There is so much to see and do in the Puerto Vallarta area, which makes the waterfront destination one of the most sought-after in all of Mexico. While you may want to take advantage of the sumptuous comfort of the surroundings at the incredible adults-only Hotel Mousai (which is the only resort in Puerto Vallarta to have been awarded the prestigious AAA Five Diamond distinction) for much of your vacation, there is plenty to keep you entertained beyond the gates of the Garza Blanca Preserve when the mood to explore strikes you. The following towns are hidden gems that lie beyond Banderas Bay, where you can discover the charms of Puerto Vallarta off the beaten track.
Mayto and Tehuamixtle
The breathtaking coastline along the Costa Alegre corridor, including the beaches in Mayto and Tehuamixtle, is truly something to marvel at. Situated roughly two and a half hours south of downtown Puerto Vallarta, these beaches offer a quiet getaway during a day trip.
Mayto is home to an unbelievable stretch of coastline where the beach appears to go on forever in the distance. Since it is in a fairly remote location, Mayto only has a handful of hotels and restaurants, which adds to the laid-back vibe. Relax on the sand or join in an impromptu game of beach volleyball. Although the water may look incredibly inviting, it is advisable to remain close to shore rather than swimming out very far, as there is an undertow.
A short distance south, you will find the tiny fishing village of Tehuamixtle or Tehua for short, where fresh seafood is a major highlight. There are several palapa-covered restaurants where you can take in the beautiful views while dining on some of the freshest seafood imaginable, including fresh oysters that are harvested right there in the cove! Spend the day sipping on Mexican cerveza while sampling the scrumptious seafood delights on offer, or take a refreshing dip in the water.
The enchanting town of San Sebastián del Oeste seems to capture the heart of every person who visits, which may be precisely why it was added by the Tourism Board of Mexico to its prestigious list of “Pueblos Mágicos” (Magical Towns) that are located throughout the country. Although it is situated only about an hour and a half inland from Puerto Vallarta in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain range, it feels worlds away from its neighboring beachy environment; not only is the climate cooler and less humid, visiting the colonial village feels like taking a step back in time.
Once a booming silver mining town, it is now a sleepy village where you can get a taste of life in a real Mexican town. Tour around the coffee plantation that greets you when arriving to town, visit one (or a few) of the historic haciendas that are still maintained in the area, or just stroll along the streets and see what you find. There are several restaurants serving up authentic Mexican cuisine, and quaint shops may tempt you to make a purchase or two. You can also wander through the main church which, of course, is right in the heart of the town square.
Nestled 2,000 feet above sea level in the Sierra Madre mountains, El Tuito offers a relaxed pace of life when you want to just take it easy. Getting there takes roughly an hour from Puerto Vallarta, and it is a popular stopping point for people heading further on to Mayto or Tehuamixtle. The vibrant-colored buildings and lush vegetation around town is a feast for the eyes, while the main town plaza is the perfect spot for some fun people watching. From children practicing dance routines, to elderly residents meeting to chat and catch up, it is easily the most significant gathering place in town. El Tuito is known for some delicious treats that are made in town, so be sure to sample the local goods: raicilla, which is a Mexican moonshine much like tequila; panela cheese, which is a tasty mild white cheese; and countless jams, jellies, candies and cookies!
When you are in the mood to venture off the beaten track away from Hotel Mousai for an adventure, you can catch a bus, rent a car, catch a taxi or arrange a ride with Uber. No matter which town you choose to visit, you will undoubtedly have a rich cultural experience you won’t soon forget!