Top 5 reasons Puerto Vallarta visitors keep coming back

The Beaches of Puerto Vallarta - Mark Callanan photography - Stock photos of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and beyond

Top 5 reasons Puerto Vallarta loyalists keep coming back

1. Beaches:

PV’s beaches are hubs of activity for everything from parasailing to getting a henna tattoo under your palapa. There are no private hotel beaches because, under Mexico’s constitution, all Mexicans are guaranteed the right to free beach access.

The beaches get better the further North or South you wander. The North Shore of Puerto Vallarta is a peninsula called Punta de Mita which feature some of the most exquisite and diverse beaches in Mexico with a succulent array of sandy coves between majestic cliffs with long gorgeous stretches in-between.

The super deluxe high end market is easy to explore at this website specialized for the Punta de Mita peninsula:

The Four Seasons and St. Regis, Punta Mita Resort is the new standard bearer and most of the development in the area is zoned for exclusive low density and high end all the way.

This means the best protected beaches inside the Bay of Banderas won’t be spoiled by overzealous Mexican developers who build thousands of timeshare hotel rooms  to churn and burn.

Beaches past La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, like El Banco, Pontoque, Los Veneros and El Anclote are amazing family friendly clean azure waters that you will surely savour.

On the South shore of Puerto Vallarta, the jungle truly meets the sea. There are only small “secret” roads that access the beaches past Mismaloya and Boca de Tomatlan. From here you will need a water taxi to Playa Cabbalo with the swooning giant palms and perfect sand.

The only left surf break in the bay is at Quimixto, Las Caletas hosts Vallarta Adventures events, Majajuas is a sweey little hotel spot and the famous Yelapa is known for the chic hipster traveler who is into dress down tourism without slumming –  at Verana:

Marina Vallarta - Puerto Vallarta under the Sierra Marde mountains - Mexico Stock photos by Mark Callanan -

2. Mountains:

The Sierra Madre mountains that hug Puerto Vallarta and ring the Bay of Banderas glow with verdat green around the city year-round and are a constant fixture in your view. It is a not-so-subtle reminder of jsut how gorgeous this place is.

Take a day trip to the  easily accessible hills by rental car, Jeep or van.

What lies along the bumpy roads are quaint mountain villages where life slowly carries on far from the pulse of its urban neighbour. Tours of all types are available, including jungle tours with stops along the way at a typical mountain home to watch the matriarch of the family make tortillas and ending the day with a swim in the ocean and a lunch at Las Caletas.

You can also take Vallarta Adventures tours into the mountains by massive jungle truck on the Sierra Madre Expedition

Or take a quick flight on a Cessna up to the quaint mountain village of San Sebastian del Oeste

Or explore the mountain jungles via the exhilarating canopy adventure park

Tequila - Mark Callanan photography - Stock photos of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and beyond

3. Tequila:

You could sample tequila at any number of shops in Old Town, but for a more authentic treat take a city bus to the town of Mismaloya, a 30-minute ride from the city.

As you enter the dusty road into town, you’ll notice a brick building with a mural of a woman on- its side. Mama Lucia’s is a small family-run tequila mill where the pale amber liquor is made by hand.

Free tours are conducted on a regular basis (except on Sundays) and you’ll learn how tequila is made from the spiky agave plant right through to the distillation process.

Mama Lucia’s makes and sells traditional tequila as well as orange, almond, chocolate and coffee flavoured tequila-based liqueurs in the accompanying gift shop.

That brand is not available anywhere else.

Click here to read more about the Mama Lucia tequila distillery

4. Culture:

Unlike some tourist destinations in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta is not a planned resort town, says Veronica Rivas of the Mexico Tourism Board.

Mexicans live, work, play, and go about their daily lives, right alongside the tourists.

“It’s different, Rivas says, “because you really have a sense of Old Mexico. You don’t feel you’re in a huge city. It’s more than just staying at a resort, you meet the real people.”

For a taste of Mexican culture and history, set out on a unique cocktail sunset cruise. This one has the distinction of an adventurous tropical destination.

After a two-hour boat ride, disembark in the dark in Los Caletas, a dreamy beach destination by day.

Torches light the way along the trail where you’ll be seated for a dinner of Mexican cuisine by candlelight.

After dinner, you’ll be led to a lushly treed, open-air theatre and the show begins. Fire, drumming and modern dance tell the story of Mexican Aztec warriors and ancient cultures and customs.

The tropical setting draws you into the story of ancient Mexican civilization.

On the boat ride home, a rollicking party atmosphere breaks out and everybody’s dancing and, yes, drinking more.

5. Art:

Art permeates Puerto Vallarta, from its contemporary sculptures by local artists along the Malecon to dozens of galleries around town, offering traditional to ultra-contemporary works.

In its 12th year, the Old Tow- Art Walk is held Wednesday nights from October to May.

With more galleries than any other Mexican coastal city, this tour runs from 6 to 10 p.m.

Peruse the sculptures, paintings and bead work while enjoying cocktails and meeting some of the artists. (

Puerto Vallarta Art Walk

Participate in the Art Walk