When you think of Puerto Vallarta, you probably think of beautiful beaches, gourmet restaurants, cobblestone streets, romantic sunsets, and upscale resorts, and you would not be wrong. However, this popular beach destination is located in an area of natural beauty within the Sierra Madre, and just 30 minutes south of the center of town you'll find a landscape of unrivaled natural beauty where you can escape into pockets of still-pristine coastal wilderness.
Puerto Vallarta's Botanical Garden is a haven of greenery located about 15 miles south of town. You could spend your entire visit to the garden learning about and appreciating the fabulous plants, but there is so much more to do here. You can go for a hike along the numerous trails, see birds and butterflies, take a swim in the Horcones river, enjoy a fabulous meal with a gorgeous view at the garden's Hacienda de Oro restaurant, purchase souvenirs and local products at the gift shop, and more. A visit to the Vallarta Botanical Garden is well worth the effort it takes to get there from town..
Garden Spaces and Activities
The garden contains a variety of pavilions where you can see a huge range of plants. The Vallarta Botanical Garden is primarily dedicated to the preservation of the native plants of Mexico, including orchids, cacti, crasulaceas, and agaves, but they also have a few special projects to protect plants of other parts of the world.
The garden boasts an orchid conservatory, the Holstein tropical plants house, the Tillandsia house, as well as many outdoor areas. The Botanical Garden has spaces to accommodate a variety of different events including weddings, meetings, and other social or corporate events.
What to do at the Garden
Take a swim in the Horcones River
“Horcón” is Spanish for “branch” and the river that borders the Garden is branched together from many streams that feed into it from surrounding canyons. The refreshing waters of this pristine river are crystal clear for most of the year and provide a great opportunity for swimming - an ideal activity to cool off after a hike along the garden's trails.
Hike the Garden's Trails
The River Walk / Jaguar Trail loop is the garden’s longest trail at about 2 km. It is quite steep, so most people take about 45 minutes to hike it. Most of the garden’s other trails are short nature walks but even these can be enjoyed slowly to explore the wonders of the tropical forest.
Take a Tour
From December through May, a complimentary 30 minute guided tour of the garden is offered daily by the garden's docents. At other times, a tour can be requested in advance.
Taverna de Tequila Bar
One of the surprising things about the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Garden is that the indoor spaces are just as charming as the outdoor ones. This bar, located within the Hacienda de Oro restaurant. It's a comfortable spot to have a tequila or a cocktail (I hear they make excellent mojitos and margaritas!) and chat with friends. You'll also find a shelf loaded with interesting books about the local flora and fauna if you've spotted something you'd like to look up. Certainly plenty to keep you entertained for an enjoyable afternoon.
Downstairs, you'll find the garden gift shop which has a wide variety of local goods including handicrafts, food items and memorabilia from the region.
Hacienda de Oro Restaurant
The restaurant also has a terrace with a gorgeous view of the garden and the Sierra Madre beyond. You could have a cocktail and a snack of tortilla chips and guacamole, or have a full meal. The wood fire pizza oven churns out delicious pizzas, but there is also a wide variety of Mexican dishes to choose from. (See the full Hacienda de Oro restaurant menu). While you're dining, the waiters place hummingbird feeders on the edge of the rail so you can watch them feed while you eat.
If You Go
Hours: The Botanical Garden is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm during the winter months (December through March), closed on Mondays between April and November.
Admission to the Botanical Garden is 100 pesos per person and free for children four years old and under.
What to bring: insect repellent and sunscreen are highly recommended. It's also a good idea to wear closed shoes and long pants if you plan to hike. If you would like to swim in the river, bring a bathing suit and a towel.
How to get there:
You can get to the Botanical Garden by private car, taxi or city bus. It is about a thirty minute drive from downtown. Standard taxi fare from downtown Puerto Vallarta is 350 pesos, but if you ask the driver to wait, you will have to pay by the hour. If you would like to spend the day, a more economical option is to catch a bus on the corner of Aguacate and Carranza streets in the Zona Romantica; get the bus to "El Tuito." Bus fare is 30 pesos each way and the bus passes about every half hour.
Phone: +52 322 223 6182
Address: Carretera Puerto Vallarta (a Barra de Navidad Km. 24), Las Juntas y los Veranos,
Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco. C.P. 48447