Exploring Beautiful Puerto Vallarta Mexico

In late winter and spring, Puerto Vallarta, The Mexican Riviera, is filled with sun seekers from colder climates of the North. Attracting visitors from the United States and as far north as Canada, and for very good reason. It has a rich history, beautiful beaches and bays for the active or lounging, amazing restaurants, and an active night life. What is there not to like? One quick note, be careful for the margaritas! In this article I will show you all the things you must see while Exploring Beautiful Puerto Vallarta Mexico.

History

In 1644 the Spanish established a small shipyard on Banderas Bay for expeditions bound for Baja California. The modern town site dates from the mid-1800s and its formal port from 1885. City leaders changed the name to Puerto Vallarta in 1918. The population grew rapidly after the introduction of banana plantations in the surrounding area in the 1920s.

Exploring Beautiful Puerto Vallarta Mexico
Exploring Beautiful Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Puerto Vallarta became increasingly dependent on tourism and related services following World War II. It experienced a boom in the 1960s after it was featured in a popular motion picture, The Night of the Iguana (1964). The initial resort development spread along beaches and coves south of the town, but more-recent growth has extended north along Banderas Bay, across the state boundary into Nayarit, where Nuevo Vallarta is developing as a resort enclave and marina.

Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta

Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta
The Preserve, Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta

Garza is one of the leading luxury options in the region, a 45-minute drive from the airport and 15-minute drive from downtown. It is the most fabulous resort we have ever stayed at. We came here because our friends are share owners and wanted to share with us what they discovered.

Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta
One of the Pools – Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta

It stands out for its 165 massive, elegant rooms (all with ocean views), as well as its location on the lush, “jungly” private preserve that gives the resort its name. We took one of the jungle hikes and it was fun and rigorous.

Fun Activities Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta
Fun Activities Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta

The property sports three pools (two near the beach and one up the hillside), five restaurants (an all-inclusive package is optional and reservations are required), a pretty cove with nice snorkeling, kayaking out to Los Arcos de Mismaloya, fishing, jet skiing, and much more.

 

 

Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta
Interior Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta

 

Glorious Gardens Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta
Glorious Gardens Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta

All Inclusive Yes or No

Hiroshi Japanese Cuisine - Puerto Vallarta - Hotel Mousai
Hiroshi Japanese Cuisine – Puerto Vallarta – Hotel Mousai

We elected to participate in the “all inclusive” option for part of our time at the resort which allowed us to relax and be carefree, both with food and adult beverages. The food was good but not great. If we went again, we probably would not do to “all inclusive” option for more than just a few days. There are too many great food options around and I do not need anything that encourages gluttony in my life.

Sunset View - Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta
Sunset View – Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta

Family Friendly

The resort is family-friendly, so those looking for an adult-only experience should consider adjoining sister resort Hotel Mousai.

Hotel Mousai Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta
Hotel Mousai Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta

Exploring Puerto Vallarta

The Tower on the Hill – La Cruz del Cerro Lookout

For the best view of Puerto Vallarta, you need to get to La Cruz del Cerro Lookout.

La Cruz del Cerro Lookout Puerto Vallarta Mexico
La Cruz del Cerro Lookout Puerto Vallarta Mexico

The La Cruz del Cerro Lookout (The Cross of the Hill Lookout), as the name states in Spanish, is a lookout on the top of the La Cruz hill (Cerro de La Cruz) that towers on the East side over downtown Puerto Vallarta. It faces and views the sea silently, one of the most beautiful locations and bays of the Mexican Pacific, the Bay of Banderas and PV.

The locals know it’s both a place for recreation, relaxation and meditation, from this vantage point you can see the Mexican Pacific all the way from Los Arcos (The Arches) on the south side, downtown Puerto Vallarta and on clear days to Punta Mita on the far north side of the Bay. Needless to say, it’s a great place for photography enthusiasts and for those who just enjoy panoramic views, majestic sunsets and what nature has to offer.

La Cruz del Cerro Lookout Puerto Vallarta Mexico
Getting to La Cruz del Cerro Lookout Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Getting there is a bit of a challenge due to steep narrow roads. . We hire an intrepid taxi driver that took us on an adventure that felt like we were in a Baja dune buggy race, complete with flying over bumps, tires smoking, and clutches burning. Dang that was a ton of fun. See “Baja Dune Buggy Race“.
There is a cable car to get you to the top but, it was not running so we had to take the many stairs. The view was worth it!

The Historic District

The downtown area is the oldest part of town and, not surprisingly includes many of the main points of interest for tourists visiting the city.

The Main Square (El Zócalo)

Relax and eat an ice-cream on the main plaza in Puerto Vallarta, watch people stroll by on the Malecón or feed the pigeons that live, as, in any city, in large amounts around the square.

Rest on the benches or take your photo with the green “Kiosko” in the middle of the square, which is normally used for Sunday music.

On Thursdays and Sundays from 6 PM on the Municipal Band plays songs from near and far at the Kiosk, and locals and visitors dance “danzón”, enjoying the music and the relaxed and happy atmosphere. The band is shown in the picture above.

The main square is right in the middle of town as is customary in all of America. The town hall is to one side, the Parish on the other, half a block away, the Malecon, the amphitheater and arches on the seaside.

As always in Mexican towns, the plaza is the heart of it all.

The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe Puerto Vallarta

The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe Puerto Vallarta
The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe Puerto Vallarta

Our Lady of Guadalupe known locally as La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, is of course a Catholic church like what is typical in Mexico. The Church, built between 1930 and 1940, was constructed on the original foundations of a chapel initially dedicated to Lady Guadalupe in 1901. Our Lady of Guadalupe is dedicated to of course, the Virgin Mary. She is the patron saint of Mexico and is considered a religious symbol of Catholic faith. Her feast day on 12 December is also the date of her first apparition. To celebrate this festival (fiesta), many individuals in the Mexican community display altars in their homes consisting of a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe surrounded by flowers, candles, and other individual touches.

During this time, members of many churches, including the church in Puerto Vallarta, light fireworks after the evening rosary leading up to the 12th of December, the day in 1531 that La Virgen de Guadalupe had her first interaction with a Mexican man named Juan Diego, which essentially established Catholicism in Mexico. She is depicted as a dark-skinned woman whose dialect is Nahuatl, which is Juan Diego’s native language.

Church Location
The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe Puerto Vallarta
The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe Puerto Vallarta

The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe is in the center of the town square. The church is not based on a sophisticated design but is an encapsulation of the parish priest’s ideas and the rustic townscape of the past. The church has a neoclassical structure, and the crown seated above the main building is indicative of baroque style European temples. The original church crown eroded because of weather and was restored in 1981, however, in 1995 it was damaged by a strong earthquake and replaced with a temporary fiber glass structure. In 2009, Carlos Terres, a Jaliscan artist, sculptured and rebuilt a replacement for the crown. The church’s towers reflect the renaissance age. In parish documents, Father Luis Ramirez refers to the Church as, “an expression of village art, which symbolizes the authentic urban look of Puerto Vallarta”.

Our Experience
Ash Wednesday - The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe Puerto Vallarta
Ash Wednesday – The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe Puerto Vallarta

When we were here it was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. The day that good Catholics go to church and get a cross of ashes placed on their head to help them to remember the importance of the time of Lent. Needless to say, it was a very active day at the church.

The Malecon (Seaside Promenade)

The Malecon Seaside Promenade Puerto Vallarta Mexico
The Malecon Seaside Promenade Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Since the last century (the 1930s), the Malecon has been one of the city’s main and most enjoyable attractions.

First of all, it’s free, secondly, it has been completely remodeled and offers a wide, beautiful promenade between the sea and the stores and restaurants. Cars, taxis and other vehicles no longer go through the area, so it’s safe, clean and fun. There’s even a bicycle lane that’s used not only by bikes but by skaters and even Segways.

Get a glimpse of what living in Vallarta really is like on any afternoon, just stroll down the Malecon. Families with their kids come for a walk, an ice cream and a bit of entertainment. Street artists abound, either at the amphitheater or elsewhere along the seaside walkway.

Relax Along the Promenade

 

Art Along The Malecon Seaside Promenade Puerto Vallarta Mexico
Fun Along The Malecon Seaside Promenade Puerto Vallarta Mexico

You’ll enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, the beautiful view of the bay, the warm and impressive sunsets. The sculptures and the Papantla birdmen that hold regular shows. Sometimes a few times a day during high season.

The Malecon extends for about a mile, from Hotel Rosita on the north side. All the way to the Cuale River and the Romantic Zone on the south end.

Art Along The Malecon Seaside Promenade Puerto Vallarta Mexico
Art Along The Malecon Seaside Promenade Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Since the 1980’s the Malecon has evolved into a long promenade with sculptures on almost every block. You’ll find soft welcoming ones, strange surreal examples too. Walk up to them, touch them, sit on some of them.  Climb upon them, many have actually been designed for that.

Art Along The Malecon Seaside Promenade Puerto Vallarta Mexico
Art Along The Malecon Seaside Promenade Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Le Kliff

Sunset at Le Kliff Puerto Vallarta Mexico
Sunset at Le Kliff Puerto Vallarta Mexico

We waited until the last night of our trip to eat the best food.  Eating at Le Kliff, the French inspired restaurant was the best dinner by far of our entire trip.  This place is apparently part of the filming of the Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton Night of the Iguana.

Sitting atop a majestic cape, overlooking Banderas Bay, Le Kliff Puerto Vallarta. It has been one of the area’s most popular restaurants ever since opening its doors back in 1983. And, the views are spectacular, high above the sea. Also, the unusual open architecture is pleasing to the senses as you take in nature at its best. So, you’ll never want to leave after being mesmerized by the views. But what about the cuisine? Prepared by local chef Everardo Robles, every plate is a delicious work of art.

Along with exquisite international cuisine, Le Kliff offers a customer experience like no other restaurant. There, the carefully selected staff practices high standards of customer service and professionalism to optimize your total experience. So, read more to learn about the highlights of this magical location.

The Best Restaurant Around Puerto Vallarta

Le Kliff is located about 20 minutes drive south of Puerto Vallarta. You will find Le Kliff perched between Mismaloya Beach and Boca de Tomatlan.  At Le Kliff, walk out onto the ocean-side terraces to watch the humpback whales and other wildlife. Enjoy the panoramic ocean views all-year-round. Plus, the majestic Sierra Madre mountain backdrop flows with green tropical forest all the way down to the coastline.

Over the years, Le Kliff has been accumulating some very notable accolades from various sources. For example, they ranked among the top-10 fine-dining restaurants in all of Mexico.  Awarded a Five-Star Diamond rating both in 2008 and in 2009.

Safety of Traveling to, Puerto Vallarta

While the endless days of sunshine in paradise have people flocking to the shores of Mexico. Travel warnings may have you wondering about the safety of travel to Puerto Vallarta. While there are places in Mexico to avoid, Puerto Vallarta is free of travel warnings. It is ready to open its arms to you on your Mexico vacation. As with anywhere in the world, you need to exercise caution in a busy city. Taking a few Puerto Vallarta travel tips you can enjoy all the wonders of paradise without feeling anxious about safety.  More details: https://www.puertovallartatours.net/puerto-vallarta-safety.htm

Conclusion

Hopefully you are able to tell we had a great time in Puerto Vallarta. We would strongly encourage you to go. There is something for everyone to do.  Be sure to Contact Us if you have any questions. And until next time, get out and capture the adventure.

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Written by Wayne Moran - Visit Website
moran.wayne@gmail.com