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Introduction to Puerto Vallarta & Riviera Nayarit

Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit have been attracting visitors from all over the world for decades, from honeymooners looking for a romantic getaway to Hollywood trendsetters looking for a good time and even those seeking an exclusive, private vacation. What began as a peaceful and quaint village in Mexico’s Pacific Riviera has developed into a robust, multifaceted vacation destination, equally appealing to Mexican and international visitors of any age, and particularly attractive to short- and long-term visitors and full-time residents from the United States and Canada.

First things first: "Vallarta" defined

This can be confusing. Vallarta is no longer just Puerto Vallarta, too often described as the "sleepy little fishing village" in so many articles and publications. Today, it is a lot of things to a lot of different people. So on this page we describe what Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit are all about, starting with descriptions of popular communities in this region.

If this isn't what you are looking for, or you are familiar with the region, you may want to skip to one of these pages:

At VirtualVallarta.com, we've come up with what we believe to be the best way to explain the region in the following manner.

Costa Vallarta's many Communities or Destinations

First, we refer to this coastline "Costa Vallarta". Costa Vallarta begins in the north in the state of Nayarit at the town of Guayabitos, in Jaltemba Bay. And it stretches from there all the way to the bottom of the state of Jalisco. Within Costa Vallarta there are three principal regions. The first, of course is Puerto Vallarta, in the middle of these three regions, in the center of Banderas Bay. To the north of Puerto Vallarta is Riviera Nayarit, the lower part of the state of Nayarit, and to the south, once you leave Banderas Bay, you have Costalegre. All three of these regions touch on Banderas Bay, the third largest bay in North America and a select member of the Most Beautiful Bays of the World association. Banderas Bay is important to all three regions in many different ways.

The information you'll  find in VirtualVallarta.com focuses primarily on Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit.

Within Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit there are a number of smaller communities that are particularly popular with visitors. In Puerto Vallarta proper there is El Centro, Emiliano Zapata, Hotel Zone and Marina Vallarta. South of Puerto Vallarta, there is Mismaloya, South Shore and Yelapa. In Nayarit there is Nuevo Vallarta, Bucerias, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Punta de Mita, Sayulita and San Pancho. To find out more about these communities and what they have to offer, visit our Communities Section.

All of these communities are unique. They have their own character, activities and types of accommodations. You'll want to become familiar with them to get a better idea of what community you want to be a part of during your vacation, and then discover what accommodations are available there. We've created an information page for each, so you can get to know each one well before you visit.

For those interested in real estate, it is important not to get these community names mixed up with how real estate is broken down for the MLS Search. Instead of "communities" they are referred to as regions and sub-regions. If you are interested in real estate, you may want to check out MLSVallarta.com to see how the regions have been broken down and further defined.

Safety and Security

We often hear people, particularly north of the border, expressing concerns about safety and security issues throughout Mexico in general, and Puerto Vallarta in particular. While many local expats affectionately refer to Puerto Vallarta as "paradise," our destination is as susceptible to crime-related incidents as any travel destination in the world. Not worse, not less. As such, we encourage visitors to exercise the same type of caution and common sense as they would while traveling anywhere else in the world, or back at home, for that matter. We also encourage visitors to participate in travel discussions available online in TripAdvisor.com and similar websites to discover first-hand favorable experiences from other travelers and take them into account. Or check out the numerous testimonials on these pages of people who either live or frequent Vallarta on vacation.

Better yet. Don't take our our word for it. Read this excellent article by Lonely Planet's US Travel Editor Robert Reid, published on the Huffington Post.

Things To Do

One thing is certain: Vallarta is not just a beach destination anymore! As you explore our Communities as described above, you'll discover the amazing variety of ways to keep busy while you are here. More specific suggestions can also be found by visiting our What to Do section, which is currently under renovation and we'll be providing you with plenty of information on all the things to do when in Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit.