Within the central part of Puerto Vallarta, there are four well designated sections of the city. They are diverse in character and have individual personalities, some ripe with history, other so new and fresh, they seem to have popped up overnight.
The Hotel Zone is exactly that, and easy to define. It covers the shoreline north of town and starts at the Sheraton. Even though the Hotel Rosita is the oldest hotel in Puerto Vallarta, it is considered a part of Centro. Over the years, eye popping construction has taken place along the old beaches where once bonfires and campsites were standard. Some of Vallarta’s finest restaurants can be found along the highway side of the ocean. The beaches in Mexico are public and you are welcome to walk along the water’s edge but to enter most of the hotels, you must be a guest.
The area of Olas Altas (literally translating to high waves) has been referred to as Zona Romatica for many years and also is called Old Town and Colonia Zapata and sometimes the Amapas Area, though these are incorrect designations. The area of Olas Altas is comprised of properties that extend from the end of the Malecón at the South, to the Cuale River at the North. Once the main tourist area, it has maintained much of its charm and is a major destination for music, jewelry, food, festivals and mid to boutique size hotels. Ex-pats have favored this area and it has long been the central gay destination.
Centro is between these two areas and is where you’ll find the main plaza, the Cathedral (Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe) and many old stores, such as Telas Parisina, the fabric store where seamstresses and tailors have shopped for decades. There are wonderful tours available that wander up stairways, over the hills and back down the colorful streets. Many art galleries have established themselves on the backstreets of Centro over the years and it’s not unusual to find Gala Openings accompanied by wine, food and live music.
The fourth section is basically Everything Else and mainly denotes residential areas, which are East of the Hotel Zone. It is well worth your while to check out neighborhoods like Barrio Santa Maria, Agua Azul and the larger El Pitillal for charming shopping, mouth watering food and a glimpse of customary culture. Older settlements like Las Gaviotas, Versalles are where older elegant Mexican homes are located, many hidden by walls and latticed casements, hiding splendid gardens and terraces.
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