Puerto Vallarta (pwehr-toh vah-yahr-tah) lies along the Bahía de Banderas, the largest natural bay in Mexico. Located off the Pacific Ocean coast, it is the second largest city in the state of Jalisco after Guadalajara (gwah-dah-lah-hah-rah) which is about 300 km away.
One of the loveliest places in the country, Puerto Vallarta attracted international attention soon after being a location spot for the famous Hollywood movie Night of the Iguana starring Richard Burton and Ava Gardner.
The heart of the city is the cobble-stoned and whitewashed old town area nestled on the banks of the small river, the Río Cuale. In the middle of the river, there is a lovely island, the Isla Río Cuale which houses plenty of handicrafts stalls and tranquil riverside restaurants. The lanes of the old town run right up to the vine-hung foothills of the palm-covered mountains which make a lovely backdrop to the town’s white adobe houses with their red tiled roofs. A long boulevard connects the old town with the northern end of the city, passing through the hotel zone boasting of luxurious sea-facing hotels and resorts and the county’s most modern marina, Marina Vallarta. Located just before the city airport, this plush marina is home to exclusive hotels and condominiums, restaurants and pubs, commercial areas, golf courses and exclusive yacht and fishing clubs. Many cruise ships roll in at the marina. Beyond the marina, the bay continues into the planned residential-resort community called Nuevo Vallarta located in the state of Nayarit. Nuevo Vallarta is home to luxurious hotels, villas and estates with lush tropical gardens that line the winding canals, each with its own private docking pier.
The heart and soul of Puerto Vallarta is in the Centro. This is where most of the action takes place, between the steep hills and the sea. The bay’s innermost point is the more than one mile-long beautiful Malecón adorned with romantic bronze sculptures and artistic high-back bronze chairs.
The Malecón is the city’s centre of attraction where people gather day and night.
Watch this video of the Malecón…
The beautiful sea-side and lively streets offer an immense choice for shopping, food, entertainment and above all, a throbbing nightlife.
Giant sand sculptures painstakingly carved by local artists and covering subjects like Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Last Supper, etc. can be found on the beach. The place bursts into action in the evenings, especially on Saturday nights when families, youngsters, tourists and locals are out to enjoy the beautiful and vibrant night scene.
At nearly every corner, one is greeted by the sight of clowns, street performers, artists and vendors selling everything, from juicy mangoes on a stick to steaming sweet corn.
Several of Puerto Vallarta’s memorable sights are on or near the Malecón – like the main square, Plaza de Las Armas. Although there aren’t any big attractions like a majestic cathedral or an overwhelming Palacio de Gobierno, a charming colonial look and atmosphere prevails throughout the old town area. The church of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, the city’s patron saint, is topped by an unusually huge crown, a replica of the one used by Empress Carlota in 1860. The main square hosts Municipal bands, public dances, theatre performances and a festive market. It is flanked by the Los Arcos amphitheatre, the venue of free night performances, street vendors, and local artisans, overlooking the bay. Street stalls selling all kinds of delights, from elotes (corn on the cob) to pink cotton candy occupy the area near the amphitheatre.
Although it is inviting even during the day, the colourful flurry of evening snack stalls, sidewalk arts and crafts, playful clowns, and free evening performances – fire dancers, mime artists, clowns, folkloric dancers, etc. – makes it a must-see place at night.
The famous nightlife of Puerto Vallarta ensures that its visitors leave with long-lasting happy memories. Nights normally begin with an outdoor dinner, before turning into a crazy celebration just after midnight. Puerto Vallarta has the best selection of places for those looking for their choice of music and ambience, be it live music or karaoke, jazz, reggae, blues, rock, pop, techno, salsa or mariachi.
The city has more than forty-five discos and bars, from the most sophisticated to the most casual discos, many of which are located close to each other. Regularly brimming with music and partygoers, they remain open beyond 4 am.
Besides cafés and restaurants, Puerto Vallarta is also rich with arts and crafts galleries. The streets are lined with shops, boutiques and art galleries selling jewellery, clothing, art and crafts, local paintings and sculptures. The Huichol Indians, (descendants of the Aztecs) living high up in the mountains, come to the city to market their artwork and crafts which comprises yarn paintings and bead work.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post. You can read about Puerto Vallarta, my travel experiences there and at many other beautiful destinations in Mexico in my ebook Discovering Mexico
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I now leave you with this lovely song by E Nomine : Vater Unser Part II Enjoy 🙂
Take care…hasta luego 🙂