Discovering a natural paradise blessed with ecological diversity and beauty
Puerto Vallarta is
located in Mexico’s largest natural bay, the Bay of Banderas. The horseshoe
shaped bay, known for its exquisite deep waters and rich biodiversity is a
member of the World’s Most Beautiful Bays Club, a select club regrouping the
world’s most impressive coastlines. Banderas Bay shelters numerous diverse
ecosystems, including tropical lagoons, rainforests, mangroves, pristine
beaches, waterfalls, and spectacular mountains, making it a prime ecotourism
Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins are a common site in the area’s waters, but for those visitors who would like an up close encounter with these fascinating animals, the town is also home to one of the best dolphin education and research facilities in the region. Banderas Bay is also the birthplace of the magnificent Humpback Whales. Every year, from December to April, humpback whales migrate to the area to breed, and visitors can watch in the whales play in the calm waters of the bay. The Olive Ridley marine turtle is also protected under a government sponsored conservation program. From July through November, Olive Ridley Turtles come to lay their eggs on Puerto Vallarta’s beaches. A hotel and government sponsored initiative invites children and adults to partake in the protection of this beautiful species in an annual nighttime ceremony in which the baby turtles are released into the ocean.
The Sierra Madre Mountains are also a center of many ecological wonders, with its wide array of vegetation and wildlife including tropical flora, fauna, amphibians, reptiles, deer, hares, and mountain lions. Visitors also have the chance to explore high above the forest floor in a canopy tour offering up-close views of the areas native birds, including woodpeckers, parrots, yellow winged cacique, and parakeets.
From the highly educated eco-tour guides to the government sponsored conservation programs for endangered species, Puerto Vallarta exemplifies a responsible ecotourism destination. Every September, the community joins together for its annual beach and underwater clean up and awareness day, an event which is organized by the local Center for Marine Conservation. A collection of rich ecosystems, and incredible diversity, the following is a compilation of just a few of the locations that Puerto Vallarta has to offer its eco-friendly travelers.
LAS CALETAS ISLANDS
In the southern section of Banderas Bay lies Las Caletas, a hidden cove made famous for being a favorite retreat for renowned film director John Huston. Las Caletas is a secluded paradise, with a spectacular backdrop of the Sierra Madre Mountains, beautiful beaches, and even a tropical reef. What’s more, Las Caletas offers visitors an endless number of activities, including snorkeling, sea kayaking, bird watching, and hiking through jungle trails to lovely orchid gardens.
LOS ARCOS NATIONAL MARINE PARK
Los Arcos is another popular diving and snorkeling destination for visitors in Puerto Vallarta. Located near the small village of Mismaloya, this protected park consists of towering rock arches, caves, tunnels, and reefs full of marine animals including angelfish, butterfly fish, puffers, eagle rays, sea turtles, and giant mantas. For the adventurous travelers, Los Arcos offers an amazing opportunity to dive the “Devil’s Drop” underwater cliff, an approximate 1600 foot drop to a spectacular underwater mountain range.
YELAPA & MAJAHUITAS
The small fishing villages of Yelapa and Majahuitas are two relaxing and unspoiled paradises. With their calm, glittering waters and white sandy beaches, these secluded locations offer visitors a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the wildlife inhabiting the hills of the jungle, and the sea turtles and dolphins that call Banderas Bay home.
Southeast of Puerto Vallarta lies Colomitos beach, a remote cove hidden in a valley of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Hiking through the tropical forests and over a rope suspension bridge, visitors observe iguanas, red foxes, armadillos, yellow-winged cacique, and colorful dragonflies. Upon arriving at the sparkling waters of Colomitos beach, visitors can choose from a variety of activities including snorkeling, swimming, and kayaking. A hidden jewel, Colomitos Beach is an exotic and relaxing getaway for all travelers.
EL SALADO MANGROVE ESTUARY
The Estero del Salado lagoon is a paradise for birdwatchers; a beautiful expanse of white mangle, palm trees, mosses, ferns, and fauna. The estuary is also a sanctuary for fish, crustaceans, reptiles and assorted mammals. Visitors can enjoy the fabulous vegetation as they kayak down the narrow canals deep in the mangroves.