Would you like to explore the islands offshore and find some secret beaches? Sample the latest cocktails on a seafront terrace and watch a spectacular sunset? You might be lucky to spot a whale or two while you are at it. Or perhaps would you like to get up into the hills and take a ‘canopy tour’, an incredible experience flying across the jungle trees, crossing back and forth over a beautiful river gorge? If a jungle adventure is not your cup of tea, maybe a relaxing massage by the pool would be more to your liking? All these treats and more are waiting for you – welcome to your perfect week in Puerto Vallarta!
Puerto Vallarta, in the heart of this colorful country, is known for its unrivalled combination of simple pleasures and sophisticated charms. No other place in México offers both the best of the country’s natural beauty and an authentic dose of its vibrant culture. Puerto Vallarta’s seductive innocence captivates visitors, beckoning them to return – and to bring friends.
Beyond the cobblestone streets, graceful cathedrals and welcoming atmosphere, Puerto Vallarta offers a wealth of natural beauty and manmade pleasures. Over 250 restaurants, a sizzling nightlife and enough shops and galleries to tempt even jaded consumers, make this town a perennial favorite.
With 26 miles of beaches, the cool breezes flow down from the mountains along the Río Cuale, which runs through the centre of town. Fanciful public sculptures grace the boardwalk, or Malecón, which is bordered by lively restaurants, shops and bars. The Malecón attracts both residents and visitors, who stroll the main walkway to take in the ocean breeze, a multihued sunset or a perfect moonlit wave. The surrounding mountains offer the equivalent of a continual, comforting embrace, adding to that sense of welcome that so many visitors feel.
You will be greeted at the villa and welcomed to your “home away from home”. Step in, take a deep breath, and embrace the ocean views. Whether you choose to stay in an oceanfront or a hilltop villa, chances are the views will be dramatic from different perspectives – either straight on the water or observing the whole Bay of Banderas from high up.
Today, you might want to take it easy while you settle into vacation mode. Explore the town in the morning by heading to “El Centro” or “5 de Diciembre” neighbourhoods and go for a stroll on the famous Malecon. As you gently stroll along the boardwalk, take in the views, the ocean air and the animation and slowly head south towards “La Zona Romantica”.
As you make your way to the trendy Zona Romantica, you will find lively expats and LGBT bars plus an amazing selection of quaint courtyard cafes and contemporary art galleries. To fully take in the ambiance, have lunch in one of the beachfront restaurants, where you could eat barefoot in the sand. La Palapa Restaurant is a good option if you want Fine Mexican Tropical Cuisine or Daickiri Dick’s Restaurant for excellent food and a great atmosphere. From there, enjoy an afternoon on Los Muertos beach, you can rent a lounge chair for the afternoon and treat yourself with a fresh cocktail. You are on vacation after all! As this is the liveliest beach of Puerto Vallarta, it is great if you are in the mood for a crowd bath but if you are looking for a more tranquil beach, head to Playa Conchas Chinas a bit further south.
Not too far from Puerto Vallarta, but only accessible by boat are some of the most gorgeous and idyllic beaches you can find in the region. We suggest heading to the charming fishing village of Boca de Tomatlan in the morning, about a half hour south of Puerto Vallarta. The village is the last village on the road before the road heads into the Sierra Madre Mountains. Boca de Tomatlan used to be a fishing village and is full of charm with its colorful “Pangas” or fishing boats.
For the full experience, plan to have lunch at Ocean Grill, a remote restaurant perched above the cliff on a secluded white sandy beach overlooking the turquoise waters. The restaurant is only accessible by boat (or hike if you are up to it) and you can have a boat ride organized in advance that will pick you up on the pier of Boca de Tomatlan and will drop you off on the pier of the restaurant. As you climb up the stairs you will be welcomed by the Great Dane of the house and then here you are: look up and you are immersed in nature in a lush tropical setting and then look down and you are literally perched above the ocean with the waves crashing against the rocks below your feet. The experience does not stop there as you will soon be reminded that you are in a grill restaurant when the wafts of the fresh sea food and prime ribs grilling in the kitchen awaken your senses. Buon apetito!
After you savoured your lunch, we suggest hiring a “Panga” for the afternoon so you are free to explore the different beaches and hop on and off of the boat. Feel free to bargain with the captains of these little boats and make sure they have snorkelling or fishing equipment if that is one of your intentions. Then let’s head to the beaches of Las Animas, Quimixto or Yelapa, they are definitely worth a visit.
Today, we suggest heading to the jungle for the day and explore the Sierra Madre, the beautiful mountain range that you can see from Puerto Vallarta. Activities abound in the forest and there are many day tours you can take to explore the rivers, the jungles, mountain peaks, animal sanctuaries, etc. Whether you are looking to go into an adrenalin adventure or a more tranquil forest escape, there is something for everyone. We will give you two of the greatest options to consider for the day.
Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens is an educational research center and pleasure garden high in the glorious Sierra Madre Mountains. These gardens are easily accessible just 12 miles south of Puerto Vallarta. Located on 24 acres of land, the botanical collections feature over 3,000 different species of plants. The gardens are in a unique tropical dry forest ecosystem at 1,300 feet above sea level. Against the breathtaking backdrop of soaring mountain peaks, there is much to experience: palm gardens, rose garden, tree fern grotto, orchid house, jungle trails, tropical bird watching, agave gardens, displays of Mexican wildflowers and the carnivorous plant collection.
Haciendo de Oro restaurant is a first class Mexican restaurant serving traditional Mexican dishes made with authentic, locally sourced ingredients and recipes. Having your lunch there is a true delight as you are perched above the forest in a typical Mexican Hacienda and get to observe the tropical birds and butterflies pass by and feed. In fact, we love it so much that we have actually driven there just to go for lunch at the Hacienda.
In the afternoon, take one of trails of the garden and head down to the famous Horcones River for a well deserved swim. Hiking Rio or Hiking Jaguar Trail (for a longer hike) will take you there.
Not too far from the Botanical Gardens you will find Los Veranos Canopy Tour. Now you could eventually combine both in a day, however there is much to do in either that we recommend dedicating a full day in each. The Canopy Adventure is the first and #1 canopy tour in Puerto Vallarta! Join them for a day of multiple adventurous activities as there is something for everyone at Los Veranos Canopy. This unique and exciting tour provides you with a bird’s eye view of indigenous plant and other jungle life as you ride 14 zip lines from treetop to treetop through the jungle! After the tour refresh yourself in the river, enjoy tasting tequila in the tequila bar, visit and interact with the animals in the animal sanctuary and have a fabulous meal in the riverside restaurant.
To get there, there are many options and pickup locations. Either take a speed boat from Puerto Vallarta and arrive by sea or take the jungle truck to arrive by land.
In a one-week vacation, much of your time is spent out and about taking in the local sites and culture. We suggest that you have at least one day where you can enjoy your villa, the pool and the ocean views. If pampering appeals to you, let us arrange for an in-house masseuse and aesthetician to come to the villa for a special day of indulgence.
After a day at the villa, head to the Marina Vallarta for a gentle evening stroll and dinner on the Marina.
If you are going to visit Puerto Vallarta, you are going to want to have at least a day on the water. Hire a luxury sailboat for the day and explore what the ocean has to offer. Stop along Los Arcos National Park to snorkel in the beautiful coral reefs. If you are visiting during the winter months, from November to March, turn it into a whale watching tour with your private guide, like Oscar who lives and breathes with the whales. While it’s not unusual to see whales in the Bay from the terrace of your villa, this will give you a chance to watch the whales close up.
The sites for scuba expeditions are in the unprotected and unpredictable waters of the Pacific, which offer great opportunities to encounter large sea creatures such as the great Pacific manta, sail fish, wahoo, dolphins, Galapagos shark, white tip reef shark, very large schools of jacks and a great variety of tropical fish. In these sites we have often experienced the visits of whale sharks on their yet unknown migratory path to southern pacific waters. There are two families of killer whales who tag along with the yearly migration of the humpbacked whales from early December to late March, and during this period pilot whales are common visitors.
On your last day in Puerto Vallarta we suggest you do more of what you liked the most. More relaxing at the villa? More beach time? More jungle adventures? More neighbourhood exploring? Maybe you want to explore some local and artisanal markets to bring home some souvenirs? After all, you are on holiday so allowing a little bit of spontaneity in your program and letting yourself wander into Mexican Life is what it is all about.
For your last dinner in town, we suggest you head to Versalles, the town’s best kept secret. The neighbourhood is attracting a new generation of young restaurant entrepreneurs with fresh culinary offerings from all over the world. Not a month goes by without a couple of new restaurants cropping up in Versalles, so it is increasingly difficult to make recommendations. That being said, there is a culinary route called Ruta Versalles in which you will find ample choice of gastro-cultural restaurants and cafés. A few of our favourites are Oregano Caribbean Cuisine and Florios Argentinian Fire Restaurant. We won’t say more, you will have to see, try and taste for yourself. Buon apetito!
Time to pack and say “Hasta Luego” to the villa, Puerto Vallarta and Mexico as we know you will be back!