The sleepy city of Puerto Vallarta has been drawing in tourists for more than 50 years. It was brought to international attention during the filming of John Huston’s ‘The Night of the Iguana’. The beautiful colonial architecture, cobbled streets, white sandy beaches, and friendly locals have been charming visitors since the 1960s, and has largely managed to stay fairy undeveloped compared to other Mexican coastal cities. If you find yourself in the city, here’s how to spend the perfect day.
Start the day right with a visit to Coco’s Kitchen located in the old town. This Puerto Vallarta institution serves up some of the best breakfasts in town including crispy churros, omelettes stuffed with ham, cheese, mushrooms, and sausage. Be sure to try the huevos rancheros, a hearty plate of fried tortillas, fried eggs, refried beans, and salsa. Wash everything down with the restaurant’s signature mimosas.
After breakfast, hop in the rental car or taxi and drive out to the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens, a half hour drive outside the city. Nestled in the Sierra Madre mountains, these beautiful gardens are teeming with rare orchids, hummingbirds, and butterflies. Wander through the sunny gardens. It’s a wonderful way to while away the morning.
Arrive back in the old town. By this time, you will have worked up a bit of an appetite. Dotted across Puerto Vallarta are little taco stands. Pull up a pew and order a couple of the meat tacos. Little flour tortillas are topped with shredded beef, salsa, chili, fresh cheese, and sauce. It’s going to get messy. There is no way to eat these politely, but they are delicious. Most sell refrescos, icy cold fruit juices. Hungry afterwards? Order another or head for the nearest seafood taco stand.
After all that food, it’s time for a little rest and relaxation. Head down to Olas Altas or Los Muertos, the two nearest beaches to town, and work on the tan or swim in the sea. The beaches in Puerto Vallarta never get busy, so you’ll always be able to find a private little spot. Have a siesta or cool off in the Pacific Ocean. If you are feeling a little more energetic, you can rent some surf boards or body boards nearby and hit the waves. Alternatively, if you are not a beach dweller, head off the explore the beautiful architecture of the old town.
The Malecon is a series of boardwalks which span a mile or so along the coast. It makes for a beautiful walk as you watch the sun setting and are cooled by the sea breeze. There are some interesting sculptures to see along the way, as well as little shops, bars, and restaurants. Towards the end of the boardwalk, there is a concrete pier underneath which a vendor sells seafood. Pick from the huge pile of fresh oysters, cover in lime juice and chili sauce, bury your feet into the sand and dig in.
Head up to La Palapa Restaurant nearby. Not only does the beachfront restaurant enjoy some particularly good views over the beach and ocean, they also serve up some incredibly fresh seafood from grilled lobster tails, barbecued tuna steaks covered in lime juice, or prawn tacos. The cocktails here are pretty good as well.
Wander back to Mango’s Beach Club. As the name suggests, the bar is nestled right on the sand. Here they have an extensive cocktail menu (the margaritas are particularly good), as well as having live music at weekends. If you visit between Monday and Thursday, they often have two for one drinks available. The perfect way to finish your day in Puerto Vallarta.
Staying for more than one day? There is plenty more to do in the surrounding area. The little town of Sayulita is located around a half hour up the road and offers some of the best surfing in the area. There are several surf schools if you want to learn. The Islas Marietas National Park are some 8 miles of the mainland. Daily excursions will take you out to snorkel with the rich marine life or explore the underground beach. For a restaurant with a view, look up the Ocean Grill, a wooden restaurant built onto the side of a cliff edge overlooking the sea. To reach it, you will need to either hike across a thick bit of jungle or take the restaurant’s water taxi around the bay from Boca de Tomatlan.
Want to go to Puerto Vallarta? Start planning your tour by calling one of our Mexican travel experts on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email here with your request here.