Top Attractions in Puerto Vallarta
Dozens of top chefs have restaurants in PV, and each November sees the International Gourmet Festival, with guest chefs, recipes, and ideas from around the globe. Seaside family-owned eateries grill fish right off the boat, and tiny city cafés have great eats at bargain prices. And a number of street-side stalls are as hygienic as five star-hotel restaurants.
The diversity of beaches that the Puerto Vallarta–Riviera Nayarit region offers is outstanding. From intimate beaches with crystal clear water and no waves, to long stretches of white sand beach and fantastic breaks, there is a beach for every taste.
Dive the varied landscape of Las Marietas Islands, angle for billfish, or take a boat ride. Look for humpbacks in winter and dolphins year-round. Swim, snorkel, or learn to surf or sail. Nuevo Vallarta and Bucerias are the soul and heart of the national kite-surf scene, while Punta Mita is the best spot to practice the increasingly popular Paddle Surf.
Sip a cocktail to live music at busy Los Muertos Beach or enjoy a cold beer at El Solar in Playa Camarones while watching the sunset. For dramatic views from high above the sea, head to Barcelona Tapas or Vista Guayabitos. Both serve dinner and drinks.
Late Nights, Latino Style
Much of Vallarta is geared to the gringo palate; however, there’s plenty of authentic spice too. Enjoy a mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio, on the malecón. Dine on roast pork, black beans, and fried plantains before heading for the dance floor. Thursday and Friday, take a taxi to J&B Dance Club for $4 dance lessons from 8 to 9 pm. Otherwise hang at La Bodeguita until around 11, when the Latino crowds start to arrive at J&B for a late night of cumbia, salsa, and merengue.
The cultural scene in Puerto Vallarta is quite impressive. Thursday night is artWalk night; spend a relaxing evening walking through the cobblestone streets of Downtown Vallarta while visiting a series of sophisticated art galleries and enjoying a glass of wine or tequila. If you’re lucky, you may get the chance to chat with the artists. Teatro Vallarta offers top-quality plays, concerts, and conferences, while Act II presents an interesting mix of cabaret and theater shows.
4,000 feet above sea level are the mountain towns east of PV. Admire the elegant simplicity of tiny San Sebastián; in Talpa, visit the diminutive Virgin of Talpa statue, revered throughout Mexico for petitions granted. Road access is relatively easy, but you can still charter a plane to these towns or to Mascota, where you can sample homemade raicilla—second cousin of tequila. For an unforgettable experience (at least until your thigh muscles recover), take a horseback expedition into forests. Rancho Charro and Rancho Ojo de Agua have full-day excursions.
Canopy tours are action-packed rides, where, fastened to a zip line high off the ground, you fly from tree to tree—blue sky above, ribbons of river below, and, in between, a forest of treetops and a healthy shot of adrenaline.
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