Puerto Vallarta: A State of Facinations
Nestled along the cliffs of Bahía de Banderas (Bay of Flags), one of the largest protec ted bodies of water on the West Coast of the Americas, Puerto Vallarta combines the charm of old Mexico with a host of modern amenities. Its stunning Pacific coastline, lush rainforests, dramatic mountains, friendly people, and bucolic countryside make it both ideal and affordable among Mexico’s hotspots, a fiesta of activities, adventures, and cultural experiences. Surely you’ll find plenty to occupy and entertain you in and near what locals call “PV.”
Puerto Vallarta humbly began in 1524, when Francisco Cortéz de San Buenaventura first explored this section Mexico’s west coast, greeted by 20,000 armed, banner-wielding Xalisco warriors. After a tense day’s standoff, Spaniards and Xaliscos retreated peacefully. But seeing all those feathered banners inspired the name “Bay of Flags.”
Seasonal whalers aside, outsiders largely ignored the area until Don Guadalupe Sánchez Torres established Puerto de las Peñas, a small outpost by the Rio Cuale, in 1851. It became Puerto Vallarta in 1918, when Don Ignacio Luis Vallarta became governor of Mexico’s State of Jalisco.
Then, in 1963, PV’s peaceful decades dissolved as Hollywood poured in. Director John Huston chose PV to film the steamy Night of the Iguana, starring Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr and Richard Burton. But the real, live steam spewed beyond the set. Elizabeth Taylor, married, but not yet to Burton, bought a hillside villa above the city to be near him. The scandalous affair steadily kissed gossip columns with hot, free publicity for PV, ultimately helping lure two dozen films, including Predator and Herbie Goes Bananas.
Yet the real appeal comes from Puerto Vallarta’s innate Mexican charisma and natural beauty. Wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the rugged Sierra Madre, relatively isolated PV evolved with its venerable charm intact.