Marina Vallarta is a bit like a resort within a resort, with an exclusive Marina filled with yachts, boats, and charters, plus a championship 18-hole golf course designed by Joe Finger.
It is located just 15 minutes north of downtown Puerto Vallarta and some 5 minutes away from the Puerto Vallarta International Airport, Lic. Gustavo Diaz Ordaz.
The Marina area is more exclusive and a bit more expensive than other areas in Puerto Vallarta. It was built during the most active years of the city in the 1980s, specifically in 1986, by the Güitrón brothers Jorge and José Martínez Güitrón, they took a leap of faith and really planned big.
The population of Puerto Vallarta had managed to nearly double between 1980 and 1990 due, in large part, to a sudden devaluation of the peso at that point in time, something that attracted many visitors from both Canada and the United States, due to their sudden purchase power increase.
This sudden growth in tourism inspired the Güitrón Martinez brothers to start an important and visionary residential and business development, the one we now know as the Marina Vallarta, where you would be able to shop by the Marina and enjoy luxury hotels, condos, housing developments, private schools and top-level maritime amenities that could even welcome luxury yachts in what was at the time the largest marina in Mexico with 500 slips.
They also had excellent marketing sense and convinced the famous actress Elizabeth Taylor, that already owned property in the city and lived many years here, to buy one of the first available condos by the Marina, which helped give it all some extra appeal, for sure.
The Marina boardwalk offers lots of good shops, a great range from inexpensive restaurants to fancy elegant dining options, delis, a Starbucks, spas, cafés, bakeries, and ice-cream stores too, even a little supermarket.
The view and the relaxed atmosphere make it a great afternoon sunset stroll for couples and families, watching the yachts and boats. The Marina is close to the airport, but planes do not fly close so you actually don’t hear them unless you are on the north side.
Plaza Neptuno and the Vallarta Whale (click image to enlarge)
For those traveling with youngsters, there is also fun for them here. Marina Vallarta has a large water park with slides and a wave pool for children, so they can also spend a memorable vacation.
The beach is a bit complicated to get to unless you stay at one of the beachfront resorts if not, use this guide to get to El Salado Beach.
Where is Marina Vallarta?
The Marina Vallarta area is delimited to the north by the airport to the east by Francisco Medina Ascencio Avenue and the El Salado Estuary. To the southeast, the limit is the Puerto Vallarta harbor area and southwest the Pacific Ocean (Banderas Bay).
Things to do at Marina Vallarta
Marina Vallarta has its own little lighthouse, more for the show that really useful, surrounded by buildings that are higher than it is :-). At the top of the lighthouse, you can enjoy a drink at the El Faro bar.
The Marina Lighthouse offers a fantastic view of the Marina area, the Sierra Madre Mountains and wonderful sunsets (very romantic). At night they also have live music to take romantic to an even higher level.
Enjoy great restaurants, specialty stores, cafes and shops offering quality products around the Marina, the view is great, the ambiance, relaxed, great for a day out with the family.
Another attraction for young and old is the bronze sculpture at the entrance to the Marina called “Vallarta Whale“. This sculpture was installed in 2001 as a tribute to the whales that visit the harbor and Banderas Bay each year, according to the locals it is the largest bronze sculpture in the world.
Marina Vallarta Golf Course was designed by the famous American architect, Joe Finger, it’s an 18 hole course located in the marina area of Puerto Vallarta.
A marvellous mix of tropical ambiance with views of the Sierra Madre and the Banderas Bay. Offers a hacienda-style clubhouse right beside some of the most important hotels in Vallarta. The club each year hosts the International Pro-AM.
- Marina Vallarta Golf Course
- Designer: Joe Finger
- Holes: 18
- Length: 6701 yards
- Class: Blue, Professional White & Red · Operator: Club Corp
- Distance: 15 minutes.
Even though it seems that Plaza Marina has never really been 100% full, it does offer a number of very useful day-to-day stores and businesses, there are banks, a supermarket, a drugstore and various places to eat. It’s very useful for those that live in the area and as a place to pass the time when waiting for a flight to leave or arrive.
- Address: Gansos, Marina Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
- Phone: (322) 221-0060
- Website: http://www.plazamarina.com
Marina Vallarta Beach Access
Marina Vallarta hides the beach access…
If you have a hard time getting to the beach in the northern part of Nuevo Vallarta, finding your way to the Marina Vallarta beach takes things to a new level.
First off there were supposedly two access points to the beach, the one on the southern end, right by the mouth of the Marina, but it is now blocked by a condo development and there is no access at all!
The northern access point is past Bay View Grand condos and you continue on the street till you arrive at Paseo Bocanegra.
Access is available between 7 AM and 8 PM, the rest of the time they block the entry, I imagine to avoid noise, parties and similar issues in this residential area.
Go down Paseo Bocanegra for some 2600 feet and arrive at the bay and the edge.
There is an ugly beach to the right (north), where you’ll have planes taking off overhead and to the left is the nicer beach, though you can’t see it for the boulders.
I am sure there is a “technical” explanation for all the boulders, the sea, erosion, etc., but they are there just to make it hard to get to the beach, obviously, if you have mobility issues or find it hard to jump from one rock to another, you won’t get to the beach. Me, thanks to my billy goat genes, did the hike and it’s not too bad.
The Marina Vallarta beach is alright, the sand darker and hotter than the beaches in Nuevo Vallarta. It is wider than the beaches further south a bit less than the hotel zone beach, though. There are places where the slope is steeper slope.
In general, a good beach, there are no public access restaurants, bars or stores here on the beach, only resorts, hotels and condos and their offerings. So bring your food and drinks along, in any case, I’d recommend Nuevo Vallarta or Destiladeras more than this one.
You may be able to walk into some of the hotel restaurants. I know Velas Vallarta has the Andrea Restaurant that is open to the public, so if pressed, ask around.