Puerto Vallarta: A Mexican Romance
When you think of the Mexican Riviera, its palms-fringed beaches, luxuriant jungle vegetation and posh resorts come to mind. But, no resort better typifies the classic Mexican beach vacation than does Puerto Vallarta.
On the shores of the Pacific Ocean strung out along the Bay of Banderas and backed by an imposing mountain range, Puerto Vallarta is a place of romance. Just over the Cuale River is the original town made famous by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton while filming John Huston's "The Night of the Iguana". With its steep cobbled streets, white houses, red-tiled roofs picturesque church and plenty of colorful bougainvilleasa popular, Vallarta has an air of Old Mexico.
Mariachis, the strolling minstrel bands that originated in the state of Jalisco, play on street corners; Tequila, the other local product, runs freely; and there are fiestas and colorful handicrafts everywhere (pottery, yarn, paintings, textiles, wood carving and silver).
Puerto Vallarta Old Town
Relax on smooth, light-sand beaches under shaded palapas, climb hills to view sights unimagined, wander around streets where family stores open doors to the past, listen to live music while dining on the finest linen with your "huarachied" toes in the sand. Buy the amazingly intricate Huichol arto.
Look for designs in wares that cross cultures from preHispanic to Mediterranean to whimsical and ultra-modern. Cross the river from downtown either on the new pedestrian bridge which follows the new Malecón of the marina or along one of the avenues that also cross Isla Rio Cuale, home of the shops and restaurants.
The Romantic Zone is a place to wander and get lost, shop and shop some more, and eat and drink whether it's early or late and hot or cool as well as the departure point to beaches south.
Puerto Vallarta is a town with some of the most intriguing combinations of things Mexican, offering dining possibilities only dreamed of in the most urban cities and cultural offerings from truly professional, free public concerts to the very best of traditional dance and folklore. In Puerto Vallarta, living in the present is the discovery of the true tranquility of life. Old Town has two areas: the south side of the Cuale River known as the Romantic Zone and the north side is Centro.
Puerto Vallarta Hotel Zone
The Hotel Zone is currently one of the most active developing areas of Puerto Vallarta. Many long-time residents remember when it was still fields and rice coming down from the mountains with lush trees and patches of brush. The main street is lined with avenues of palm trees offering a gracious entrance to the city for traffic from the north.
On both sides, the lateral lanes help ease the congestion with left turn lanes and signals facilitating entrance to the several shopping plazas. New bridges will cross the Pitillal River and El Salado creating a much smoother traffic flow. Several of the most-accessible hotels are located along the main boulevard.
Most of them offer facilities in family activities including swimming pools, restaurants and bars on all beachfront locations. Sunday brunch is served at several of the hotel restaurants while the area relies on the services of all major banks and national airlines. For many, this area is a reasonable walking distance to the Malecón downtown with access by a very walkable beach as well.
The zone of Marina Vallarta actually includes the cruise terminal as well as the marina which shelters the sailboats and yachts of the bay at 15 piers and 352 slips.
Enter Marina Vallarta from either the whale and calf sculpture at Plaza Neptuno or at the Plaza Marina entrance. This upscale area has its own pier with outdoor tables of fine-dining establishments as well as some of the trendy nightclubs of the city.
Visit the landmark lighthouse with an elevator that takes you to view the sunset at cocktail hour. The elegant, well-planned zone is home to a number of deluxe hotels and lodging options. Tours of the bay, fishing, sailing and diving adventures all begin here.
Shop along the pier at galleries and boutiques that offer the best in handicrafts and fine art. If it's land or a home you're shopping for, Marina Vallarta offers some of the finest developments in the bay area including condominiums of impeccable quality and design, individual homes fronting the golf course, or even a few lots for development in this happening area. Other shopping areas include the home design center at the Plaza Neptuno as well as the nearby Plaza Marina with banks, grocery store and boutiques.
In this zone extending from the Ameca River north, we include Nuevo Vallarta and the neighboring area called Flamingos. This area is in the state of Nayarit even though most businesses and hotels keep their clocks set to Vallarta time. Nuevo Vallarta has two entrances, so if you get directions, verify if it's the overpass entrance or the one with the traffic light.
This area is served by the Paradise Plaza which includes restaurants, bars, coffee shops, stores, a health spa and gymnasium. Nearby is the entrance to the public beach at the Club de la Playa, popular for families. Many five-star hotels, some all-inclusive, are located along the coast. Nuevo Vallarta also has two major golf courses: one at the Mayan Palace and the other at Paradise Village's El Tigre which hosts numerous tournaments throughout the year and is open for memberships.
The marina has protected slips for sailboats and yachts. It's one of the areas along Banderas Bay where property is still available for building at accessible prices. An intracoastal waterway provides the possibility of mooring your own boat right next to the balcony of your apartment or home.