Puerto Vallarta is the hidden jewel of Mexico. Endless sunny days stretch over the Pacific Ocean, while the glorious peaks of the Sierra Madre Mountains create the ultimate backdrop over Puerto Vallarta and the entire Jalisco region. Home to historic cobblestone squares, modern and bustling beach promenades, and swathes of sandy shores, Puerto Vallarta is a must-visit. This is the ultimate guide to Puerto Vallarta and how to make your holiday in Mexico your best one yet.
Stay In The Lap Of Luxury
Puerto Vallarta offers a great variety of luxury hotels and resorts, such as the marriott.com option and others located right along the beach zone. Relax on 410 ft of blissfully quiet sandy shoreline, while palm trees sway gently in the breeze. Experience the ultimate in tranquility with their dazzling pools and luxury spas. These luxury resorts are the perfect base for your time in Puerto Vallarta. Minutes away from fine dining, bright Mexican architecture, and the airport, its central location makes it perfect for exploring.
Banderas Bay’s Malecon
Puerto Vallarta is located in Banderas Bay, or Bahia de Banderas, and the Malecon is a mile-long boardwalk of glittering coastline to explore. Take a leisurely stroll down the Malecon and experience sculptures-galore, from local artisan’s sand sculptures to the carefully paced ocean-themed artwork like seahorses and dolphins. You’ll also have your pick of local restaurants offering the latest authentic Mexican cuisine.
Old Town Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta has a bustling historic quarter, overflowing with culture, music and delectable dining. If you want to try some haute cuisine, visit Thierry Blouets Café des Artistes, or for authentic Mexican dishes try El Mole de Jovita for the best mole dishes in Jalisco. The Old Town also has vibrant art galleries and local shops for the perfect afternoon spent wandering about and exploring. The area is known as Zona Romantica, or the Romantic Zone, due to its intimate dining and the picturesque Los Muertos beach nearby.
Vallarta Botanical Gardens
South of Puerto Vallarta you will find Vallarta’s Botanical Gardens, a tranquil tribute to the fantastic flora and fauna of the Jalisco region. If you set off on a tour, you will benefit from the region’s botanical expert as you weave your way through secretive garden trails, blooming conservatories, and eventually find your way to the Hacienda de Oro Restaurant for some well-deserved Mexican cuisine.
The Church of Our Lady Of Guadalupe
Slightly off the Malecon, you will find this beautiful Catholic church. Its crown-shaped spire dominates the Puerto Vallarta skyline, making it an easy landmark. Architectural experts may notice a twist of renaissance and neoclassical design in the church with its towering spires. It’s a must-visit for those visiting the region, particularly as it is the hub of the regional festival known as the Feast of Guadalupe.
The Feast of Guadalupe
The town truly comes alive in the run-up to December 12th with the Feast of Guadalupe. This festival honors the Virgin Mary, and is a veritable feast for the senses, with bright Aztec and Spanish colors as dancers and Mariachi bands play in the streets. Fireworks dazzle above the skyline as street vendors share food and toys in this warm and engaging celebration. In these twelve days of celebrations, the town honors both the Virgin Mary and the founding date of Puerto Vallarta itself.
From December to March, one can visit whales in their natural habitat, with a wide range of local boat tours and regional experts. Your guide will navigate through the tropical waters of Banderas Bay as you get to watch the beauty of humpback whales breaking out of the glittering waters. Watch their lives as they migrate from the Arctic and come to rear their young in the beauty of Puerto Vallarta. The best months for whale excursions are January or February.
Gringo Gulch is the picturesque paradise of Puerto Vallarta, and the area that gave the area its romantic reputation. The area became a local expat area in the 1950s, with architect Freddy Romero directing the creation of the infamous Vallarta design. Red tiled roofs and white adobe walls are scattered throughout the Gulch. Over the years it’s been home to the likes of Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, and John Huston.
Mismaloya beach is straight out of a luxury travel guide. Verdant jungle hillsides slope gently into the shimmering sea, while palms dot the edge of the spotless sandy shores. Once a sleepy fishing village, the area is now home to local resorts, and abundant with watersports. Experience Stand-Up-Paddling (SUP), scuba diving, and snorkeling at its best.
La Cruz del Cerro Lookout
The Cross On The Hill Lookout offers 360 panoramic views of Jalisco and Banderas Bay. It’s worth the physical exertion to get there, as you can relax and enjoy the stunning views. A cable car takes you up to the monument, where you can get a completely unobstructed view of the Malecon and enjoy the breathtaking sunsets of Puerto Vallarta.
Street Food Tours
Puerta Vallarta is the home of street food tours, and you can either sample delicacies on your own or join a local food tour. Navigate the Old Town like a local, sampling tasting menus from the local street food vendors. Try everything from a Carne Asada Taco to a Jalapeno Margarita if you’re feeling brave. Street food is a staple part of regional life, so sample a taste of Mexican culture at its finest.
Visit Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is a vibrant hub in Mexico where you can enjoy local cuisine, the local flora and fauna, and also relax. Visit during December for a taste of local festivities and to get a true sense of Mexican culture. Stay in the lap of luxury, enjoy a stroll down the Malecon, and see whales frolic in their natural habitat. Experience a taste of Hollywood with the Gringo Gulch, and brave the exertion to see the beauty of Jalisco from La Cruz del Cerro Lookout.