Vallarta is not like many tourist traps, it is NOT an artificial creation specifically made to strip tourists from their cash, with innumerable expensive parks, shops and luxy resorts. No, our town is not like that (read more).
Puerto Vallarta was actually a small Mexican town that became a world-class beach destination by chance and luck. It was Hollywood that discovered the place. In the 1960's John Huston brought the jetset along with him, they fell in love with the picturesque town and, little by little, the place evolved into a very welcoming and modern city with lots to do, many restaurants and fabulous hotels & resorts.
"Vallarta" or "PV", as it is known to locals, is a typical Mexican “pueblo” (now a BIG pueblo). We’ve experienced growth and have modernized certain areas of our town, but we still remain faithful to our cherished Mexican traditions and heritage, such as parades in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe or the bands that play at the town plaza kiosk, where locals and tourists alike dance to the rhythms enjoyed by many generations.
The downtown area is a place where nature and art coexist. Strolling down the Malecon you’ll enjoy dozens of open-air sculptures created by famous local artists, Mexico and beyond. There are art galleries on just about every corner, events and showings abound year-round with artist from the block or from around the world.
If you check out our list of things to do in town, you’ll notice that most of them are free, a walk along the Malecon, a trip to Mismaloya or the southern beaches (yes, you need to pay a water-taxi, but the stay on the beach is free), a stroll along the Marina Vallarta, the Old Town, Los Muertos Beach and Pier, Cuale River Island, etc., you can do it all and save your money for a World-class gourmet meal at one of the hundreds of restaurants around town or even a romantic sailing trip around the bay.
Enjoy the 55 miles of the beautiful Banderas Bay both on land and in the water that’s teaming with marine life (dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles and between November and March, even Humpback Whales). Enjoy the surrounding nature, the Sierra Madre Mountains, bask on the golden sand beaches in the warm sunny weather, take trips north to the smaller towns (Bucerías, San Pancho, La Cruz) or up in the mountains to small colonial style towns like San Sebastian del Oeste, Mascota or Talpa de Allende where time stands still (maybe even a day trip to Tequila) or south to beautiful beaches like Mismaloya or ones you can only reach by boat, like Yelapa.
Our beaches are among the cleanest and best kept in Mexico. This is also birdwatching heaven, with more than 315 species of birds, including the Blue Footed Booby on the Marieta Islands. You can enjoy many other quality tours and activities including canopy tours, swimming with dolphins, golf, cruises, whale watching, scuba, snorkeling, surfing, water parks, a zoo, you can visit the Vallarta Botanical Gardens and much more.
So Puerto Vallarta is a place where ultramodern 5-star hotels coexist with cobblestone streets; Michelin Guide restaurants coexist with street side stands offering simple, but fresh, seafood or typical Mexican tacos.
When you mix all this together, and then add a dash of characters unique to our city, such as artists and expats from around the globe who find inspiration here, along with a tourist industry committed to excellence and first-class service, the magical medley will also grab you under its spell. And the true final magic touch is the open, friendly personality of each and every citizen of in town, a welcoming spirit which has earned this fair city the title of the “World’s Most Friendly City” by Condé Nast Travel magazine.
There you have it; the magic is all around you in Puerto Vallarta. All you have to do is take a minute, watch and before you know it, you’ll be a part of the magic too. Continue with What to do here or more about our town.