Central Puetro Vallarta has several major components. The Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone), with most of PV's deluxe resorts, is north of town. Still farther north is the Marina Vallarta, a public marina that's practically a town unto itself with more resorts as well as restaurants, minimalls, condos, an 18-hole golf course, a 355-slip marina, a cruise-ship pier, and the Royal Pacific Yacht Club. Farther north is Nuevo Vallarta, just over the state line in Nayarit, at the mouth of the Río Ameca. This beautiful community with beachfront houses and condos on canals with direct access to the bay is home to several all-inclusive resorts.
When to Go to Puerto Vallarta? October through May are generally the driest months; during the peak of the rainy season (June-September), it may rain for a few hours daily. But the sun often shines for the rest of the day, and the off-season rates may well compensate for the reduced tanning time.
Mexican resorts -- where the vast majority of tourists go -- are the most crowded and therefore the most expensive from December through the second week after Easter. This also holds true for July and August, school-vacation months, when Mexican families crowd hotels. To avoid the masses, the highest prices, and the worst rains, consider a visit during October, November, April, or May, just not during the traditional holiday periods. Hotel rates at beach resorts can fall as much as 30% in the shoulder season, 50% in the off-season.
The sporting life is good in Puerto Vallarta. The region is a paradise for bicycling, golfing, tennis, scuba diving, and fishing.
Biking. The most popular excursion is a four-hour trip inland to bathe in an impressive waterfall. More ambitious options include all-day rides to Punta de Mita or Yelapa, as well as a four-day, three-night excursion for advanced riders.
Scuba Diving & Snorkeling. An underwater preserve surrounding Los Arcos, a granite rock formation off Playa Mismaloya, is a popular spot for diving and snorkeling. The rocky bay at Quimixto, about 32 km (20 mi) south of PV and accessible only by boat, is a good spot for both snorkeling and diving. Punta de Mita, about 80 km (50 mi) north, has Las Marietas Islands, with lava tubes and caves to be explored. In winter, humpback whales are spotted; the rest of the year, divers look for manta ray, sea turtles, and schools of brightly colored fish. A bit beyond, big fish lurk around the underwater pinnacles and caves around El Morro islands -- areas for experienced divers only.
Golf. Puerto Vallarta has several impressive courses with first-class services including driving range and putting greens, lessons, pro shop, and clubhouse.
Tennis. Most of the larger hotels have tennis courts for their guests' use where you can take lessons or join organized tournaments in addition to renting court time.