On any map of Puerto Vallarta, it is easy to see the separate and varied sections of the city. Though somewhat diverse in character and having individual personalities, they also share many similarities. Along the coastline, for several kilometers, one will find fascinating history; while also discovering new and interesting pockets of the city.
The Hotel Zone is easy to define, covering the shoreline north of town and starts at the Sheraton. Even though the Hotel Rosita is the oldest hotel in Puerto Vallarta, it is considered a part of Centro. Over the years, eye popping construction has taken place along the old beaches where once bonfires and campsites were standard. Some of Vallarta’s finest restaurants can be found along the highway side of the ocean. The beaches in Mexico are public and you are welcome to walk along the water’s edge but to enter most of the hotels, you must be a guest.
The area of Olas Altas (literally translating to high waves) has been referred to as Zona Romatica for many years and also is called Old Town, Colonia Zapata and sometimes Amapas. Olas Altas is comprised of properties that extend from the end of the Malecón at the South, to the Cuale River at the North. Once the main tourist area, it has maintained much of its charm and is a major destination for music, jewelry, food, festivals and mid to boutique size hotels. Ex-pats have favored this area and it has long been the central gay destination, though large construction projects are underway.
Centro is between these two areas and is where you’ll find the main plaza, the Cathedral (Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe) and many old stores, such as the original Telas Parisina, a fabric store where seamstresses and tailors have shopped for decades. There are wonderful tours available that wander up stairways, over the hills and back down the colorful streets. Many art galleries have established themselves on the backstreets of Centro over the years and it’s not unusual to find gala openings accompanied by wine, food and live music.
Residential areas would mark the balance of the boundaries, which are East of the Hotel Zone. It is well worth your while to check out neighborhoods like Barrio Santa Maria, Agua Azul and the larger El Pitillal for charming shopping, mouth watering food and a glimpse of customary culture. Older settlements like Las Gaviotas, Versalles are where older elegant Mexican homes are located, many hidden by walls and latticed casements, hiding splendid gardens and terraces.
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Thanks to our guest blogger Adam Garcia for this article!
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