While so much of the activity is focused on Puerto Vallarta proper, there are some truly tropical experiences to be had south of the city. The mountains come down to meet the ocean and with this we have a number of excellent rivers, valleys, beachs and towns to explore. In the coming weeks we will feature a number of the activities and destinations you can enjoy on Vallarta’s South Shore this summer.
The Puerto Vallarta South Shore begins where Conchas Chinas ends, and from there runs along the coast passing the residential developments of Garza Blanca and Sierra del Mar, through the town of Mismaloya to Boca de Tomatlan, where the highway turns east and heads up into the Sierra Madre mountains towards El Tuito. Although the highway ends, the border of the South Shore continues along the coastline, but without road access it can be interesting to access. There are many towns and secluded beaches that are boat access only. You can grab a water taxi from the pier off Los Muertos beach or there are a number of great tour companies that will bring you where you want to go!
South Shores beaches
• Playa Mismaloya – at the mouth of the Mismaloya River. The beach was featured in several scenes from Night of the Iguana and the main set was located on hillside to the South of the beach. The beach is developed with a number of restaurants.
• Playa Las Animas – An excellent beach to hike to from Boca de Tomatlan this narrow white sand beach is developed with several restaurants. A panga from Boca costs about $40 pesos
• Playa Las Caletas – Once the private beach of film director John Huston, today it is a wildlife preserve. There is a living natural reef close to the shore which attracts snorkelers.
• Playa Quimixto – a somewhat rocky and secluded beach which is settled by a small village of about a hundred families. Hire a horse and guide in the town for a tour through the small river valley to a series of waterfalls. Particularly impressive in rainy season.
• Yelapa – once a small fishing village and a popular “hideaway” for gringos, electricity, telephones and the internet have arrived. There are a couple of excellent hotels, great restaurants and waterfalls to hike to.
Need to recover from a a little too much sun, take the day and try an off the beach activity.
When in Jalisco…. Tequila and mariachi are musts. Tequila, like Champagne must meet certain criteria to be called Tequila, but that doesn’t mean that other products are not equal or superior in flavour. What is important to remember is that 100% agave is the key to quality. Learning a bit more about the production of this national treasure and how to truly taste a ‘tequila’ is a wonderful way to learn more about the culture of this country you are visiting.
One of the best reviewed distilleries around Puerto Vallarta is the Rancho Verano and their Don Chendo products. Rancho Verano is a small distillery just outside of Puerto Vallarta in Las Juntas y Los Veranos. The Don Chendo products are 100% Agave and produced similar to Tequila, but they are only allowed to call their product “Destilado de Agave”. This very popular spirit offers tours to showcase production.
“This is some of the smoothest tequila I’ve ever tasted. We stopped by the distillery and took the tour, which involved a lesson on how to judge tequila, and a taste of about five different kinds. It is well worth the trip.” Review posted on Tequila.net
The south shore of Vallarta is popular for Canopy tours and they are a great way to get into the jungle and see something a little different. They are not for the faint of heart but if you are feeling a little nervous, maybe a shot of the Don Chendo you just picked up will sooth your nerves. The newest canopy tour, Paradise Adventure Park / Canopy Indio has more than 10,000 feet of lines spread out over 10 lines, some up to half a mile long and nearly 700 feet from the beautiful jungle canopy below. The facilities are in excellent shape, the restaurant serves great typical Mexican food and the margaritas are very popular.
“The guides were super friendly and the scenery was beautiful. The zip lines built up from short and slow to fast and long. The longest one was over 2000 feet. The guides let us go and caught us every time and made us feel real safe.” TripAdvisor, April 2013