Areas of Puerto Vallarta
The following are descriptions of the areas of Puerto Vallarta and the towns along the Riviera Nayarit:
Downtown – El Centro and Zona Romantica
As it’s name suggests, El Centro is the center of all things Vallarta. It is the heart of the city where the restaurants, night clubs, art galleries, markets, and shops can be found throughout its cobble stoned streets. Hungry: here you can find everything from simple tacos stands to world class, high end restaurants. Thirsty: explore everything from simple cantinas to celebrity studded night clubs. Ready to shop: artisan markets featuring hand crafted good from all over Mexico, sophisticated galleries showcasing talented local artists, owner run shops with one of a kind pieces can be found throughout the whole of downtown. Just want to go out for a stroll: visit the beautifully redone malecon (ocean front boardwalk) that has incredible views, performance artists, local vendors, and fantastic sculptures, including the iconic Seahorse Statue.
Downtown is broken up into two parts: El Centro to the north of Rio Cuale and La Zona Romantica (also known as Olas Altas, Emiliano Zapata, Basilio Badillo, South Side or Old Town).
Heading South from Downtown
Commonly known as the Beverly Hills of Puerto Vallarta, Conchas Chinas is an affluent neighborhood made up of large villas and high-end condominiums. The beach at the base of the colonia is Playa Conchas Chinas, a quieter sandy beach with fewer beach vendors. Downtown is only a 5 minute drive away.
Amapas is a residential neighborhood situated just south of La Zona Romantica. Generally within walking distance is the south end of Playa Los Muertos and restaurants and nightlife in La Zona Romantica. It is a hillside neighborhood, so getting home after a day at the beach or a night on the town may require a taxi ride up the hill.
The South Shore is the coastline between Conchas Chinas and Mismaloya, a stretch of about 8 kilometers (5 miles). There are beaches scattered along the coast, though many oceanfront homes are not on a beach.
Mismaloya & Boca de Tomatlan
Mismaloya & Boca de Tomatlan are small fishing villages located about 20 minutes south of downtown Puerto Vallarta. Mismaloya offers a great zoo, a quaint town and a sandy beach. Boca de Tomatlan is very small village, but popular due to its pier. From Boca de Tomatlan, one can easily take a water taxi to many small beaches on the south side of the bay which are only accessible by boat, like Quimixto, Playa Las Animas and Yelapa.
Heading North from Downtown
Hotel Zone / Marina
Heading north from downtown Puerto Vallarta is the Hotel Zone, which was developed throughout the 1970’s along a beautiful stretch of beach. As one would expect, the hotel zone is made up of primarily big name hotels, such as Hilton, Sheraton, and Holiday Inn. At the northern end of the hotel zone, one finds the marina where everything from small fishing charters to luxury yachts lay anchor, surrounded by hotels, golf clubs, shops, spas and restaurants.
The north shore of the Bay of Banderas is also known as the start of the Riviera Nayarit, which is comprised of a string of incredible beach towns, all with their own unique personalities. At the start of the North Shore, you will find Nuevo Vallarta, a resort town that is made up of large hotels, beautiful private homes, fabulous restaurants, stunning beaches and a large marina. Following the coast north, one will discover Bucerias, a small seaside town where many expats from the US and Canada now call home. Bucerias has an uninterrupted beach that runs for 18 miles. The next town along is La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, which is named after the giant Guanacastle Cross that is found in the town square. This quaint village attracts world class fishermen, thanks to the newly built marina.
Punta de Mita
Located at the northern most tip of the Bay of Banderas, Punta de Mita is known for its luxury resorts, spectacular private villas, and outstanding dining. This is the place to go if pampering and luxury is what you look for in a perfect vacation. Punta de Mita is also known for it’s world class surf with multiple breaks to choose from, including El Anclote, also known as the Mexican Malibu which is perfect for longboarder and stand up paddle borders. It’s also the closest take off point to get to Las Marietas Islands, an protected bird sanctuary and home of “lovers’ beach”.
Originally a tranquil fishing village, Sayulita has transformed itself into a happening beach and surf town located along the Riviera Nayarit about 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta. Centered around the town plaza, Sayulita is bustling with small boutiques, fantastic restaurants and lively night life. Surfing is what draws visitors to Sayulita but the beautiful beaches and vibrant energy is what makes them stay.