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This colonial city on the Pacific Coast of Mexico claims to be the friendliest in the world, and those who have visited it certainly agree. Puerto Vallarta is a beach destination and then some, filled with aquatic adventure, thrilling landscapes, and vibrant history. The culture here is surprisingly diverse thanks to expats, retirees, immigrants, and natives who call this area home. It’s created a welcoming aura for people of all beliefs, orientations, and backgrounds. Puerto Vallarta is the destination you need to experience, and we’re going to send you there. Your journey begins at the beach where your anything-but-humble abode awaits. Modern resorts, luxurious spas, and plenty of all-inclusive options sit right on the sand, lining the multiple zones that make up the city. This is where you’ll find ultimate relaxation in the perfect location. After you arrive, spend the rest of the day sipping a cocktail by the pool and getting ready for your exciting excursions. While you’re never left wanting when staying at most all-inclusive resorts, we insist you step out into the bustling streets and discover what makes this city so spectacular. Start in Old Vallarta and Downtown where Spanish-colonial buildings will host a day of shopping for homemade goods. It’ll be hard not to miss the beautiful iron crown-adorned bell tower of Our Lady of Guadelupe Church in the heart of town, beckoning you to discover its intricate architecture and interior. Break for lunch in a local café to munch on regional favorites such as tamales or birria, a spicy stew of goat or lamb with cumin, oregano, and ginger. Afterwards, pop into a few of the local art galleries. Nights are best spent along the lively El Malecon boardwalk. Locals and travelers alike gather to mingle by the ocean and browse the pop-up vendors and artists. But the real eye-catchers on the strip are the scattered statues that range from simple sculptures of marine creatures to abstract shapes and original characters. You’ll want to grab some fresh seafood for dinner before bar hopping for refreshing margaritas and live music. Treat yourself to a day at sea. Climb aboard a boat and head out towards rich and plentiful waters. We recommend a visit to Marietas Islands National Park, where the ride out is just as scenic as the reserve itself. You may spot a few dolphins and, if you’re lucky, a migrating whale. Miles out with no land in sight, three islands emerge from crystalclear waters like a mirage. Kayak through caves and caverns, and snorkel around colorful reefs with sea turtles, stingrays, and octopuses. For a rare treat, follow your guides through a natural tunnel into Playa Escondida. This hidden beach is completely encompassed by a rock wall opening to the sky above, giving beach bums their own secret hideaway. While the sea reigns supreme in Puerto Vallarta, there’s an array of inland thrills to enjoy. Horseback riding and ATV tours are always a good idea, but consider taking a guided excursion over the mountainous landscape in a large all-terrain vehicle with a nature expert. You’ll pass remote villages and beautiful scenery before reaching the heart of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Get out and explore the surrounding area with your expert who will teach you about the various species that call the canopy and forest floor home. History and culture, or beautiful beaches? Why sacrifice one for the other when you can have it all? Puerto Vallarta is the vacation destination dreams are made of. Every day offers a new adventure, whether it’s immersing yourself in local life, exploring hidden coves and reefs, or roughing it through the jungle. Travel at your own pace in Puerto Vallarta and find truth in its claim to fame as the friendliest city in the world.


On the Go Magazine