Puerto Vallarta: The Gem of Mexico’s Pacific Coast

Last weekend, Julian and I visited yet another beautiful city on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Like the iconic Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta was once a sleepy little fishing village before being transformed into a world-class vacation destination.

In the 1960s, renowned director John Huston put Puerto Vallarta on the map with his film “The Night of the Iguana.” It starred Richard Burton and Ava Gardner (huge stars at the time) and was shot on a beach near Puerto Vallarta. Elizabeth Taylor tagged along too as she was having an affair with Richard Burton and this made for a media frenzy. This publicity helped to attract foreign investors in the 1970s, which brought about the expansion of Puerto Vallarta in the 80s and 90s. However, only in the last decade or so has it grown into the popular beach resort city it is today. 

Cabo Corrientes beach drone photography puerto vallarta

A beach near where “Night of the Iguana” was filmed

Last winter, we spent a delightful weekend in Vallarta at Casa los Troncos, the beach house of Julian’s family friends. A few weeks ago, they invited us back and I jumped at the opportunity to return to their incredible house. We spent the weekend sailing through Banderas Bay, swimming in the blue-green sea, feasting on fresh seafood, and visiting the luxurious enclave of Punta Mita.

puerto vallarta drone photography casa los troncos nuevo

Casa los Troncos from above

Sailing Banderas Bay

Puerto Vallarta is located on the Bahia de Banderas (Bay of Flags). This bay is the largest in Mexico and is an important breeding and birthing site for humpback whales. It’s also ideal for swimming and sailing as it is much calmer than the open sea. In Puerto Vallarta, we love to take the boat out to explore various beaches along the bay.

On our way to the beach, I was reading on the bow of the boat when suddenly a flock of blue footed boobies appeared directly above me. After observing them for a bit, I realized they were using the air current created by the boat to glide easily without flapping their wings. At one point, there were at least ten of them just a few feet above me! I had the best time watching these exquisite birds soar gracefully along and then plunge into the water in pursuit of fish.

Virgin Beach in Nayarit 

Saturday, we headed for a beach on the northern side of the bay, in the state of Nayarit. Luckily enough, we had the beach all to ourselves and spent the day swimming in the warm, sparkling water. From the sea, we had an incredible view of the lush, palm-covered beach and mountains and I truly felt like we had found paradise.

nayarit beach puerto vallarta

puerto vallarta floating drone photography

nayarit puerto vallarta beach drone photography

Not a soul in sight, just the way we like it!

As is tradition, we had a delicious picnic on the beach. We feasted on marlin, ceviche, shrimp, octopus, and fresh fish accompanied by chilled white wine and followed by popsicles. Nothing makes me happier than a seafood picnic on the beach!

puerto vallarta drone photography nayarit

Dinner at Casa Koko

After spending all day en la playa, we set sail for Punta de Mita. Located at the most northern point of Banderas Bay, it’s home to Punta Mita Resort, an uber luxe golf development. We had been invited to have dinner at Casa Koko, a family friend’s brand new beach house. From the moment we arrived, I was in awe of this stunning oceanfront villa. Every little detail is perfect, from the beautiful wood tables to the stone-covered bathrooms and impressive palapa. To me, Casa Koko absolutely epitomizes beach chic and my dream beach house would look just like it.

casa koko punta mita

casa koko punta mita

casa koko punta mita

casa koko punta mita drone photography

View of the property from above. Drone shot by Julian

Relaxing at Casa los Troncos

Casa los Troncos is a design marvel in a fantastic location — on the tip of an island inside the Nuevo Vallarta Marina channels, just north of Puerto Vallarta. Built in the late 80s by a famous Mexican architect, it’s full of great angles, bright colors and stunning views. It’s also the perfect house to relax in. I always feel tremendously at peace in Casa losTroncos whether curled up reading a book, swimming in the expansive pool, or admiring the view.

casa los troncos pool nuevo vallarta

reading nuevo vallarta casa los tronocs

nuevo vallarta casa los tronocs

nuevo vallarta casa los tronocs

nuevo vallarta casa los tronocs

Cabo Corrientes

On Sunday, we sailed in the opposite direction as the day before and headed for Cabo Corrientes. While Punta de Mita marks the northern boundary of Banderas Bay and is located in the state of Nayarit, Cabo Corrientes marks the southern boundary of the bay and is located in the state of Jalisco. I found it fascinating to see the subtle differences between these tropical beaches as we sailed along this massive bay.

Cabo Corrientes boat puerto vallarta

 cabo corrientes mexico

After about an hour, we came upon a beautiful little beach nestled into a cove. This beach is close to where “Night of the Iguana” was filmed and it honestly looked straight out of a movie set. We once again spent a the day swimming in the blue-green water, having a picnic, and exploring the beach. One cool thing about this beach is that fresh, cold water trickles down the mountains and into the sea. It’s truly a magical place and I was very reluctant to leave!

 cabo corrientes mexico drone photography

cabo corrientes mexico popsicle

cabo corrientes mexico drone photography

Have you been to Puerto Vallarta? If not, would you like to go? Comment below!

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16 Comments on "Puerto Vallarta: The Gem of Mexico’s Pacific Coast"

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Janine
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Puerto Vallarta is one of my favorite places in Mexico. The scenery is incredible! I’m so jealous that you had a boat to explore with — what a treat to find those empty beaches!

Unta
Guest

This is absolutely beautiful!! Photos are stunning. I want to go there immediately. 🙂

Ruth
Guest

Gosh, how beautiful are these places! I love Mexico but still have to visit Puerto Vallarta. Believe me when I say I am dying to go. DO you have a drone?

Jacqueline
Guest

Wow this looks like an awesome holiday! Love the pictures and all the places you recommended! Definitely added it to the list!

Stephanie Ferguson
Guest

Your pictures are amazing! Beautiful place.

Leigh
Guest

Puerto Vallarta was my first trip without family – college spring break. So, I can’t agree that it’s only become popular in the last decade or so. This was over 20 years ago and it was already quite touristy. We loved it nonetheless and returned a few times over the years!

A Nomad on the Loose
Guest

Gorgeous drone shots!

Sabie Carey
Guest

I was there in the fall of 1973, it was much different then! I was traveling with a couple of surfers, I snorkels while they surfed, it was amazing. Your blog is so wonderful, I think you should be writing for a travel magazine! Have fun, Sabie