Puerto Vallarta shelters numerous diverse ecosystems, including tropical lagoons, rainforests, mangroves, pristine beaches, reefs, waterfalls, and spectacular mountains, making it a prime ecotourism destination.
Nestled between the mountainous jungle of the Sierra Madre and the sandy beaches along the Bay of Banderas, Puerto Vallarta boasts a natural environment of varying terrain that offers ideal conditions for mountain biking, hiking and a wide array of other adventurous activities and outdoor sports. A sampling of land-based, air and ocean adventures found in the Puerto Vallarta area include the following:
An adventure-filled tour of the back roads of Puerto Vallarta, a ride on an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) will prove a fun-filled experience. The tour takes riders to the rural countryside and along dirt roads and through rivers. Canopy Rivers’ ATV tour takes visitors from one side of the mountain to the other via the longest suspended bridge in the area.
Canopy tours remain one of the most fun ways to see and learn about the varied tropical flora and fauna of the rainforest surrounding Puerto Vallarta. The adrenaline mounts as you zip from treetop to treetop, hovering over the canopy of the lush vegetation of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Each canopy tour, Vallarta Adventures or Canopy River, offers a different thrill, including tours on a total of 14 cables, lines over 1,300 feet long, or 90 feet above the forest floor. Vallarta Adventures’ Superman is the longest zipline in Mexico at nearly 4,000 feet in length and reaching speeds of up to 60 mph.
One of the most popular free local tours in Puerto Vallarta is the four-hour hike around the Bay of Banderas. The trail starts in the fishing village of Boca De Tomatlan by a river that flows into a small bay leading through the tropical jungle and over a rope suspension bridge, and ends at one of Puerto Vallarta’s most secluded beaches, Playa Colomitos. As hikers may encounter a wide variety of exotic birds, butterflies, lizards and tropical trees along the way, hiring a guide can help with identifying creatures along the way.
Sailing cruises provide an adventurous way to spend a day relaxing in the sun, catching glimpses of dolphins and humpback whales or, for those who prefer a more active vacation, swimming and snorkeling in protected coves. There are also romantic sunset cruises for a memorable evening under the sun and stars.
Puerto Vallarta has parasailing and other watersports available at many beaches along the Bay of Banderas. The most popular spot is at Los Muertos Beach. WaveRunners, banana boats and parasailing are available by the hour, half-day or full day.
Banderas Bay, with its warm blue waters, beautiful coral reefs, natural rock formations and abundant marine life, is a magnet for snorkelers and scuba divers. There are numerous snorkeling options in the Puerto Vallarta area, whether close to shore in Mismaloya, Yelapa or Majahuitas, or on exciting boat trips to secluded islands such as the Marietas.
Scuba diving in Puerto Vallarta is an opportunity to observe a variety of open-water marine species such as giant manta rays; sea turtles; bottlenose, spotted, rough-toothed and (occasionally) spinner dolphins; Bryde’s and humpback whales (from November through March. During the journey, divers can also enjoy views exotic bird species, as well, including the magnificent frigate bird, tropic bird, blue-footed boobies, terns, gulls and more.
SEA KAYAKING & STAND UP PADDLE (SUP)
Sea Kayaking and SUP excursions depart from Boca de Tomatlan and Colomitos Beach south of Puerto Vallarta’s historical center. Here, the calm and clear turquoise water of the Bay of Banderas allow for a fun, active excursion. From November to March, marine life is abundant, and some of the species visitors may encounter include multicolored tropical fish of all sizes, sea turtles, manta rays and eagle rays, among others. For a completely Puerto Vallarta experience, try paddle boarding along the shores of the Malecón at sunset.
Take a small plane to an altitude of 10,000 feet above sea level for a 45-second free fall at a speed of 120 mph, followed by five to seven minutes of smooth flying with an open parachute over the grandiose Bay of Banderas, the Sierra Madre and the city of Puerto Vallarta. Operators in Puerto Vallarta also offer tandem jumps, where the instructor is harnessed together with novice skydivers.
The rich marine life that the area houses includes turtles, spotted eagle rays, needlefish and many varieties of tropical fish. Many snorkeling tours can also be combined with sea kayaking or simply relaxing on a deserted beach.
For more information visit: www.visitpuertovallarta.com