When you go on vacation to different places it tends to be the case that you do all the things set out specifically for tourists: you go to the most popular beaches, you visit the town center and church (Our Lady of Guadalupe) and you do the tours that are found in most guide books. As a result it can be hard to experience the real flavour of the locality, and it’s simply down to a lack of information. Or, at least, a lack of the right information. Banderas Bay is no exception. When you are staying at Garza Blanca Resort & Spa there are so many wonderful things to enjoy right on the doorstep of the preserve that give you a different flavor of Puerto Vallarta than the typical tourist hot spots.
The Los Arcos rock formation is a part of the greater Los Arcos National Marine Park which is made up of a cluster of small, granite islands near the mainland just in front of Garza Blanca Resort & Spa. This is a spot of breath-taking beauty and stunning authenticity, and you can get the most out of it by swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving in the coral reef or underwater caves and caverns. The marine wildlife which calls this area home is truly stunning and should not be missed. Garza Blanca guests can take a tour by kayak or paddleboard to Los Arcos as part of the resort activity program (subject to availability).
Puerto Vallarta Zoo (Zoologico de Vallarta)
The famed Puerto Vallarta Zoo is home to over 700 exotic mammals, reptiles and birds and is a truly unique place which will help you to make memories you’ll never forget! You can meander down the lush, jungle-fronded pathways in order to get a closer look at the animals; you can hand feed many of the resident animals too. If you want the ultimate experience you can even buy a session which lets you hold and feed some of the available baby animals within the zoo. It could be tiger or lion cubs, or even a baby monkey!
Mismaloya is the home of the famous movie set for “The Night of the Iguana” and is the place that really put Banderas Bay and Puerto Vallarta on the map as an international vacation destination when Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor’s love affair blossomed. This is a truly enchanting spot which gives great views of Los Arcos and lush junglescapes, as well as the sparkling ocean. Why not relax and let the day slip by you in a haze of sun, sea, palapas and chilled drinks?
Boats to Beaches
There are so many small communities and pristine beaches in and around the Banderas Bay which are inaccessible by land, and so there are plenty of water taxis to be found from a town called Boca de Tomatlán just 10 minutes south of Garza Blanca. Water taxis are simply a part of life here, and while the locals may seem unaffected by the sublime experience, you are sure to be entranced. While on the water keep your eyes peeled for hidden residences and wildlife.
Las Animas is a sure crowd pleaser when it comes to days out in the area; invitingly clear waters, plenty of dining choices and a laid-back, bohemian environment make for a sun-soaked, supreme beach day. The trip is very short from Boca de Tomatlan by boat, but the 1.5 hour hike is loved by many regular visitors as a good way to start a day of adventure.
Quimixto is a truly unique location which draws in tourists by the hundreds! This is a quaint little village which lies within sight of a gorgeous and majestic waterfall which cascades from its source high in the jungle. You can hike to it in about 25 minutes. Quimixto is also a hotspot for surfers in certain seasons. No matter what you came for, however, Quimixto is a place where you can simply kick back and relax.
Canopy tours literally give you a bird’s-eye-view of the surrounding area and promise excitement around every corner. The fun, knowledgeable and friendly guides will get you zipping through the jungle in no time at all!
Vallarta Botanical Gardens
When you’re staying in the Garza Blanca resort the Vallarta Botanical Gardens are practically a required activity! They can be found in the jungle and contain countless native plants as well as colorful butterflies and birds, and even some lazy lizards. This is the perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of the city; a dip in the bordering river is a wonderful way to cool down. The on-site restaurant is delicious too.