A bougainvillea-draped doorway at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens. Photo © Justin Henderson.

Best Puerto Vallarta Day Trips

If you’re based in Puerto Vallarta and set on spending all your nights here, you can still get out of town for a day at a time. From can’t-miss outings to easy-going changes of scenery, here are some great options by car, bus, and boat.

Glass Beach. Photo © Elizabeth Linhart Veneman.

Sights in Fort Bragg

The village of Mendocino may be where folks savor the scenery, but Fort Bragg is where the work gets done. This blue-collar town is home to lumber mills, fishing boats, and scores of working train tracks. It is rougher around the edges than its gentle cousin down the coast, but it has some great attractions, beautiful scenery, and tons of local color.

Beach at Cahuita National Park. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Things to See and Do in Laid-Back Cahuita

The offbeat village of Cahuita is an in-vogue destination for backpackers and escapist vacationers who like things simple. What you get are golden- and black-sand beaches backed by coconut palms, an offshore coral reef, and an immersion in Creole culture, including Rastafarians, with their dreadlocks and a lifestyle that revolves around reggae, Rasta, and—discreetly—reefer.

Monumento al Jíbaro Puertorriqueño. Photo © Ulises Jorge, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Sights in Caguas and Cayey, Puerto Rico

The Puerto Rico’s eastern mountain towns of Caguas and Cayey don’t boast the dramatic peaks and valleys of Jayuya and Utuado, but they have plenty to offer in the way of attractions. Caguas is home to the impressive botanical gardens at Jardín Botánico y Cultural de Caguas, and many locals make a day of visiting the area to dine at all-you-can-eat buffets, dance to the live bands, and shop at roadside vendors.

Currasow. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Explore La Garita, Costa Rica

La Garita is an excellent stop for nature lovers, boasting a botanical orchid garden and a wildlife rescue center that welcomes visitors to explore its expansive grounds. There are also two lovely places to stay–one modestly appointed but wonderfully comfortable and the other a far more lavish, luxurious property–that make the trip especially pleasant.

Topography surrounding San Vito. Photo © Eric T Gunther (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

San Vito and Las Cruces Biological Station

San Vito is a pleasant hill town founded by Italian immigrants to Costa Rica in the early 1850s. Nearby you’ll find the Estación Biológica Las Cruces, a nature lover’s delight. This 800-acre forest reserve is a vital habitat for hundreds of species of butterflies and bats, and dozens of birds and mammals. Visit for miles and miles of well-maintained trails and the chance to spot these creatures and to enjoy the gardens inside the reserve.

The mariposario (enclosed butterfly garden) at the Jardín Botánico del Quindío. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Colombia’s Jardín Botánico del Quindío

Outside the town of Armenia, the well-run Jardín Botánico del Quindío is home to hundreds of tree and plant species, many of which are threatened. Knowledgeable volunteer guides lead visitors on a mandatory 2.5-hour tour along jungle paths pointing out plants, trees, and birds visitors would otherwise miss.

A Houlletia tigrina orchid.

Costa Rica’s Ingenious Orchids

Costa Rica is home to an incredible variety of orchids; orchid lovers should head for the cloud forests; there the greatest diversity exists in humid mid-elevation environments. Here are examples of some remarkable varieties.

Glasswing butterfly, Monteverde Butterfly Garden. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Family Fun in Costa Rica

Combining educational options with fun keeps children (and parents) enthralled. From snakes and sloths and crocodiles to river safaris and air tram rides through the forest and above volcanoes, these ideas focus on outdoor adventure & learning while experiencing nature.

The beach at Spratt Bight. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Sight-Seeing on San Andrés

Spratt Bight Pathway For many, their first stop in San Andrés after checking in to their hotel is the Spratt Bight Pathway (Centro). This pedestrian walkway is the liveliest stretch on the island, lined with restaurants, hotels, and souvenir shops on one side. On the ocean side of the pathway is the island’s most popular […]