Puerto Vallarta is very accessible on foot, it is easy to walk everywhere in Old Town.
The Malecon sea wall, Main Plaza and Cathedral of Guadalupe downtown are located in the heart of the city. This area offers a wide variety of upscale boutiques, world class restaurants and high end art galleries. The main public beach in town, Los Muertos Beach, is in the "Romantic Zone" and runs parallel to Olas Altas street, just a 10 minute
walk south of downtown, a quaint area with sidewalk cafes, resort clothing stores, coffee shops and internet cafes. Basilio Badillo or "Restaurant Row" is also in the Romantic Zone and is lined with unique jewelry and clothing stores, art galleries and popular
The famous Gringo Gulch area downtown is quite picturesque with winding cobblestone streets and unique old world charm. The exclusive neighborhood was named for the influx of North Americans that invaded the narrow river road and created an artistic and happening scene after the wild publicity generated from the filming of Night of the Iguana in 1963. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton owned a vacation home in this area until
his death in 1984, called Casa Kimberley. It has been kept intact by the new owners, tours are available.
Los Muertos Beach is our most popular beach and the center of daytime activity, also a favorite for sunset. A place where tourists and locals effortlessly mix, it is the top gathering spot for all ages and features some of the best restaurants in town, several with beautiful palapas situated right on the sand, 20 feet from the water. Los Muertos is what makes Vallarta unique from most Mexican resorts. You can sunbathe and swim in a public area while waiters bring you food and drink. Los Muertos also has all kinds of water sports for rent: wave runners, parasailing, banana boats, fishing charters etc.
The Water Taxi leaves Los Muertos pier every morning at 10 am for the beautiful beaches on the south part of they bay only accessible by boat. We highly recommend visiting Las Animas, Quimixto and especially the bohemian paradise of Yelapa. You can also take the water taxi from Boca de Tomatlan, the last cove on Banderas Bay accessible by car or bus. Seeing the bay from the water is a must and a water taxi ride to Yelapa is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to do it.
From Boca (as it is known by the locals) the highway turns inland and continues south all the way to Acapulco.
On the southern outskirts of town is Playa Conchas Chinas, a long coastline of beautiful
sandy beaches set in small coves separated by volcanic reefs, great for swimming and
snorkeling. Lindo Mar beachfront restaurant is located at the south end of Conchas Chinas beach. You can access the beach by dining at Lindo Mar first, it is located on the Mismaloya highway next to El Set restaurant and is known for their great Sunday brunch. Other public accesses to Conchas Chinas beach are found at the first entrance to lower Conchas Chinas below Casa Pedro, at the second entrance to Lower Concha Chinas below Sagitario street and at the cut off before Hotel Conchas Chinas, another downhill
street that ends at the ocean, all on the Mismaloya highway, south of Villa Ventana. You
can also access Conchas Chinas beach by walking to the south end of Los Muertos and
climbing the stairway over the cliff.
Mismaloya Beach is located about 10 km south of Old Town. You can take the Boca/Mismaloya bus or taxi to the entrance of Barceló Hotel, walk towards the ocean down the path that runs between the hotel and the river all the way to the beach. Mismaloya is the main launching point for fishing and snorkeling inside the bay, site of
the original film set of Night of the Iguana, the notorious movie starring Richard Burton
that put Vallarta on the map in the early 1960’s. Mismaloya is an authentic Mexican jungle village and popular beach with locals featuring rustic palapa restaurants; all major water sports available for rent. Horseback riding upriver to jungle restaurant and waterfall at “El Eden”, film set of The Predator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Los Arcos Islands National Marine Park is a huge rock formation and Vallarta’s most well known geological landmark, located at the mouth of Mismaloya cove. An excellent spot for snorkeling with large reefs made of volcanic rock, it is like swimming in an aquarium. We work with a very reliable dive company in Mismaloya owned by two brothers, Chato and Chipol; you will see their dive shop on the path down to the beach, Mismaloya Divers. They can take you snorkeling, diving, fishing or just out for a pleasure cruise in their boat at very reasonable rates, cost for the boat for the day about $2000 pesos plus tip.
Just past Mismaloya is Boca de Tomatlan, the last beach accessible by car on the bay. Here you will find beachfront restaurants and boat charters, another major launching point for boating on the bay. You can also catch the Water Taxi at Boca for the beautiful beaches on the south part of they bay only accessible by boat.
Just past Boca is Las Juntas y los Veranos, part of the Tomatlan river. River front restaurants and The Canopy ride are found in this area: take a ride harnessed to cables suspended from rainforest trees, whizzing across river gorges.
Depending on the tide, you can sometimes boogie board on Los Muertos Beach, but most Surfing is done outside the bay, north on the Pacific coast of Nayarit, in Sayulita and San Pancho, about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta.