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17 Fun Facts About Puerto Vallarta [2024]

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Looking for fun facts about Puerto Vallarta? You’re in the right place! I’ve been living in Puerto Vallarta for the last four years and have discovered many of the city’s best secrets.

Having explored the nooks and crannies of Puerto Vallarta, from the majestic Sierra Madre Mountains to the lively local festivals, I’ve come to appreciate the nuances that make this city truly special.

This guide about Puerto Vallarta facts is crafted with a deep understanding of what travelers seek when they venture to Puerto Vallarta: a blend of adventure, culture, relaxation, and discovery.

Whether you’re drawn to the allure of deep sea fishing in the Pacific, the vibrant nightlife along the Malecón, or the tranquil retreats found in secluded beaches, this article is your gateway to a well-rounded and unforgettable Puerto Vallarta experience.

By sharing these 17 fun facts about Puerto Vallarta, I aim to connect you with the heart and soul of Puerto Vallarta, ensuring your visit is enriched with the knowledge and excitement that comes from understanding this remarkable destination.

17 Puerto Vallarta fun facts

1. Puerto Vallarta was once a small fishing village

drone shot of the southern beaches of puerto vallarta. ocean meets the city.

Long before it became a bustling tourist hotspot, Puerto Vallarta was a quaint fishing village called Las Peñas. Its transformation began in 1918 when it was officially renamed Puerto Vallarta in honor of Ignacio Vallarta, a distinguished governor of Jalisco.

This marked the start of its journey from a secluded coastal town to a world-renowned travel destination, blending its rich cultural heritage with modern growth. Today, the city continues to grow and attracts more digital nomads and expats yearly.

2. The Malecon is an outdoor art gallery

Sculptures along the Malecon Puerto Vallarta

One of Puerto Vallarta’s most iconic attractions is its beautiful Malecón, a seaside promenade adorned with striking sculptures.

Each piece tells a story, offering insight into the city’s cultural and artistic heritage. From the famous “Boy on the Seahorse” to the whimsical “In Search of Reason,” these sculptures are not just decorative elements but symbols of Puerto Vallarta’s rich art scene.

For those interested in delving deeper into the art and culture of Puerto Vallarta, check out my guide on 8 Best Puerto Vallarta City Tours.

3. Thousands of humpback whales migrate here every year

humpback whale tail coming out of the pacific ocean with mountain in backdrop in puerto vallarta

Each year, Puerto Vallarta becomes a prime viewing spot for one of nature’s most awe-inspiring spectacles: the migration of humpback whales.

From December to March, these majestic creatures journey to the warm waters of Banderas Bay to breed and give birth, offering visitors a rare opportunity to witness their grace and beauty up close.

I’ll never forget my first-time whale watching in Puerto Vallarta. Seeing a humpback whale breaching the water’s surface just a few meters from our boat was an unforgettable experience.

The power and grace of these giants, coupled with the stunning backdrop of Puerto Vallarta’s coastline, was a moment of pure magic. It’s a reminder of the natural wonders that thrive in and around this city, making it a unique destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

4. It has an award-winning botanical gardens

A woman swinging on a pink swing in a garden, an ideal Puerto Vallarta Instagram spot.

Just a twenty-minute drive from downtown lies the 120-hectare Vallarta Botanical Gardens. This verdant oasis of biodiversity houses thousands of plant species, from the delicate hues of countless orchids to the stoic presence of agaves and bromeliads, all set against the stunning backdrop of mountainous terrain.

Having visited the Vallarta Botanical Gardens three times, I can honestly say it’s a place I never tire of. Each visit unveils new wonders and deepens my appreciation for the intricate web of life these gardens protect. The orchid conservatory, with its dazzling array of colors and shapes, remains a highlight, symbolizing the fragile beauty of nature and the critical importance of conservation efforts.

5. It’s home to one of Mexico’s most beautiful beaches

looking into Hidden Beach

Nestled within the Marietas Islands, Puerto Vallarta’s “Hidden Beach” is a breathtaking natural wonder, accessible only by a hidden beach boat tour, which includes swimming through a short tunnel.

This was one of the first places I visited after moving to Puerto Vallarta, and the reveal of this secluded paradise, with its crystal-clear waters and encircling rock formations, made me fall in love with this area.

This beach epitomizes the untouched beauty of nature. It’s a must-see for eco-tourists and adventure seekers alike, showcasing the pristine beauty of Puerto Vallarta’s natural landscapes.

8. It has a year-round tropical climate

A woman in a floral romper standing on a balcony overlooking the mountains thinking of fun facts about puerto vallarta

Puerto Vallarta’s tropical climate makes it a year-round destination, though most visitors prefer the winter months for their mild, sunny weather. During the winter, the city buzzes with energy, offering perfect conditions for beach outings and whale watching.

However, summer brings its own perks, such as fewer tourists and the emergence of lush waterfalls in the surrounding jungle. Despite the humidity, these months reveal a quieter, verdant side of Puerto Vallarta, offering a unique experience for those who venture here during the off-peak season.

9. Its nightlife is wild

Fun Bars in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta shines brightly after sunset with its vibrant nightlife. The city caters to all tastes, from beachfront bars where waves accompany your cocktail to lively nightclubs pulsing with music until dawn.

My evenings spent exploring Zone Romantica’s nightlife scene have been unforgettable, offering a mix of friendly locals, delicious drinks, and dance floors that invite you to lose yourself in the moment – and stay out until the early hours of the morning. It’s a must-experience aspect of Puerto Vallarta’s diverse attractions.

10. It’s a hub for wildlife conservation

a baby sea turtle in a bowl that's about to be released into the ocean in mexico

Puerto Vallarta is not just a tourist paradise; it’s a hub for conservation efforts, particularly for protecting marine life and preserving its beautiful natural landscapes. The local’s commitment to the environment is evident in its sea turtle protection programs, which I’ve had the honor to participate in.

These initiatives allow locals and visitors to assist in safeguarding the future of these majestic creatures. It’s a powerful reminder of our responsibility to the planet. It offers an enriching experience for anyone looking to contribute to conservation efforts while enjoying the natural beauty of Puerto Vallarta.

11. It’s got world-class fishing

casting a fishing rod into the ocean while the sky is lit by a fiery orange and red sunset

Puerto Vallarta is renowned for its deep-sea fishing, offering some of the best experiences in the world.

The waters around the city are teeming with marlin, tuna, and sailfish, making it a prime destination for anglers of all levels. For enthusiasts and novices alike, deep-sea fishing here is an adventure not to be missed.

12. Home to the beautiful Bay of Banderas

first flying along the bay of banderas

Nestled along the expansive Bay of Banderas, Puerto Vallarta offers some of the most breathtaking sunsets I’ve ever witnessed. Each evening, the sky transforms into a canvas of fiery oranges and pinks, a spectacle that never ceases to amaze me.

Beyond its visual allure, the bay is a sanctuary for an incredible variety of marine life. From snorkeling adventures where I’ve swum alongside vibrant schools of fish to boat trips that brought me face-to-face with the majestic humpback whales, the bay’s natural wonders have enriched my connection to Puerto Vallarta’s stunning environment.

13. Birthplace of Mariachi music

While Puerto Vallarta basks in the cultural richness of Jalisco, the birthplace of mariachi music, this traditional genre infuses the city’s air with soulful melodies. My experiences attending local festivals and celebrations, where mariachi bands perform with passion and enthusiasm, are always so much fun.

The music’s powerful narratives and harmonious chords resonate through the streets, encapsulating the spirit of Mexico. During these moments, surrounded by the joyous sounds of mariachi, I’ve felt deeply connected to the cultural heartbeat of Puerto Vallarta.

14. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton fell in love here

Casa Kimberly Puerto Vallarta

Another fun fact about Puerto Vallarta is the storied romance of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who lived here together during the 1960s and put Puerto Vallarta on the map.

Exploring Casa Kimberly, once their private haven and now a luxurious boutique hotel, I was captivated by the blend of luxury and history.

With its stunning views and elegant decor, the property whispers tales of a bygone era of Hollywood glamour. It’s a poignant reminder of how their love story helped transform Puerto Vallarta into the beloved destination it is today, merging the worlds of celebrity and tropical paradise.

15. An adventure sports paradise

two girls on a rock in front of palo maria waterfall puerto vallarta

Puerto Vallarta’s diverse terrain, from its lush jungles to rugged mountains, creates the perfect backdrop for adventure sports.

Zip-lining through the canopy, I’ve felt a rush of adrenaline and awe at the sheer beauty of the landscape below. On the same day, you can go hiking through the lush rainforests and snorkeling in the ocean below.

16. It’s the gay capital of Latin America

puerto vallarta pride parade

Puerto Vallarta’s reputation as an LGBTQ+friendly destination is well-deserved, often cited as one of Mexico’s most gay-friendly destinations.

The city’s welcoming atmosphere is palpable, from the vibrant nightlife in the Zona Romántica to the colorful pride events that celebrate diversity and inclusion.

My experiences here, participating in pride parades and frequenting LGBTQ+-friendly establishments, have been filled with warmth and camaraderie. This sense of community and acceptance makes Puerto Vallarta not just a travel destination but a place where everyone can truly belong.

17. Tequila and Raicilla are the spirits of Puerto Vallarta

lora walking along fields of agave plants in tequila mexico

Puerto Vallarta, nestled within Jalisco, the heartland of tequila, offers a spirited journey into the world of Mexico’s most famous export.

However, it’s the lesser-known raicilla that is unique to this area. Distilled from local agave varieties, raicilla is a testament to the region’s rich distilling traditions. My tastings at local distilleries and bars have been enlightening, uncovering the nuanced flavors of this traditional spirit.

Through these experiences, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for Puerto Vallarta’s contribution to Mexico’s storied heritage of spirit production.

FAQ: Puerto Vallarta Facts

What are some facts about Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta is known for its beautiful Bay of Banderas, vibrant nightlife, and welcoming community.

What makes Puerto Vallarta unique?

Its combination of stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and the warmth of its people make Puerto Vallarta uniquely captivating.

What food is Puerto Vallarta known for?

Puerto Vallarta is famous for its seafood, particularly dishes like ceviche and grilled fish, as well as traditional Mexican cuisine.

How old is the city of Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta was officially established as a municipality on May 31, 1918.

Who made Puerto Vallarta famous?

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton put Puerto Vallarta on the map in the 1960s with their high-profile romance.

What language is spoken in Puerto Vallarta?

Spanish is the primary language spoken in Puerto Vallarta, with many in the tourism industry also speaking English.

What is Puerto Vallarta best known for?

Puerto Vallarta is best known for its stunning beaches and vibrant arts scene and as a premier destination for whale watching.

What is the nickname for Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta is affectionately nicknamed “PV” by locals and frequent visitors.

What does Puerto Vallarta stand for?

Puerto Vallarta is named after Ignacio Vallarta, a former governor of Jalisco, with “Puerto” meaning port in Spanish.

What was the old name for Puerto Vallarta?

Before being named Puerto Vallarta, the area was known as Las Peñas.

Who owns Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta is a municipality and, as such, is not owned by any individual but governed by municipal authorities.

Is Puerto Vallarta a party town?

While Puerto Vallarta has a lively nightlife and is known for its bars and clubs, it offers diverse activities suitable for all types of visitors, not just party-goers.

An aerial view of the city of Puerto Vallarta, showcasing its stunning coastline and vibrant urban landscape.

Final thoughts: Fun facts about Puerto Vallarta

It’s clear that this city is more than just a picturesque destination; it’s a city full of culture, nature, and adventure. Each fact we’ve uncovered offers a unique lens through which to view and experience Puerto Vallarta, from its deep-rooted traditions and breathtaking natural wonders to its warm, welcoming community and rich culinary landscape.

The true essence of travel lies not just in visiting new places but in immersing oneself in the experiences, stories, and lives that make each destination unique. Puerto Vallarta, with its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture, is a city that invites you to do just that.


  • Lora Pope

    Lora Pope is a travel content creator who’s been wandering solo for over a decade. In 2021, she moved to Puerto Vallarta and fell in love at first sight. After visiting 70+ countries, she decided to make it her base and now helps travelers like you make the most of your time in PV.