Marina Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, and Punta Mita to moderately priced hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, apartments villas, and condominiums in Old Town Vallarta. The south end of Old Town has a number of gay-friendly hotels.


  • Cartagena de Indias Hotel, Madero 428, 222 6914. In the old town the street F. Madero hosts a bunch of similar, simple but clean hotels at a very affordable price. It is a 5-10 minute's walk away from the Malecon. $80-140 MXN per person in a private room.  edit
  • Hotel Belmar, Insurgentes 161, 222 0572 (, fax: 223 1872), [15]. Family-owned hotel with a personalized service. 30 rooms with color TV. Air conditioning is optional.  edit
  • Hotel Bernal, Madero 423, 222 0785. One of the cheap hotels on the street F. Madero.  edit
  • Hotel Encino, Juarez 122, 222 0051 (, fax: 222 2573), [16]. Hotel located in the heart of Puerto Vallarta, just one block away from the beach, in front of the market and two blocks from the Malecon.  edit
  • Hotel Lina, Madero 367, 222 1661. One of the cheap hotels on the street F. Madero.  edit
  • Hotel Mocali, Nicaragua 286 Col. 5 de Diciembre, 222 4201, [17]. Hotel located in downtown Puerto Vallarta, just a 2 blocks from the beach and 7 from the pier or "Malecon". Located near restaurants, drug stores, and night clubs.  edit
  • Hotel Villa del Mar, Francisco. I. Madero 440; Col. E. Zapata; Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico, 222 2885 (, fax: 222 0785), [18]. The hotel offers 49 beautiful and affordable rooms and 10 suites with kitchenette. Many of the rooms have private balcony.  edit
  • Oasis Hostel, [19]. At $170 MXN per person per night it is one of the most inexpensive options. It is just off the centre of Puerto Vallarta, but buses and a reasonable walking distance (20 minutes) to town makes it feel well connected.  edit
  • Viva La Vida Hostel (, Juarez #386, Puerto Vallarta Centro, (322) 113 03 20, [20]. 1 minute from the beach, just opened in April 2009, they have free Internet both WiFi and a public computer and a massive TV with cable. right in the heart of the city and they have a Beautiful terrace where you can have a beer and watch the sun set. the staff its very friendly and the food its good & clean they always have an option for vegeterians. If you want a more community experience, choose Oasis. The security lockers here are very small. $150 pesos or $12 USD, Breakfast included. (20°36'31.46N,105°14'5.85O) edit


  • Crown Paradise Club - All Inclusive Resort & Spa, (562) 904 70 50 (, fax: (562) 904 09 22), [21]. Offers an activities pool, water park with pirate ship, a castle and 9 water slides, playground area, outdoor family game area, and fine dining & bars.   edit
  • Embarcadero Pacífico - All Inclusive Resort, (322) 221 1177 (, fax: (322) 221 1433), [22]. checkin: 16:00; checkout: 12:00. Wonderfully located in the exclusive zone of Marina Vallarta, this Family-Friendly All Inclusive Resort allows its guests to enjoy the main channel of Mexico’s biggest Marina, as well as the spectacular Banderas Bay.  edit
  • Golden Crown Paradise- Adults All Inclusive Spa, (562) 904 70 50 (, fax: (562) 904 09 22), [23]. This resort caters to adult travelers with spacious accommodations, a la carte dining, friendly service a vast selection of activities, sports and entertainment, as well as romantic settings for candlelit dinners.   edit
  • Buenaventura Grand Hotel and SPA, Av. Mexico 1301, Col. 5 de Diciembre, 226 7770 (, fax: 222 3546). Located just five minutes from the downtown shops and restaurants, and 15 minutes from the airport, Buenaventura is a great beachfront resort for your trip to the area.  edit
  • Hacienda Hotel and SPA, Blvd. Francisco Medina Ascencio 2699, 226 6667 (, fax: 226 6627). Discover the charm and serenity of a true Mexican Hacienda with lush tropical gardens, palm trees and cascades of fresh crystal water and secluded green areas inviting you to savor tranquility and harmony.  edit
  • Hotel El Pescador, Paraguay 1117, 222 2169 (, fax: 223 4393), [24]. Located by the beach in downtown just a few blocks away from the popular Malecon.  edit
  • Hotel Emperador, [25]. Hotel Emperador is in the heart of the most traditional area of the Old Puerto Vallarta, only 3 minutes away from the downtown and 20 minutes from the International Airport. On Puerto Vallarta's famous beach "Playa Los Muertos".
  • Hotel Rio, Email:, [26]. Located within walking distance of the main downtown attractions, Hotel Rio is a good deal with clean, comfortable rooms with central air conditioning, telephone, color TV with cable, complete bathroom and balcony. Swimming pool and restaurant. Money exchange and 24 hours internet service.
  • Hotel Rosita, Paseo Díaz Ordaz 901, 222 1033 (, fax: 223 4393), [27]. One of the first hotels in town on the beach and where the famous Malecon begins.  edit
  • Melia Puerto Vallarta, Paseo de la Marina Sur 7 Marina Vallarta, (52) 322 2263000 (), [28]. Beachfront, all-inclusive resort for families on Mexico’s Pacific coast.  edit
  • Mexican Resort at Los Tules, Blvd. Fco. Medina Ascencio S/N, interior Los Tules, 224 5425 (, fax: 224 4710), [29]. Located within Los Tules right in the hotel zone in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. An oceanfront condominium-style resort located two miles from the airport and one mile from downtown Vallarta. You can also book condominiums directly from owners.  edit


  • Casamagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa, Paseo La Marina 435, Marina Vallarta, 52 322 226 0000 (fax: 52 322 226 0060), [30]. Nestled between the Sierra Madre Mountains and Banderas Bay, CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa proudly holds a spot as one of the 100 World's Best Hotels according to Conde Nast Traveler. The Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort has completed its $10.7 million renovation! The enhancements include newly decorated rooms with luxurious bedding, contemporary bathrooms, new furniture with Mexican-inspired colors and patterns, a complete redesign of the resort's La Estancia restaurant, and exquisite updates to the banquet facilities and business meeting rooms.   edit
  • Casa Velas'Pelícanos, #311 Fracc. Marina Vallarta, C.P. 48354 Puerto Vallarta, [31], Hotel Telephone: 52-322-226-6688 For Reservations Only : 1-866-529-8813, Experience Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Resort - Casa Velas Hotel Boutique is an all-inclusive, luxury vacation resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with stunning tropical scenery, a world-class spa, gourmet dining and an ocean-front beach club.
  • Crown Paradise Club All-Inclusive Resort and SPA, Av. de las Garzas S/N, 226 6868 (, fax: 226 6856), [32]. A full all-inclusive program this resort offers: activities pool, water park with pirate ship, a castle and 9 water slides, playground area, outdoor family game area, options for fine dining & bars, programmed activities and more, perfect for a memorable family experience.   edit
  • Dreams Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, [33]. A luxury resort on its own private beach cove. Accommodations include spacious ocean-view rooms and suites overlooking the ocean and large private beach. Several rooms and penthouses have twin floors and private swimming pools. To unwind there are three pools, four gourmet restaurants and friendly lounges.
  • Golden Crown Paradise Adults All-Inclusive and SPA, Av. de las Garzas 3, 226 6800 (, fax: 226 6855), [34]. This medium-sized Adult Only resort offer spacious accommodations, a la carte dining, friendly service a vast selection of activities, sports and entertainment, as well as romantic settings for candlelit dinners.   edit
  • Grand Velas, Av. Cocoteros 98 Sur, C.P. 63735, 322-226-8000, [35]. Enjoy a Mexico resort vacation at a luxury beach hotel in Puerto Vallarta. Stroll along white sand beaches or wander cobblestone streets as you experience the culture and nightlife of Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Your beach vacation in Puerto Vallarta awaits!  edit
  • Riu Palace Pacifico, [36]. Opening October 2008, Riu Palace Pacifico will be the third Riu hotel in beautiful Riviera Nayarit, Mexico.Riu Palace Pacifico is on Flamingo Beach, only 2 minutes drive from Riu Vallarta and Riu Jalisco, just 9 miles away from downtown Puerto Vallarta. Magnificent architecture and elegant furnishings combined with unparalleled service will offer guests the highest level of distinction. The ideal place for those vacationers seeking total relaxation in sumptuous luxury and comfort of our Premium brand.  edit
  • Velas Vallarta Suite Resort & Convention Center, Av. Costera S/N, LH2, Fracc. Marina Vallarta Apartado Postal 139B, +52 (322) 221-0091 (, fax: +52 (322) 221-0755), [37]. An all-inclusive 5-star resort with studios, one, two and three bedrooms, all with kitchens or kitchenettes. Hotel offers on-site mini-supermarket, boutique, travel agents, car and bicycle rental, tennis courts, and "Kid's Club". Marina Vallarta golf course is within walking distance (2 min).   edit
  • Emergency, Police/Fire: 060
  • Fire Dept: 223-9476, 223-9478
  • Police Dept: 290-0507, 290-0512
  • Red Cross & Ambulance: 222-1533
  • Motor Vehicle Dept: 224-8484
  • Consumer Protection (Profeco): 225-0000
  • Immigration Ofice: 221-1380
  • American Consulate: 222-0069, 223-0074 - After hours: 01-333-268-2145
  • Canadian Consulate: 293-0098, 223-0074 - After hours: 01-800-706-2900


  • Ameri-Med: 226-2080
  • CMG: 223-1919
  • Cornerstone: 224-9400
  • I.M.S.S.: 224-3838
  • Medasist: 223-0444
  • Regional: 224-4000
  • San Javier: 226-1010


Visitors should exercise caution here as in any place that they are unfamiliar. The beaches and hotels have security people who are familiar with the area and tend to ward off most undesirable characters. As in many "tourist destinations", there is a local "tourist police", who concentrate on keeping the area safe for visitors. They, and the locals, understand the value of visitors and make life very difficult for those who may ponder preying on visitors. All in all, it is safe here as most tourist destinations.


As in any City:

  • A visitor should always keep his wallet in an inner front pocket or in a money belt
  • Purses should always be carried securely under the arm.
  • When walking, stay on main streets. When walking, pay strict attention to the street curbs. They range from inches to 5 feet or more deep, to retard flood waters during the wet season.
  • Avoid confrontations with the police. In the event you do have a disagreement with them, expect to be treated poorly and expect to pay many a peso to regain your freedom. Respect and co-operation goes a long way with them, disrespect usually will not be tolerated.


Travelers should always leave valuables in a safe place. Better yet, leave them at home if you can do without them.


  • Make use of a hotel safe if one is available
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewelry
  • Carry only the cash or credit cards that you will be needing for the day


Be cautious when using ATMs to withdraw cash.


  • Only use ATMs when absolutely necessary
  • Use only during business hours
  • Use only ATMs which are located on the premises of large banks because they tend to have security personnel. At least one off premise ATMs of a large bank has been implicated in ATM account and pin number theft.

Beach Activities

Water you have never been to can be dangerous. Leaving your valuables (cameras, purses, passport) alone on the beach, is an invitation to theft at any beach.

  • Precautions
  • Observe the warning flags on public beaches. There could be a strong undertow.
  • Never dive into unknown waters. There may be rocks


Note that not very many places take credit cards. Some larger hotel complexes, high end restaurants and shops do, but most do not. It is very much a cash only economy with ATMs available in convenient locations and a bank downtown where in-person withdrawals can be made.

Get out

Your exploring does not have to be limited just to the Bay, there are nearby archeological sites to visit as well. Close at hand, in the region of Ixtapa, studies have uncovered sites dating back to 400 B.C.

Mismaloya is a short drive outside town. It is famous for being the location for the movie "The Night of the Iguana" directed by John Houston. You can tour the location.

Chico's Paradise, a river valley with rock formations and picnic/restaurant areas is a short drive or bus ride outside town.

Puerto Vallarta is less than a 45 minute flight away from the inland city of Guadalajara and about an hour flight from Mexico City. A 30 minute drive up the coast lands you in Bucerias, a small coastal village.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

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