Puerto Vallarta

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Puerto Vallarta
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Above, from left to right: Panoramic view of Villa del Palmar, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, the Sea Horse Sculpture, the pier, view of the hotel zone from the boardwalk, Marina Vallarta and downtown.
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P.V., Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta - Jalisco.svg
Location of the municipality within the state of Jalisco
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Puerto Vallarta
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Puerto Vallarta
Coordinates: 20°38′45″N105°13′20″W / 20.64583°N 105.22222°W / 20.64583; -105.22222 Coordinates: 20°38′45″N105°13′20″W / 20.64583°N 105.22222°W / 20.64583; -105.22222
State Jalisco
Municipality Puerto Vallarta
FoundedDecember 12, 1851
Founded asLas Peñas
Named for Ignacio Vallarta
  Municipal presidentLuis Alberto Michel Rodríguez ( Morena logo (Mexico).svg Morena)
  City49.11 km2 (18.96 sq mi)
1,452 km2 (561 sq mi)
  Municipality680.9 km2 (262.9 sq mi)
7 m (23 ft)
 (2020 census)
[1] [2] [3]
  Density4,600/km2 (12,000/sq mi)
  Metro density330/km2 (860/sq mi)
  Municipality density430/km2 (1,100/sq mi)
Demonym Vallartense
Time zone UTC−6 (Central Central Standard Time)
  Summer (DST) UTC−6 (Central Standard Time)
Postal code
Area code +52 322
Website puertovallarta.gob.mx

Puerto Vallarta (Spanish pronunciation:  [ˈpweɾto βaˈʎaɾta] or simply Vallarta) is a Mexican beach resort city on the Pacific Ocean's Bahía de Banderas in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Puerto Vallarta is the second largest urban agglomeration in the state after the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area. The City of Puerto Vallarta is the government seat of the Municipality of Puerto Vallarta, which comprises the city as well as population centers outside of the city extending from Boca de Tomatlán to the Nayarit border (the Ameca River). The city is located at 20°40′N105°16′W / 20.667°N 105.267°W / 20.667; -105.267 . The municipality has an area of 681 square kilometres (262.9 sq mi). To the north, it borders the southwest of the state of Nayarit. To the east, it borders the municipality of Mascota and San Sebastián del Oeste, and to the south, it borders the municipalities of Talpa de Allende and Cabo Corrientes. [4]


Puerto Vallarta is named after Ignacio Vallarta, a former governor of Jalisco. In Spanish, Puerto Vallarta is frequently shortened to "Vallarta", while English speakers call the city P.V. for short. In Internet shorthand, the city is often referred to as PVR, after the International Air Transport Association airport code for its Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport.


Puerto Vallarta's proximity to the Bay of Banderas, the agricultural valley of the Ameca River, and the important mining centers in the Sierra have given the town a more interesting past[ clarification needed ] than most Mexican tourist destinations. Puerto Vallarta was a thriving Mexican village long before it became an international tourist destination. Tourism is a major economic activity because of the climate, scenery, tropical beaches, and rich cultural history. The early village name for Puerto Villarta was Tintoque and the name Tintoque Puerto Villarta is still used formally to describe the city.

Playa Los Muertos (Beach of the Dead)

In the 16th century, Hernán Cortés explored the Pacific side of Mexico by ship. Cortés used the established port of Acapulco to resupply and anchor his ships along the journey. During the early 1500s, he sent two of his ships North to explore the coastline without him. One of his ships wrecked in Banderas Bay and all but three men were reportedly killed. It is believed the corpses of the lost sailors washed ashore. Native villagers encountered numerous corpses on the beach for days after the wreck. [5]

Bay of Banderas (Bay of Flags)

Pirates were known to attack ships along the Pacific Coast of Mexico as early as the 16th century. In the early 1500s the famous explorer Hernán Cortés set out to establish a safe harbor, north of Acapulco, to provide protection for cargo ships sailing the planned Manila galleon trade route to the Philippines. Just a thousand miles north, he discovered a large bay at the village of Tintoque. According to local legend, pirates were already anchoring in this bay and regularly pillaged local villagers while burying treasure in the hills. When Cortes and his crew set foot on the beach, a mob of angry villagers believed he and his crew were pirates and surrounded them with native weapons in hand. According to his journal, a Catholic friar accompanying the crew began praying to Lord for help. Villagers were mesmerized by the red flags the crew carried and suddenly lowered their weapons, allowing the explorers to pass peacefully. It's likely the villagers had seen the flags before when they floated ashore with the dead crew from a Cortés ship that wrecked earlier in the bay. This is how the Bay of Bandarous was named. Francisco Cortés de Buenaventura, the nephew of Hernán Cortés, is said to have formalized the bay's name during his own conquering of the region in 1525. In the following years, Tintoque became a major port and safe harbor for ships traveling the Manila galleon. [6] [7]

Pre-Hispanic times to the 19th century

Few details are known about the history of the area prior to the 19th century. There is archaeological evidence to suggest continuous human habitation from 580 BC, and similar evidence (from sites near Ixtapa and in Col. Lázaro Cárdenas) [8] that the area belonged to the Aztlán culture which dominated Jalisco, Nayarit and Michoacán from c.900–1200. The limited evidence in occidental Mexican archeology have limited the current knowledge about pre-historic life in the area. [9]

Spanish missionary and conquistador documents chronicle skirmishes between the Spanish colonizers and the local peoples. In 1524, for example, a large battle between Hernán Cortés and an army of 10,000 to 20,000 indigenous warriors resulted in Cortés taking control of much of the Ameca valley.[ citation needed ] The valley was then named Banderas (flags) after the colorful standards carried by the natives.

Also the area appears on maps and in sailing logs as a bay of refuge for the Manila Galleon trade as well as for other coastal seafarers.[ citation needed ] As such it figures in some accounts of pirate operations and smuggling and pirate contravention efforts by the viceregal government. During the 17th and 18th centuries the Banderas Valley and its beaches along the Bay of Banderas served as supply points for ships seeking refuge in the bay.[ citation needed ] The area also served as a point where smuggled goods could be sent on to the Sierra towns near Mascota, evading the customs operations at San Blas, Nayarit.[ citation needed ]

El Carrizal and Las Peñas - 19th century

During the 19th century the history of Puerto Vallarta, then called El Carrizal or Las Peñas, was linked to the history of the Sierra towns of San Sebastián del Oeste, Talpa de Allende and Mascota. While today these towns are considered quaint tourist destinations, during much of the 18th century, Mascota was Jalisco's second largest town, after Guadalajara. Mascota and its neighboring towns located in the high plateaus of the Sierra, developed as agricultural towns to support the growing mining operations in the Sierra.[ citation needed ]

During the 18th century, as Mascota grew, Puerto Vallarta grew with it, transforming itself from a small fishing and pearl-diving village into a small beach-landing port serving the Sierra towns.[ citation needed ] At the time the main port serving Jalisco was located at San Blas, but the inconvenient overland route from San Blas to the Sierra towns made Puerto Vallarta a more convenient alternative for smaller shipments, not to mention smuggling operations which evaded the tax collectors at San Blas. Puerto Vallarta also became a vacation destination for residents of the Sierra Towns, and by the mid 19th century, the town already had its regularly returning population of vacationers. Most of the early settlers in Puerto Vallarta were families who had left the Sierra towns for one reason or another.[ citation needed ]

1859 saw an important turning point for the small village, then known as Las Peñas. That year the Union en Cuale mining company took possession of land extending from Los Arcos to the Pitillal river and extending back up into the Sierra for kilometres.[ citation needed ] The Union en Cuale company was owned in part by the Camarena brothers of Guadalajara who had developed a small trade in palm oil in Las Peñas. The purpose of the government's sale of the land to the company was to provide for shipping, fishing and agricultural support for the mining operations which were growing quite quickly in the Sierra.[ citation needed ]

The official founding story of Las Peñas and thus of Puerto Vallarta is that it was founded by Guadalupe Sánchez Torres, his wife Ambrosia Carrillo and some friends such as Cenobio Joya, Apolonio de Robles, Cleofas Peña and Martín Andrade, among others, on December 12, 1851, and was given the name of Las Peñas de Santa María de Guadalupe since it was the day dedicated to the virgin of Guadalupe. Although the purchase record of the property by Guadalupe Sanchez is dated 1859, his family lived there prior to the purchase year. [10] [11] Also even as early as 1850 the area was already peopled by fishermen, pearl divers, smugglers and foragers, all of whom had something of a permanent existence in the area. Given the existing historical documents it is simply impossible to date the first permanent settlement in the area,

There is however no doubt the development of Las Peñas into a self-sustaining village of any significant size happened in the 1860s as the mouth of the Cuale area was exploited to support the operations of the newly enfranchised Union en Cuale company. As such 1859 marks the beginning of Puerto Vallarta as a village. Twenty years later, by 1885, the village comprised about 250 homes and about 800 residents. [12]

The early municipality - early 20th century

Sunset on Los Muertos beach in Olas Altas, Colonia Emiliano Zapata. Pvlosmuertossunset.jpg
Sunset on Los Muertos beach in Olas Altas, Colonia Emiliano Zapata.

In 1918, the village was elevated to municipality status and renamed after former state governor Ignacio Vallarta. During the early years of the 20th century, most of Puerto Vallarta was owned by the Union en Cuale company controlled by the American Alfred Geist.[ citation needed ] Geist sold land only in large plots at prices that were quite high for the time and otherwise leased the land on short-term leases. To remedy this situation and to enable the new municipality to develop, the citizens petitioned the government for a land grant based on the new constitution's provisions.[ citation needed ]

In 1921, the Local Agrarian Commission approved a grant of some 9,400 hectares (23,000 acres; 36 square miles), with the land to be expropriated from the Union en Cuale company. [13] The grant was established as an ejido holding (a farming cooperative administered by the government). Legal squabbling over the size of the land grant, and the ejido status of the properties involved would stymie growth in Puerto Vallarta into the 1960s, as developers were reluctant to build anything too substantial on land for which one could not obtain clear title. (Ejido land is controlled by individuals who are given licenses to use it, but it could not be sold, subdivided or leased.)[ citation needed ]

The Crown of Our Lady sculpture on top of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe The Crown of Our Lady Sculpture.jpg
The Crown of Our Lady sculpture on top of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe

During the Cristero War, the municipality was twice taken over by Cristero forces (April 1927 and January 1928). After it was recaptured for a second time, the national government stationed a small garrison there under Major Ángel Ocampo.[ citation needed ] The garrison was stationed near the mouth of the Cuale River and is responsible for planting many of the palms that now line the beaches near the mouth of the Cuale River to help limit beach erosion during heavy rains in October 1928. One casualty of the skirmishes was local pastor Padre Ayala who was exiled to Guadalajara for his role in fomenting the local revolt. He died there in 1943, though his remains were returned 10 years later and interred in the main parish church of Our Lady of Guadalupe.[ citation needed ]

As mining activities in the Sierra waned in the early years of the 20th century, Puerto Vallarta and the agricultural valley to the north of the city became important destinations for those leaving the Sierra towns and looking for a place to settle.[ citation needed ] Many of those who arrived had family members already living in Puerto Vallarta, and the pattern of migration that ensued turned the town into a collection of more or less extended families, giving it the cohesion of a typical sierra town.[ citation needed ]

From 1925 until 1935, the Montgomery Fruit Company operated in the area around Ixtapa. Friction with the state government over labor issues eventually led to the venture being abandoned, but for ten years it provided an important source of employment in the area.[ citation needed ]

Aerial view of marina, cruise ship docks and downtown Puerto Vallarta Puerto-Vallarta.jpg
Aerial view of marina, cruise ship docks and downtown Puerto Vallarta

The first airplane service arrived in 1932, with electrical service on a small scale arriving about the same time. The first suspension bridge over the Cuale went up in 1933. The city's first plumbing system was started in 1939.[ citation needed ]In 1942, Puerto Vallarta was finally connected by road to Compostela, Nay. Until then the only access to Puerto Vallarta was by sea, air, or by mule trails to the sierra towns. Also in 1942, in the New York-based magazine Modern Mexico the first advertisement for a Puerto Vallarta vacation appeared, sponsored by the Air Transport Company of Jalisco. By 1945, the company was landing DC-3s in Puerto Vallarta (carrying 21 passengers).

By the 1950s, Puerto Vallarta had started to attract Americans, mostly writers and artists in search of a retreat from the USA of the era of Eisenhower and McCarthy. Gringo Gulch began to develop as an expatriate neighborhood on the hill above the Centro. The city also attracted Mexican artists and writers who were willing to trade the comforts of life in the larger cities for its scenic and bucolic advantages.[ citation needed ]

In 1956, the Mascota mule trail was replaced by a packed dirt road. In 1958, 24-hour electrical generation arrived.[ citation needed ] A new airport arrived in 1962 connecting Puerto Vallarta with Los Angeles via Mazatlán, and the Mexican Aviation Company began offering package trips.

By the early 1960s, the population had started to spread beyond the Centro and Gringo Gulch, and the Colonias of 5 de Diciembre (north of the Centro) and Emiliano Zapata (south of the Cuale River) began to grow.[ citation needed ]

The modern resort - 1960s to the present

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Puerto Vallarta at night.

Six influences in the 1960s and 1970s launched Puerto Vallarta into becoming a major resort destination.

First: The Mexican federal government resolved century-old property disputes of land that had communal status, land the federal government had appropriated from the Union en Cuale mining company to be parceled out as communal farms. The land's communal (ejido) status had stifled development in the town for much of the 20th century. A significant transition of communal lands into private ownership within present Puerto Vallarta city limits took place in 1973 with the establishment of the Vallarta Land Trust (Fideicomiso) to oversee selling government land into private hands, and using the sales revenue to develop the city's infrastructure.[ citation needed ]

Second: American director John Huston filmed his 1964 movie The Night of the Iguana in Mismaloya, a small town just south of Puerto Vallarta. During the filming, the US media gave extensive coverage to Elizabeth Taylor's extramarital affair with Richard Burton, as well as the frequent fighting between Huston and the film's four stars. The publicity helped put Puerto Vallarta on the map for US tourists.[ citation needed ]

Third: The Mexican government invested significantly in transportation improvements, making Puerto Vallarta an easy travel destination. To make Puerto Vallarta accessible by jet aircraft the government developed the city's international airport. Ground transportation significantly improved. Government invested heavily in the development of highway and utility infrastructure. Another vital improvement for the city was the El Salado wharf (where the current cruise terminal is), inaugurated on June 1, 1970, making Puerto Vallarta Jalisco's first harbor town. [14] Improvements and investment in infrastructure led to Puerto Vallarta experiencing tourist booms, starting in the late 1960s. While tourists from the U.S. and Canada started flowing in, tourists in Puerto Vallarta were principally from Mexico, who started traveling to Puerto Vallarta because the improved infrastructure (4-lane paved highways) made travel easy and convenient (e.g., Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta).

Fourth: In 1968 the Puerto Vallarta municipality was elevated to City status. The elevation in status reflected interest by Mexican federal and state governments in developing the Puerto Vallarta as an international resort destination. Puerto Vallarta has since also attracted a lively immigrant community from the U.S., Canada and Europe.[ citation needed ]

Closer view of the church Crkva u meksickom gradu Puerto Vallarti.jpg
Closer view of the church

Fifth: The City showcased its new image. In August 1970, U.S. President Richard Nixon met with Mexican then-President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz in Puerto Vallarta for treaty negotiations. The visit showcased Puerto Vallarta's recently developed international airport and resort infrastructure. The U.S. presidential visit contributed significantly to getting Puerto Vallarta's name in the news and visibility as a resort destination.[ citation needed ]

Sixth: Resort hotel development in Puerto Vallarta boomed in the 1970s. Prior to 1973 hotels in Puerto Vallarta tended to be modest, mid-priced establishments. Only two large sized luxury hotels existed (the Real and the Posada Vallarta). After 1973, Puerto Vallarta experienced rapid growth in global-brand luxury hotels and international resorts, to where in 2013 there are approximately 41 five star and four star rated hotels.[ citation needed ]

An economic downturn in Mexico caused tourists to flock to Puerto Vallarta. In 1982, the peso was devalued and Puerto Vallarta became a bargain destination for US tourists. Consequently, the mid-1980s saw a marked and rapid rise in the tourist volume. This uptick fueled additional development, for example the Marina which was started in 1986.[ citation needed ] But Puerto Vallarta's success caused other Mexican cities to take note. The early 1990s saw Mexico's government and private business develop other resort destinations, such as Ixtapa and Cancún. This took away Puerto Vallarta's exclusivity of sorts on the foreign tourist trade, and caused a slump in travel to Puerto Vallarta.[ citation needed ]

With growth comes problems. During the early 1980s, Puerto Vallarta experienced a marked increase in problems related to poverty. While the devaluation of the peso brought record numbers of tourists to the area, it also stifled investment and thus construction. While more and more workers were arriving in Puerto Vallarta to try to cash in on the booming tourist trade, less and less was being done to accommodate them with housing and related infrastructure.[ citation needed ]

During the mid-1980s, Puerto Vallarta experienced a rapid expansion of impromptu communities poorly served by even basic public services. This very low standard of living leveled out Puerto Vallarta's resort boom. In the late 1980s Puerto Vallarta's government worked to alleviate the situation by developing housing and infrastructure. But the legacy of the 1980s boom remains, as the outlying areas of Puerto Vallarta suffer from poor provision of basic services (i.e. water, sewage, roads). [15]

In 1993, the federal Agrarian Law was amended allowing for more secure foreign tenure of former ejido land. Those controlling ejido land were allowed to petition for regularization, a process that converted their controlling interest into fee simple ownership. This meant that the property could be sold, and it led to a boom in the development of private residences, mostly condominiums, and a new phase of Puerto Vallarta's expansion began, centered more on accommodating retirees, snowbirds, and those who visited the city enough to make purchasing a condominium or a time-share a cost-effective option.[ citation needed ]


Beaches of Puerto Vallarta Puerto Vallarta 071.jpg
Beaches of Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta lies on a narrow coastal plain at the foot of the Sierras Cuale and San Sebastián, parts of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The plain widens to the north, reaching its widest point along the Ameca river. Three rivers flow from the Sierra through the area. From south to north they are the Cuale, the Pitillal, and the Ameca. A number of arroyos also run from the Sierra to the coastal plain. Many of the valleys of these rivers and arroyos are inhabited. Also development has to some extent spread up the hillsides from the coastal plain.

The city proper comprises four main areas: the hotel zone along the shore to the north, Olas Altas - Colonia Emiliano Zapata to the south of the Cuale river (recently named Zona Romántica in some tourist brochures), the Centro along the shore between these two areas, and a number of residential areas to the east of the hotel zone. The oldest section of the town is the area of Col. Centro near the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, especially Hidalgo street.

Seismic history

Puerto Vallarta, like much of the west coast of North America, is prone to earthquakes, though Puerto Vallarta tends to experience only peripheral effects of earthquakes centered further south. On 9 October 1995, an earthquake located off the Colima coast shook the crown from the top of the Roman Catholic Church. [16] [17]


Puerto Vallarta has a Tropical wet and dry climate (Köppen climate classification Aw), with dry winters and rainy summers. [18] The average daily high temperature is 86 °F (30 °C); average daily low temperature is 70 °F (21 °C); average daily humidity is 75%. The rainy season extends from mid June through mid October, with most of the rain between July and September. August is the city's wettest month, with an average of 14 days with significant precipitation. Even during the rainy season precipitation tends to be concentrated in large rainstorms. Occasional tropical storms will bring thunderstorms to the city in November, though the month is typically dry. There is a marked dry season in the winter. February, March and April are the months with the least cloud cover. [19]

Prevailing winds are from the southwest, and most weather systems approaching Puerto Vallarta are consequently weakened as they pass over Cabo Corrientes. Thus even during the rainy season Puerto Vallarta's weather tends to be mild compared to other areas along the Mexican Pacific coast.

Hurricanes seldom strike Puerto Vallarta. In 2002, Hurricane Kenna, a category 5 hurricane, made landfall about 160 km (100 mi) northwest of Puerto Vallarta, and the city suffered some damage from the resulting storm surge. In 1971, Hurricane Lily, a category 1 hurricane, caused serious flooding on the Isla Cuale, prompting the city to relocate all of its residents to the new Colonia Palo Seco.

Climate data for Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
Record high °C (°F)35.0
Average high °C (°F)26.7
Daily mean °C (°F)21.7
Average low °C (°F)16.7
Record low °C (°F)11
Average rainfall mm (inches)33.8
Average rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm)
Average relative humidity (%)67656567686969707068676868
Source 1: World Meteorological Organization. [20]
Source 2: Weatherbase [21]
Puerto Vallarta mean sea temperature [22]
24 °C (75 °F)24 °C (75 °F)24 °C (75 °F)25 °C (77 °F)27 °C (81 °F)28 °C (82 °F)29 °C (84 °F)30 °C (86 °F)30 °C (86 °F)30 °C (86 °F)28 °C (82 °F)25 °C (77 °F)

Hurricane Patricia

Hurricane Patricia, a Category 5 storm, became the most powerful cyclone ever measured in the Western Hemisphere with sustained wind speeds up to 200 mph (320 km/h). Hurricane Patricia was forecast to make landfall at Puerto Vallarta on the evening of October 23, 2015, with catastrophic damage predicted for the town and surrounding areas and the potential for mud slides. The storm changed from a Category 1 to a Category 5 in just 24 hours, thus catching some vacationers off guard and leaving many trapped in the town. The Jalisco state government put together 30 buses to evacuate tourists from the coast to Guadalajara, a 5-hour ride inland. Manzanillo, Colima was also near the forecast catastrophic damage zone. Ultimately, Patricia made landfall south of Puerto Vallarta, sparing the city from any significant damage. [23] [24]


Nearly 50%[ citation needed ] of the workforce is employed in tourist related industries: hotels, restaurants, personal services, and transportation. The municipality does, however, continue to have strong agricultural, industrial and commercial sectors.[ citation needed ]

Puerto Vallarta Hotel Skyline Puerto Vallarta Vista Panoramica.jpg
Puerto Vallarta Hotel Skyline

Puerto Vallarta was once named as La ciudad más amigable del mundo (The Friendliest City in the World), as the sign reads when entering from Nayarit. Today, numerous sidewalk touts selling time-shares and tequila render the city's atmosphere more akin to tourist-heavy resorts like Cancun and Acapulco, but overall the city's reputation remains relatively undiminished.[ citation needed ]

Tourism in Puerto Vallarta has increased steadily over the years and makes up 50% of the city's economic activity.[ citation needed ] The high season for international tourism in Puerto Vallarta is from late November through March (or later, depending on the timing of the college spring break period in the U.S.) The city is especially popular with U.S. residents from the southern and western U.S. because of the number of direct flights between Puerto Vallarta and Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis, and Chicago. [25] It is also popular with tourists from western Canada with a number of direct scheduled and charter flights from western Canadian cities.

Puerto Vallarta Downtown Puerto Vallarta, MX (2023) - 026.jpg
Puerto Vallarta Downtown

Puerto Vallarta is also a highly popular vacation spot for domestic tourists. It is a popular weekend destination for residents of Guadalajara (tapatíos), and a popular national destination for vacations such as Semana Santa (the week preceding Easter) and Christmas. As Acapulco has experienced a rise in drug-related violence, [26] Puerto Vallarta has absorbed much of the Mexico City resort vacation business (Acapulco has long been a common destination for tourists from Mexico City).

Rapid growth in tourist volume in Puerto Vallarta has given rise to rapid growth in hotel and rental apartment construction. This growth has spilled over from the city limits into Nuevo Vallarta in the neighboring state of Nayarit.[ citation needed ]

Real estate tourism

Velas Vallarta Hotel Velas Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta (2014) - 91.JPG
Velas Vallarta Hotel

Puerto Vallarta has become a popular retirement destination for U.S. and Canadian retirees. This has created a number of neighborhoods within the Puerto Vallarta region that cater primarily to real estate tourism, such as the Hotel Zone, which stretches from downtown Vallarta to the airport and Marina Vallarta (near the airport), and Amapas and Conchas Chinas, which are built into the mountain slightly south and behind Puerto Vallarta, and overlook the city and bay. Most recently the downtown area, especially in Emiliano Zapata (also known as the Romantic Zone), has seen a somewhat controversial trend of traditional homes being razed for the construction of condominium buildings. This region in recent years has been the most popular for Vallarta real estate tourism, with nearly 25% of all real estate sales for the region taking place there in 2019. [27] Controversial construction of condominium towers has also been taking place along the coastline heading south in Conchas Chinas and along the South Shore.[ citation needed ]

The Vallarta tourism real estate tourism market is made up of both full-time retirees and a second-home owners, primarily from the United States. On average about 40% of buyers are American, with nationals consisting of 30% and Canadians and other foreign buyers making up the remaining 20%. Mexicans favor destinations such as Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos and Cancun not just for the sun and beach, but also as real estate investment to hedge their pesos as real estate in these regions is priced in USD, rather than in pesos like the rest of the country. [27]

Puerto Vallarta can be classified as a medium-ranged real estate market with a market consisting mostly of condominiums with the average price around US$320,000 in 2019. [27] Higher-end real estate can be found primarily in Conchas Chinas, however Punta Mita, at the northern point of Banderas Bay in the neighboring state of Nayarit, has becoming increasingly more popular with wealthier buyers over the past ten years.[ which? ][ citation needed ]

Restaurant at Puerto Vallarta's Downtown Puerto Vallarta (February 22, 2023) - 48.jpg
Restaurant at Puerto Vallarta's Downtown

Any foreigner wishing to buy real estate in Puerto Vallarta (or anywhere along the coast of Mexico), can't own real estate here outright, but needs to establish a fideicommissum or beneficial trust which is held with a Mexican Bank on the owner's behalf. It isn't the same as holding the title, but it has worked well and with few problems for more than 50 years. The trust is good for 50 years and can be renewed for another 50-year period. [28]

LGBT tourism

The LGBT portion of the Playa de Los Muertos (Beach of the Dead) Playa de Los Muertos.jpg
The LGBT portion of the Playa de Los Muertos (Beach of the Dead)

Guadalajara and Acapulco were common vacation destinations for gay men and lesbians from Mexico City and, especially, the United States and Canada in the 1980s and 1990s.[ citation needed ] But since that time, Puerto Vallarta has developed into Mexico's premier resort town as a sort of satellite gay space for its big sister Guadalajara, much as Fire Island is to New York City and Palm Springs is to Los Angeles. [29] It is now considered the most welcoming and gay-friendly destination in the country, dubbed the "San Francisco of Mexico." [30] Previously quite conservative, the municipal government has become increasingly supportive in recognising and accepting the LGBT tourism segment and supporting LGBT events such as Vallarta gay pride celebrations, which launched in 2013 and are now held annually to coincide with U.S. Memorial Day weekend. [31] It boasts a gay scene, centered in the city's south-side Zona Romántica , of hotels and resorts as well as many bars, nightclubs and a gay beach on the main shore. [30] Puerto Vallarta has been cited as the number one gay beach destination in Latin America, [32] with city officials claiming a 5% tourism increase in 2013. [33]

Population and growth rate for Puerto Vallarta

The major suburb is Bahia de Banderas in Nayarit across state lines, in which Nuevo Vallarta and Sayulita are localities. Ixtapa is a locality in PV, not to be confused with the municipality of Ixtapa in Guerrero state.

Locality Population (city)93,503121,844151,432177,830203,342221,200

sources: (locality & 2015 municipal) [34] (municipal to 2010) sources: Cuaderno Estadistico Municipal [35] Censo de Poblacion y Vivienda 2010 [36]

Water pollution

Visibility in the water off Puerto Vallarta, close to the mouths of the rivers is poor in the summer, but away from these locations visibility in the summer is greater than in the dry season. In Puerto Vallarta, the sewage is treated by a British/Dutch company with a "State of the Art" facility. Outside of the City there may be no connection to this and in the rainy season some pollution can happen around the river mouths, but it quickly dissipates in the bay, which is a huge body of water.


Poverty remains a problem in Puerto Vallarta, fueled by the constant influx of persons seeking employment. Many areas of the city are still poorly served by roads and sewers. For example, Colonia Ramblases is served by roads in generally poor condition only 10% of which are paved, and Ramblases has been a populated neighborhood since the 1940s. [37]

The Municipality of Puerto Vallarta comprises about 45,000 regular dwellings. Of those, 10% do not have a potable water supply (carrying their water from a public tap), 8% do not have connections to a sewer system or septic system (using instead crude septic pits or dumping sewage directly into waterways), and 4% do not have electricity. [38] One reason for this is the difficulty the city has enforcing building regulations.

Many of the jobs available in Puerto Vallarta are classed as inferior by the Secretariat for Social Development, and even jobs that are generally well paying tend to be seasonal, so for example, waiters depend heavily on tips to supplement incomes that can be as low as 80 pesos a day - the applicable minimum wage in Jalisco. [39] There have recently (2005 to 2007) been improvements like the new IMSS facilities in Col. Versalles, improvements to several recreation facilities, improved communal beach access policies, etc. Still efforts seem to aim more at quick and visible infrastructure improvements than at solving the more pressing and enduring problem of insufficient infrastructure for basic services. [40]

One positive result of recent growth has been that in relative terms a smaller percentage of the population lives in older and poorly served neighborhoods. A growing number of residents live in housing projects and low income housing developments which provide at least adequate basic services. So perhaps having stemmed the growth of the problem with the new developments, the city will eventually be able to devote its resources to improving existing neighborhoods. [41]



Airport's exterior in 2015 Puerto Vallarta Airport.jpg
Airport's exterior in 2015

The Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport comprises a commercial international section and a general aviation section. [42] The commercial section has a single runway, 3,300 m (10,700 ft) in length and 46 m (150 ft) in width, capable of handling all current traffic without restrictions. The airfield is capable of handling 40 takeoffs or landings per hour. The airport terminal has 16 active gates, with an additional six under construction in a terminal extension project as of August 2011.[ citation needed ]

The general aviation section handles small planes leaving for San Sebastián del Oeste, Mascota, and other towns in the Sierra and along the Coast. It has 18 loading positions and shares the commercial airfield.[ citation needed ]

Cruise ships

Cruise ship docked at Puerto Vallarta Carnival Panorama docked in Puerto Vallarta 1-8-2020.jpg
Cruise ship docked at Puerto Vallarta

The port of Puerto Vallarta receives cruise ships on a regular basis during the tourist season. The docks (Muelle de Cruceros Puerto Vallarta) can berth three cruise ships simultaneously. Trips to the El Centro old town and its beach front and tourist markets, including some art stores, are available. The beach front has been recently undergoing additional improvements to the Malecon, a long promenade along the beach with numerous sculptures, restaurants, night clubs, access to boat-pulled paragliding over the bay, and various other tourist specific activities and markets.

Bus station and regional buses

National bus lines connect Puerto Vallarta (via the Central Camionera near the Modelo building north of town near the airport) with Guadalajara, Mazatlán, Manzanillo and points beyond. Bus lines include ETN and Primera Plus. Smaller bus lines connect Puerto Vallarta to small coastal and sierra towns.[ citation needed ]


Puerto Vallarta currently has no passenger rail service. Historically, buses connected with nearby Tepic, where there was a passenger rail service on the main north–south trunk of Ferromex. Heading north, trains continued to Nogales, opposite its namesake in Arizona. A spur headed northwest to Mexicali, opposite Calexico, California. Service to the east went to Guadalajara and then to Mexico City. [43]

Local transportation

Taxi in downtown, driving on characteristic cobblestones Puerto Vallarta downtown street.jpg
Taxi in downtown, driving on characteristic cobblestones

Puerto Vallarta is serviced by three municipal bus unions that provide coverage for most of the greater Puerto Vallarta area (e.g. Ixtapa, Mismaloya, Pitillal). Most of the population of the Municipality of Puerto Vallarta travels by municipal bus. Automobile ownership is not rare, but cars are seldom used to commute to and from work. They are typically reserved for family outings and major shopping trips.

As of June 2017, Uber began operating in Puerto Vallarta. [44] Their arrival has not been without conflict, as there have been confrontations between them due to their much lower rates. [45]


Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta
Coordinates 20°36′3.024″N105°14′15.36″W / 20.60084000°N 105.2376000°W / 20.60084000; -105.2376000


Puerto Vallarta has schools for all levels from kindergarten to university education both private and public.

Puerto Vallarta has a campus from one of the best known universities in Mexico, the University of Guadalajara. But it also has many other lesser known public and private university options such as the UNIVA university and the Instituto Tecnologico de Puerto Vallarta (Puerto Vallarta Technological Institute). Some of these universities also offer high school level education.

Culture: arts and cuisine

Local food specialties

Film and television

Landmarks, sights, activities

Landmarks in Puerto Vallarta

Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe Puerto Vallarta cathedral 1.jpg
Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Playa Conchas Chinas Playa Conchas Chinas.jpg
Playa Conchas Chinas
Sculptures at Malecon Puerto Vallarta - Jalisco - March 2023 - 018.jpg
Sculptures at Malecón
Isla del Rio Cuale Rio Cuale (16267677544).jpg
Isla del Río Cuale

Landmarks south of Puerto Vallarta

Los Arcos Marine Park Parque Nacional Marino Los Arcos de Mismaloya, Puerto Vallarta.jpg
Los Arcos Marine Park
Vallarta Botanical Gardens Puerto Vallarta Botanical Garden 2023 Chapel.jpg
Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Landmarks north of Puerto Vallarta

Landmarks east of Puerto Vallarta

Beaches and beach towns

Beaches in Puerto Vallarta

  • Playa Camarones (Shrimp Beach) - Colonia 5 de Diciembre (vicinity of Av. Paragua - Hotel Buenaventura. This is the northernmost public beach in the City of Puerto Vallarta proper. It is named after the shrimp fishermen that once landed their launches on the beach to unload their catch. [52]
  • Playa Olas Altas (High Waves Beach) - Colonia Emiliano Zapata - the beach extends from the Cuale River South to the fishing pier. In spite of the name, the waves offshore are not particularly high, and the beach is a popular place to swim, especially for locals and national tourists. The beach is lined with outdoor restaurants. [53]
  • Playa de los Muertos (Beach of the Dead) - Colonia Emiliano Zapata - the city's largest public beach. Legend has it the beach's name (Dead Men's Beach) stems from a battle between pirates and local miners after which bodies remained strewn on the beach, but it's a legend, since there were never any miners in Vallarta. The South Side of the beach is a popular gathering spot for gay and lesbian tourists. The North end is frequented mostly by locals, and national tourists. The city has recently tried to change the name of the beach to Playa del Sol. [53]
  • Boca de Tomates (Mouth of Tomatoes) - a beach located near the mouth of the Ameca River. The beach is not very popular among international tourists due to the rocks that come ashore especially in the summertime. Also watch out for crocodiles. Its proximity to the Ameca River which carries muddy rainwater in the summertime causes the water to lose its clarity making it appear dirty.[ citation needed ]

Beaches south of Puerto Vallarta

  • Playa Gemelas – a beach 3 km (2 mi) north of the mouth of the Mismaloya river and has some of the clearest water in the bay.
  • Playa Mismaloya – at the mouth of the Mismaloya River. The beach was featured in several scenes from Night of the Iguana and the main set was located on hillside to the south of the beach. The beach is developed with a number of restaurants.

South Shores beaches A number of beaches along the South shore of the bay are accessible only by boat from mismaloya beach. The developed beaches include (east to west): Las Animas, Quimixto, Majahuitas and Yelapa. These and other smaller undeveloped beaches can be reached by launch from Boca de Tomatlán.

  • Playa Las Animas - a narrow wide white sand beach developed with several restaurants.
  • Playa Las Caletas - a secluded beach that was once the private retreat of film director John Huston. Today it is a wildlife preserve. There is a living natural reef close to shore which makes the beach a popular destination for snorkelers. [54]
  • Playa Quimixto - a somewhat rocky and secluded beach which is settled by a small village of several hundred families. There are horse and guide hire concessions in the town which lead visitors through a small canyon behind the town to a series of waterfalls. [55]
  • Yelapa - once a small electricity free fishing village and a popular "hideaway" for gringos, now it has electricity, telephones and the internet. Visited by tourist boats for about 3 hours a day, it reverts to its laid back ways when they leave.

Beaches north of Puerto Vallarta

The north shore of the bay is lined with beach towns that offer good wading beaches and the usual tourist amenities. These include (east to west): Bucerias, Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Playa la Manzanilla, Playa Destiladeras, Playa Pontoque, and Punta Mita, all in the State of Nayarit. All can be reached by bus (departing from Wal-Mart).

Local festivals


Puerto Vallarta comprises numerous neighborhoods (colonias). Notable neighborhoods include (from South to North)

The city also includes numerous fraccionamientos, densely built residential blocks that provide affordable housing for the city's workforce.

Additionally the municipality of Puerto Vallarta comprises a few other significant population centers (from South to North):

Sister cities

Notable people

See also


  1. Metropolitan Area population includes municipalities in both Jalisco and Nayarit, Municipality includes other localities.
  2. Citypopulation.de Population of Puerto Vallarta municipality with localities
  3. Citypopulation.de Population of Puerto Vallarta metropolitan area
  4. Guia Roji - Ciudad de Puerto Vallarta (map)
  6. "History of Playa Los Muertos". exploratoryglory.com. TRAVEL, PHOTOGRAPHY AND TINY HOUSE LIVING. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
  7. Harris, Kathleen. "December 12, 2011 Marks 160th Anniversary of Vallarta's Founding". banderasnews.com. Banderas News. Retrieved 29 January 2023.
  8. The archaeologist in charge of these digs maintains a website with information related to them (in Spanish), one for the Ixtapa site, and one for the Calle Costa Rica Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine site.
  9. An example of this neglect is the City of Puerto Vallarta's destruction of the active excavation in the area of Calle Costa Rica and the Libramiento in 1995 to create a soccer field. See the website of the archeologist Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine who led the dig for details.
  10. Familia Sanchez Carrillo family records C.Haro
  11. Munguia Fregoso - Panorámica p. 66
  12. Munguia Fregoso - Panorámica p. 68
  13. Munguia Fregoso - Panorámica p. 82
  14. C. Munguía F., Panorama Histórico de Puerto Vallarta y de la Bahía de Banderas. (Secretaría de Cultura Gobierno de Jalisco H. Ayuntamiento de Puerto Vallarta, 1997) pp. 200
  15. Read almost any issue of the local newspapers and you will see an endless procession of complaints by the residents of outlying neighborhoods about poor road, sewage and water supply. See Munguia Fregoso - Panorámica p. 132-3 for the chronology that ties this situation to the peso devaluation crisis of the early 80s.
  16. "La Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, punto de referencia de Puerto Vallarta" (in Spanish). 3 October 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  17. "Corona de la Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Rafael Parra Castillo y José Esteban Ramírez Guareño, 1963)". Puerto Vallarta Net (in Spanish). 30 September 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  18. Wikimedia.org
  19. Climate data taken from the Weather Underground Archived 2007-03-21 at the Wayback Machine site for 2001-2006.
  20. Climatological Information for Puerto Vallarta, World Meteorological Organization. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  21. "Climate Statistics for Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico" . Retrieved February 27, 2012.
  22. "Puerto Vallarta Climate and Weather Averages, Mexico" . Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  23. "Post-Tropical Cyclone Selma Public Advisory". www.nhc.noaa.gov. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  24. AP, Mexico braces for strongest hurricane in Western hemisphere, By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN, with Associated Press, Oct 23, 11:53 AM EDT Archived 2015-10-24 at the Wayback Machine
  25. Lic. Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport
  26. Since January 2006 Acapulco has seen a dramatic rise in drug related gun battles. See e.g. The San Diego Union-Tribune February 15, 2006 Acapulco's Loss of Innocence
  27. 1 2 3 Vallarta, M. L. S. "2019 Puerto Vallarta Real Estate Sales Report". mlsvallarta.com/. Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  28. "Buying Property in Mexico's Restricted Zone | Connell & Associates" . Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  29. Lionel Cantú, Nancy A. Naples, Salvador Vidal-Ortiz. The Sexuality of Migration: Border Crossings and Mexican Immigrant Men. NYU Press, 2009. 245 p. (101 p.) ISBN   0-8147-5849-5.
  30. 1 2 Howard L. Hughes. Pink tourism: holidays of gay men and lesbians. CABI, 2006. 234 p. (110 p.) ISBN   1-84593-076-2.
  31. "Gay PV | LGBT Community Works Together for Successful 2014 Pride". Gaypv.mx. 2014-05-18. Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2015-11-27.
  32. Sara Lieber, Liza Monroy, Ann Summa, Jeff Spurrier, Rachel Tavel. MTV Best of Mexico. Frommer's, 2007. 722 p. (56 p.) ISBN   0-7645-8775-7.
  33. "Gay PV | Puerto Vallarta: The New Gay Mecca". Gaypv.mx. 2014-04-30. Archived from the original on 2014-06-06. Retrieved 2015-11-27.
  34. "Jalisco (Mexico): State, Major Cities & Towns - Population Statistics in Maps and Charts". citypopulation.de. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  35. Cuaderno Estadistico Municipal (2000) H. Ayuntamiento de Puerto Vallarta
  36. "Censo de Poblacion y Vivienda 2010". Archived from the original on 2011-04-06.(Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia)
  37. Mantilla Barrios Pobres p 16
  38. Cuaderno Estadistico Municipal 2000
  39. MexicanLaws.com Archived 2007-08-14 at the Wayback Machine
  40. This is a simple observed fact: high profile projects like those mentioned succeed while year after year little changes in the poorer colonias where basic services continue to be lacking.
  41. Compare a map of the city in 1990 to one from 2006 and you will see dozens of new fraccionamientos (housing projects) developed to help absorb the influx of workers.
  42. Airport information comes from the website of the Díaz Ordaz Airport Archived 2007-06-09 at the Wayback Machine
  43. Thomas Cook Publishing, UK, "Overseas Timetable," May–June 2005, service was indicated on the map, p 123 and absent from the timetable, p. 125.
  44. "Drive or Ride with Uber in Puerto Vallarta - Uber". www.uber.com. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  45. "Taxi drivers harass tourists in Puerto Vallarta". 4 September 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  46. "La noche de la iguana". IMDb. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  47. "The Night of the Iguana". AllMovie. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  48. "Vallarta Boanical Gardens -". www.vallartabotanicalgardensac.org. Archived from the original on 12 June 2007. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  49. A.C., Departamento de Diseño, Zoológico de Vallarta. "::: Zoologico de Vallarta -- Descubre la magia de la selva::Discover the magic of the jungle :::". www.zoologicodevallarta.com. Archived from the original on 20 June 2007. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  50. "TERRA NOBLE". TERRA NOBLE. Archived from the original on 31 August 2009. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  51. Listing for Terra Noble at Moon Travel Guides Archived 2010-09-10 at the Wayback Machine
  52. Harris - Hidden p. 159
  53. 1 2 Harris - Hidden p. 175
  54. Harris - Hidden p. 192
  55. Harris - Hidden p. 193
  56. "Lake County, Illinois International Sister Cities". Visitlakecounty.org. Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2015-11-27.
  57. Santa Barbara Sister City Committee. "Santa Barbara/Puerto Vallarta Sister City Committee". Sbpvsistercity.org. Archived from the original on 2015-11-17. Retrieved 2015-11-27.
  58. "McAllen mayor signs sister city agreement with Puerto Vallarta". BorderReport. 2022-07-21. Retrieved 2023-04-21.
  59. Munguia Fregoso - Panorama Histórico p. 100

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