Puerto Vallarta, Mexico’s second largest beach resort, lies in the middle of the Bahía de Banderas bay. The majority of Puerto Vallarta’s hotels are clustered in Nuevo Vallarta, a fairly tourist-oriented stretch of coast. South of Nuevo Vallarta is the recently constructed marina where the rich and famous who have chosen Puerto Vallarta as their vacation home keep their sailboats and yachts. The city’s historic center has kept its appeal even amidst the movement toward modernity - it is perhaps the area that has a majority of the city’s sightseeing attractions. At night, most of the townspeople meet at the zócalo, the city’s nightlife center. The island in the river, Isla Río Cuale, is also a popular tourist destination, lined in the center with high-end restaurants and galleries.
While Puerto Vallarta’s beaches remain its largest attractions, there are several notable sights that make the city distinct. Taking a walk through the city’s center will offer visitors a glimpse of Puerto Vallarta’s culture, as its locals carry baskets of clothing to the river for washing or browse for the best deals in the markets. In the center, visitors will find such notable landmarks as the Church of Guadalupe, the Plaza Aquiles Serdán, and the seahorse statue. The Isla Río Cuale is also a good spot for sightseeing outside of the main tourist-oriented center. There’s an archeology museum at the foot of the island that displays items that were locally-found, and John Huston's statue can be found at the entrance to a park where local women wash their clothing.
As a primarily outdoor-oriented vacation spot, Puerto Vallarta has many outdoor activities available for its tourists. There are several golf courses scattered around the island. Some of the more notable courses are The Mayan Palace Nuevo Vallarta Golf Club, Vista Vallarta, and La Marina Vallarta. Windsurfing and parasailing are available through vendors at almost every beach as well as snorkeling. However, the best places to snorkel are through the Los Arcos underwater caves and Marietas Islands caverns. Banderas Bay is a popular spot for fishing and the home to an annual fishing tournament. And finally, many ranches throughout the city offer horseback riding opportunities.
Puerto Vallarta is not the most popular destination for its nightlife; in fact, most of the people you’ll find in its clubs, bars, and restaurants are tourists. However, there are ample eating, drinking, and shopping experiences to be had in the city. The majority of these attractions can be found clustered around the most popular beaches, throughout the city’s center, and in the center of the Isla Río Cuale.
Jessica Elliott is a freelance writer for Directory of Hotels.com – Hip Cool Hotels . For travel to this region, she recommends staying at any one of these fine Boutique Hotels in Puerto Vallarta .