Nestled against the Pacific Ocean, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is a world-renown, top-rated vacation destination. A true melting pot of the old world and the new, this resort town offers authentic Mexican culture and cuisine alongside all-inclusive luxury villas and hotels, spectacular water sports and a vibrant nightlife. The golden sand beaches and cerulean-blue waters of the Bahia de Banderas provide a scenic backdrop for exploring the lush jungles, strolling along the cobblestone streets or browsing the high-end boutiques and small handmade-craft shops.
As the fifth-largest city in the Mexican state of Jalisco, Puerto Vallarta is comprised of several neighborhoods, or colonias. Almost anywhere you go, original Pueblo architecture mingles with modern luxury resorts. The Hotel Zone runs north to south along Boulevard Francisco Medina Ascencio, and also hosts a variety of restaurants, bars and shops. The wealth of natural beauty is what draws most visitors -- specifically the Bahia de Banderas (Banderas Bay) which spills out into the Pacific Ocean to the west. Some of the world’s best diving, snorkeling and fishing can be found in these waters.
Colonias Centro is the central downtown area, as well as the oldest section of the city. The oceanfront boardwalk, El Malecon, is a scenic stroll that gives way to the heart of old Vallarta. The narrow, cobblestone streets of downtown are saturated with a bohemian arts scene and abundant nightlife, as well as several city landmarks including the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe. To the east, the Mexican Outback is home to the jungle-clad Sierra Madre Mountains. Besides the dramatic views, attractions such as the Vallarta Botanical Gardens and mountaintop restaurants like Hacienda de Oro are popular draws for both visitors and locals.
Puerto Vallarta’s rich culture lives on through the many live concerts, art exhibitions and festivals that can be attended daily. The native Huichol artwork is always on display in galleries or for sale at roadside craft stands, with each piece giving a small glimpse into Puerto Vallarta’s deep history. The main shopping district is found in El Centro, and between beach vendors, flea markets, artisan shops, department stores and traditional Mexican shops, the options are limitless.
The cuisine of this region is largely influenced by its rich cultural diversity. For an international meal with a view, check out El Palomar de los Gonzales. This palatial mountainside restaurant overlooks downtown Puerto Vallarta and the bay. Epoca, in the Zona Romantica section of Old Vallarta, is an open-air beach restaurant that serves sustainable and fresh Mexican ingredients. Try the tortilla soup or a hand-crafted margarita at the beach bar. For a beautiful French-inspired restaurant in the heart of downtown, check out Café des Artistes. This unique spot has ocean view, garden and indoor areas and serves fusion dishes like Vera Cruz red snapper and roasted ginger duck.
When visiting Puerto Vallarta, most travelers with arrive by way of Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR), just north of the city. The airport is served by nearly all major U.S. carriers, as well as Aeromexico. Prearranging private transportation from the airport to your hotel is common, though there are less-expensive ways, such as the local buses or white federal and yellow taxis. Taxis are also good for navigating short distances throughout the city; though walking around the different sections of town is the best way to experience it.
Puerto Vallarta enjoys a tropical climate with near constant warm temperatures (and high humidity) year-round. The average high temperature in the late summer months (August and September) hovers around 90° F and the average low for the winter can drop down to around 62° F. This region has an annual rainy season which shows up from June to mid-October, yet has virtually no more precipitation the rest of the year. Tours, excursions and beach days are not usually affected by the weather, as rain typically only lasts for short amounts of time and often only at night.