Jogging and Walking
Puerto Vallarta’s cobbled streets, high curbs (towering sometimes to six feet!), and holey sidewalks make for tricky walking around town. The exception is the Malecón, which can provide a good two-mile round-trip jog when it isn’t crowded. Otherwise, try the beaches or the big public sports field, Unidad Deportiva, on the airport boulevard across from the Sheraton hotel.
A pair of good close-in beach hikes are possible. For either of them, don’t forget a sun hat, sunscreen, bug repellent, a shirt, and some light shoes. On the south side, walk from Playa los Muertos about 1.5 miles along the little beaches and tidepools to Playa Conchas Chinas. Start at either end and take half a day to swim, snorkel, sun, and poke among the rocks.
The more ambitious can hike the entire three-mile beach strip from the northern end of the Malecón to the marina. If you start by 9 a.m. you’ll enjoy the cool of the morning with the sun at your back.
Stop along the way at the showplace pools and beach restaurants of hotels such as the Sheraton, the Canto del Sol, the Fiesta Americana Vallarta, and NH Krystal. Walk back, or opt for a return by taxi or city bus.
Bike Mex (Guerrero 361, tel. 322/223-1834) offers mountain biking adventures in surrounding scenic country locations. It tailors trips according to individual interests and ability, from beginning to advanced levels. More advanced trips include outback spots Yelapa and Sayulita and mountain destinations, such as San Sebastián, Mascota, and Talpa. Participants enjoy GT Full Suspension or Kona mountain bikes (27 gears), helmets, gloves, purified water, and bilingual guides. Alternatively, contact Ecoride (Miramar 382, tel. 322/222-7912, www.ecoridemex.com), which, among others, offers an advanced but super-scenic bike trip around San Sebastián, in the mountains above Puerto Vallarta.
Tennis and Golf
The friendly John Newcombe Tennis Club (Hotel Canto del Sol, tel. 322/226-0123, $16/hr) rents eight courts—four outdoor clay, four indoor. A sign-up board is available for players seeking partners. Also available are massage, steam baths, equipment sales and rentals, and professional lessons ($35/hr).
The Hotel NH Krystal (tel. 322/224-0202 or 322/224-2030, $15/hr) has several night-lit courts. The NH Krystal club also offers equipment sales, rentals, and professional lessons ($20/hr). Other clubs, such as at the Sheraton (tel. 322/223-0404, 7:30 a.m.–dusk daily, $10/hr), also rent their courts to the public.
The 18-hole, par-71 Marina Vallarta Golf Course (tel. 322/221-0545), designed by architect Joe Finger, is one of Mexico’s best. It is open to the public for $110 mornings, $80 afternoons, which includes greens fee, caddy, and cart.
Alternatively, try the newer, very popular Vista Vallarta 18-hole golf course (tel. 322/329-2900, www.vistavallartagolf.com), in the country east of the marina about three miles. Greens fees run about $150 morning, $99 after 2 p.m.
The green, palm-shaded 18-hole Los Flamingos Golf Course (Km 145, Highway 200, 8 mi/13 km north of the airport, tel. 01-329/296-5006 from Puerto Vallarta, 7 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, $60) offers an alternative. Open to the public, Los Flamingos services include carts ($28), caddies ($10), club rentals ($20), a pro shop, restaurant, and locker rooms. The greens fee includes the cart.
A pair of nearby ranches give visitors the opportunity to explore the Puerto Vallarta region’s gorgeously scenic tropical forest, river, and mountain country. Options include English or Western saddles, and rides ranging from two hours to a whole day or a whole week. Contact either Rancho Ojo de Agua (tel. 322/224-0607, www.mexonline.com/ranchojo.htm) or Rancho El Charro (Francisco Villa 895, Fracc. Las Gaviotas, tel. 322/224-0114, www.ranchoelcharro.com).
Tours typically include two or three days of guided backcountry riding and at least one night camping out on the trail. In addition to exploring San Sebastián, Mascota, or Talpa and neighboring villages, you’ll enjoy swimming and hot-tubbing, hearty dinners and cozy evenings at comfortable haciendas and country inns, and, when available, local fiestas. At least one authoritative naturalist/guide accompanies the tour, enriching the experience with expert commentary on trailside flora and fauna.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition