Puerto Vallarta is situated in the Bahia de Banderas, a 14-mile (22km) bay lined with long stretches of sandy beaches. The second largest holiday resort on the Pacific coast after Acapulco, it has managed to maintain its own unique character. Puerto Vallarta's charm is due to its blend of first-world cosmopolitan city and the colonial features of its historic old town. The graceful centre is embellished with quaint cobblestone streets lined with delightful white adobe houses, flower-filled wrought-iron balconies and red tiled roofs, making this one of Mexico's most picturesque coastal cities.
Puerto Vallarta's luxury hotels, restaurants and shopping centres have spread out along the coast on either side of the original town, allowing Puerto Vallarta to grow as a holiday destination without sacrificing its colonial charms. With more than 250 restaurants, visitors to Puerto Vallarta are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out in this charming city. Tourists will find a cosmopolitan hub which nevertheless boasts the simple pleasures of a Mexican village.
Outdoor recreation is limitless in Puerto Vallarta. There is an array of watersports, including windsurfing, sailing and kayaking, as well as surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling and waterskiing. There are also opportunities for swimming with dolphins and whale watching cruises. Many hotels organise excursions to secluded beaches, hiking and biking tours, canopy tours and horse riding. Other activities include golf, deep-sea fishing and bungee jumping.
No other holiday resort destination in Mexico can offer a better shopping experience than Puerto Vallarta, its selection ranging from speciality stores and shopping centres to outdoor markets and art galleries. It has developed a reputation as a cultural centre and there is an abundance of local arts and crafts, such as pottery, ceramics and hand blown glass. Boutiques stock an array of shoes, traditional Mexican sandals and clothing, while the main flea market is the place to bargain for inexpensive handicrafts, clothes and souvenirs.