Located on Mexico’s Pacific Coast overlooking the stunning Bay of Banderas,Puerto Vallarta is equal parts enchanting beach town and sophisticated cultural center,thanks to its rich history and continued popularity as a home-away-from-home among a growing number of international expats.
“One of my favorite beaches is located just south of the Sheraton hotel on the main hotel strip,” wrote sometime expat and Puerto Vallarta regular Carmen Poon for Vallarta Daily. “This beach usually only has a handful of people on it. Normally,there are one or two people fishing,a couple more swimming,and another small group on the shore.”
Poon says the reason for the lack of interest among most tourists is exactly why she enjoys coming to this particular beach: It is extremely rocky. She,along with her husband Clarence and young son Ethan,enjoy exploring here,looking for shells and climbing around on the often massive rocks. Another favorite is Boca de Tomates Beach near the marina,again because of its lack of development. Located at the end of the Puerto Vallarta International Airport runway,this beach will never be home to a hotel,so it is left in a much more natural state,without staff,beach loungers,etc.
“This beach is mostly sand,but it also boasts interesting rocks,lots of floating sticks and logs,shells of all sizes and shapes,as well as wonderful inhabitants like turtles,crabs,pelicans,other cool birds,and crocodiles,” Poon revealed. “I personally have never come across one,but I have been warned by more than one local not to venture into the brush bordering the east side of the beach because of the toothy reptiles.”
Still,if you (carefully!) walk far enough up this beach,you’ll eventually come to the local Campamento Tortuguero Boca de Tomates,which is a turtle hatchery operated by a group of highly dedicated individuals.
“We stumbled upon it our first time up the beach and we were allowed to hold a baby turtle,” Poon shared. “Later that same day,we volunteered to release the babies at the water’s edge. What an amazing experience!”
Of course,one of the main reasons expats love Puerto Vallarta is the laid-back lifestyle it offers – typically a far cry from what people are used to experiencing back home. With year-round gorgeous weather and the beach so accessible at all times,it’s tough not to lose yourself in relaxation and play.
“There is a rainbow of colors in a handful of sand. I shut off my brain and observe,” Poon stated. “Boca de Tomates is a long,quiet,glittering beach. The water and the sand look like they have been sprinkled with golden fairy dust.”
While in Puerto Vallarta,visiting the historic downtown area is a must-do. Start with taking a walk on the malecón,or boardwalk and if possible go from one end to the other. In addition to affording amazing views of the bay and the city itself,the malecón is home to an impressive collection of modern sculptures,as well as street performers,snacks and a wide variety of commercial and retail establishments to suit any taste and budget.
From here,head over to the Plaza De Armas,which boasts a quiet,provincial feel and plenty of shade trees. Also,take time to check out the Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe,which is one of the most recognizable symbols of Puerto Vallarta,as well as the homemade Mexican specialties at the Municipal Market and the lookout on Matamoros Street,which affords spectacular views of the bay and the sunset.
Want to know more about what life is really like in Puerto Vallarta?
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