We first discovered Puerto Vallarta in the early 1980’s when my husband and I were living in Puebla, Mexico. It had become famous, or perhaps I should say “infamous”, during John Huston’s 1963 filming of The Night of the Iguana in Mismaloya, a small village just south of Puerto Vallarta. Thanks to the steamy romance of lead actor Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, both of whom were married to other people at the time, the scandal played out in all the gossip columns and memorably put the traditional Mexican town of Puerto Vallarta on the world map.
Houston undoubtedly chose this corner of Mexico for its abundance of natural beauty. Indeed, we were truly impressed with our first visit to Puerto Vallarta, a charming little town back then nestled along the majestic Bahia (“Bay”) de Banderas, the second largest bay in the world, and surrounded by the awesome Sierra Madre Mountains.
Imagine waking up to nature’s daily spectacle of a breath-taking fire-orange sunrise over the mountains to the east, and ending your day sipping margaritas as you enjoy a glorious multi-hued sunset over the Pacific to the west. Definitely a slice of heaven on earth.
But beauty only sets the mood. The local culture and the people perpetuating and creating the culture establish the spirit and joie de vivre of a place. While we have found so many resorts tucked in out of the way spots are devoid of culture, this is not the case with Puerto Vallarta which combines the attractions of a top resort with the charms of traditional Mexican culture.
It is an authentic city whose natural scenery, tropical climate, location and friendly inhabitants have attracted artists and writers since the 1950’s – well before tourism became a major economic activity in Mexico.
I can remember from our first visit the classic Mexican beauty of the old Zócalo (“central square”), and I recall dining under the stars at some marvelous restaurants where the locals liked to dine, Mariachis serenading, and shopping at an enchanting little art gallery in town where I purchased a piece of local art. I loved walking the cobblestone streets lined with white-washed houses and old-world red tile roofs embellished by cascading bougainvillea in a myriad of vivid colors … and I still do! The locals and their passion for life make all the difference to your enjoyment of a place.
Since that first visit, we have returned many times to Puerto Vallarta and watched the town develop and flower into one of Mexico’s leading resort cities, welcoming modernity with an impressive assortment of resorts hotels, condos to purchase and homes and apartments to rent. Plus Puerto Vallarta provides for discerning tourists fabulous art galleries, fascinating walking tours of the city, a large outstanding modern marina for yachting, adventure sports, yoga retreats, ecotourism, whale-watching (December-April), and infamous night life with the touch of romance and pizzazz that only the fiesta-loving Mexicans can offer.
Moreover, with the impressive growth of tourism, Puerto Vallarta has also been attracting some of the world’s finest culinary talents who come to this tropical paradise and build their life and reputation there. Of course, the many beaches along Puerto Vallarta’s magnificent stretch of Pacific coastline, besides being breath-takingly beautiful, simply beckon you to come unwind and swim, surf, snorkel, scuba-dive, parasail, fish, take a yacht out or just relax and enjoy the tropical pace of life.
Compared to other leading resorts, however, Puerto Vallarta stands out in the crowd and remains exceptional not just for its huge success in the tourism industry but also because it attracts creative, talented people to its shores who add the notable quality of authenticity to a Puerto Vallarta vacation. I feel this way each time we go, from sunrise to sunset.
For information on where to stay in Puerto Vallarta please read BonVoyageurs’ article about Velas Vallarta – The Best of Puerto Vallarta and also consult the Puerto Vallarta Tourism website.
To read about some of the authentic Puerto Vallarta experiences I highly recommend, please look for my upcoming article on BonVoyageurs.
Stay tuned to BonVoyageurs.com for our writings about other Countries of the World as we share our joie de vivre from around the world. Luxury escapes, cruises and city breaks to Quebec City, New York, Washington, Buenos Aires. In Europe, places like Paris France, Nice France, Provence and the Cote d’Azur (French Riviera), Tuscany and Florence in Italy, Rome, Napoli and the Amalfi Coast in Italy. In Asia, countries like China, India, Nepal and so much more!
Anita @ No Particular Place To Go says
We’ve spent months in the Yucatan area of Mexico but have yet to visit Puerto Vallarta which does indeed sound like a “little slice of heaven!” And I’d say the fact that you keep returning is a testimonial to how much you love this beautiful city.
Suzanne Fluhr says
As a Philadelphia resident, my visits to Mexican beach towns has been skewed to the east coast—a shorter, direct plane ride. However, recently, through this blog post and others, I have become familiar with the attractions of this west coast option, one I hope to choose in the not too distant future.
Janice Chung says
I’ve actually never been to Mexico and certainly Puerto Vallarta has been one of the most promoted places, certainly to Canadians who want some warmth during our very cold winters. You showed a much nicer side of Puerto Vallarta and it didn’t look as “touristy” as I expected.
Sue Reddel says
We’ve never been to Puerta Vallarta which has me wondering why. Looks lovely! I guess we’ll have to change that and get down there.
I first visited Puerto Vallarta in the 1980s when we camped on Mismaloya beach. What a gorgeous coastline! I’ve since returned many times and enjoyed the markets and natural beauty. Your post brought back many happy memories.
Grey World Nomads says
Funny that Puerto Vallarta profited from the romance of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. It is ages ago but I’m sure that still many people / fans remember.