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Sunday December 17 2017
Puerto Vallarta: Discovering a Natural Paradise
Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board

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Puerto Vallarta encompasses all of Banderas Bay on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Located in the state of Jalisco, well known for the preservation of its authentic Mexican traditions, the Puerto Vallarta area features 40 miles of coastline and a diverse topography, including tropical jungles, rocky river beds, steep mountain sides and arid flatlands. Each region brings a uniqueness that adds to the entire charm of Puerto Vallarta.

The Puerto Vallarta area is comprised of the following regions: Marina Vallarta, Hotel Zone, Downtown (El Centro), and the South Shore.

The South Shore is where the Sierra Madre Mountains meet the bay creating many secluded beaches, coves, and rivers. Many of the beaches in this area are so isolated that they are only accessible by boat. The mountainous jungle extends right up to the white sandy beach creating a picturesque setting. Many outdoor adventure and eco-tourism activities are held in this area.

Downtown (El Centro) and Los Muertos Beach is considered the heart of Puerto Vallarta known for its nightlife, restaurants, bars and shopping. The downtown area is very walk-friendly with its quaint cobble stoned streets, white-walled houses, wrought-iron balconies and red-tiled roofs and home to most of Puerto Vallarta’s finest gastronomy, arts and crafts markets as well as designer boutiques. The town’s famous malecón lines the beach all along this area and the Arcos (Arches), across the street from the town’s main square, regularly holds open air concerts and performances.

The Hotel Zone or zona hotelera stretches from Downtown (El Centro) to Marina Vallarta and is home to many hotels including large brand chains like Fiesta Americana, NH Krystal, and the Sheraton to smaller properties, all-inclusive resorts and high-rise condos.

Marina Vallarta, just south of the airport, is a 500-slip marina surrounded by condos, and a boardwalk housing a variety of shops, galleries and restaurants. The Marina area is also home to an 18-hole golf course and luxury hotels including the Marriott CasaMagna and the Sol Meliá.

Nuevo Vallarta, is a planned and growing residential and resort community just north of Puerto Vallarta’s International Airport, in the state of Nayarit. It is home to luxury homes and resort properties including numerous all-inclusive options.

The North Shore extends from San Francisco/San Pancho, about 31 miles north of Puerto Vallarta proper, to Nuevo Vallarta – a 15 minute drive north of Puerto Vallarta’s Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport. This area is known for beautiful spots, including Sayulita, a popular surf town located in a cozy cove where the jungle meets the sea. The small pueblos in the area keep the feeling of an era gone by, of the Mexico of old. Punta Mita, a once remote fishing village, now home to a world-class golf course, is
located on the northern tip of Banderas Bay.

Brief History

Puerto Vallarta was made famous with the film The Night of the Iguana entirely produced on location in 1963. For the first time, Puerto Vallarta received big Hollywood stars, national celebrities and American intellectuals. Deborah Kerr, Ava Gardner, Sue Lyon and Richard Burton led the cast. Tennessee Williams, author of The Night of the Iguana, visited the set frequently. Elizabeth Taylor’s romance with Richard Burton was unveiled in Puerto Vallarta during this time. Charmed by Vallarta’s magic, Richard and Elizabeth purchased a house, Casa Kimberley. John Huston built a house in the small cove of Caletas where he lived until his death.

The international media followed the stars and Puerto Vallarta was no longer a secret, waiting to be discovered.

Recognizing this new opportunity, visionary leaders such as Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, then president of Mexico, along with Francisco Medina Ascencio, then governor of the state of Jalisco, shared the vision to make of Puerto Vallarta a model tourist destination and initiated projects that provided the town with appropriate infrastructure.

Puerto Vallarta has grown ever since to become one of the most favorite vacation destinations of North American travelers. Puerto Vallarta presently offers first-rate infrastructure to accommodate the most discriminating travelers.

Main Attractions

In addition to its long stretch of sunny, picturesque beaches, Puerto Vallarta’s authentic Mexican flavor proves a big draw for most North American visitors. The town’s main square and malecón come alive on weekends with live music, local families strolling, artists, mimes, and even the flying dancers of Papantla.

The historic downtown area is a charming collection of white-walled houses, wrought-iron balconies, red-tiled roofs and cobble-stoned streets.

Puerto Vallarta offers great shopping from local arts and crafts fairs to indigenous artisanry from the local Wixarika (pronounced Vee-ra-ree-ka) Indians, more commonly referred to as the Huichols; local jewelry designers, original home items and other designer boutiques.

Puerto Vallarta is alive with culture and hosts numerous festivals year-round showcasing the best in music, theater, film, and culinary arts. The town also hosts one of the most dynamic art gallery scenes in Mexico offering a wide selection of works by local and regional artists.

Food aficionados will find a vibrant restaurant scene with talented chefs preparing creative dishes that range from traditional and regional Mexican cuisine to contemporary Mexican and a wide variety of international fare.

The Puerto Vallarta area provides visitors with a wide variety of outdoor activities and water sports from scuba diving and snorkeling, to whale watching, swimming with dolphins, fishing, windsurfing, kayaking, hiking, biking, canopy tours, jeep safaris, golf,
and horseback riding, just to name a few!

Day excursions to nearby historic towns like San Sebastian and the remote mountain village of San Andrés Coamihata, home of the Wixarika Indians are additional options.


Puerto Vallarta sits on the same latitude as the Hawaiian Islands, and enjoys a consistent sub tropical climate throughout the year. The rainy season lasts June to September. And even though it can rain almost daily, the area mainly gets late afternoon or evening showers, leaving most of the day clear for activities. Temperatures reach 90° F during the summer. During the winter, temperatures are in the low to mid 80's F. Nighttime tends to cool down with temperatures ranging from the 60's to the mid 70's.

Festivals and Sports Tournaments

Puerto Vallarta hosts numerous cultural festivals and sports tournaments year-round. The month of November is particularly busy with the Pro-Am Golf Cup, the International Gourmet Festival, the Puerto Vallarta Film Festival, the Sailfish and Marlin Fishing Tournament, and the Half-Marathon. The month of May sees a host of music and theater festivals. Many other events are scheduled throughout the year.


All of the traditional Mexican holidays are celebrated in Puerto Vallarta with great fanfare including Mexico’s Cry of Independence and Independence Day celebrations every September 15-16; Day of the Dead, on November 1st; and the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s patron saint, which brings processions to different parts of town, December 12.


Puerto Vallarta has a population of 220,368 residents (2005 census) of which 6,500 are expatriates, and visited by more than 3.7 million tourists a year.


The official language of Mexico is Spanish. English however is widely spoken in Puerto Vallarta, and hotels, restaurants and other tourism related services have bilingual staff.

Air Service

Puerto Vallarta’s newly renovated and expanded Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport is well connected to North America’s main gateways. Year-round and seasonal service is provided by:
Air Canada
Alaska Airlines
US Airways
American Airlines
Delta Air Lines
United Airlines
Numerous Seasonal Charters.


Puerto Vallarta is the most popular port of call for cruise ships on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Most major cruise lines include Puerto Vallarta in their Mexican Riviera itineraries.

Local Transportation

All major car rental companies are represented at Puerto Vallarta’s Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport.

The easiest way to get around town is by taxi. There are over 1,000 licensed taxis operating in Puerto Vallarta and fares are set, not metered. Average fares range from 30 pesos for a short run to 60 pesos for a cross-town ride. Fares are higher for rides to the North or South shores. All fares are posted in taxis, at hotels and main local newspapers. Travelers should ask the fare before getting into a taxi.

The city also offers an extensive public bus network that runs from early morning till 11 p.m. Bus fare is 4.50 pesos.


Puerto Vallarta offers over 18,150 rooms from luxury 5-star properties to boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, private homes and condominiums.

Local Time

Puerto Vallarta is located in the Central Time Zone. It is in the same time zone as Texas, an hour behind the East Coast and two hours ahead of the West Coast.


The Peso is Mexico’s national currency. There are currency exchange houses at the airport as well as throughout town. All major hotels also offer currency exchange services. Credit cards are widely accepted.


Tipping is expected in hotels and restaurants. A 10-15% tip is recommended in restaurants.

Additional information on Puerto Vallarta is available at:


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