Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide

The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
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Located on Mexico's Pacific coast in the northwest corner of the state of Jalisco, Puerto Vallarta rings Mexico's largest natural bay, the Bahia de Banderas (Bay of Flags). This popular beach resort area is one of the main ports of call for Mexican Riviera cruises, has a well-deserved reputation as a foodie destination, and is also home to a wide variety of natural and cultural attractions.

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. It wasn't until the Richard Burton film "Night of the Iguana," was filmed here in 1964 that Puerto Vallarta became known to the world.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor subsequently purchased a home in the Romantic Zone, 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.

Banderas Bay:

Banderas Bay is shaped like a horseshoe 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.

What To Do in Puerto Vallarta

  • 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.
  • Get an adrenaline rush on an extreme adventure
  • 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).
  • In the evening, find a spot to enjoy the sunset

Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta:

There are ample choices for hotels and resorts in Puerto Vallarta, in all price ranges. Some popular choices for both couples and families include the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta and The Westin Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta. For an adult-only boutique stay, consider Casa Velas.

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 Puerto Vallarta 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.