Planning your dream holiday to the sun-drenched beaches of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico? Casago has the local expertise to help you experience a stress-free vacation in this beautiful coastal hamlet on the Bay of Banderas. Discover the best places to visit in Puerto Vallarta, including notable landmarks, national parks and family-friendly beaches.
Puerto Vallarta Beaches
If it’s oceanfront relaxation you crave, Puerto Vallarta beaches are the place to soak up the sun’s warming rays, or take a swim in the warm emerald waters.
Playa Garza Blanca
Playa Garza Blanca is a vision of tropical paradise, complete with aquamarine waters, soft sands and mild waves that are perfect for swimming. This picturesque beach, one of few in Puerto Vallarta that has glittering white sand, is an ideal spot for kayaking, paddle boarding and boogie boarding. Most travelers access this small beach just south of Gemelas from their all-inclusive resorts, but there is public access on both the north and south sides.
Of all the places to see in Puerto Vallarta, you can’t miss a daytrip to beautiful Playa Conchas Chinas. This pretty beach is located just south of the Romantic Zone, framed by lush mountains and crystal-clear waters. Millions of tiny white shells, polished by the crashing waves, form the sands of Conchas Chinas. You can snorkel around the rocky coves and the surf is tame enough for little swimmers (the gentlest waves are north of La Playita de Lindo Mar). Note that there are no public facilities, but beach vendors do sell snacks and drinks.
Playa Camarones, which means “Shrimp Beach,” is one of the most popular beaches in the downtown Puerto Vallarta area. It also happens to boast some of the cleanest waters. Camarones is just north of Playa Los Muertos, a bit north of the Malecon. Get there early in the morning when it’s quiet and claim your spot in the sand. This wide, long expanse of shoreline makes for a great walking beach, and there are several bars, cafes and restaurants close by. Mango Beach Club offers sun loungers and umbrellas and beach goers can rent banana boats, Jet Skis or even try parasailing.
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Puerto Vallarta Sightseeing
When it comes to Puerto Vallarta sightseeing, be sure to include these local attractions in your vacation itinerary.
Islas Marietas National Park
The uninhabited Marietas Islands were formed thousands of years ago by volcanic activity. Located off Punta Mita in the Bay of Banderas, the islands have been designated a national park, and are home to 50 different species of protected flora and fauna. The rocky islands are flecked with reefs and caves, and offer safe haven to tropical fish, manta rays, endangered sea turtles, dolphins and migrating humpback whales. The Islas Marietas are a popular day tour among visitors to Puerto Vallarta. Boat tours include chances to swim, snorkel, paddle board, kayak and scuba dive in the turquoise waters. The beaches of these islands host the blue-footed booby, pelicans and other seabirds.
Bahia de Banderas
The Bay of Banderas is the crown jewel of Puerto Vallarta and neighboring towns. Spanning some 62 miles, this sweeping body of water is one of the deepest bays on earth, measuring over 3000 feet in some areas. Bahia Banderas is a popular site for a wide variety of water sports, including parasailing, Jet Skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, paddle boarding, kayaking, whale watching and sport fishing. From Puerto Vallarta, you can book boat trips to outlying islands, sunset cruises aboard luxury catamarans, and fishing charters for chances to reel in a trophy.
Accessible only via boat, Las Caletas is one of Puerto Vallarta’s most secluded beach hideaways. This picturesque spot is hemmed in by steep, jungle-laden mountains and offers a number of family-friendly activities including guided nature walks, zip-line tours, snorkeling, kayaking and much more. Las Caletas even has an aviary and deer sanctuary, where children can enjoy up-close wildlife encounters. While parents lounge in swaying hammocks, children can partake in donkey rides, or test their mettle on a fun Tarzan swing!
Puerto Vallarta Landmarks
Explore the most enchanting cultural and historic Puerto Vallarta landmarks by visiting these places:
El Malecon Boardwalk
This breezy waterfront esplanade is the heart and soul of Puerto Vallarta. Enjoy the lively shows, music performances and people-watching while taking a stroll down this 11-block pedestrian boardwalk. There are interesting sculptures to be admired, street artists selling their wares, and dozens of bustling shops, bars and cafes for a quick bite to eat or refreshing cocktail. If you’re looking for the best nightlife in Puerto Vallarta, the Malecon heats up after 10 p.m., when the bars and clubs begin filling up with late-night partiers.
The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Virtually every postcard or picture of downtown Puerto Vallarta is dominated by the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe – an iconic spiritual landmark. The parish is architecturally stunning and boasts an intricate wrought-iron crown. It is open to the public with mass held every Sunday in both Spanish and English. If you are lucky enough to be vacationing during the first part of December, you’ll be treated to colorful decorations and festivities as thousands of locals make daily pilgrimages to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The Romantic Zone, or Zona Romantica, is arguably the hippest place to visit in Puerto Vallarta. Old Town, as it is also called, is popular with locals and tourists for good reason. The lovely cobblestone streets are packed with amazing shops, boutiques, restaurants and galleries, offering the perfect backdrop for a leisurely day of walking, shopping and indulging in tasty cuisine. Find the best taco stands, the most delicious margaritas and the town’s best culinary offerings in the Zona Romantica.
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