Puerto Vallarta and the region surrounding it have long had die-hard fans. From the wild, undeveloped southern coast to the colorful beach towns of the northern shores, this unique slice of Mexican terrain attracts return visitors year after year. Golden beaches embrace the limpid waters of the Bay of Banderas, home to myriad species and providing both abundant seafood and opportunities for diverse recreational activities. The bay shelters Puerto Vallarta from storms and serves as habitat for endangered sea turtles and whales.

Sayulita Beach. Photo © Justin Henderson.

Sayulita Beach. Photo © Justin Henderson.

Fertile farmlands, tropical fruit orchards, and blue agave fields surround the area, giving rise to craggy, volcanic mountains.Nestled in a verdant valley, Puerto Vallarta is rich with resources. Fertile farmlands, tropical fruit orchards, and blue agave fields surround the city, giving rise to craggy volcanic mountains. In hidden coves and along sweeping seashores, smaller towns provide an enchanting taste of tropical Mexico at its best. While Old Town, or Zona Romántica, as it is called, retains its singular charm, Vallarta has also matured into a contemporary city complete with allnight discos, upscale boutiques, modern cinemas, colorful art galleries, live performances, and even a few small casinos. This once-scruffy beachfront resort town is an urban destination offering access to the best that Mexico has to offer.

The heart of Puerto Vallarta remains in Old Town and the lively Malecón that runs along the shoreline of downtown. Along this pedestrians-only promenade you’ll find endless entertainment, from sand sculptures and living statues to clowns and musicians. It comes alive at night as visitors and residents congregate to watch the sunset and later enjoy the live entertainment, delicious street food, and endlessly amusing parade of people.

The surprising diversity of Vallarta and its surroundings attracts more people each year, yet you can still get away from everything without going far from this lively city: from the tranquil beach town of Barra de Navidad to timeless San Blas; from lazy fishing hamlets to the gated barrios of the rich and famous; from surf towns to wild beaches so removed that you can only reach them by sea. Come discover your own special place in this magical region by the sea.

Excerpted from the Tenth Edition of Moon Puerto Vallarta.