Travelers finding themselves in Puerto Vallarta enjoy the views, beaches, breezes, and friendly atmosphere of this Mexican town. Whether they come for relaxation or for exploration, Puerto Vallarta has so much to offer both the casual stroller and the determined adventurer. Consider these places and activities for your bucket list when you come to this coastal city.
Vallarta Botanical Gardens
Formerly ranch property, the Vallarta Botanical Gardens are a spectacle of green beauty with their lush walkways, plethora of orchids, and acres of vegetation and tropical hardwood trees. Featuring tabebuia (“trumpet trees”), Blue Agave plants, a native oak collection, seasonal flowers, and an aquatic plants pond, visitors delight in the care and attention given to the gardens. This is the oasis in a hot land. When you’re in Puerto Vallarta, you must make some time to appreciate the orchids.
“More orchid species are found in Jalisco than in any other Mexican state. A current goal is the creation of the National Collection of Mexican Orchids, the most complete collection of Mexican orchids anywhere in the country.”
It’s not exactly a crime, but if you come to Puerto Vallarta and don’t spend an afternoon strolling on the Malecón, you have practically committed one. What makes this main street so special? Art. Artists. Street performers. Views of the ocean. Shopping. Statues. Outdoor cafes. This is the place to walk – over 80% of it is strictly for pedestrians.
“This seaside strollway is a great place to experience what makes PV so Mexican. In the past, the local social life in town centered around the main square, then later in the 1930’s along the malecon . . . ‘Malecón’ is the Spanish name for an ‘esplanade along a waterfront.”
And if you’re into nightlife, the Malecón is the place to be after 10:00 p.m. There are also daily performances of the Voladores de Papantla – a cultural presentation not to be missed.
Los Arcos National Marine Park
Located 39 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta, Los Arcos (the Arches) National Marine Park is a protected marine preserve. This conservation area is the best place for scuba diving and snorkeling because it has such deep tunnels and incredible beauty to enjoy. The park consists of several small islands (granite formations) with arches that kayaks and canoes (or swimmers) can pass through. Tropical fish abound here – perfect for underwater cameras.
The Romantic Zone is the old part of Puerto Vallarta. This is Viejo Vallarta (Old Vallarta) where you’ll find cobblestone streets, cute shops that sell just about everything, and plenty of places to eat, drink, and dance. Not only is this one of the best places to get a taco, but at the southern end of Zona Romantica is Playa Los Muertos, or “Dead Man’s Beach.” Here you can parasail, swim, hang out at a beach bar, and build sand sculpture masterpieces. At night the pier lights up, creating a romantic atmosphere of color and sea breezes. Tianguis Cultural is the Old Town Farmers Market, open on Saturdays from November to April.
Where to Stay
Club Regina Puerto Vallarta is located between the Sierra Madre Mountains and Banderas Bay. It is within walking distance of the marina.
Villa Vera Puerto Vallarta is located in Marina Vallarta. All units in the Mediterranean style resort offer pool views and some offer marina views as well.