Featured in Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine, Spring/Summer 2010 issue.

Our constantly expanding market demands clearly defined zoning

The Vallarta Lifestyles Publishing Group recently created new regions (with new names and borders) for the Costa Vallarta real estate community. Updating the regions and sub-regions has been a work in progress for some time. The primary reason for doing this was to update an old system that, with the tremendous growth experienced in the last decade in this region, just wasn’t accurate anymore. Having a good system for naming and identifying regions is essential for easy use of the MLS system, for both realtors and the public. Names have to make sense in both English and Spanish (if possible) and be easily recognizable. And borders need to make sense, or searches won’t make sense.

Costa Vallarta is broken down into three primary markets: Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit and Costalegre. There are then nine regions and 39 sub-regions, all now with names that we believe will be easier to understand and borders that make sense.

The best way to see these changes is to visit MLS Search at www.mlsvallarta.com and click on the “Regions” tab. Clicking on one of the regions provides a description and aerial photos of the region.

Costa Nayarit

Costa Nayarit starts at the northernmost point of Banderas Bay at Punta Mita and follows the coastline northward. Coming from the south by road, you can access this coastline by following Highway 200 north from Bucerias. Alternatively, a North Shore route along Highway 200a passes through La Cruz west to Punta de Mita and then north to Sayulita before rejoining Highway 200.

Along this route, just past Punta Mita, is the new FONATUR real estate development of Litibu, which features an 18-hole golf course by Greg Norman with condominium, hotel and other real estate opportunities. The golf course is complete and open to the public, and the first completed real estate projects should be opening sometime in 2010.

Continuing toward Sayulita, just past Litibú is the small town of Higuera Blanca, with beach access and a number of homes built on or overlooking the beach. Next door is the new development of Imanta, accessible through Higuera Blanca, with a boutique hotel and estate hillside lots built into the rugged coastline.

Sayulita is a funky surf town with low- to mid-range real estate pricing, a surf destination that is becoming a little more stylish and chic as more development opens up. Sayulita has few condominium projects, real estate opportunities mostly limited to homes built by independent owners. Most recently, Punta Sayulita has been launched, a medium-sized development built on the point on the southern side of town that offers, for the first time in Sayulita, luxury homes inside a gated community. 

After rejoining Highway 200, the next town north on the coast is San Pancho (San Francisco), which offers not only gourmet dining but also polo, beaches and boutique hotels. San Pancho is perhaps a little more conservative than neighboring Sayulita, a little more of a typical Mexican town — it’s a nice contrast. On the north side of San Pancho are some incredible luxury homes built on the cliffs of Costa Nayarit’s spectacular coastline. At the entrance to San Pancho from the highway is the San Pancho cultural center, with townhomes available around the center.

Next comes Lo de Marcos, which has not experienced the same tourism real estate growth as the others — but it’s most certainly on its way. Farther north is Guayabitos, the largest town along Costa Nayarit, popular with Canadians and people from Guadalajara. A lively weekend destination for nationals, with some small condo developments but mostly single-family homes, low- to mid-priced, it is the last town in the region considered part of the Vallarta real estate market.

However, just south of Guayabitos are two mega-developments in development. Punta Raza has some of its infrastructure in place and is currently selling oceanfront residential and development lots. Soon to come is La Mandarina, situated just before Punta Raza near the town of El Monteon. Both feature long stretches of beach with hillsides overlooking the Pacific, offering home and condominium development sites. La Mandarina will also feature an 18-hole golf course.

Farther along is Chacala, where a marina has been built, offering single-family homes and lots along the coast in front of the marina. Less developed but with real estate opportunities such as oceanfront lots and homes is Costa Tortuga, on a long stretch of beautiful isolated beach.

Important Sub-Regions of Costa Nayarit

North Shore

One of the fast-growing areas of the bay for real estate development is the region between Bucerias and Punta de Mita, often referred to as the “North Shore” because it’s the northern shore of Banderas Bay. At either end of this coastline are typical Mexican towns, with large, gated residential communities in between.

Bucerias has been a favorite area for homeowners for many years, especially since Puerto Vallarta started getting too big for some, who started heading north. But real estate development has caught up here, too, with a number of large developments now situated between the towns. Both Bucerias and La Cruz have plenty of character and reflect the strong culture of Mexico. If it’s Mexico you are looking for, you’ll find it here more so than in neighboring Flamingos or farther up the North Shore. The area has strong markets for both homes and condominiums on the beach, hillside and in the towns. Bucerias homes tend to be older, featuring classic Mexican architecture, with some impressive homes along the beach.

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle features newer developments that offer homes, but most new real estate development in both La Cruz and Bucerias is condominiums. The new Marina Riviera Nayarit adds a whole new dimension to this region, with a state-of-the-art marina that will feature a malecon, hotels, shops and condominiums built around its perimeter in the near future.

Just outside La Cruz, gated communities of single-family dwellings or condominiums along a rugged coastline with cliffs, coves and small beaches offer enough elevation to provide spectacular views of the bay. The first major home developer was Real del Mar, followed by the condo development of Arena Blanca. Now the new mega-development Nahui, which ends at Playa Destiladeras, is just getting started. Mega-development Costa Banderas begins at that point, comprising a number of smaller gated communities of homes, condominiums and boutique hotels. Popular developments are Los Veneros, El Farallon, Pontoquito and El Banco.

At the far end of the North Shore is Punta de Mita, anchored by the gated residential community of Punta Mita. Punta Mita actually surrounds the small towns of El Corral del Risco and Emiliano Zapata (also known as El Anclote), where there are a few small condominium projects along the beach and reasonably priced homes and lots situated behind. Punta Mita is a high-end residential development built around two Jack Nicklaus Signature golf courses, featuring estate homes and condominiums on the beach, hillside and golf course, along with the Four Seasons and St. Regis luxury hotels/

Important Sub-Regions of Banderas Bay’s North Shore

Valle Nayarit

Among the fastest growing, most successful real estate investment regions in the state of Nayarit, the mega-developments of Nuevo Vallarta and Flamingos are known for the full spectrum of real estate homes and condominiums offered. Including three golf courses and two marinas, they are among the more popular real estate markets in this region. Nuevo Vallarta and Flamingos homes and condominiums are situated along the longest beach in the bay, which stretches from the Ameca River to Bucerias, as well as the fairways of the golf courses, the canals of Nuevo Vallarta and the two marinas. There are numerous developments within these developments, the largest among them Paradise Village and Mayan Island. There are numerous smaller developments, which are listed here. If access to the ocean is important to you, as well as golf, this area is a good choice. Prices are mid-range, for the most part, and there’s plenty to choose from. The southeast border of this area is the Ameca River and the main highway; therefore, the town of Jarretaderas is included, as well. The other towns in this region are more popular for locals than for tourism real estate.

Important Sub-Regions of Valle Nayarit

Valle Jalisco

The northern and southern sides of Banderas Bay are shaped by a small mountain range that provides elevation for the towns and real estate developments built there. In the center of this coastline, a large agricultural valley extends many miles inland from the long beach where the Ameca River meets the bay. On the Jalisco side of the valley, extending from the Ameca River (the northwest border) eastward around Vallarta and Pitillal, is the region known as Valle Jalisco (since this side of the valley is in the state of Jalisco). It includes everything along the highway from Marina Vallarta, around the airport and back into the valley. This area encompasses mostly low-end residential homes, businesses and farms, with little tourism real estate development. The main small towns are Las Juntas, Ixtapa and Las Palmas. The road through these towns eventually heads into the hills to the towns of the Sierra Madre. These have not been traditionally popular with foreigners, except for Talpa, which has seen some tourist development in recent years.

Important Sub-Regions of Valle Jalisco

Vallarta North

This region extends south from the airport to the beginning of downtown Vallarta. Just south of the airport, Marina Vallarta began with a dream of creating a new level of life on Banderas Bay, where sailboats, yachts and fishing craft could count on a safe harbor. Work on the marina itself, with 450 boat slips, began in 1986. And by 1990, the marina was in full swing, even though it was 1993 before it was completed (ahead of schedule).

Marina Vallarta is a planned real estate community that includes homes, condominiums, shopping mall, school and first-class hotels, with landscaping throughout. Marina Vallarta’s real estate opportunities include marina, oceanfront and fairway homes and condominiums, with oceanfront condominium towers being the newest development. It’s an excellent location — close to the airport, not far from downtown Puerto Vallarta, with shopping close by at Plaza Marina.

Along the coastline south of Marina Vallarta and the cruise ship terminal lies the Hotel Zone. This area is lined with hotels, of course, but a number of high-rise condominium towers offering spectacular views of the whole bay and downtown Vallarta have been added recently (Grand Venetian, Peninsula and Icon Vallarta). As Vallarta has grown, development in this area has moved inland, as well, including developments such as Fluvial and Versalles, towns such as Pitillal, and residential neighborhoods of differing ages and affluence, all well-serviced by a number of shopping centers and stores, including Sam’s, Wal-Mart, Soriana and Costco. Fluvial is the newest development, offering reasonably priced single-family-dwelling home sites, condo developments and commercial lots.

Important Sub-Regions of Vallarta North

Vallarta Central

Living in the heart of downtown is attractive for many who move to Puerto Vallarta specifically for the romantic life suggested by walking along the Malecon on a sunny Sunday, surrounded by the friendly faces of Mexico. This is where real estate tourism began for Puerto Vallarta, with builders such as Wulff and Romero building homes for gringos on the hills behind the town and along the Cuale River (hence the nickname Gringo Gulch). Very traditional homes dot the hillside, offering wonderful views of the town and bay, along with a few small condo projects. Along the Malecon, which now stretches from one end of town to the other, there are mostly shops, restaurants and nightclubs, with few homes or condominiums. If you like to be close to the best restaurants and nightlife, this is the place to be. Numerous condo projects are located along Los Muertos Beach to the south of town. This is the town’s most popular beach, with an active day and nightlife along Olas Altas behind the beach.  Central Vallarta is divided into three areas: North, South and East. The divider between North and South is the Cuale River, which runs through the center of town. North Central includes the popular Malecon, with restaurants, shops and nightclubs along its length, and typical Vallarta homes built into the hillside behind. South Central is often referred to as “Los Muertos” or “Zona Romantica.” The most common real estate options here are in the mid-priced condominiums that line the beach of Los Muertos. East Central encompasses the residential colonias behind downtown, La Pechuga a popular neighborhood.

Some say the best views in all Banderas Bay are from the luxury homes and condos built into the hills of Amapas and Conchas Chinas. For many, they’re the primary reason for living and owning real estate in this zone just south of Vallarta’s downtown area in the foothills of the Sierra Madre. For years, Conchas Chinas has offered some of the most exclusive homes and condominiums available around the bay. There are oceanfront homes (and a few condo projects), but more are built on the hillside. Recently, Amapas has been following suit with mostly mid-range real estate condominiums. The views are spectacular, and the easy access to town has made this a favorite place to live for many.

Important Sub-Regions of Vallarta Central

South Shore

The South Shore is where the foothills of the Sierra Madre meet the bay, creating real estate opportunities for both homes and condominiums with fantastic views of the bay and Puerto Vallarta. When you combine the boundless green jungle with the surf-splashed rocks of a coast interspersed with private coves and add a place to view the constantly changing palette of the bay, you have the South Shore, where rugged, low-density residences, as well as villas and other homes, dot the coastline on the curving road toward Barra de Navidad.

The Puerto Vallarta South Shore begins where Conchas Chinas ends. From there it runs along the coast, passing the residential developments of Garza Blanca and Sierra del Mar to Boca de Tomatlan, where the highway turns east and heads up into the Sierra Madre mountains, heading to El Tuito. This is where the region’s first gated hillside communities were built. Today, there are a number of them, offering mostly single-family residences or villas.

The coastline has homes built along the cliffs and beach where it’s available, but condominium development has also been popular. The views are so good that real estate prices on the hillside often rival those of the oceanfront homes.

Important Sub-Regions of South Shore

Garza Blanca
Playas Gemelas
Boca de Tomatlan
El Tuito


The coastline of Costalegre starts south of Banderas Bay, stretching from El Tuito in the mountains and Cabo Corrientes all the way south to Barra de Navidad. In between, there is not a lot of residential development taking place, although there is plenty in the planning stages. The most famous and populated foreign community is Careyes, where numerous estate homes and villas are situated along its dramatic coastline.

Important Sub-Regions of Costalegre

Sierra Madre

The towns of the Sierra Madre are some of Jalisco’s oldest communities. Mascota was bigger than Guadalajara at one time. San Sebastian was once a bustling silver mining town with more than 20,000 people; today, it has less than 500. Among these towns, Talpa has seen the most real estate purchased by foreigners who want a second home in the mountains, where the weather is temperate year-round. All three towns are a couple of hours from Vallarta, popular to visit, but not in great demand by expats looking for a second home, so far.

Important Sub-Regions of the Sierra Madre