Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide
Puerto Vallarta is a Mexican resort city situated on the Pacific Ocean's Bahía de Banderas. The 2005 census reported Puerto Vallarta's population as 177,830 making it the fifth-largest city in the Mexican state of Jalisco.
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The small, quaint fishing community of Puerto Vallarta, with its cobblestoned streets that seemed to climb straight up to the jungle behind it, was recognized as a city of Mexico in 1918 but was largely unknown to the rest of the world. But in 1963, during the filming of John Huston's "Night of the Iguana," the sleepy town was invaded by reporters hoping to catch a glimpse of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who were carrying on their illicit love affair -- and a tourist industry was born.
Located on one of the largest natural bays in the world, Bay of Banderas, the region offers 25 miles of enjoyable beaches with the rugged, jungle-clad Sierra Madre mountains as a backdrop, and city life by day and night. The second-most-visited resort in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta now attracts almost three million visitors a year and has a permanent population of over 250,000.
The colonial "old town" is a favorite of history buffs, photographers and bargain hunters, while burgeoning areas such as Marina Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta attract beach-goers, boaters and those looking for an all-inclusive resort or a reasonably priced time share. These areas, north of the city, are also where visitors can kayak through lagoons and swim with dolphins. The southern coastal areas of Mismaloya, Yelapa and Las Animas Quimixto are scenic wonders of coves and gullies, ideal for snorkeling; the latter two are reachable only by boat.
Because of its warm waters, the Bay of Banderas is a breeding ground for hundreds of humpback whales during the winter months. Pacific dolphins can be seen year-round, jumping alongside the bow wake of the many cruise ships that call here. Many tour operators offer eco-tours and photo safaris to take advantage of the abundance of marine life in the region; jungle tours, horseback treks and visits to tequila factories are some of the other excursions offered. But for those who choose to just wander around the city during a day in port, Puerto Vallarta offers a rich, rewarding experience.
The downtown area is crowded with shops, restaurants and lots of traffic. The main street along the water, the Malecon, has a seawall walkway that is flat and easily negotiable by wheelchair-bound visitors and those with difficulty walking, and is notable for the many sculptures that line the path. The streets a few blocks off of the main throughway, though, are steep and cobblestoned, difficult for even the most intrepid explorers. And it gets hot and humid in Puerto Vallarta, especially in the summer, so dress accordingly for your day in town.
Puerto Vallarta is a World-Class Vacation Destination - Experience Puerto Vallarta!