In a world in which communing with nature increasingly means a visit to the "Discovery Channel," more and more travelers want Ecological Adventures.
Puerto Vallarta has always been and will continue to be ideally suited to Eco-Adventurers.
Puerto Vallarta is a natural for eco-tourists. Surrounded by lush tropical jungle, riddled with sparkling rivers and gushing waterfalls that flow to the foliage-covered shores and spill into the island-dotted waters of Banderas Bay, Puerto Vallarta offers visitors paradise-like adventures both on land and in the sea.
The brilliant greenery from the Sierra Madre mountain foothills to the coast is home to an exuberant collection of wildlife including four-foot-long iguanas, butterflies, and 366 bird species.
Visitors can choose a wide variety of eco-tours from nature hikes and bird watching to wild rides for "road warriors" who enjoy splashing through hidden streams end jungle roads on bicycles, in open-air ATV’s, canopy tours and dune buggies.
Many ranches offer horseback rides, often with lunch and a chance for a dip. Jungle Jeep Safaris use specially adapted all-wheel-drive Mercedes trucks and travel in convoy through the jungle and beyond. Another way to view the densely forested slopes is to soar above it all in a light plane. An airplane expedition is an excellent way to take fantastic photos of the mountains and get to a Huichol Indian Village and San Sebastián del Oeste, a mining town in the high Sierras.
More eco-adventures await above and below the turquoise surface of Banderas Bay. The warm, tranquil waters are perfect for ocean kayaking. Kayakers should not be surprised to see dolphins, turtles and giant mantas swimming close to shore; they often appear to see what’s going on. Underneath, the bay is like a natural aquarium brimming with colorful tropical fish.
Banderas Bay is also the birthplace of the Humpback Whales. From December to April they thrill visitors with their playful cavorting with one another, showing their babies the ways of the world and breaching in the sparkling bay. Puerto Vallarta residents are concerned for the welfare of these gentle giants, so the local tour operators are licensed by the National Environmental agency to ensure respectful whale watching.
From June to September, Puerto Vallarta is a breeding ground for sea turtles and the hotels and government sponsor conservation programs to protect their tiny charges (Read about the Puerto Vallarta Sea Turtle Protection program). Vacationers can share in the wonder of life from June to September by participating in the hotel programs to protect the turtle hatchlings in their dash to the sea. Under a starry sky, children and adults release the baby turtles from buckets and applaud as the hatchlings scurry across the sand and plunge into the ocean.
Puerto Vallarta's lush coastline is dotted with craggy islets and beautiful tropical islands, which remind many vacationers of the South Pacific, and offer just as bountiful scuba and snorkel adventures. The Marieta Islands are home to dolphins and giant mantas and the El Salado mangrove estuary is a fabulous exotic bird sanctuary.
Underwater caves and tunnels teem with sea life. Near Mismaloya Beach, at the southern end of the bay, the three huge rock formations named Los Arcos will delight divers with underwater tunnels and schools of damsel, idol, chromis, and maybe even a stately manta ray in the surrounding marine national park.