Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide

Puerto Vallarta lies at the foot of the rugged Sierra Madre Mountains in the Bahia de Banderas, a 14-mile (22km) bay of dazzling sandy beaches, quirky shops and stylish restaurants. The second largest holiday resort on the Pacific coast after Acapulco, this charming destination welcomes visitors as though they were old friends.

Luxury hotels, restaurants and shopping centres have spread out along the coast on either side of the original town, allowing Puerto Vallarta to grow as a holiday destination without sacrificing its colonial allure. In particular, visitors will fall in love with the centre's quaint cobblestone streets, delightful white adobe houses, flower-filled wrought-iron balconies and red-tiled roofs, all of which make this one of Mexico's most picturesque coastal cities.

Outdoor recreation is limitless as there's an array of watersports, including windsurfing, sailing and kayaking, as well as surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling and waterskiing. There are also opportunities for swimming with dolphins and whale watching cruises. Many hotels organise excursions to secluded beaches, hiking and biking tours, canopy tours and horse riding. Other activities include golf, deep-sea fishing and bungee jumping.

No other holiday resort destination in Mexico can offer a better shopping experience than Puerto Vallarta, its selection ranging from speciality stores and shopping centres to outdoor markets and art galleries. It has developed a reputation as a cultural centre and there is an abundance of local arts and crafts, such as pottery, ceramics and hand-blown glass. Boutiques stock a variety of shoes, traditional Mexican sandals and clothing, while the main flea market is the place to bargain for inexpensive handicrafts, clothes and souvenirs.