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Location (in red) within the state of Jalisco
|• Mayor||Lic. Ramon Guerrero (Movimiento Ciudadano)|
|• Municipality||1,300.7 km2 (502.19 sq mi)|
|Elevation||7 m (23 ft)|
|Time zone||CST (UTC−6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC−5)|
Location (in red) within the state of Jalisco
|• Mayor||Lic. Ramon Guerrero (Movimiento Ciudadano)|
|• Municipality||1,300.7 km2 (502.19 sq mi)|
|Elevation||7 m (23 ft)|
|Time zone||CST (UTC−6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC−5)|
Puerto Vallarta (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpweɾto βaˈʝaɾta]) is a Mexican beach resort city situated on the Pacific Ocean's Bahía de Banderas. The 2010 census reported Puerto Vallarta's population as 255,725 making it the second largest city in the state of Jalisco. The City of Puerto Vallarta is the government seat of the Municipality of Puerto Vallarta which comprises the city as well as population centers outside of the city extending from Boca de Tomatlán to the Nayarit border (the Ameca River).
The city is located at Nayarit. To the east it borders the municipality of Mascota and San Sebastián del Oeste, and to the south it borders the municipalities of Talpa de Allende and Cabo Corriente.. The municipality has an area of 502.19 square miles (1,300.7 km2). To the north it borders the southwest part of the state of
Puerto Vallarta is named after Ignacio Vallarta, a former governor of Jalisco. In Spanish, Puerto Vallarta is frequently shortened to "Vallarta", while English speakers call the city P.V. for short. In internet shorthand the city is often referred to as PVR, after the International Air Transport Association airport code for its Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport.
Puerto Vallarta's proximity to the Bay of Banderas, the agricultural valley of the Ameca River, and the important mining centers in the Sierra have given the town a more interesting past than most Mexican tourist destinations. Puerto Vallarta was a thriving Mexican village long before it became an international tourist destination. Tourism was a major economic activity because of the climate, scenery, tropical beaches, and rich cultural history. For a sense of the extent even of the city's modern history, note that Puerto Vallarta and Seattle were founded in the same year, 1851.
Few details are known about the history of the area prior to the 19th century. There is archaeological evidence of continuous human habitation from 580 BC, and there is archeological evidence (from sites near Ixtapa and in Col. Lázaro Cardenas) that the area belonged to the Aztatlán culture which dominated Jalisco, Nayarit and Michoacán from approx. 900-1200 AD. The limited evidence and relative lack of interest in occidental Mexican archeology have limited the current knowledge about pre-historic life in the area.
Spanish missionary and conquistador documents chronicle skirmishes between the Spanish colonizers and the local peoples. In 1524, for example, a large battle between Hernán Cortés and an army of 10,000 to 20,000 Indians resulted in Cortés taking control of much of the Ameca valley. The valley was then named Banderas (flags) after the colorful standards carried by the natives.
Also the area appears on maps and in sailing logs as a bay of refuge for the Manila Galleon trade as well as for other coastal seafarers. As such it figures in some accounts of pirate operations and smuggling and pirate contravention efforts by the viceregal government. During the 17th and 18th centuries the Banderas Valley and its beaches along the Bay of Banderas served as supply points for ships seeking refuge in the bay. The area also served as a point where smuggled goods could be sent on to the Sierra towns near Mascota, evading the customs operations at San Blas, Nayarit.
During the 19th century the history of Puerto Vallarta, then called El Carrizal or Las Peñas, was linked to the history of the Sierra towns of San Sebastian del Oeste, Talpa de Allende and Mascota. While today these towns are considered quaint tourist destinations, during much of the 18th century, Mascota was Jalisco's second largest town, after Guadalajara. Mascota and its neighboring towns located in the high plateaus of the Sierra, developed as agricultural towns to support the growing mining operations in the Sierra.
During the 18th century, as Mascota grew, Puerto Vallarta grew with it, transforming itself from a small fishing and pearl-diving village into a small beach-landing port serving the Sierra towns. At the time the main port serving Jalisco was located at San Blas, but the inconvenient overland route from San Blas to the Sierra towns made Puerto Vallarta a more convenient alternative for smaller shipments, not to mention smuggling operations which evaded the tax collectors at San Blas. Puerto Vallarta also became a vacation destination for residents of the Sierra Towns, and by the mid 19th century, the town already had its regularly returning population of vacationers. Most of the early settlers in Puerto Vallarta were families who had left the Sierra towns for one reason or another.
1859 saw an important turning point for the small village, then known as Las Peñas. That year the Union en Cuale mining company took possession of land extending from Los Arcos to the Pitillal river and extending back up into the Sierra for miles. The Union en Cuale company was owned in part by the Camarena brothers of Guadalajara who had developed a small trade in oil palm in Las Peñas. The purpose of the government's sale of the land to the company was to provide for shipping, fishing and agricultural support for the mining operations which were growing quite quickly in the Sierra.
The official founding story of Las Peñas and thus of Puerto Vallarta is that it was founded by Guadalupe Sánchez Torres, on December 12, 1851, as Las Peñas de Santa María de Guadalupe. Unfortunately the record of Sr. Sanchez's purchase of property in Las Peñas dates the sale to 1859. Also even as early as 1850 the area was already peopled by fisherman, pearl divers, smugglers and foragers, all of whom had something of a permanent existence in the area. Given the existing historical documents it is simply impossible to date the first permanent settlement in the area,
There is however no doubt the development of Las Peñas into a self-sustaining village of any significant size happened in the 1860s as the mouth of the Cuale area was exploited to support the operations of the newly enfranchised Union en Cuale company. As such 1859 marks the beginning of Puerto Vallarta as a village. Twenty years later, by 1885, the village comprised about 250 homes and about 800 residents.
In 1918, the village was elevated to municipality status and renamed after former state governor Ignacio Vallarta. During the early years of the 20th century, most of Puerto Vallarta was owned by the Union en Cuale company controlled by the American Alfred Geist. Geist sold land only in large plots at prices that were quite high for the time and otherwise leased the land on short term leases. To remedy this situation and to enable the new municipality to develop, the citizens petitioned the government for a land grant based on the new constitution's provisions.
In 1921, the Local Agrarian Commission approved a grant of some 9,400 hectares (23,000 acres; 36 square miles), with the land to be expropriated from the Union en Cuale company. The grant was established as an ejido holding (a farming cooperative administered by the government). Legal squabbling over the size of the land grant, and the ejido status of the properties involved would stymie growth in Puerto Vallarta into the 1960s, as developers were reluctant to build anything too substantial on land for which one could not obtain clear title. (Ejido land is controlled by individuals who are given licenses to use it, but it could not be sold, subdivided or leased.)
During the Cristero War, the municipality was twice taken over by Cristero forces (April 1927 and January 1928). After it was recaptured for a second time, the national government stationed a small garrison there under Major Ángel Ocampo. The garrison was stationed near the mouth of the Cuale River and is responsible for planting many of the palms that now line the beaches on near the mouth of the Cuale River to help limit beach erosion during heavy rains in October 1928. One casualty of the skirmishes was local pastor Padre Ayala who was exiled to Guadalajara for his role in fomenting the local revolt. He died there in 1943, though his remains were returned 10 years later and interred in the main parish church of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
As mining activities in the Sierra waned in the early years of the 20th century, Puerto Vallarta and the agricultural valley to the North of the city became important destinations for those leaving the Sierra towns and looking for a place to settle. Many of those who arrived had family members already living in Puerto Vallarta, and the pattern of migration that ensued turned the town into a collection of more or less extended families, giving it the cohesion of a typical sierra town.
From 1925 until 1935, the Montgomery Fruit Company operated in the area around Ixtapa. Friction with the state government over labor issues eventually led to the venture being abandoned, but for ten years it provided an important source of employment in the area.
The first airplane service arrived in 1932, with electrical service on a small scale arriving about the same time. The first suspension bridge over the Cuale went up in 1933. The city's first plumbing system was started in 1939. In 1942, Puerto Vallarta was finally connected by road to Compostela, Nay. Until then the only access to Puerto Vallarta was by sea, air, or by mule trails to the sierra towns. Also in 1942, in the New York based magazine Modern Mexico the first advertisement for a Puerto Vallarta vacation appeared, sponsored by the Air Transport Company of Jalisco. By 1945, the company was landing DC-3s in Puerto Vallarta (carrying 21 passengers).
By the 1950s, Puerto Vallarta had started to attract Americans, mostly writers and artists in search of a retreat from the USA of the era of Eisenhower and McCarthy. Gringo Gulch began to develop as an expatriate neighborhood on the hill above the Centro. The city also attracted Mexican artists and writers who were willing to trade the comforts of life in the larger cities for its scenic and bucolic advantages.
In 1956, the Mascota mule trail was replaced by a packed dirt road. In 1958, 24 hour electrical generation arrived. A new airport arrived in 1962 connecting Puerto Vallarta with Los Angeles via Mazatlán, and the Mexican Aviation Company began offering package trips.
By the early 1960s, the population had started to spread beyond the Centro and Gringo Gulch, and the Colonias of 5 Diciembre (north of the Centro) and Emiliano Zapata (south of the Cuale River) began to grow.
Six influences in the 1960s and 1970s launched Puerto Vallarta into becoming a major resort destination.
First: The Mexican federal government resolved century-old property disputes of land that had communal status, land the federal government had appropriated from the Union en Cuale mining company to be parceled out as communal farms. The land's communal (ejido) status had stifled development in the town for much of the 20th century. A significant transition of communal lands into private ownership within present Puerto Vallarta city limits took place in 1973 with the establishment of the Vallarta Land Trust (Fideicomiso) to oversee selling government land into private hands, and using the sales revenue to develop the City's infrastructure.
Second: American director John Huston filmed his 1963 movie The Night of the Iguana in Mismaloya, a small town just south of Puerto Vallarta. During the filming, the US media gave extensive coverage to Elizabeth Taylor's extramarital affair with Richard Burton, as well as covering the frequent fighting between Huston and the film's four stars. The subsequent publicity helped put Puerto Vallarta on the map for US tourists.
Third: The Mexican government invested significantly in transportation improvements making Puerto Vallarta an easy travel destination. To make Puerto Vallarta accessible by jet aircraft the government developed the City's international airport. Ground transportation significantly improved. Government invested heavily in the development of highway and utility infrastructure. Improvements and investment in infrastructure led to Puerto Vallarta experiencing tourist booms, starting in the late 1960s. While tourists from the United States and Canada started flowing in, tourists in Puerto Vallarta were principally from Mexico, who started traveling to Puerto Vallarta because the improved infrastructure (4-lane paved highways) made travel easy and convenient (e.g, Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta).
Fourth: In 1968 the Puerto Vallarta municipality was elevated to City status. The elevation in status reflected interest by Mexican federal and state governments in developing the Puerto Vallarta as an international resort destination. Puerto Vallarta has since also attracted a lively expatriate community from the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Fifth: The City showcased its new image. In August 1970 visit of U.S. President Richard Nixon who met with Mexican then-President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz in Puerto Vallarta for treaty negotiations. The visit showcased Puerto Vallarta's recently developed international airport and resort infrastructure. The U.S. Presidential visit contributed significantly to getting Puerto Vallarta's name in the news and visibility as a resort destination.
Sixth: Resort hotel development in Puerto Vallarta boomed in the 1970s. Prior to 1973 hotels in Puerto Vallarta tended to be modest, mid-priced establishments. Only two large sized luxury hotels existed (the Real and the Posada Vallarta). After 1973, Puerto Vallarta experienced rapid growth in global-brand luxury hotels and international resorts, to where in 2013 there are approximately 41 five star and four star rated hotels.
An economic downturn in Mexico caused tourists to flock to Puerto Vallarta. In 1982, the peso was devalued and Puerto Vallarta became a bargain destination for US tourists. Consequently, the mid-1980s saw a marked and rapid rise in the tourist volume. This uptick fueled additional development, for example the Marina which was started in 1986. But Puerto Vallarta's success caused other Mexican cities to take note. The early 1990s saw Mexico's government and private business develop other resort destinations, such as Ixtapa and Cancún. This took away Puerto Vallarta's exclusivity of sorts on the foreign tourist trade, and caused a slump in travel to Puerto Vallarta.
With growth comes problems. During the early 1980s Puerto Vallarta experienced a marked increase in problems related to poverty. While the devaluation of the peso brought record numbers of tourists to the area, it also stifled investment and thus construction. So while more and more workers were arriving in Puerto Vallarta to try to cash in on the booming tourist trade, less and less was being done to accommodate them with housing and related infrastructure.
So during the mid-1980s Puerto Vallarta experienced a rapid expansion of impromptu communities poorly served by even basic public services. This very low standard of living leveled out Puerto Vallarta's resort boom. In the late 1980s Puerto Vallarta government worked to alleviate the situation by developing housing and infrastructure. However, the legacy of the 1980s boom remains even today where the outlying areas of Puerto Vallarta suffer from poor provision of basic services (i.e. water, sewage, roads).
In 1993, the federal Agrarian Law was amended allowing for more secure foreign tenure of former ejido land. Those controlling ejido land were allowed to petition for regularization, a process that converted their controlling interest into fee simple ownership. This meant that the property could be sold, and it led to a boom in the development of private residences, mostly condominiums, and a new phase of Puerto Vallarta's expansion began, centered more on accommodating retirees, snow-birds, and those who visited the city enough to make purchasing a condominium or a time-share a cost-effective option.
Puerto Vallarta's climate is typical Tropical wet and dry (Köppen climate classification Aw). The average daily high temperature is 86 °F (30 °C); average daily low temperature is 70 °F (21 °C); average daily humidity is 75%. The rainy season extends from mid June through mid October, with most of the rain between July and September. August is the city's wettest month, with an average of 14 days with significant precipitation. Even during the rainy season precipitation tends to be concentrated in large rainstorms. Occasional tropical storms will bring thunderstorms to the city in November, though the month is typically dry. There is a marked dry season in the winter. February, March and April are the months with the least cloud cover.
Prevailing winds are from the southwest, and most weather systems approaching Puerto Vallarta are consequently weakened as they pass over Cabo Corriente. Thus even during the rainy season Puerto Vallarta's weather tends to be mild compared to other areas along the Mexican Pacific coast.
Hurricanes seldom strike Puerto Vallarta. In 2002, Hurricane Kenna, a category 5 hurricane, made landfall about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of Puerto Vallarta, and the city suffered some damage from the resulting storm surge. In 1971, Hurricane Lily, a category 1 hurricane, caused serious flooding on the Isla Cuale, prompting the city to relocate all of its residents to the new Colonia Palo Seco.
|Climate data for Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico|
|Record high °C (°F)||35.0|
|Average high °C (°F)||28.8|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||22.8|
|Average low °C (°F)||16.7|
|Record low °C (°F)||11|
|Rainfall mm (inches)||33.8|
|Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm)||2.2||0.7||0.6||0.2||1.0||10.8||16.4||15.2||15.6||5.1||1.4||1.9||71.1|
|Source #1: World Meteorological Organization.|
|Source #2: Weatherbase |
|24 °C (75 °F)||24 °C (75 °F)||24 °C (75 °F)||25 °C (77 °F)||27 °C (81 °F)||28 °C (82 °F)||29 °C (84 °F)||30 °C (86 °F)||30 °C (86 °F)||30 °C (86 °F)||28 °C (82 °F)||25 °C (77 °F)|
Puerto Vallarta lies on a narrow coastal plain at the foot of the Sierras Cuale and San Sebastián, parts of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The plain widens to the North, reaching its widest point along the Ameca river. Three rivers flow from the Sierra through the area. From South to North they are the Cuale, the Pitillal, and the Ameca. A number of arroyos also run from the Sierra to the coastal plain. Many of the valleys of these rivers and arroyos are inhabited. Also development has to some extent spread up the hillsides from the coastal plain.
The city proper comprises four main areas: the hotel zone along the shore to the North, Olas Altas - Col Zapata to the South of the Cuale river (recently named Zona Romantica in some tourist brochures), the Centro along the shore between these two areas, and a number of residential areas to the East of the hotel zone. The oldest section of the town is the area of Col. Centro near the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, especially Hidalgo street.
Puerto Vallarta, like much of the west coast of North America, is prone to earthquakes, though Puerto Vallarta tends to experience only peripheral effects of earthquakes centered further south. In 1995, an earthquake located off the Colima coast shook the crown from the top of the Roman Catholic Church.
Nearly 50% of the workforce is employed in tourist related industries: hotels, restaurants, personal services, and transportation. The municipality does however continue to have strong agricultural, industrial and commercial sectors.
Agriculture is especially important in the Ameca valley to the northeast of the city center. Principal crops there include flour corn, sweet corn, dry beans, fresh chile, watermelon and tobacco. Fruit growing operations are more dispersed, with banana farms in the Ameca valley, mango orchards in the low hills, and avocado farms on some of the higher ground above the city.
There are also significant livestock operations in the Ameca valley, and fishing in the Bay of Banderas is also a significant industry.
Industrial products include foods and beverages, furniture, and construction supplies. Thirty years of consistent development have given Puerto Vallarta a very strong construction sector which employs nearly 10% of the Puerto Vallarta workforce.
The commercial sector comprises nearly 17% of the workforce, including shipping, trucking, wholesale and retail operations (though the retail sector is probably understated because of the large underground economy in the sector). Shipping traffic consists of cruise ships, which arrive almost daily, with Carnival Splendor, and Disney Wonder currently making weekly calls. Occasional visits by U.S. Navy frigates. The Mexican Navy maintains a base at the port, as well as a former naval hospital in the city center, which is now a Naval Museum. Puerto Vallarta is not however very active as a commercial port. Most goods arrive in Puerto Vallarta by truck along the Compostela highway from Guadalajara.
Tourism and travel represent a large part of Puerto Vallarta, with many rental and accommodations available. While the U.S. economy has created a downturn in overall tourism business, the other markets including Canada and Europe are still quite strong.
Puerto Vallarta was once named as La ciudad más amigable del mundo (The Friendliest City in the World), as the sign reads when entering from Nayarit. Today, the presence of numerous sidewalk touts selling time-shares and tequila render the city's atmosphere more akin to tourist-heavy resorts like Cancun and Acapulco, but overall the city's reputation remains relatively undiminished.
Tourism in Puerto Vallarta has increased steadily over the years and makes up for 50% of the city's economic activity. The high season for international tourism in Puerto Vallarta extends from late November through March (or later depending on the timing of the college Spring Break period in the USA.) The city is especially popular with US residents from the West Coast because of the sheer number of direct flights between Puerto Vallarta and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. The city is also popular with tourists from western Canada with a number of direct scheduled and charter flights from western Canadian cities.
Puerto Vallarta is also a highly popular vacation spot for domestic tourists. It is a popular weekend destination for residents of Guadalajara (tapatíos), and a popular national destination for vacations such as Semana Santa (the week preceding Easter) and Christmas. Also in recent years Acapulco has experienced a rise in drug related violence and consequently Puerto Vallarta has absorbed a lot of the Mexico City resort vacation business (Acapulco has long been a common destination for tourists from Mexico City).
Puerto Vallarta has become a popular retirement destination for US and Canadian retirees. This trend has spawned a condominium development boom in the city.
Rapid growth in tourist volume in Puerto Vallarta has given rise to rapid growth in hotel and rental apartment construction. This growth has spilled over from the city limits into Nuevo Vallarta in the neighboring state of Nayarit. The area is one of the fastest growing regions in the Americas.
Guadalajara and Acapulco were common vacation destinations for gay men and lesbians from Mexico City and, especially, the United States and Canada in the 1980s and 1990s. However, since that time, Puerto Vallarta has developed into Mexico's premier resort town as a sort of satellite gay space for its big sister Guadalajara, much as Fire Island is to New York City and Palm Springs is to Los Angeles. It is now considered the most welcoming and gay-friendly destination in the country, dubbed the "San Francisco of Mexico." It boasts a gay scene, centered in the Zona Romántica, of hotels and resorts as well as many bars, nightclubs and a gay beach on the main shore. Puerto Vallarta has been cited as the number one gay beach destination in Latin America.
|Annual growth prior ten years||N/A||3.7%||8.8%||4.7%||6.9%||5.2%||3.3%|
Visibility in the water off Puerto Vallarta, close to the mouths of the rivers is poor in the summer, but away from these locations visibility in the summer is greater than in the dry season. In Puerto Vallarta, the sewage is treated by a British/Dutch company with a "State of the Art" facility. Outside of the City there may be no connection to this and in the rainy season some pollution can happen around the river mouths, but it quickly dissipates in the bay, which is a huge body of water.
Recently, jellyfish blooms in the fall have become an increasing problem, making many of the area beaches unsuitable for swimming. It is likely that the blooms are the result of increased algae levels and decreases in predator populations due to the ever declining quality of the water in the bay. While the city government has done a lot to improve sewage treatment, it has done little to enforce its usage, and the worsening jellyfish bloom is probably a consequence of the resulting plankton blooms.
Recently (as of 2006) beaches in Jalisco were ranked as the worst in the country in a government study. The beaches at Boca de Tomatlan and at the mouth of the Cuale in the heart of Puerto Vallarta tested repeatedly at rates three to four times internationally accepted standards for human fecal bacteria. Even the beaches at seemingly idyllic Yelapa and Mismaloya tested at the same high levels on several occasions. During the rainy months of June and July the situation becomes worse. For example, in July 2007, Los Muertos beach tested at 12 times the limit that the US EPA considers safe for swimming. Recent government tests (May 2012), however, indicate that harmful bacterial levels have dropped on most of the beaches in Puerto Vallarta, including Playa Los Muertos, and pose no threat to tourists.
Poverty remains a problem in Puerto Vallarta, fueled by the constant influx of persons seeking employment. Many areas of the city are still poorly served by roads and sewers. For example, Colonia Ramblases is served by roads in generally poor condition only 10% of which are paved, and Ramblases has been a populated neighborhood since the 1940s.
The Municipality of Puerto Vallarta comprises about 45,000 regular dwellings. Of those, 10% do not have a potable water supply (carrying their water from a public tap), 8% do not have connections to a sewer system or septic system (using instead crude septic pits or dumping sewage directly into waterways), and 4% do not have electricity. One reason for this is the difficulty the city has enforcing building regulations.
Many of the jobs available in Puerto Vallarta are classed as inferior by the Secretariat for Social Development, and even jobs that are generally well paying tend to be seasonal, so for example, waiters depend heavily on tips to supplement incomes that can be as low as 47 pesos a day - the applicable minimum wage in Jalisco. There have recently (2005 to 2007) been improvements like the new IMSS facilities in Col. Versalles, improvements to several recreation facilities, improved communal beach access policies, etc. Still efforts seem to aim more at quick and visible infrastructure improvements than at solving the more pressing and enduring problem of insufficient infrastructure for basic services.
One positive result of recent growth has been that in relative terms a smaller percentage of the population lives in older and poorly served neighborhoods. A growing number of residents live in housing projects and low income housing developments which provide at least adequate basic services. So perhaps having stemmed the growth of the problem with the new developments, the city will eventually be able to devote its resources to improving existing neighborhoods.
The commercial section has a single runway, 10,700 feet (3,300 m) in length and 150 feet (46 m) in width, capable of handling all current traffic without restrictions. The airfield is capable of handling 40 takeoffs or landings per hour. The airport terminal has 16 active gates, with an additional six under construction in a terminal extension project as of August 2011.
As of 2011, the active airlines utilizing the commercial section were: Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air Transat, Alaska Airlines, American, Delta, Interjet, Magnicharters, US Airways, United Airlines, VivaAerobus, Volaris, and WestJet.
There are two distinct air traffic patterns in Puerto Vallarta; international and domestic. The international passenger traffic accounts for 73% of Puerto Vallarta's air passengers peaking January through March at around 570,000 passengers per month. The domestic passenger traffic accounts for 27% of all passengers with a high season during the summer months of July and August peaking at around 222,000 passengers per month. These diverse traffic patterns are similar to other vacation destinations in Mexico.
Annual passenger volume in Puerto Vallarta dropped 20% after the 2009 H1N1 scare from a peak of 3.281 million passengers in 2008 to 2.645 million passengers in 2009.
The general aviation section handles small planes leaving for San Sebastian del Oeste, Mascota, and other towns in the Sierra and along the Coast. It has 18 loading positions and shares the commercial airfield.
The port of Puerto Vallarta receives cruise ships on a regular basis during the tourist season. They dock at facilities specifically designed for them. Trips to the El Centro old town and its beach front and tourist markets, including some art stores, are available. The beach front has been recently undergoing additional improvements to the Malecon, a long promenade along the beach with numerous sculptures, restaurants, night clubs, access to boat pulled paragliding over the bay, and various other tourist specific activities and markets.
National bus lines connect Puerto Vallarta (via the Central Camionera near the Modelo building north of town near the airport) with Guadalajara, Mazatlán, Manzanillo and points beyond. Bus lines include ETN and Primera Plus. Smaller bus lines connect Puerto Vallarta to small coastal and sierra towns.
Puerto Vallarta currently has no passenger rail service. Historically, buses connected with nearby Tepic, where there was a passenger rail service on the main north-south trunk of Ferromex. Heading north, trains continued to Nogales, opposite its namesake in Arizona. A spur headed northwest to Mexicali, opposite Calexico, California. Service to the east went to Guadalajara and then to Mexico City.
Puerto Vallarta is serviced by three municipal bus unions that provide coverage for most of the greater Puerto Vallarta area (e.g. Ixtapa, Mismaloya, Pitillal). Most of the population of the Municipality of Puerto Vallarta travels by municipal bus. Automobile ownership is not rare, but cars are seldom used to commute to and from work. They are typically reserved for family outings and major shopping trips. Parking in Puerto Vallarta is scarce, and this makes automobile commuting impractical.
Throughout the central area of the city and along the coastal strip, roads are generally paved, often with cobblestones. In the residential areas outside of the central commercial area dirt roads are the norm, and many of them are in poor condition and not suitable for normal cars except at very low rates of speed.
The city is also served by a large fleet of taxis. Rates are controlled by a taxi driver's union, and set in negotiations between the union and the city. Rates are based on established zones rather than using taxi meters.
A number of beaches along the South shore of the bay are accessible only by boat (from Boca de Tomatlán or the Los Muertos Pier). The developed beaches include (east to west): Las Animas, Quimixto, Majahuitas and Yelapa. These and other smaller undeveloped beaches can be reached by launch from Boca de Tomatlán.
The north shore of the bay is lined with beach towns that offer good wading beaches and the usual tourist amenities. These include (east to west): Bucerias, Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Playa la Manzanilla, Playa Destiladeras, Playa Pontoque, and Punta Mita, all in the State of Nayarit. All can be reached by bus (departing from Wal-Mart).
Puerto Vallarta comprises numerous neighborhoods (colonias). Notable neighborhoods include (from South to North)
The city also includes numerous fraccionamientos, densely built residential blocks that provide affordable housing for the city's workforce.
Additionally the municipality of Puerto Vallarta comprises a few other significant population centers (from South to North):
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