The coastal fringe and the hills behind Vallarta—with streams and rivers heading down from the mountains—are beautiful areas for exploring, but few tour operators have hiking and walking trips. If you plan an impromptu exploration, it's best to take along a local familiar with the area.


Some of the biking tour operators will lead hiking outings as well, if you ask.


Ecotours. Its three-hour hike around El Nogalito River ($60) includes a pit stop at a rocky, waterfall-fed pool for a dip. En route to either you'll see a small number of birds, butterflies, and tropical plants. Ignacio L. Vallarta 243, Zona Romántica, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, 48380. 322/223–3130 or 322/222–6606. www.ecotoursvallarta.com..