Puerto Vallarta is nestled on the
second largest bay in North
America. Located in the state of Jalisco,
Puerto Vallarta is surrounded by the Sierra Madre Occidental
Mountains and the sparkling blue Bahía de Banderas (Bay
The Centro Historico of the town is bisected by the Rio Cuale.
Bridges connect the Zona Romántica and Zona Centro.
The town was founded on December 12, 1851, by Don Guadalupe
Sánchez Torres, who named it 'Las Peñas de Santa
María de Guadalupe' ('the rocks of Saint Mary of Guadalupe').
The name was eventually shortened to 'Puerto Las Peñas'
('Port Las Peñas') which translates as 'Port of the Rocks.'
The original reason for the port was to enable the transshipment
of silver from nearby mines. Locals call the town 'Vallarta.'
Two beaches -- Playa Ola Altas and Playa de Los Muertos --
are south of the Rio Cuale. The streets leading Los Muertos
are home to some of the best dining spots in town.
Futher south are Playa Careyes and Cuitzmala and Playa el Tecuán.
According to the local tourism board, 3.5 million people visit
Puerto Vallarta each year.
In 1963, Vallarta became famous after director John Huston
made a movie of Tennessee Williams's play The Night of the Iguana.
The late Manuel Lepe painted angels flying over beaches and
won acclaim among the Hollywood elite in the 1950s. A street
artist at the time, Lepe sold his work to John Huston, Richard
Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
Nuevo Vallarta developed north of the airport in the neighboring
state of Nayarit.
It has not succeeded. South of town is Marina Vallarta, which
includes a golf course and hundreds of yacht slips.
Punta Mita is currently being developed at the northern edge
of Banderas Bay.