Mexico: Puerto Vallarta | Cobblestone Streets & Creamy Beaches

by Lori Seto

Puerto Vallarta became an instant honeymoon hit after the release of the film The Night of the Iguana. Not only was the setting idyllic, but starlet Elizabeth Taylor kept hunky Richard Burton company while he was filming the movie (both were married but not to each other). Located at the edge of the Sierra Madre range, the cobblestone streets of this once quiet Pacific Coast fishing village now teem with visitors during high season. Head north or south of town for beautiful beaches and a more mellow ambience.

In A Word: Beach

Puerto Vallarta's creamy golden sands are a beach-lover's dream come true. To shop and people-watch, head for Playa de los Muertos; try Nayarit for seclusion and Sayulita for surfing. Pay homage to Liz and Dick at Playa Mismaloya, where he filmed the movie that stoked their love.

Why We'd Go: Three Features You'll Never Forget

  • Old World ambience: Old Town is a crisscross of crooked cobblestone streets lined with Spanish-style white adobe buildings. Here you can sip coffee and catch some city sights: schoolgirls in blue uniforms and white kneesocks scampering to school or women in fuchsia-feather headdresses parading in honor of the Virgin Maria de Guadalupe.
  • Cruising: Book a catamaran cruise that includes dinner and dancing on the terraces of Iguana director John Huston's former home. Reserve time to play pirate on the Marigalante, a 15th-century caravel replica, during a sunset cruise complete with fireworks and a barbecue dinner.
  • Street life: At night, couples walk hand-in-hand along the beachfront malecon, or boardwalk, stopping under palm trees to gaze at the darkening sea. Others crowd into open-air restaurants and bars facing the beach or head deeper into town for streetside quesadillas and shops filled with pottery, rugs, linen, and some of the country's finest folk art.

Pucker Up: Best Place To Smooch

Get toasty sipping tropical treats under the enormous palapa at Chico's Paradise. A nearby waterfall and gossipy parrots add to the ambience.

When To Go: Puerto Vallarta At Its Best

  • Best weather: October through May
  • Best prices: May or June through September or December; exact dates vary by hotel
  • Festival highlights: Semana Santa, which begins in March or April, leads up to Easter and is celebrated with parades and passion plays; Fiestas de Mayo, a traditional fair, runs through May; Mexico's independence is celebrated in mid-September with fireworks and parties in the central plaza.

For more information about Puerto Vallarta, contact the Puerto Vallarta tourist board.

For more information about Mexico, contact the Mexico tourist board, (800) 44-MEXICO.

Photo: Mexico Tourism Board

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