Visiting Puerto Vallarta - What to See and Do
(Puerto Vallarta Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport PVR, Mexico)
Nestled between the sprawling Pacific Ocean and luscious, jungle-covered mountains, Mexico's Puerto Vallarta
is a marvellous tourist destination for the whole family. Overlooking the deep Bay of Banderas, Puerto Vallarta rivals the Yucatan Peninsula for Mexico's best beach getaway. However, even though it boldly radiates many gorgeous beaches and coastal attractions, this city has a wealth of hidden treasures that are well-worth visiting too.
The city is perfect for active, adventure-seeking tourists. Sightseeing is not high on most tourists' agendas when visiting Puerto Vallarta, but several hours can still be placed aside for the museums and landmarks residing within. The Archaeological Museum, the Ixtapa Archaeological Zone, Saucedo Theatre and monuments of the Malecon make up most of the sightseeing highlights around town.
Keeping busy is second nature in Puerto Vallarta. Whether tourists want to laze upon golden sands, take in the sights of bustling markets, surf clean breaks, dive eerily enigmatic underwater caves or sail through the canopy of dense jungle brush, the opportunity always presents itself in this magnificent Mexican municipality.
Ten things you must do in Puerto Vallarta
- There are several beaches found along the coastline of Puerto Vallarta. And, believe it or not, the Beach of the Dead (Playa de Los Muertos) is the liveliest beach in the city. High Waves Beach (Playa Olas Altas) and Shrimp Beach (Playa Camarones) are also popular spots for swimming and sun-baking. During Mexican holidays, these beaches are absolutely packed with people, so arrive early.
- Scuba diving and snorkelling are, without doubt, Puerto Vallarta's primary tourist lures. Visitors can explore the deep underwater caves and caverns off the Marieta Islands, or splash about along the city's shoreline. Scuba / snorkeling equipment, boat hire, instructors and lessons can be arranged with ease, as several dive shops operate within the city.
- Between December and March, whale watching has become a major tourist attraction in Puerto Vallarta. Boat charters are at their busiest during this season, as daily whale watching tours set out to the Bay of Banderas (Bahia de Banderas), hoping to catch a glimpse of these passing monolithic mammals. It is not uncommon to view humpback calves and their mothers swimming across the bay.
- Numerous golf courses in the city make it easy for golfing enthusiasts to get their fix. However, the city has squeezed many of the golf links into the landscape, meaning that some of the courses can be quite difficult to navigate. Beginners and novice golfers should try the Los Flamingos Golf Course, as it is commonly regarded as the easiest course. Experts should challenge themselves at the La Marina Vallarta and the Mayan Palace Nuevo Vallarta golf courses.
- Even though the Bay of Banderas is generally flat, surfing is popular just to the north and south of the bay's headland. Whether visitors are experienced surfers or just starting out, there are plenty of powerful breaks to discover. Several tour agencies in Puerto Vallarta provide equipment rental and instructors for a fee. However, if tourists want to travel individually, this can also be arranged.
- Just to the north of Ixtapa are some of the most renowned archaeological finds in the Pacific Mexico region. The remnants of an ancient Aztatlan Kingdom are on display throughout the dig site, including ceremonial and burial landmarks. The relics that were once dug from here have been placed at the Rio Cuale Island Museum, not far from the site.
- The Bay of Banderas is the ideal location for sailing excursions. The bay is not only deep, but also large, calm and rich in local wildlife. Viewing the sunset over the Pacific's horizon is recommended. Sailing tours provide full-day sailing opportunities, as well as sunset sailing, whale sailing and individual charters.
- Explore the small, traditional Mexican villages on horseback. Tours are available from Puerto Vallarta's city centre. Horseback riding trails take patrons through dense, untouched sections of jungle and into the backyards of small villages that have seemingly hidden away from time itself. This is one of the more memorable cultural experiences that Puerto Vallarta has to offer.
- Take the family for a day out at the Splash Aquatic Park attraction. The park is easy to find, as it boasts several tall water slides that can be seen from afar. Dolphins, whales and other local marine life are found inside this theme park. In addition, children will be entertained all day with the thrill rides on offer. This is the perfect opportunity to spend quality time as a family.
- A tour of the jungle adjacent to Puerto Vallarta should always be on the cards. However, these jungle treks are not your everyday expeditions. Canopy tours allow trekkers the chance to view rainforest wildlife from the soaring treetops. Some of the climbs are heart-stopping, providing magnificent views over the rainforests. Zip lines are also available, which give tourists an opportunity to zoom through the trees at a frantic pace.