Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta, known locally as the Vallartas, are two gems on Mexico’s Pacific coast in Nayarit. Overlooking Banderas Bay and famed for its long stretch of beach, Nuevo Vallarta’s sand is particularly beautiful, as it shimmers with specks of gold. The mountains surrounding the bay shelter this tropical landscape, creating year-round gorgeous weather.
As well as relaxing, the Vallartas are the place to try deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Above water, you can kayak and paddleboard the gentle waves. Golfers will love the challenge of El Tigre Golf Club. Off the coast, the Marieta Islands are home to wildlife, including dolphins, turtles, and humpback whales.
For shopping and authentic Mexican eateries, Puerto Vallarta’s bustling downtown area features colonial architecture and a malecón (boardwalk) decorated by nationally recognized sculptors. Many iconic Mexican traditions originated in Jalisco, including sombreros, the Mexican Hat Dance, and mariachi. It is also the birthplace of tequila.
Locals have lived in the nearby fishing town of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle for generations. The marina frames picture-perfect scenery and beautiful sunsets. Take a trip to the laid-back village of Sayulita, a famous surfing destination. Whale safaris, sea turtle releases, and swimming with sea lions and dolphins are all available to make your vacation as unique as this stunning location.
Sea turtle releases happen year-round, but are more common between October and February. Local turtle camps time the releases to decrease the chances of attacks from predators by holding them at sunset.
Book a round-trip by water taxi to Yelapa, the furthermost of the southern beaches from town, just 45 minutes away. Home to a small fishing community, this is one of Puerto Vallarta’s most secluded and beloved bays. Playa Las Gemelas is around 20 minutes by car from the city center and has some of the best views of clear-blue waters.
Nuevo Vallarta is home to the Paradise Plaza Shopping Center and many local boutiques. Bucerias is traditional town where locals sell art and souvenir crafts. Surfer town Sayulita is on the list of Mexico's Pueblo Magico (magic towns).
Thanks to the Pacific Ocean, seafood in the area is always fresh. Nayarit specialties include aguachile, a spiced, zesty dish made with shrimp, cucumber, and onion. For dessert, try agualamas, a wild regional fruit cooked with raw sugar and cinnamon. For a French twist on Mexican cusine, try Café des Artistes in Puerto Vallarta, which offers a romantic candlelit garden.
Live music plays each night in most bars and clubs along the malecon. From sultry jazz to upbeat salsa, La Bodeguita del Medio, with its pretty tiled dancefloor, is one spot to visit for sure. If you'd rather relax while you listen, Patio de mi Casa features lush foliage you can sit amongt while you sip a cocktail and soak up some music.