Discovering Puerto Vallarta

View of downtown Puerto Vallarta.
View of downtown Puerto Vallarta. Photo credit to M345URED.

During the filming of 1964’s The Night of the Iguana, the lead star, Richard Burton, was engaged in a torrid and public affair with Elizabeth Taylor offscreen. The media coverage that followed helped jumpstart Puerto Vallarta’s rise to one of Mexico’s top destinations in the decades that followed. Now, a bust of Liz Taylor commemorates her contribution to the area’s development along the popular Malecon Boardwalk (more on that below). Located in the state of Jalisco, this port city has a fascinating history to match its world class beaches and views of clouded mountains and Spanish Colonial architecture.
Roughly one hundred miles west of Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta sits on the Bahia de Banderas (or “Bandits Bay” for English speakers). The bay is the final destination for many of the region’s ever-evolving rivers. Multiple popular beaches (or “playas” for the Spanish speaking locals) dot the coast of the bay, each with its own vibe and benefits. On this author’s trip, I stayed at the luxurious Icon Vallarta, a trio of luxury condo towers located beachside in the Zona Hotelera neighborhood, which is exactly as its name suggests.
The Icon was a short ten-minute cab ride from the Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport, and is within walking distance to multiple restaurants, stores, and the marina and cruise ship terminal, whose passengers contribute a significant amount to the local economy. The views and amenities at the Icon were many, including an infinity pool, multiple jacuzzis, a beachside restaurant/bar, and gym. Right next door is the Hacienda, an all-inclusive Hilton resort.
The Zona Hotelera is a short bus or cab ride to the bustling downtown area, where you’ll find that there’s no shortage of resorts and hotels dotting the downtown beach area and its meandering streets. The variety ensures that travelers from every background and budget can find something that suits their tastes and needs. This includes a plethora of options for families, couples, the LGBTQ+ crowd, and action seekers. The bird and marine life are sure to entertain, and you’re likely to see some unique species.
Speaking of downtown, it’s home to the Malecon Boardwalk. Arguably the life force of the city, this area boasts outdoors markets of locally made arts and crafts. The region is renowned for its leather sandal and Panama-style hat making industry. These make excellent souvenirs and can be found in nearly every price range. Spending time at the beach is easy in this area – most resorts operate chair and umbrella services that typically offer food and drink service. Think boozy colorful frozen drinks with little umbrellas in them.
Being as far south as it is, Puerto Vallarta is, unsurprisingly, quite warm year-round, and home to a dazzling array of bird and marine life. Though the late fall through early spring bring more moderate highs. Humidity and sudden downpours accompanied by thunder and lightning are not uncommon, especially during the summer’s rainy season. New Year’s Eve is perhaps the busiest period, so expect to pay top dollar during that time of year.
So what are you waiting for? Puerto Vallarta is the perfect beach destination, and just a short two hour flight from key air hubs in the US, like Dallas Fort-Worth.

Written by Editorial Team

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