The jewel of Mexico’s Pacific Coast, Puerto Vallarta is more than a resort town. While the traveler will find the usual assortment of vacation rentals, hotels, restaurants, and leisure spots in and around its downtown, the city offers many unique attractions for sightseeing in Puerto Vallarta. Here are several:

Playas Conchas Chinas

The city is deservedly renowned for its stellar beaches. Those looking for a quieter seaside experience (and who don’t mind a little travel) will find it in at the Playas Conchas Chinas. Head south from the city proper until you reach the edge of Los Muertos Beach. Stairs and a trail will lead you to this peaceful spot. Enjoy the crystal clear water or just sit on its sands and enjoy the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore. There is a hotel nearby, but unlike the tourist spots along the Malecon esplanade downtown the general feeling is relaxed.

Bike Tour

Many hotels rent bikes and tour guides. One route runs along the rural back roads between neighboring Bucerias and San Juan Abajo. The trek generally lasts a leisurely 2 or more hours, but there are often breaks for those wishing to rest a spell. The guides will encourage pit stops to allow travelers to enjoy the setting. Whether it’s stopping for a quick bite at a taco stand or to admire the scenery of the lush Sierre Madre mountains, you will get a feel of the real countryside away from the city.

Isla Río Cuale

This secluded shopping and sightseeing spot is located on an island on the Banderas Bay. Accessible from downtown vacation rentals via two bridges, the island features shops as well as a cultural center and other sight-seeing activities. There are some marvelous items sold at the flea market, including the expected souvenirs but also one-of-a-kind handicrafts of local artisans. You may find this a welcome respite from summer heat for it is lush, green and shady. This is a nice spot in which to simply walk around and people watch.

Swim with Dolphins

The Banderas Bay alone features many sightseeing attractions, but swimming with dolphins is one of the more unique. You can book an eco-friendly tour in which you can head out into the bay. Once in the water, the experts will guide you in interacting with the bay’s bottlenose dolphins. Part of the fun is knowing that these dolphins are not in captivity nor are they cajoled into swimming around people. These excursions highlight how Puerto Vallarta offers attractions found nowhere else.

The Marietas Islands

Called “the Mexican Galapagos,” these islands offer unmatched natural beauty. Of particular note is the Playa del Amor, an underground beach accessible only by swimming through a rock archway and tunnel. Once on the shore, you can enjoy the sands while marveling at the rock that circles the entire beach. The islands are also home to several endangered bird species as well as a multitude of other marine life. The islands are a protected wildlife refuge, so care should be taken when visiting.

There are many opportunities for sightseeing in Puerto Vallarta. Whether you plan to sip a cold drink on the beach, head out for the country on foot or on a bike, or simply want to wander off the beaten track,Puerto Vallarta has something for every traveler.