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Puerto Vallarta Mexico Intro
Charming Puerto Vallarta is a lively small city of red tiled roofs and cobblestone streets, roosters, donkeys and iguanas, friendly locals, expatriates and fun loving tourists. Nestled between the brilliant Banderas Bay and the lush tropical forests of the Sierra Madre mountains on the west coast of Mexico (see map), Vallarta has been known for decades for its long sandy beaches, beautiful ocean and mountain views, handsome men, happening nightlife and its many fine restaurants and romantic dining. Whether sunbathing at the popular gay beach at the Blue and Green chairs, sailing on one of the fun cruises, bike riding along the Cuale River, whale watching on sun drenched Banderas Bay or drinking and dancing the night away at one of your favorite local gay bars or nightclubs, there is something for you to adore and fall in love with in Puerto Vallarta.
This was a small town based on agriculture and fishing until 1963 when Hollywood director John Huston chose his site for the filming of Tennessee Williams' brilliant 1961 play "The Night of the Iguana" in the small fishing village of Mismaloya, ten miles south of Vallarta. John Huston's movie version starred Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr and Sue Lyon. Liz Taylor came to be with Burton, whom she married here for the first time. The story is told that the talented, macho director Huston gave each of the stars their own pistol with a set of bullets engraved with the names of the other actors. Surprisingly, there was harmony among the tempestuous actors, but the spotlight was turned on and the international attention that started then has brought Puerto Vallarta an abundant wealth of tourism ever since.
Puerto Vallarta is now one of the top gay-friendly vacation destinations abroad and a great place to visit and live. The population here has grown rapidly from some 12,500 in 1964 to over 255,000 inhabitants in 2010, making it the second largest city in the state of Jalisco. Approximately two and a half million Mexican and foreign tourists visit the port city every year, so today it's one of Mexico's major beach resort towns and travel destinations. The local economy is largely based on tourism, but also on construction and a variety of agricultural products.
As with most port cities, Vallarta has a tradition of tolerance and open-mindedness and is certainly one of the most friendly holiday spots in Mexico and all of Latin America, with a large and thriving local gay and lesbian community. The local newspaper La Tribuna de la Bahia conducted an unofficial survey in November 1999 and found that a majority of the people surveyed said they would have no problem with a gay mayor (which has in fact since happened), as long as he was qualified for the job.
Puerto Vallarta has become one of the most popular and best gay travel destinations south of the border, if not the largest, surpassing the huge resort city of Acapulco in recent years as a top romantic gay vacation spot. The town is safer than any American city of its size that I know of and combines beautifully the Old World charm of its cobblestone streets and white stucco houses with the modern amenities of a world class resort, having a multitude of five star hotels, lovely sandy beaches and quality stores and boutiques, fine high-class restaurants and vibrant art galleries, as well as large and growing middle and professional classes.
As an additional natural attraction,
Vallarta is beloved for its gorgeous tropical
and the phenomenal whale
watching tours. Our city is also increasingly popular for its annual
fun Carnival celebration
in February, Day
of the Dead commemorations November 1-2, the religious Our
Lady of Guadalupe festival from December 1-12 each year, and the local
gay community puts on its own fabulous parade and
Pride festivities for several days in May. (See many pictures at the
links just mentioned). The Mexicans are known for their friendliness and
the people of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (often just known as PV for short)
are no exception.
Mexico's #1 Gay Beach Destination
Most of the foreign tourism comes from the West Coast states and British Columbia, Texas and the Southwest, as well as large numbers from Montreal and Toronto. One meets more and more people from the Midwest, especially Chicago. Vallarta's reputation draws tourists from the East Coast as European destinations and the gay vacation resorts in Florida and Hawaii become more expensive. Over a million Mexicans a year visit the city and area, and there are now large gay communities that travel to here from Guadalajara, Aguasclientes, Mexico City, Monterey, Zacatecas and the surrounding states. Prices are still pretty reasonable here and the American dollar is quite strong vis-a-vis the Mexican peso, at around 18.5-19.0 pesos to the dollar. PV has been listed as the #1 beach destination in Latin America by Travel and Leisure Magazine and is a great romantic tropical getaway. It probably wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to say that the Blue and Green chairs are now world-famous - both About and GayCities have ranked it among the top 10 gay beaches in the world. Vallarta weather is close to ideal and our lovely resort town enjoys well over 280-300 days of sunshine per year, the climate itself making the trip worthwhile
In a New York Times travel article from a few years back Susan Hauser writes that she ditches her Vallarta city tour and goes off "to walk for hours along the beach and through the picturesque town. The inviting shops and restaurants that fill every block give this town a European feel, I think, and I love the modern bronze sculptures placed along the waterfront." She is referring here to the lovely Malecon downtown boardwalk (see more photos) which has been recently renovated, and that stretches the length of downtown for over a mile. The malecon has a large collection of artwork, statues and sculptures as well as artists at work on their handicrafts, souvenirs and watercolors, and you may be able to catch some entertaining performance-art or clown show there in the evening.
David Kirby in another NYT article from May 2004 said that the crowds on holidays at the beach were quite friendly, "mostly over 30, and mostly from the Midwest or West Coast. For a gay beach scene, it was pretty low key. Many there said they go back to Puerto Vallarta every year, not only for the gay scene but also the relaxed atmosphere and gorgeous natural surroundings." You can eat, cruise, party, sun, shop and chat at the same time - talk about a fabulous paradise for your holidays! Kirby also rightly notes that Puerto Vallarta night-life compares well with that of almost any equal sized American or Canadian city and that there are a good number of day and night-time entertaining holiday activities, gay events and local adventures to be enjoyed. Or you can kick back and relax, or go out every night to enjoy great food at the amazing selection of local restaurants.
Gay Tours Puerto Vallarta Tourist
Attractions and Activities
These sensational vacation activities and excursions occur nearly every day or night of the week during the "high season" winter months of November to April: gay tours and trips on great cruises, bingo, male stripper and drag queen shows, happy hours galore, pool parties, lesbian places of interest, special performers and events at The Palm cabaret, musicians playing at Garbo piano bar, and of course the not to be missed and extremely popular gay beach on Los Muertos. All-in-all a near perfect holiday destination. The local watering holes have been doing a booming business for years and there are now some fifteen or so gay bars, night-clubs, cantinas, discotheques, martini spots and lounges, all but one of them are in the unique part of the city known as the South Side, sometimes also referred to as the Romantic Zone or Old Town. One of these night spots, Club Manana (now closed), was once rated as one of the top gay bars in the world.
I've also put together a rather detailed account of the straight nightlife in town if you want a change of pace, are here with some straight friends or feel adventurous about a new experience. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is also attractive for its lively and eclectic local art gallery, crafts and live music scenes. Though the summer months are slower for tourism compared to the winter season, more tourists are coming year-round for the friendly accommodations, lovely sandy beaches, relaxing atmosphere and the many tourist attractions, sightseeing opportunities and fun things to do and see. It's not just a fab holiday, it's an adventure!
Hint: One of the best ways to get around this site is to go to the gay travel links page as this has the most important internal links to this travel guide on the left-side navigation bar.
Tribute downtown to Elizabeth Taylor by an an "eternally grateful" Puerto Vallarta
on March 25, 2011
Some recent Travel Guide additions:
Vallarta Pictures 6
More Restaurant Pics
Pictures of the Puerto Vallarta New Malecon
Cuale River Island Walking Tour & Pictures
Gay Tours & Cruises Photos
Gay Puerto Vallarta Guide Site
Original Art Work by: Lawrence 'Twig' Menne
Photos: Carlos Anduaga, Chad Armstrong, Brian Ashby, Michael Bottrill, William Clark, Nuno DeMelo,
Diana DeCoste, Benoit Gagnon, Jose Gonzalez, Edgar Hernandez, Juan Pablo Hernandez,
John Hook, Victor Irigoyen, Alberta Faith Lopez, Danny Martens, Meteorry/Perry,
Marilyn Munk, Tracy Parks, Jesus Reyes, Kurt Stamm, and Kevin Vernon-Harris
Text: Michael J. Mayo and Shirley Wooduv
©Copyright 1998-2016 by Michael Mayo
All rights to my text and pictures are reserved.
Carretera a Mismaloya 101 Esq. Abedul
Costa Linda #11
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco C.P. 48380 Mexico
Fax: 011-52-322-222-0092 (public fax)
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Vallarta Gay Vacation & Rental Guide is an informational resource
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Being mentioned or linked to in the Gay Puerto Vallarta Guide is for reference purposes only
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