03 Dec The Magic of Puerto Vallarta
Author: Ronnie Greenberg
Photos by: Joe Hilbers
5310 Dubois Ave
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
The Magic of Puerto Vallarta
By: Ronnie Greenberg
Photos by: Joe Hilbers
Puerto Vallarta, nestled in the white sand beaches of Mexico’s Pacific coast, is where dolphins frolic, and sunlight catches the laughter that drifts along the breeze. Embrace its traditions, passions and warmth, and Vallarta’s magic will find its place in your heart forever.
Warmed by the breezes of trade winds filled with the scent of spice and flowers, romantic and exhilarating Puerto Vallarta sits beside the silver ripples of the largest natural bay in Mexico, Bahia de Banderas. Set in the heart of the Mexican Riviera, with Mazatlan to the north and Acapulco to the south, its one hundred miles of coastline enhanced by the bluest of skies, is cuddled by the lush tropical greenery of the Sierra Madre mountains.
This magical paradise known throughout the world is an international tourist resort. It is loved for its natural beauty, its crystal waters that flirt with pristine beaches, and unhurried lifestyle. It savors the flavor and charm of a small Mexican town with the luxuries of a city.
Senses were stirred in the 1930s when small groups of international tourists discovered the tranquility of this quaint fishing village. By the l950’s word was out, and the serenity and natural beauty of sleepy Puerto Vallarta emerged into a small town. But it wasn’t until the filming of “Night of the Iguana,” in 1963, that it was put on the map.” It was then that thousands flocked to see where the scandalous love affair of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton took place.
Sights to see
In the downtown area around the Rio Cuale; whitewashed red-tiled roofs border cobblestone streets that wind up the hills. The Malecon, the center of town, is a promenade lined with restaurants, flower filled patios, tiled floors, chic boutiques and souvenir shops.
The sculptures of The Dolphins, and The Arches (Los Arcos) are the symbols of the Malecon, but the crown and bell tower of the Church of our Lady of Guadalupe, is Puerto Vallarta’s most distinct landmark. Alongside the covered market are the traditional government buildings. The Municipal Palace has a mural by Manuel Lepe, Mexico’s favorite artist, and the Museo Del Chale, a small museum, has displays of pre-Colombian artifacts.
In Gringo Gulch, the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton old house Casa Kimberly, looks out over Banderas Bay. The seven story, nine bedroom, twelve bath, abode is connected by a walking bridge to the guest house. John Huston’s passion for Puerto Vallarta, was responsible for leading Taylor and Burton to the home, during the time he was directing “Night of the Iguana”. It is now a bed and breakfast.
Favorite marine activities are boating, sailing and yachting excursions. Banana boats towed by speedboats, para-sailing, water-skiing, diving, and snorkeling in the waters of Banderas Bay, make this area excellent for water sports. Deep sea fishing for sailfish, bonito, yellowfish, billfish, marlin and dorado are favorites.
Mountain bike and hike up mountain trails to primitive villages, swim in waterfalls or bike along the Pacific Ocean’s edge. Travel on horseback through the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains and discover the natural wonders of the tropical forest. The trail shows the rich diversity of plant life found here.
For the more adventurous, bungee jumping and hot air ballooning is available.
Whale Watching: Every year from November to March the humpback whales visit Banderas Bay on a reproduction process searching for warmer waters. Turtle Protection Project, from June to September, turtles nest in Banderas Bay. The eggs are collected and transported to protected areas. The day after the turtles hatch they are released into the sea. Bird Watching has Vallarta home to an abundance of birdlife including egrets, herons, ducks, pelicans, ibis, and many other species.
Attractions south of town
Los Arcos, the arches formed by three rocky islets is a favorite for diving and snorkeling. Swimming near the beach affords the best views of these ancient cave-riddled rocks.
Mismaloya Beach, six miles south of town, is hidden in a small natural cove surrounded by high cliffs. In the hills on the south side of the cove are the remains of a set from the, “Night of the Iguana”.
Where to stay
The magnificent Westin Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta is a lush world-class oceanfront resort across from the breathtaking Marina Vallarta, with its golden sand beach and breathtaking views of Banderas Bay. Bathed in sunshine, wavering coconut palm groves surround four meandering swimming pools, three lighted tennis courts and a full health and fitness center. In a tropical atmosphere, the ambience of colonial Mexico abounds with shapes and hues in stone, terra cotta tile and wood. The interior decor is highlighted by Mexican crafts. Tastefully blended are luxurious amenities, featuring the custom designed, plush and sumptuous beds.
Westin Kids Club offers a children’s program designed to make the stay of all children under 7 a lot more fun, with welcome gifts and planned activities.
The resort’s restaurants present informal to gourmet dining sharing the passion of innovative cuisine in Puerto Vallarta. El Palamar offers fresh local food that is traditional, classic Mexican with a flair, and the best Sunday champagne brunch around. Arrecifes Seafood specializes in seafood and offers fine dining in a unique marine decor. In addition, the lobby bar offers refreshing cocktails and snacks amidst the soothing musical background sound of five waterfalls.
For Reservations: Marriott.com/Westin Resort & Hotel/Puerto Vallarta.
When the sun goes down
El Faro- the Lighthouse is the place to be in the evenings. Toast life and view the world here.
What to buy
Puerto Vallarta brims with creativity in its crafts and art forms created from brass, iron, copper and bronze.Beautiful sculptures, jewelry, paintings, hand blown glasses reflect the soul and the warmth of the people. Colors and scenes are captured on canvas. Sergio Bustamante the creator of whimsical animals of paper mache has his gallery here. The Mercado Municipal is a typical Mexican market with produce, souvenirs, flowers and pinatas.
For your information: Reservations for tours, taxis, and restaurants, are best handled by the hotel concierge.
How to get there: Aeromexico, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Mexicana, Continental and Delta, all go into the Gustavo Diaz Ordez International Airport in Puerto Vallarta.