Day Trips- Enjoy Puerto Vallarta Surroundings


Puerto, the Spanish word for port or entryway, perfectly describes Puerto Vallarta´s location on Mexico´s central Pacific coast. As the historical crossroads for indigenous cultures and a colonial trade center, tha bayside town serves as the gateway to explore nearby fishing, mountain and Indian villages, unspoiled beaches and the wonders of nature in the nearby jungle. The activity desk at most resorts and several tour companies in town offer a variety of air and land excursions that provide a glimpse of Mexico beyond the resort beaches and crowded marketplaces.


The Sierra Madres that tower over Puerto Vallarta hide more treasures than gold and silver. Small-plane tours visit isolated indigenous and Spanish Colonial Villages that still retain their traditional cultures.


Located in a mile-high valley, San Sebastian dates back to 1605 when the Spanish discovered silver in the rugged mountains. Like a living museum, the town´s narrow, cobblestone streets, old buildings, church and town square reflect the splendor of that history-book era. The aroma of roasting coffee greets visitors entering the picture-postcard village. Here you can visit the home of a backyard coffee grower, watch him roast and grind the beans, then sample the freshest cup  of a java you´ve ever tasted. A row of 300-year-old storefronts borders one side of the village square, and the old mining company´s palatial headquarters, the other. Now a hotel, it serves an authentic ranchero lunch in the shaded courtyard.


Hidden in the mile-high Sierra Madres, Mascota and Talpa preserve the architecture and traditions that date back to the 1500s when Spanish colonists searched the mountains for gold and silver. Nestled in fertile valleys, these towns produced more agricultural products than precious metals. Mascota, founded in 1592, has a famous cathedral dedicated to the Virgin de los Dolores (Virgin of Sorrows), which took more than 100 years to build. Talpa´s cathedral, home of the Rosario de Talpa statue, is famous throughout Mexico. Pilgrims believe the small, straw Virgin posseses healing powers and many journey from great distances to receive a blessing. Shops along the historic streets sell baskets, sombreros and sandals made from chicle, the base of chewing gum. Be sure to sample café de la olla , steaming coffee flavored with cinnamon and sugar, and Raicilla, the famous mescal alcoholic beverage of the region.


The intricate beaded art and yarn paintings in Puerto Vallarta craft galleries represent the religious imagery and traditions of the Huichol Indians. Because the Huichols live in the most rugged areas of the Sierra Madres, they were never conquered by the Spanish conquistadors and still retain much of their pre-Columbian culture. Visitors fly by small plane to the village of San Andres Coamihata and experience a culture that has changed little in over 2,000 years.

Villages display their exquisite artwork of beaded animal sculptures, which represent the sacred symbols of their beliefs.


If you want to escape the condo and shopping crowds, book a tour, rent a car, or catch the bus to the still undeveloped villages along Highway 200 along the coastline of Banderas Bay.


Nature meets Hollywood in this small village 15 minutes south of downtown Puerto Vallarta. In 1963, Richard Burton´s romance with Elizabeth Taylor while filming Night of the Iguana launched the area´s tourist industry. Visit the Night of the Iguana Set Restaurant, featured in the film, and Huston´s Seafood Restaurant & Sunset Bar in the house once used by director John Huston. For lunch and swim in the Mismaloya River, head up the mountain to El Eden Restaurant. Offshore rocks form the picturesque Los Arcos, a favorite boating destination accessible by local panga boats. A sunset dinner on the beach with Los Arcos silhouetted in the golden light is the perfect ending for an adventurous day.

by Experience Puerto Vallarta 2006/2007