Puerto Vallarta for Nature Lovers

Puerto Vallarta for Nature Lovers

Many visitors to the Puerto Vallarta area are surprised to find just how diverse the local environment can be. The variety of flora and fauna commonly encountered by tourists goes far beyond the standard coastal ecosphere that comes to mind when the topic is sunny Puerto Vallarta. In fact, its position at the edge of the Banderas Bay ensconced by the Sierra Madre mountain range gives it a highly variable environment and makes it one of the premier destinations in the country for dedicated nature lovers.

What Kind of Wildlife is in Puerto Vallarta?

Iguana The region that Puerto Vallarta calls home boasts some of the most fascinating biodiversity of any in North America. Along with its famous beaches, the area also lays claim to a nearby jungle environment that is noted for its density as well as its lush appearance. Dozens of distinct tree species giving animals in the area an array of habitat options, and Greater Puerto Vallarta is also home to over 300 varieties of rare orchid as well. Another delicious development in the local climate is the availability of fresh exotic fruits such as guava, mango and avocado, which frequently grow wild in the area.

Animals known for their presence in the area include the jaguar, black bear, and white tailed deer. The area is also home to a number of reptile species virtually exclusive to the area such as the famous green iguana and several varieties of rattlesnake. Exquisite birds including the patriotic Golden Eagle, Amazon Parrot and Green Parakeet are also common sights in the area along with hundreds of butterfly species, giving the verdant zones on the outskirts of the city a rich and colorful canopy of life.

The marine life in and around Puerto Vallarta represents perhaps its most diverse ecosphere. The waters of the region are teeming with marlin, sailfish, and several species of snapper. It is also a dolphin breeding area and an annual stop on their migration paths as well of those of whales. These friendly sea creatures enjoy swimming alongside boats as delighted visitors look on, and there are several boat tours in the area dedicated specifically to interaction with these marine wonders.

The city's most important role in the region's overall ecosystem may be its status as a protected zone for marine life, with strict laws in place to protect endangered animals. The beaches on the Banderas Bay are a regular breeding ground for rare sea turtles, and lucky visitors may even get the opportunity to take part in a release, watching as a new generation of turtles make their initial approach to the waters they will call home.


Vallarta Botanical Gardens

An outstanding destination for those who want to experience the kaleidoscope of local plant life enjoyed by locals and visitors in a single convenient location is the Vallarta Botanical Gardens. Located just outside city limits, this carefully curated conserve contains a collection of rare plants as well as plant life commonly characteristic to the region, with the goal of sharing the enormous variation of species that have roots in the country.

Among the most celebrated attractions at this conservatory is the country's most frequently visited collection of orchid species open to the public, and it is currently working towards building a complete collection of the country's orchids thanks to the onsite growing lab. Vallarta Botanical Gardens maintains their peerless collection of plants in an environment safe for tourist viewing, incorporating defined trails that allow guests to experience the wonder of Mexican flora without disturbing the delicate balance of nature.


El Cora Crocodile Sanctuary

Baby Crocodile More adventurous visitors may want to travel 15 minutes north of the city to Nuevo Vallarta, site of the El Cora Crocodile Sanctuary. Here, guests can get an up close look at these ancient predators in their natural habitat, and there are a number of other species that call the area home as well, including rhe Mexican raccoon and a variety of turtles and parrots.

The Sanctuary requests a donation of 20 pesos per person as an entry fee, and guest can also take an hour long swamp tour in a small boat at a cost of 200 pesos plus a tip for the guide. There is also an onsite open air restaurant to greet guests returning from their wildlife adventure, and in the best news for true nature lovers, all proceeds from admission, swamp tours and restaurant sales are reinvested into the sanctuary and its efforts.


Jungle Canopy Tours

Less than half an hour outside the beautiful beaches that have made Puerto Vallarta famous lies an unforgettable experience for anyone enchanted by the mysteries of the jungle. The area is home to Canopy Los Veranos, the single most popular canopy tour in the country. Guests will be treated to a stunning aerial view of this unspoiled environment, spanning over 2 miles of protected land with 14 zip lines, including Mexico's longest and fastest stretch. Visitors to Canopy Los Veranos will get a chance to soar 500 feet above the stunning Orquidias River at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, delivering a thrilling ride as well as a peerless perspective on the jungle environment outside the city.

Canopy River is another appealing adventure for active visitors, and is the most recently constructed canopy tour in the area. It takes riders on an exhilarating journey over the rolling Rio Cuale, between a trio of majestic peaks in the Sierra Madre mountain range. Nature lovers will also be inspired by Canopy La Vista, which offers an incredible vantage point on the Banderas Bay and jungle far below on a series of zip lines.


Wild Dolphin Experience

The playful nature of these marine mammals has long captured the imagination of nature lovers, and the Puerto Vallarta area gives visitors a chance to get closer to them than ever before. Countless dolphins pass through the area each year, and this tour invites curious tourists on an open water voyage to find a pod of local dolphins and swim among them in their resident waters.

Wild Dolphins The tour is a half day event that begins with a continental breakfast at 9am and a short presentation on dolphin biology and behavior. Afterward, parties will set off on a search for signals such as surface splashes and dorsal fins to help locate dolphin pods. Once contact is made, the party will follow the pod as they splash and play around the boats, and under the right conditions guests can don a snorkeling mask and frolic with the dolphins for a once in a lifetime experience.

The guides that service this spectacular tour are experts in the area's marine life, and have been featured on major television programs airing on platforms such as Animal Planet and National Geographic. This deep expertise on dolphins enables them to offer a full money back guarantee on their dolphin sighting tours, and guests who do not see dolphin during the day will receive a total refund of their admission costs.


Vallarta Zoo

Animal enthusiasts won't want to miss this remarkable animal preserve situated within the natural habitats of the animals it hosts. The Vallarta Zoo is one of the most recognized recreational parks in Latin America, offering guests an unprecedented level of access to a variety of regional species. Visitors to the zoo can also purchase a premium entry pass that allows them to hold an adorable month old baby lion.

The Vallarta Zoo is home to many animals that would otherwise face extinction, and one of the most exciting opportunities for nature lovers is the chance to pet and feed many of the friendlier animals as they roam within their preservation areas. Animals from hippos to giraffes to flamingos populate the zoo, but watch out for the ducks, who can be surprisingly aggressive if they feel they haven't been fed enough!

Other attractions at the zoo include its onsite restaurant, which offers guests an enjoyable and scenic meal ensconced in the thick jungles of Mismaloya. Visitors may want to bring insect repellent, as the zoo rests within an authentic wildlife environment. The Vallarta Zoo tour path also includes considerable walking distance and a few hills along the way, so be sure to choose comfortable footwear for your day in the jungle.


Marieta Islands Snorkeling

Marietas Islands The Marieta Islands, a small network of open water beaches south of Puerto Vallarta is not only home to an absolute wealth of marine life, but crystal clear azure waters and a protected coral reed. This makes it an excellent destination for snorkeling, and there are many boat tours that offer visitors a chance to experience the world that lies beneath the shimmering surface of the Pacific. Travelers can also take a water taxi from downtown Puerto Vallarta or nearby Boca de Tomatlan to reach the marvelous “Lovers Beach” a destination that was once an underground expanse of sand and is now one of the most unique beaches in the world.
There are obviously plenty of man-made attractions such as bars, restaurants and resorts in Puerto Vallarta, and tourists from around the world travel from their home countries to experience the inviting amenities the city offers. Nevertheless, for nature lovers, there may be no better destination in all of Mexico than Puerto Vallarta because of the uncommonly diverse nature of the area's ecosystem.

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