THE MAGIC OF PUERTO Vallarta defies explanation. It’s hard to say whether that magic fueled the fiery attraction between Liz Taylor and Richard Burton when he was filming The Night of the Iguana here in 1963 or whether it prompted the movie’s director, John Huston, to claim Puerto Vallarta as home until his final years. Nevertheless, the torrid affair and onslaught of paparazzi put the place on the international map. Puerto Vallarta has been drawing Hollywood types and savvy Sybarites ever since. Vallarta, as this sultry area straddling the bay in the state of Jalisco is known to locals (PV to English speakers), has managed to retain the unmistakable flavor of colonial Mexico— the real Mexico.
Author Michelle da Silva Richmond Photography Lisa Sacco
DAY TWO / Today begins with a breakfast of huevos a la mexicana (scrambled eggs infused with onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and serrano chiles) and warm tortillas in the hotel’s pleasant courtyard. Then you’re off on an allday adventure with Vallarta Adventures to Mexico’s version of the Garden of Eden, Las Caletas. This once was the private home of film director Huston, who considered it one of the most beautiful places in the world. Take a one-hour catamaran ride to a secluded jungle hideaway accessible only by sea to spend the day snorkeling, scuba diving, or swimming with sea lions. Explore the winding, orchid-studded trails leading to a small deer sanctuary, or simply kick back and soak up the sun. The buffet lunch served under a huge palapa (thatched roof) dishes up a wide range of tasty Mexican offerings, including typical desserts such as flan and coconut pie.
When day is done at Las Caletas, head back to the hotel for a relaxing dip in the hot tub on one of the terraces overlooking the cathedral and the sea before joining other guests in the hotel courtyard for drinks, botanas (hors d’oeuvres), and the romantic crooning of a Mexican trio.
When you’re rejuvenated, head for a hilltop above the bay and dine at Vista Grill. Panoramic views of the sea and the town combine with soft music and candlelight to create the perfect backdrop for cuisine justly described as Mediterranean with Mexican touches. Try the salmon encrusted with peppers and tamarind and the pork loin with goat cheese, squash, and watercress.
Wrap up your second day in PV at Ztai, a restaurant and trendy lounge with a Zen garden and an ocean view. Tuck yourself into one of the comfy garden sofas for quiet conversation and a signature cucumber martini before heading upstairs, where the beat goes on with sounds of the ’80s till the wee hours.