5 Hidden Gems of Puerto Vallarta
Most tourists who arrive in Puerto Vallarta head directly for popular attractions like the Malecon, Los Muertos Beach or even straight to an all-inclusive resort on the shores of the city. However, travelers can get a much more unique experience out of their stay in the area by venturing slightly off the beaten path. This selection of hidden gems offers a look at Puerto Vallarta as it once was, as an undiscovered yet extraordinarily beautiful fishing village framed on all sides by golden sands, verdant jungle, and majestic mountains connecting this enchanted land to the brilliant blue skies above.
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.
Los Arcos Marine Park
Los Arcos is popular among visitors that enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving thanks to its network of caves, tunnels and reefs. It is also home to a number of fascinating avian species including penguins, pelicans and multiple species of parrot. Wildlife lovers also come to Los Arcos in droves during whale and dolphin migration season to observe these marine wonders in their natural habitat.
This protected environment offers its guests the chance to relax in a serenely sunny scene or nap in the shade of a palm tree undisturbed by the flocks of tourists that populate more well-known beaches in the area. If youve ever wondered what it was like to spend an indulgent afternoon on your own private island, Los Arcos Marine Park is as close as most visitors will ever get.
The village is most readily accessible by boat, with water taxis leaving from Los Muertos Pier as well as other points in the area. Travelers looking for an escape from the modern metropolis that is Puerto Vallarta will find their peace in Yelapa, with its crystal clear waters and secluded, shimmering sands. Yelapa is legendary for the quality of its snorkeling as well, with this area of the bay playing host to a colorful array of wildlife.
Yelapa takes great pride in being a respite from the glowing digital world that surrounds most tourists, with access to amenities such as electricity and vehicles extremely limited. However, the town does have an unlimited supply of live music, artistic spirit, and good times. As many travelers would be well-served to simply unplug every once in a while, a place that takes real life presence and experiences as seriously as Yelapa is a welcome oasis of reality in an increasingly artificial society.
The Marieta Islands
On a journey to the Marieta Islands, passengers will be treated to a privileged perspective of the Puerto Vallarta area en route to their final destination. Perhaps the most famous point in the Marieta Islands is the hidden beach, a once-underground beach that was exposed to the surface years ago during weapons testing decades ago. The result is an incredible partially covered beach that is only accessible by swimming through a short undersea tunnel.
The Marieta Islands are celebrated in the birdwatching community for its prized assortment of regional marine birds such as the Blue-Footed Boobie, which is only typically found in the Galapagos islands and other scattered locations. It is also a coral reef zone and home to countless local species of undersea life, making it one of the most significant biospheres in all of Mexico. This cherished status has given the island standing as a National Park, and visitors should take care not to disturb the environment.
Along with its visual magnificence, Los Animas also offers a range of activities for its guests. Visitors can do some dynamic sightseeing with a ride on a bouncing banana boat, soar high above the turquoise waters on a parasailing adventure, or simply kick back with a cold drink under one of the many umbrellas on the beach. Los Animas also has its Beach Adventure Park, a dedicated activity zone featuring a canopy tour, hanging bridges, rock climbing and naturally, a tequila tour.
Los Animas is a hotbed for deliciously fresh foods, as the area enjoys not only the constant bounty of the sea, but a range of produce options thanks to the highly arable soil. Avocados, mangoes and other local delicacies are proudly cultivated here, and no day trip to Los Animas is complete without stopping to sample this unforgettable local fare.
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