Mismaloya may not be technically within city limits, but as the beach where Puerto Vallartas destiny was permanently changed, it certainly warrants mention. Film buffs may recognize this still pristine playa from the classic movie Night of the Iguana, which led directly to the explosion in popularity for Puerto Vallarta as a vacation destination and the rapid development that made the city what it is today after director John Huston as well as several of the films stars made their full time homes in the area.
Despite this, Mismaloya maintains a distinctly intimate vibe that draws many more travelers than tourists. Its friendly sands are home to a network of waterfront dining options that specialize in delicious fresh caught seafood. There is a magnificent array of wildlife in the area from rare and beautiful birds to the resident iguanas that populate both the trees and the film that made them famous. More adventurous explorers can also reach a popular local cliff diving spot for a quick adrenaline rush.
An added area of interest nearby is the Mama Lucia tequila factory, offering both tours and tastings to thirsty travelers. Mismaloya is also home to the Puerto Vallarta Zoo, a preserve built directly into the surrounding jungle that brings visitors into close contact with area wildlife. Mismaloya is an outstanding place for a day trip, and there are also accommodations in the area so you can extend your stay in this alluring environment even further.
Getting to Mismaloya is as simple as catching the orange bus line that departs from the corner of Basilio Badillo and Constitucion, directly outside the Oxxo convenience store. From there, the bus will take passengers south down Highway 200, delivering them to their destination in Mismaloya in just under half an hour of scenic coastal riding.
Another important concept in the community of Yelapa is conservation of its idyllic scenery. Litter pickup and general cleanliness is taken very seriously by area locals, and so guests should be sure to bring along a small plastic bag to remove their refuse after an enjoyable visit to this unspoiled utopia.
Hope to see you soon!
Vallarta Botanical Gardens
As a one time resident of a concrete jungle, I can never get enough of the real thing, so one morning I took a city bus to the Vallarta Botanical Gardens. In addition to winding jungle trails and a staggering collection of orchids (more species are found in Jalisco than in any other state in Mexico), such exotica as ginger, vanilla, pineapples, birds of paradise, and poinsettias grow in profusion here. Visitors to the garden are also urged to bring their swimsuits: After hiking through the densely planted hills you can plunge into the boulder-strewn “emerald pools” of the Rio Los Horcones, which abuts the property, then indulge in a hearty lunch at Hacienda de Oro, an open-air restaurant with staggering views.
The “Road” to Las Ánimas
It’s easy to take a water taxi to the tiny hamlet of Las Ánimas, a beachfront fishing village just south of PV that’s inaccessible by car. But you can also walk there. Seeking a bit of exercise to offset too many tacos and tequila, I decided to take a city bus (seven pesos, or about 55 cents) to the town of Boca de Tomatlán, where a trail meanders past stunning cliffside houses into the jungle. During the moderately challenging hike I marveled at a hulking papelillo tree, which has papery-thin, peeling red bark and is commonly called the tourist tree (a nice reminder to put on more sunscreen). Eventually the trail leads down to the gorgeous coastline, where I walked undisturbed for 30 minutes until rounding a bend and coming upon Las Ánimas. After diving into the surf and collapsing on the beach, I lingered over shrimp quesadillas in one of the village’s seaside restaurants and marveled at the ocean’s ever-changing beauty. (Yes, I took a water taxi back.)
Ok see you on Los Muertos Beach.
Hello again, I hope you and your are well and staying safe.
Puerto Vallarta is known for at least two things: It’s a popular stop for cruise ships—thanks in part to its starring role on the long-running television series The Love Boat—and it was the location for John Huston’s 1964 film The Night of the Iguana, which has been mentioned in every story ever written about PV (there, I said it). The film’s all-star cast included Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr, and Richard Burton, who shacked up in town with his
soon-to-be wife, Elizabeth Taylor, for whom he bought a house called Casa Kimberley.
Long neglected, Casa Kimberley has been reduced to rubble and slated for redevelopment, but the rest of Puerto Vallarta is a bustling mid-size Mexican city with beautiful beaches, glorious mountains that spill into the Bay of Banderas, and wonderfully quirky architecture and fabulous food at every turn. Like most of the rest of Mexico, its tourism industry has suffered from the drug violence that has besieged the country, but in truth PV is much safer than many large American cities, and has a lot to offer beyond the din of the musicians performing for tourists along the seaside malecón.
San Sebastián del Oeste
I’m not the type of guy who likes to take group tours—too many fanny packs for me—but for my excursion to San Sebastián del Oeste, a former silver-mining town high up in the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains, I decided to leave the driving to Vallarta Adventures. It turns out the drive is a manageable—and staggeringly pretty—90 minutes, a vast improvement over what not so recently was a day-long trip (paved roads and an all-important bridge have shaved hours off the travel time). On the way we stopped at a small organic coffee plantation and toured the Hacienda Jalisco, where silver was mined in the late 1700s, contributing to the town’s enormous wealth. In its heyday San Sebastián had 30,000 inhabitants, its own branch of the New York Life Insurance Company, and Mexico’s first indoor toilet. After the last silver mine closed, in 1920, it became a virtual ghost town, which in some ways probably helped to preserve its whitewashed, cedar-scented plaza and gorgeous cathedral. Don’t miss the tiny, whimsical, fascinating “museum” run by the bubbly Maria Concepción del Carmen Encarnación Aguilera, a descendant of one of the town’s founders.
Part 2 following shortly. Stay indoors.