Puerto Vallarta Vacations
Puerto Vallarta, located on a stunning stretch of coastline, enjoys a perfect climate and a flavorful, spicy cuisine. Puerto Vallarta is located in the state of Jalisco, tucked away at the end of Banderas Bay. Travel to Puerta Vallarta to become immersed in the atmosphere of a typical Mexican town with cobblestone alleys, colonial architecture, red tile roofs, balconies, and white-washed walls overflowing with colorful bougainvillea. In the distance, listen to an organ grinder and waves lapping on the shore while a balloon salesman plies his trade in the square, local ladies prepare food on comales, and sculptures stand proudly on the boardwalk.
While enjoying the distant blue horizon of the ocean, visitors can also marvel at the modern hospitals and international hotel chains that have chosen to build resorts in Puerta Vallarta. Exuberant vegetation, imposing natural scenery, and thriving local traditions are a perfect combination. Explore the beaches at Playas Gemelas, Playa de los Muertos, Conchas Chinas, Playa de los Camarones, Boca de Tomatlan Bay, Boca de Tomates, and Playa Garza Blanca. Puerto Vallarta, blending sensuality, culture, adventure, and fun with a superb sunny climate, beaches, and the sea, is a paradise that should be on every tourist's itinerary.
Puerto Vallarta Landmarks
Parish Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Pulpito and Pilitas, two rock formations at the South end of Los Muertos Beach. El Pulpito 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 Malecon. There are two streets in the Olas Altas area named after the rock formations.
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.
South Puerto Vallarta Landmarks
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.
Vallarta Botanical Gardens - A popular showcase of orchids, agaves, cactus, palms, and other native plants. A restaurant and river swimming is also available to visitors. The gardens are located 14 mi (23 km) South of Puerto Vallarta on Highway 200. Buses for the Vallarta Botanical Gardens depart from the corner of Carranzas and Aguacate Streets in the Zona Romantica and are labeled as both "El Tuito" and "Botanical Gardens".
Puerto Vallarta Zoological Gardens - with 350 animals, and located in a forested setting in Mismaloya.
North Puerto Vallarta Landmarks
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 Aztatlan 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.
Puerto Vallarta Beaches
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The north shore of the bay is lined with beach towns that offer good wading beaches and the usual tourist amenities. These include: 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 or rental car.
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