notes from the boat
Established in 1851, Puerto Vallarta for some reason has the cobbled streets
of the 16th century, guaranteed to shake your bones, rattle your axel and
break your stiletto heels. Despite that, it's incredibly picturesque and has
a feel of the Mediterranean. Red tiled roofs, white adobe walls, colorful
laundry hanging from balconies, terraced houses built into the hillsides.
Palm trees and bougainvillea, all caressed with a warm sea breeze, indicate
the beginning of the tropics.
Exploring Puerto Vallarta has taken some time and we suddenly discovered
we've spent three weeks here. It's understandable however as time has been
spent discovering Bahia de Banderas, the large bay which Puerto Vallarta is
situated on; eating in incredible restaurants all within a few blocks of
each other, the food competing favourably with some of the best restaurants
in the world; and having a new tropical wardrobe designed by personal
fashion designer Gavan, all in serviceable white cotton. It's been very time
We rented a car (from National this time) and proceeded to give it a good
thrashing as we discovered the hidden nooks and crannies of Bahia de
Banderas. The north side of the bay is relatively flat and arid, Punta de
Mita at the northern tip consists of almost empty beaches with crashing
waves beckoning; La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (surprisingly referred to as La
Cruz) and Bucerias are small towns retaining a Mexican feel, competing
ex-patriot-owned restaurants ensure the quality of food is good.
The southern side of the bay is mountainous and lush in comparison.
Restaurants, villas and the occasional glimpse of an infinity pool are
visible before the sheer cliffs drop away to the ocean. Following the road
around, we reached Mismaloya and Boca de Tomatlan.
Mismaloya, now sporting large hotels and rows of striped deck chairs, was
the small cove where John Houston filmed "The Night of the Iguana" in 1963.
Previously undiscovered, Hollywood converged on the town as the torrid
affair between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor made headlines and Puerto
Vallarta became the tourist destination it is today.
Continuing south around the coast, we discovered the unspoiled village of
Boca de Tomatlan. A cove with a river running out to the ocean where on
Sundays Mexican families gather, the smell of fish barbequing over open
fires; small boys playing in the water; a village clustered around the
hillsides, a few terraced houses hidden along a meandering footpath,
otherwise only accessible by boat. Perched precariously on the cliff, a
giant palapa belonging to Le Kliff restaurant beckoned with tantalizing
views of the bay. The food was excellent, the atmosphere sublime. The
highlight of the meal aside from excellent pina coladas was the shrimp
cerviche, some of the best we'd tasted.
Having now spent three weeks eating our way around Vallarta and subsequently
having to return to Gavan for seams to be let out on the various white
outfits (which do look a little like hospital scrubs if the truth be known)
it's time to cast off the lines and head a little further south. A reluctant
goodbye as we'd met great people and had a fantastic time. A sad farewell to
the crew of Fandango whom we'd met in La Paz and waving madly to Canadian
Kate running along the dock (whom we'd shanghaied a couple of days earlier
and forced her against her will to participate in an impromptu dock party)
we headed off to Bahia Tenacatita.
N.B: We have so many fantastic photos of Puerto Vallarta which we'll be
adding to the photographs section soon.
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