Destination Guide

Puerto Vallarta

Open Your Heart to Puerto Vallarta

Nestled between Mexico’s Bay of Banderas and Sierra Madre Occidental sits Puerto Vallarta, a beach resort destination known for its impeccable gastronomy, LGBTQ+ friendliness, and earth-shattering sunsets.

 

Consider these recommendations as your shape your itinerary.

Where to eat and drink

If you’re keen to learn more about tequila by way of your tastebuds, head to the Ceviche & Tequila Bar at the Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa (open to the public), which boasts over 180 different tequilas and mezcals on its menu. Tastings can be arranged with an expert tequilera (tequila sommelier), and the Marriott is one of the only hotels in the world to bottle their own tequila, CasaMagna. Blanco, reposado, añejo, and extra añejo are all available.

 

Puerto Vallarta has a stunning collection of art galleries, and among them sits Café des Artistes, a feast for your stomach and your eyes. Each of the dining areas, from a chef’s table to exterior garden, is exquisitely designed, and the gourmet Mexican-inspired French cuisine by chef Thierry Blouet has earned many awards, including four diamonds from AAA.

Indulge Your Senses – What to see

While walking down Puerto Vallarta’s Malecón, or boardwalk, you’re likely to happen upon the Danza de los Voladores, or “dance of the flyers.” It’s an ancient Mesoamerican ritual, purportedly done to ask the gods to end severe drought. It consists of four costumed dancers climbing to the top of a 30 meter (98.5 foot) pole, attaching ropes twisted around the pole to their ankles, then launching into the air, spinning around the pole while a fifth participant plays the flute and drums. It’s essentially a human maypole, and is incredible to watch. Don’t forget to tip the flyers!

Just outside of the city is the Jorullo Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge. Canopy River, a local eco-friendly adventure park, lets you cross the bridge by foot or ATV and zipline past it. The bridge is surrounded by the jungle of the Sierra Madre Occidental, so expect amazing views and vistas throughout your adventure. There’s a waterfall you can swim in, too, and Canopy River also has an infinity pool overlooking the mountains to relax in post-excursion.

Find a natural backdrop

Puerto Vallarta is a hilly city, and if you’re able to hike to the top, you’ll be rewarded with a dazzling view. Mirador La Cruz del Cerro is a panoramic lookout point facing Vallarta’s downtown, beach and ocean. Speedy athletes can probably make the climb in as little as 15 minutes, but the rest of us should allot at least 40 minutes to account for breaks, water and photo ops, of course. 

 

The Westin Resort & Spa, located near Puerto Vallarta’s marina, is a former palm tree plantation and thus is home to over 600 incredible, swaying palms. Posing between the palms is the perfect backdrop for viral Instagram photos, especially ones that sit in the middle of the pool — the landscaping was designed around the palm trees, so as not to disturb them.

Take a Spiritual Bath

In addition to standard massages and facials, Puerto Vallarta’s Ohtli Spa focuses on offering ancient Aztec healing traditions & treatments. One of the most unique and unusual is the Janzu Rebirth Therapy, which takes place in a private, indoor heated pool in the shape of a woman’s uterus. During the therapy, you float meditatively in the pool and a therapist guides you through rhythmic movements, all supposed to mimic the feeling of being inside your mother’s womb. It’s relaxing physically — regular treatments are said to increase flexibility and strengthen your immune system — as well as emotionally. It’s not often we get to let go of control and be coddled in place as warm and comforting as we were before birth.

Explore a Historic Gem

Fans of Old Hollywood need to stop by Casa Kimberly, the former home of stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton turned luxury boutique hotel and restaurant. The duo fell in love with Puerto Vallarta during Burton’s filming of The Night of the Iguana, and due to the controversy surrounding their illicit relationship, moved into separate homes across the street from one another. They built a bridge connecting the two houses — so they could easily sneak over to one another while avoiding paparazzi — but then tore the bridge down (though later rebuilt) after one particularly heated quarrell. From the street, you can spy a statue of the lovers embracing just inside the courtyard.

Meet the journalist:

Jenny Hart is an American travel writer based in Mexico City. Follow her on Instagram at @jennyjhart.