Planning Your Time
To experience most things worth seeing and doing in Puerto Vallarta would take at least two weeks. If, however, you only have a few days for sightseeing, do the walk along the Isla Cuale and then concentrate on your own favorite interests; art and handicrafts buffs could easily spend a day or two popping in and out of the shops and galleries south of the Río Cuale, outdoor lovers could take a day cruise for snorkeling and waterfall swimming, and party animals could spend most of the evening and early morning club-hopping on the Malecón.
Allow three to four days for exploring beyond the town limits. Be sure to head south to picturesque Mismaloya and check out the movie set of The Night of the Iguana nearby. Either linger for lunch (and the spectacular view) at the John Huston Cafe or Le Kliff, or head uphill on the river road for lunch and a swim at Chino’s Paradise natural pool/waterfalls/restaurant.
Additional out-of-town sights worth seeing are the pocket paradises Quimixto, Las Ánimas, or Yelapa on the Bay of Banderas’s plumy south shore. While there, take a hike, drench yourself in a waterfall, sun on the beach, and enjoy a good seafood lunch at a beachfront palapa restaurant.
You could also spend a day (or two or three, with overnights) farther afield at lovely hideaways like Punta Mita, Sayulita, or Playa San Francisco. Even farther out are delightful gems such as Chacala, the sleepy surfing-and-wildlife haven San Blas, the idyllic downscale Tehualmixtle, or the petite twin beach resort towns of Melaque and Barra de Navidad.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition