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Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide


Los Muertos Beach and Seahorse

Los Muertos Beach in Puerto Vallarta

© Suzanne Barbezat
Los Muertos Pier

Los Muertos Pier at Sunset

© Suzanne Barbezat
Puerto Vallarta Skyline

View of Puerto Vallarta

© Suzanne Barbezat

Puerto Vallarta:

Located on Mexico's Pacific coast in the northwest corner of the state of Jalisco, Puerto Vallarta rings the Bahia de Banderas (Bay of Flags), Mexico's largest natural bay. It is a popular beach resort area and an important port of call for cruise ships.

History of Puerto Vallarta:

The area around Puerto Vallarta was long inhabited by indigenous groups, most notably the Huicholes. Spaniards first came into the area in 1524. According to legend they were met by a large group of indigenous people carrying flags, giving the bay its name Bahía de Banderas - "bay of flags." The area remained sparsely populated until much later, however. Used as the setting for the 1964 film "Night of the Iguana," starring Richard Burton, Puerto Vallarta became known to the world.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor subsequently purchased a home there, and Puerto Vallarta soon became a gathering place for celebrities and their entourage, increasing its appeal. In the 1970s the tourist infrastructure began to be built up to accommodate the influx of visitors, though the town still maintains its charm, and the bay its natural beauty.

Bahía de Banderas - Banderas Bay:

Banderas Bay is shaped like a horse-shoe and covers 60 miles of coastline, from Punta Mita to Cabo Corrientes. The entire area surrounding the bay is all known simply as Vallarta, but it is divided between two states, Jalisco and Nayarit. These states are in different time zones - Puerto Vallarta is in the central time zone and Nayarit is an hour earlier.

Puerto Vallarta Activities and Day Trips:

  • Stroll along the Malecon to see the collection of sculptures. In the evenings there are often buskers here entertaining passers-by.
  • Go on a boat trip to the Islas Marietas.
  • Shop for handicrafts.
  • Enjoy Puerto Vallarta's many beaches - some of the best beaches are located in the secluded area south of Puerto Vallarta and are accessible only by boat (water taxi).

Read about more things to do in Puerto Vallarta.

Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta:

There are ample choices for hotels and resorts in Puerto Vallarta, in all price ranges. A popular choice for both couples and families is the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta, and The Westin Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta. For more options, see our list of favorite luxury hotels in Puerto Vallarta.

Dining in Puerto Vallarta:

Puerto Vallarta has a deserved reputation as one of Mexico's fine dining destinations. With its annual gourmet festival and abundance of restaurants, you will find Puerto Vallarta delivers on its promise of great food. Here are some of our favorite restaurants:

Getting There:

You can get to Puerto Vallarta from Guadalajara by bus in under five hours. The bus line ETN offers first-class service. See more information on travel by bus in Mexico.

The most popular way to get to Puerto Vallarta is by air. Puerto Vallarta's airport, the Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (airport code PVR) is located approximately 6 kilometers north of the center of town.

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