ou may think you’ve never heard of the Bay of Banderas – but you’ve likely heard of Puerto Vallarta…which is located in the center of the Bay on the Pacific west coast of Mexico.
Canadians, and especially snowbirds, are discovering the entire region around Puerto Vallarta. It has much to offer, from fishing villages to 4 and 5 star resorts, golf courses, condos, villas and apartments all along the expansive beach.
And the Puerto Vallarta international airport makes it easy to get there and home, with connections to most parts of Canada in the winter months.
No wonder Canadian snowbirds are settling here in ever increasing numbers each winter.
Here’s a brief overview of the region:
Puerto Vallarta is no longer the sleepy fishing village discovered during the filming of The Night of the Iguana. Today it is one of Mexico’s premier resort areas – a large town with designer and local shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants and bars. Visitors and locals like to walk the famous Malecon – a long promenade along ocean front.
The town has expanded both to the north and south with many deluxe and moderate resort hotels, as well as reasonably priced rental apartments to suit all budgets. There are deluxe condo developments where some Canadians have invested and you can also find a lot of condo rentals. They are not cheap – expect to pay similar prices to Florida waterfront rentals – but the cost of living is much cheaper once you are here.
Snowbirds also appreciate the wide range of activities, including championship golf courses, watersports, sailing, tennis, fishing, beach walking and swimming. And the area is very LGBTQ friendly.
Nuevo Vallarta is just north of Puerto Vallarta and is a man-made area of hotels and resorts built along the beautiful beaches. It is known for its golf courses, marina and long, wide sandy beaches. There are a few villages nearby including Sayulita, a mecca for surfers.
Nuevo Vallarta is very close to the Puerto Vallarta International Airport and the area holds the 2018 Earth Check Silver Certification.
There are lots of activities including beach sports, golf, scuba diving, surfing, yoga classes, gyms and tennis. You’ll also find some world-class resort spas offering various treatments.
Two golf courses of note in the area are the challenging El Tigre golf course and the Jack Nicklaus Vidanta golf course.
Further north along the Bay of Banderas you’ll find Bucerias, a sizeable resort town and former fishing village that is home to many Canadian Snowbirds in the winter. Bucerias is a seaside town with cobblestone streets and a main square – perfect for strolling and exploring.
There are lots of restaurants, shops and services here. Bucerias has 5 miles of wide Pacific beaches to the north and south along its shores.
Canadians have been coming here since the 80s, and today they make up most of the seasonal snowbird contingent where they rent in the low rise condos.
Punta Mita sits at the top of Banderas Bay and juts into the Pacific. The area is a gated, private zone with some very exclusive, deluxe hotels including the Four Seasons, the St. Regis and Casa Aramara Punta Mita – along with some private homes.
Punta Mita is surrounded on three sides by a rugged coastline and many beaches and coves. But just outside Punta Mita there are more moderately priced hotels and condo rentals available at the northern end of Banderas Bay. This area is more isolated and about an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta’s centre.
Mismaloya is actually where much of the Night of the Iguana was filmed. It is a beautiful cove surrounded by tropical vegetation. The former fishing village is popular with visitors who flock to its beautiful beach, al fresco restaurants and fresh seafood spots.
Snowbirds will find apartments, condos and houses to rent here.
Local activities include the nearby marine reserve Los Arcos National Park – a great spot to snorkel and dive where you can see manta rays and turtles. The Vallarta Zoo is also located nearby.
Boca de Tomatlan
Another little jewel along this coast is Boca de Tomatlan – or Boca to those in the know – located 10 miles south of Puerto Vallarta. Accessible by car, bus or water taxi, Boca is in a deep inlet near the Vallarta Botanical Gardens.
There are a few accommodation options here including B&B’s, villas and apartments.
This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Yelapa – a beach town on an unspoiled cover at the very southern part of the Bay of Banderas. The easiest way to get to Yelapa is by boat. You can find rooms to rent here and there’s always fresh seafood on the menus of the local eateries.
A visit to Yelapa is like going back in time – allowing you to see what this area was like before it became a major tourism destination.