Puerto Vallarta Coastline and Malecon Boardwalk
Malecon in Puerto Vallarta

Travel

Puerto Vallarta: In the city and on the beach

BY BRUCE WALLIN
Custom, hand-crafted leather sandals
Huaracheria Fabiola custom leather sandals

IK Mixology Mediterranean restaurant with beach view
IK Mixology

Rhythms of the Night evening show
Rhythms of the Night show

Tequila tasting at the Agave Studio in Arbol restaurant
Agave Education at Agave Studio

Botanical Garden front entrance
Vallarta Botanical Garden

Casa Kimberly top view of elegant estate
Casa Kimberly

IN THE CITY OF PUERTO VALLARTA


Huaracheria Fabiola

This family-owned shop has crafted custom sandals for everyone from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (size 16) to Richard Burton, who put Puerto Vallarta on the tourist map thanks to his well-documented affair with Elizabeth Taylor while filming The Night of the Iguana in the then-sleepy fishing village. Choose from a range of leathers and colors to create the perfect huarache, moccasin, or flip-flop for him or her. From $20; +52.322.222.9154


Tacos to Tasting Menus

Al pastor tacos are a local art form; stop into Sonorita to sample some of the city’s best. Head to Merida Grill for gourmet Yucatecan cuisine, IK Mixology for Mediterranean fare with beach views, and Tintoque for Vallartanese chef Joel Ornelas’ creations in a riverfront setting. sonorita.com.mx; meridagrill.com.mx; theikbar.com; tintoque.com.mx


Rhythms of the Night

Created by Cirque du Soleil cofounder Gilles Ste-Croix, this surreal and spectacular show is performed in a remote stretch of jungle-shrouded coast about an hour’s cruise from the Puerto Vallarta marina. Catch the early boat and arrive in time for sunset cocktails and dinner before witnessing an extravaganza of acrobatics, pyrotechnics, and mythology. From about $100; vallarta-adventures.com


Agave Education

Escape the city for a day on the tranquil beaches around Punta de Mita (Careyeros is a nice option), followed by an evening tasting of tequila, raicilla, mezcal, and more at the Conrad Punta de Mita resort’s Agave Studio in the Árbol restaurant. Sample a range of regional spirits—including a raicilla of the resort’s own making—paired with local delicacies. From $130; conradpuntademita.com


Vallarta Botanical Garden

Set high in the Sierra Madres about 45 minutes south of town, this world-class botanical garden comprises 81 rugged acres of manicured collections and wild jungle. Stroll the many hiking trails to view orchids and other native Mexican plants, then cool off with a dip in the river below. From $10; vbgardens.com


STAY: Casa Kimberly

Channel Puerto Vallarta’s enduring romance at Casa Kimberly, a nine-suite hideaway set in the former villas of Taylor and Burton. On a hill in Gringo Gulch, the elegant estate looks out to red-tile roofs, the blue Pacific, and the verdant hills of the Sierra Madres from its Iguana Restaurant & Tequila Bar. Book the 2,500-square-foot Elizabeth Taylor Suite to enjoy the view from a private wraparound terrace. From $375; casakimberly.com

Paddle boarding at Los Arcos National Marine Park
Los Arcos National Marine Park

Surfing at Sayulita Beach
Surfing at Sayulita Beach

Baby Turtle release
Baby Turtle release

Red design carved onto white clay pottery
Gallery de Ollas

Spearfishing underwater in Puerto Vallarta bay
Spearfishing in the bay

Top coastal view of Susurros del Corazon resort in Punta de Mita
Susurros del Corazon

PUERTO VALLARTA AND RIVIERA BEACHES


Whales and Waterfalls

Charter a yacht to explore Banderas Bay, stopping at Los Arcos National Marine Park—a cluster of cave-covered islands near Mismaloya—for snorkeling and paddle boarding before continuing south to the accessible-only-by-boat-or-by-foot town of Quimixto. Hike to a local waterfall for swimming and rock jumping before cruising back north and, from December through mid-April, spotting humpback whales along the way. From about $2,500; vallartayachtcompany.com


Surf Sayulita

The bohemian beach town of Sayulita has become overrun with tourists, but it’s still the Riviera Nayarit’s best spot for learning to surf. Take the clan to Lunazul Surf School to get everyone up and riding on the gentle swells along Sayulita Beach. For more experienced surfers, Lunazul can arrange trips to La Lancha and other top breaks. Lessons from $45; lunazulsurfing.com


Turtle Release

From early summer through fall, olive ridley turtles lumber ashore to lay their eggs in the sand up and down the coast. The ensuing hatching season (roughly July through December) presents an unforgettable experience for visitors, who can participate in the release of the palm-sized babies. Several hotels have turtle conservation and release programs of their own; concierges at other properties can point you to a nearby program.


Stroll the Malecón

Spend a day in downtown Puerto Vallarta, walking the famed boardwalk that runs between the city’s Los Muertos and Camarones beaches. Visit Tierra Huichol to browse beaded artworks by the indigenous Wixárika people and Galería de Ollas for Mata Ortiz pottery. Refuel with a taco-eating trip around town with Vallarta Food Tours. tierrahuichol.com; galeriadeollas.com; vallartafoodtours.com


Spear Your Supper

Search for snapper, triggerfish, and other edible species on a spearfishing expedition in the bay. Three- or four-hour excursions (minimum age 10) will teach you the art of pursuing your prey, safely operating the spear, and, with some luck, bringing up a fresh catch to enjoy as ceviche on the boat ride back or dinner that night. Price upon request; spearmex.com


STAY: Susurros del Corazón

Opening this summer, this Auberge Resorts Collection property sits on a sandy beach 45 minutes from the Puerto Vallarta airport in an exclusive stretch of the Riviera Nayarit (Four Seasons, St. Regis, and Conrad are all neighbors). Surfing, snorkeling, fishing, and other pursuits are all readily available from the 59-room retreat, which also includes three beachfront pools, an 11-room spa, a kids’ club, and 30 private residences. From $925; aubergeresorts.com