Viejo Vallarta is the downtown of Puerto Vallarta. It is here that
you will find the most
interesting parts of the city, spread across an area surrounding the Cuale River.
Also called El Centro, this area includes the city's famous Cathedral of Guadalupe
and other colonial-era attractions.
El Centros' curved, narrow streets contain a number of treasures, but are fun
to walk and sightsee, although the area can be quite crowded at times.
Look for Municipal Square (and its market) and you will be in the heart of
The famous seaside promenade in Puerto Vallarta, known as
the Malecon, starts near the street named Allende and continues south to the
Rio Cuale. It is a great place for shopping, people watching, or just plain
sightseeing. The Malecon (a boardwalk ) is open on the bay side and lined
with restaurants and shops (look for jewelry, arts and crafts) on the
land side. There are a number of statues and artistic installations
along the path and their presence adds to the atmosphere.
It is also in the El Centro area that you will find the one of the city's famous flea markets located on
the Isla Rio Cuale (surrounded by the Cuale River), as well as restaurants
and shops that might be of interest to you
There are a number of beaches both north and south of El Centro and each of
them has something unique to offer. Further south you will find Mismaloya
Beach and the cove where Night of the Iguana was filmed. South of that
you will find Playa Las Animas, a beach along a rugged, beautiful coast.
If you will be in the area between mid-December and mid-March, you might be
interested in cruising Banderas Bay for a chance to see the migration of the
Humpback Whales. If so, see
Vallarta Adventures, a company that has a spotter plane to help ensure you see whales on your photo safari (ThereArePlaces is not affiliated with Vallarta Adventures
and this recommendation is not an advertisement).
Check what you
consider to be authoritative sources on public safety before planning your
visit to Puerto Vallarta or other ports on the Mexican Riviera.
For more information on Puerto Vallarta, visit the city's
By the way, starting at the north end of the Bay of Banderas, near Nuevo Vallarta,
and running one hundred miles north to San Blas, is a string of beach towns now being called the Riviera Nayarit.
Cashing in on the theme "what the Mexican Riviera was like before all the development", many of these rustic towns with
beautiful but empty beaches have attracted the eyes of developers and the jet set.
Thought by many to be Mexico's next great place to visit, new hotels are under construction and many will open in the next
few years. The Four Season Punta Mita (26 miles from Puerto Vallarta) was one of the first luxury hotels in the area and it is a lovely place
for a restful vacation.
Ixtapa - Zihuatanejo are "twin" cities located in Guerrero state.
The length of coast between the two towns runs diagonally and is known the La
Costa Grande (or the Grand Coast). The coastline along the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo
coast is a 17 mile mix of sandy beaches, lagoons, coves, bluffs and islands
(Los Moros). In other words, it looks remarkably like the French
Riviera, displaced to the subtropics, except for the foothills covered with
jungle. The coastal mountains here are named the Sierra Madre del
Ixtapa is a modern resort approximately 4 miles north of Zihuatanejo. Ixtapa is
modern and purpose built to focus on luxury and tourism. The Hotel Zone
of Ixtapa is about two miles
long and runs along beautiful Palmar Beach. As might be expected, golf,
shopping, a marina and all the amenities of resort-life are available and
top-notch in Ixtapa.
The beaches in the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo area offer a great variety. Those that might
interest you are Playa Quieta, Playa la Ropa (one of the best in Mexico),
Playa Larga and Playa las Gatas, known for snorkeling along its small
Zihuatanejo (Zihua to locals) is a fishing port that has its own hotels
and luxury resorts. The city is compact and its downtown full of shops,
restaurant. If you are looking for a traditional Mexican city, Zihua
is a great place to hang out and it has some of the most scenic beaches on
Mexico's west coast.
You may remember this city as the place where the characters of Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman from the Shawshank Redemption met up at the end of the movie. Zihua
has managed to retain its charms and is in stark contrast to the modern,
somewhat sterile Ixtapa.
Yet, it is the juxtaposition of both towns and their cultures that makes this
piece of the Mexican Riviera so special.
Visit the area's
official website for more information on visiting. for more
information on visiting.
for its nightlife and many attractions, we consider Acapulco to be a dangerous destination that is a dim reflection of its elegant
The La Quebrada cliff divers still attract huge crowds when
diving one-hundred feet into the twelve-foot Las Brisas gorge and the
beautiful Sierra Madre mountains provide a stunning backdrop for one of the most beautiful bays in
the world. However, Acapulco is an acquired taste and not
We do not recommend visiting
Acapulco, as we believe that public safety cannot be guaranteed in this
city. In the last several months the situation seems to have reached
A recent car-jacking and murder of a tourist from Belgium, coupled with the rapes
and beating of a group of couples visiting from Spain, among other
distressing tourist-related crime lead us to strongly
suggest you avoid visiting Acapulco. Do not let the
happenings in Acapulco dissuade you from visiting Mexico, as the trouble in
one or two cities should not reflect on the entire country.
During the last ten years, the town has lost its luster and, more
recently drugs, the drug trade and turf battles between drug cartels have
made several areas of the city unsafe for tourists, the locals and the
police. Assassinations and gunfights related to the drug problem are common,
and, in the last year, violence related to a local drug war has
If you are determined to visit, even if you restrict your wanderings to the
tourist zone of the upscale Diamante district you may not be safe .
If you visit Acapulco while on a cruise, you could still encounter safety issues,
so be sure to follow the guidelines offered by your cruise line in respect
to touring the city.
no longer recommend visiting Acapulco, you may feel differently and, if you
do, here are the attractions to consider, if local safety conditions allow a
Acapulco has an interesting colonial history and was one of the main ports
used by the Spanish to run their world-wide empire. At one time,
Acapulco was the terminus of the Manila Convoy, linking the Philippines with
Acapulco. If you are interested in the history of this area, consider
visit the Historical Museum of Acapulco.
El Zócalo and the town square are the focal point of Old Town Acapulco,
which is a pleasant area with shops and several fantastic restaurants.
There is a scenic route in the area that provides great views of the Acapulco Bay
(Santa Lucia's Bay). The city has many fine beaches including Revolcadero, Playa Hornos
(family beach), Plays Hornitos (a working beach populated with local fishermen ), Playa Caleta and
Playa Caletilla (both sunbathing areas) or Pie de la Cuesta for great
sunsets and surfing (about 10 miles north). If you are interested in
something more active you may want to visit La Roqueta Island for diving and its underwater statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The Coyuca Lagoon, to the
north, is a nature preserve with a large variety of flora and fauna.
There are a number of islands here for exploration, as well as a variety of water sports.
Acapulco has a frenetic nightlife scene and you can find cavernous nightclubs
to dance the night away. In addition, the city has a number
of excellent restaurants. If you do vacation here, try to stay close
to the Hotel Zone and along the shore.
For more information, try the city's
Next - Guide
to Cabo San Lucas
Or - Return to Ensenada to Mazatlan on the
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