Gay Puerto Vallarta travel | Gay vacations Puerto Vallarta | Gay hotels and resorts Puerto Vallarta

Gay Puerto Vallarta travel | Gay vacations Puerto Vallarta | Gay hotels and resorts Puerto Vallarta

Gay Puerto Vallarta

Our travel guides are frequently updated. This guide was last updated 8/06. Still, there are places that are bound to have closed or changed since our last update. Use the listed phone numbers to call ahead, and please let us know of any corrections or new places of interest you discover.
The Spanish "discovered" Puerto Vallarta, the largest town on Mexico's largest bay (Banderas), in 1541, but the international tourist community didn't discover this gorgeous spot until 1963, when Elizabeth Taylor carried on a scandalous affair with Richard Burton during the filming of John Huston's "Night of the Iguana," which was shot south of town in Mismaloya. This 2.8-mile stretch of near-white sand beaches and deep-blue water became famous as the backdrop to the film (though in black and white) and the Burton-Taylor romance.

Although parts of the area have been greatly developed, native charm is still strong on the cobblestone streets of Old Town, and in the nearby village of Boca de Tomatlán. Old Town is where you'll find most of the gay and gay-friendly establishments -- you'll also hear the area referred to as South Side, Playa del Sol/Los Muertos Beach and Olas Altas. Vallarta offers a unique mix of local color, world-class dining, modern beach resorts and easy access to "old Mexico" nearby. And while Vallarta's gay scene is tamer than what you'd find in Acapulco, it is more abundant than that of Cancún, Cabo and Mazatlan put together. Whether you take just a day to stroll the streets of Old Town or spend a week enjoying its many attractions, you'll fall in love with this magical place.

STAY
Doin' It Right Travel (see resources in Mexico introduction) is a past Editor's Choice Award winner, and our first recommendation for Vallarta bookings, particularly for gay-owned and gay-friendly villas, condos, hotels and B&Bs. Arco Iris Gay Mexico Travel Experts (see resources) is a gay specialist for all of Mexico and also recommended for bookings. Discovery Vallarta (see resources) is a Vallarta-based reservations option.

Descanso del Sol (Pino Saurez 583; +52-322/222-5229; $85-155) is a popular, gay-exclusive 22-room hotel, with everything from very basic small standard rooms with no view to a one-bedroom master suite, a rooftop pool and bar and 24-hour front desk. All rooms have TV and phone; some have bay views and limited kitchen facilities. There is no elevator, so be prepared for stairs and a steep walk from the beach. Right on the gay beach (with its distinctive blue chairs), Blue Chairs Beach Resort (Malecon y Almendro 4, Playa Los Muertos; +52-322/222-5040, fax +52-322/222-2176; www.bluechairs.com, bluechairsmex@aol.com; $59-229) is a gay-owned and -operated hotel/resort. As a luxurious, colorful adults-only lodging option, it includes in-house massage service, a restaurant, a bar and concierge service. Discounts available through Doin' It Right and Arco Iris, as well as for travel agents and airline personnel.

The San Franciscan Resort & Gym (Pilitas 213; +52-322/222-6473; www.san-franciscan.com; $130-360) offers one-, two-& and three-bedroom condos with fully equipped kitchens, large swimming pool and a fully equipped free-weight gym, close to the "chairs" beach. Boana Torre Malibu (Amapas 325; +52-322/222-6695 or 800/936-3646; www.boana.net, boana@pvnet.com.mx; $40-150) is a service-oriented, nine-floor basic modern condo/hotel/B&B just one block directly behind the gay beach, with a nice large pool and bay-view balconies from all 30 units. All rooms have air-conditioning and cable TV; top-end rooms have stereo, VCR and microwave. Casa Cupula (129 Callejon de la Igualdad; +52-322/223-2484, fax +52-775/263-9261; www.casacupula.com, info@casacupula.com; $145-395), with five years under its jeweled belt, is a luxurious gay guesthouse combining the intimacy of a B&B with the service level of a high-end resort. Within walking distance of the Blue Chairs gay beach, Casa Cupula has opened three new condos for fractional ownership this season; concierge service will assist you should you bother to pry yourself away from your cocktail on the poolside terrace or your specially designed Dream Bed.

Vallarta Cora (Pilitas 174; +52-322/223-2815; www.vallartacora.com, vallartacora@hotmail.com; $75-95) is a gay male-exclusive hotel/apartment in Vallarta, half a block behind the Tropicana Hotel and beach. Its 15 rooms on four floors (no elevator) are all one-bedroom, 1.5 bath suites with equipped kitchens, but no ocean views. It is rustic, with a clothing-optional pool from dusk until dawn and a wet-steam room behind the bar. Vallarta Cora has earned its party reputation, hosting such events as Halloween Toga Night. Casa Palapa (Paseo de Las Conchas Chinas 107; +52-322/221-5561; www.casapalapa.com; $195-290) is a gorgeous B&B with plush, king-sized canopy beds in a romantic, modern Mexican-Moorish design. A rooftop terrace with Jacuzzi and lounge opens to the expansive view of Banderas Bay for your sunset cocktails. Ask for special rates for rental of the entire five-suite villa including maid and butler service.

Casa Fantasia (Pino Suarez 203 @ Francisco Madero; +52-322/223-2444, 52-322/223-4035; www.mexonline.com/casafantasia.htm; $70-150) is an upscale gay B&B, elegantly furnished with antiques and original artwork. The Mexican hacienda-style compound offers a medium pool (clothing required), five suites and two smaller rooms with shared baths. A full gourmet breakfast is served; the place is well maintained and centrally located just one block to Los Muertos Beach. Guests are not allowed, and there is no air-conditioning. Nearby Gringo Gulch is another colorful neighborhood, home to Villa David (Galeana 348; (+52-322/223-0315 or 877/832-3315 toll-free; www.villadavidpv.com, bill@villadavidpv.com; $79-129) with its hillside villa built around a central courtyard. Men-only and clothing-optional, the hacienda provides a private courtyard with large swimming pool in a lush garden. Retire to the rooftop terrace for a Jacuzzi or sunset cocktails while terraces provide panoramic bay, city and mountain views.
Quinta Maria Cortez (Calle Sagitario 132, on Playa Conchas Chinas; 888/640-8100, fax 801/531-1633; www.quinta-maria.com, qmc@travel-zone.com; $95-305) is an upscale-eclectic (though not luxurious) mixed-clientele "Mexaterranean" B&B villa right next to the beach, a few miles south of downtown in the Conchas Chinas area. The property rises seven levels above the beach. We'd recommend a taxi there, especially during the heat of the day or at night. Service is excellent. Best for couples rather than singles. Quinta Maria is a recipient of our Editor's Choice award for "elegance and style." With three- and four-bedroom apartments available Casa Tres Vidas Villas (888/640-8100; www.casatresvidas.com, qmc@travel-zone.com; $500-850), owned by the same owners and next door to Quinta Maria, is good for groups or families traveling together. During summer only they offer one-bedroom rates, inquire if this applies. This distinct relaxed property is located on the water with a great view of Banderas Bay and the city at night.

Los Cuatro Vientos (Matamoros 520; +52-322/222-0161, fax +5 2-322/222-2831; www.cuatrovientos.com; $45-69) is an older, cozy inn with cheerful rooms decorated with Mexican furnishings and crafts. The rooftop sun deck has a panoramic view of the city while the hotel also houses the popular Chez Elena restaurant. Located five steep blocks from the central plaza, they run several weeklong women's getaways each year. A number of B&B options, inns and casitas exist, a popular one being La Terraza Inn (Amapas 299; + 52-322/223-5431; www.terrazainn.com, info@terrazainn.com; $45-90), built on the hillside above Hotel Tropicana. Ocean view only from top suite area, but all rooms have A/C, cable TV, in-room safes and kitchenettes. It's very spacious, surrounded by gardens, and they allow pets. Enjoy staying in a neighborhood not on the beach for a different flavor.

The Hacienda Mosiaco (Milan 274, Versalles; + 5 2-322/225-8296 or toll-free 866/263-9717; www.haciendamosaico.com; $85-150) is in an enclosed courtyard with a great pool area in a comfortable Mexican neighborhood, and best of all, the site of art classes and workshops. Contact them for enrollment and find a new reason to stay longer. Another favorite for groups of friends is Casa del Quetzal (Los Corrales 117, Conchas Chinas; +52-322/221-5265, res. +52-322/223-2745; www.casadelquetzal.com, info@casadelquetzal.com; $1,075-1,251) with five bedrooms on three floors, just an amazingly intimate Mexican-style hacienda with personal staff. The outdoor enclosed patio area, Infinity pool and view of Banderas Bay keeps regulars coming back year after year. This villa has arguably one of the best views from upper Conchas Chinas. The same company represents the stunning Villa Tortuga (www.timothyfuller.com, +52/322-222-1535; $800-1000), a five-bedroom five-bath villa with open living spaces created for entertaining. Located just two blocks up from the beach, easy access is guaranteed while still providing an amazing 180-degree view of the bay and full services of the attentive staff. Rate quoted is for entire villa with staff included.

Located five minutes from the airport and ten from downtown PV in Marina Vallarta, the Westin Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta (Paseo de la Marina Sur #205; +52-322/226-1100; www.starwoodhotels.com/westin/property; $169-424) offers visitors the high-end amenities and world-class service typical of Westin resorts in a charming modern setting. The resort's 280 units (including 14 suites) boast ocean front balconies, some of which feature terrace Jacuzzis. A golf course, fitness center, four outdoor swimming pools and spa round out the hotel amenities. Our favorite splurge property is the 166-unit Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita (800/332-3442 o r +52-322/291-6019; www.fourseasons.com/puntamita; casitas: $325-1090; suites: $1,200-5,000), set amid 1,000 acres of pristine coastal terrain about 45 minutes north of Vallarta. You may never leave the opulent splendor of your casita or suite, but you must experience the gorgeous natural beauty surrounding the resort, the world-class luxury spa or the 19-hole Jack Nicklaus designed golf course.

Casa Las Brisas Resort (just before the turn-off for Four Seasons Resort, Punta de Mita; +52-322/306-2112; www.casalasbrisas.com, casaslasbrisas@aol.com; $355-595) is a luxurious Mexico Boutique hideaway on Playa Careyero, 45 minutes north of Vallarta, with fountains and an idyllic beach, close to golf, tennis and surfing. There is a shuttle available to Puerto Vallarta and airplane charters can be organized for safari trips. Plan your trip to coincide with turtle-hatching (July-Dec.), whale-watching (Dec.-March) or merely lounge on the idyllic beach or frolic in their fountains.

Check Paco Paco's Web site www.gayguidevallarta.com for an extensive listing of casitas and other information.

EAT
Some of these restaurants are gay-owned, but not everyone is "out." Puerto Vallarta is second only to Mexico City in the number of upscale dining establishments. Multiple award-winning, world-class Caf? des Artistes (Guadalupe Sanchez 740; +52-322/222-3228; www.cafedesartistes.com, artistes@pvnet.com.mx; $18-69), one of the most famous restaurants in town, is now home to three establishments: Caf? des Artistes Bistro, Costantini Wine Bar and Thierry Blouet Cocina de Autor. The menu offers an incredible selection of cutting-edge cuisine such as you might expect in any international capital. The classy decor, expanded candlelit garden area, live music and impeccable service make this an unforgettable experience.

Nearby is El Array?n (Allende 344, Centro; +52-322/222-7195; www.elarrayan.com.mx; $12-49), a popular place both for food and ambience. It's like being at a country place with a central courtyard, very traditional Mexican with menu delights from around the country. Live music on Saturday. Le Bistro Jazz Caf? (Isla Rio Cuale 16-A; +52-322/222-0283; www.lebistro.com.mx; $12-39) is a great location with international cuisine and romantic Art Deco dining on an island in the middle of the Cuale River at the upper bridge on Insurgentes. Breakfast accompanied by live piano. The River Caf? (Isla Rio Cuale 4, below lower bridge on I.L. Vallarta; +52-322/223-0788; www.rivercafe.com.mx, rivercafe@rivercafe.com.mx; $12-39) has established its reputation as one of the most romantic spots on the Cuale River, not only for great live music but for award-winning cuisine.

Chez Elena (Matamoras 520; +52-322/222-0161; www.cuatrovientos.com; $8-29) is worth the trip for its alfresco dining experience, a menu which includes good seafood and vegetarian dishes and the infamous Green Flash cocktail concoction. Downtown is graced by the classy Los Xitomates (Morelos 570; +52-322/222-1694; www.losxitomates.com, losxitomates@prodigy.net.mx; $13-39), high Mexican cuisine combined in a nouvelle way with an Asian-Mediterranean touch that is not only attractive to the eye but totally wins the palate. Above downtown is Barcelona Tapas (Matamoros & 31 de Octubre; +52-322/222-0510; tapas@pvnet.com.mx; $8-29), a climb up four flights of stairs, but with a view to die for and tapas and paella to make you glad to be alive. Another trafficked corner is Apaches Bistro (Olas Altas 443; 222-4004; astapelbroek@hotmail.com; $8-19), right next to Apaches, with a special menu by Chef Andr? of Holland. Try the Stroganoff, chicken Vallarta, or the variety of snacks.

La Palapa (Amapas at Pulpito; +52-322/222-5225; www.lapalapapv.com; $19-68) serves up some of the best seafood in town with daily drink special and live Latin jazz on Los Muertos beach. Dress up while keeping your toes in the sand in beachside dining. Just a few blocks away is the ever-popular Daiquiri Dick's (Olas Altas 314; +52-322/222-0566; www.ddpv.com, daiquirid@pvnet.com.mx; $15-29) with its unmatched view of the sunset, great service and a gourmet menu with incredible taste treats as well as live music for Sunday brunch. Woman-owned Planeta Vegetariano (Iturbide 270; +52-322/222-3075; $5.50) does a filling all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. Red Cabbage Caf? (Rivera del Rio 204A; +52-322/223-0411; www.redcabbagecafe.com; redcabbage@pvnet.com.mx; $9-25) is also woman-owned and operated, and has 35 seats and a funky cabbage and Frida Kahlo theme throughout, receiving raves in Gourmet magazine.

Trio Caf? (Guerrero 264; +52-322/222-2196 www.triopv.com; $19-45) has both award-winning food and chic decor. Lunch and dinner can be enjoyed on an open patio or on the rooftop terrace during the season. The same owners now operate Vitea (Libertad, Edificio Malecon 2; +52/322-222-8703; $8-34), located on the new stretch of Malecon near the pedestrian bridge that crosses the Cuale River. Food is a Mediterranean fusion with items offered in two portion sizes.

Asaderos (Basilio Badillo 223; $9) is a great budget option, considering they offer all-you-can-eat steak, chicken, BBQ ribs, chorizo, chips & cactus salsa, handmade tortillas, beans, quesadillas, and tacos with fried beans. Miguelitos (Basilio Badillo 287; +52-322/223-1263, $9-19) serves creative Mexican dishes in an upscale, friendly environment. The creek and giant tree at the entrance make this place hard to miss. Try the lovely Mexican-Asian cuisine at Boca Bento (Basilio Badillo 180; +52-322/222-9108; www.bocabento.com) and don't miss their yummy key lime margaritas. Catch a late breakfast at Memo's Pancake House (Basilio Badillo 289; +52-322/222-6272; 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; $5-19). Be prepared to stand in a long line, as the over 70-item breakfast menu, heavy with pancakes, French toast and waffles, keeps everyone coming back.

Stop for everything you need for your gourmet lunch or dinner at Agrogourmet (Basilio Badillo 222; +52-322/222-5357; www.agro-gourmet.com). While there, check out the special homemade dressings to serve with that special salad. Worth a special mention for gourmands is the annual Gourmet Festival (see below), an international event with over 30 of the local restaurants participating in what has become one of the major events of the year.

PLAY/MEET
Vallarta's nightlife is clustered together, making it easy to sample several clubs in one evening. Many clubs have stripper shows and drag shows on the weekend, but they are tamer than those in Acapulco. (The gay scene here is less overtly sexual in general, and many clubs have "straight" employees, so be careful whom you proposition.)

Club Paco Paco (Ignacio L. Vallarta 278; +52-322/222-1899; www.pacopaco.com, info@pacopaco.com) is the biggest club in town, and always very popular with tourists. It also attracts more women than the other clubs. The second floor of Paco Paco is a cantina with a pool table, juke box and video games. The third floor extends out to a rooftop patio, occasionally featuring live entertainment. The main room downstairs is a '70s-style disco for dancing and drag shows, and behind the main disco is The Ranch, a country & western-themed area that features hot male strippers twice a night. Currently there is an open-door policy for Club Paco Paco and The Ranch, even though both have separate management. Another Paco's connection is Bar Los Amigos (Venustiano Carranza 237; +52-322/222-7802; www.losamigosbar.com, barlosamigos@yahoo.com), a lively Vallarta favorite, boasting theme parties and a keen clientele. The bar attracts a good mix of locals and tourists and offers a restaurant and entertainment bingo with jackpot prizes.

The Plasma Labyrinth (Pino Suarez 235), open from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily during the season, is called the new concept in Vallarta but sounds like the return of another era. Pool tables, air conditioning, video room and jukebox are the prelude to the back room. If Mexico is land of tomorrow, check out the new Ma?ana (Venustiano Carranza 290; +52-322/222-7772; www.manana.com.mx, cover) for dance shows, strippers, international guest performers, a swimming pool, disco with air conditioning, cabanas, cantina and more, all created within a villa in the Romantic Zone. See Web page for drink specials as well as theme party nights.

Los Balcones (Avenida Juarez 182 at Libertad, above CMQ pharmacy; +52-322/222-4671) attracts more of a mixed tourist/local crowd, with the locals out after midnight and circuit boys packing the house on Fridays, Saturdays. Their dance floor features a current music selection. Drink specials draw patrons Tuesday to Thursday. Antropology (Morelos 101 Plaza Rio, just north of the lower bridge; +52-322-222-6392) has a downstairs disco playing more "alternative music" to a mixed gay/straight crowd, a games room with pool and backgammon and a new candelit rooftop bar and snack bar. Hot stripper shows have also been added to the menu. A cover charge applies downstairs on weekends and special event nights only.

Watch the sunset from Blue Sunset Rooftop (Rooftop of Blue Chairs Resort at Almendro 4, Los Muertos Beach; +52-322/222-5040; www.bluechairs.com) or have dinner at their Blue Moon with a view. Dewayne's Oasis Bar & Grill (Pilitas 156 at Amapas; +52-322/223-5273; www.dewaynesoasis.com) is a friendly place for checking out the scene with dancers, karaoke, show tunes and an amateur strip night. Apaches (Olas Altas 439; +52-322/222-5235; apaches2000@yahoo.com) is the best-known lesbian-owned bar in town. Renowned host Marianne from Vancouver presides over a nice, small venue with fabulous martinis, tasty tapas and art shows. Every few weeks new artwork of local artists is displayed. Happy hour is 5-7 p.m.

The Palm (Olas Altas 508; +52-322/223-4818; $3.50), with its spacious interior, was the scene of a British reality TV show in 2004. Cocktails come as fast and furious as quips from the fabulous Kinsey Sicks. Carrie Chestnut wows the boys (and girls) with her sexy clarinet. (This venue has been sold, but will most likely operate as above.) A local favorite pre-dinner or after show is classy Garbo (Pulpito 142; +52-322/229-7309; garbom@terra.com), a romantic piano bar boasting live music and jazz a couple nights a week. Friends gather here to gossip with a martini in well-manicured hand, or to make the move on that new guy in town. Another elegant new bar is La Noche (Lazaro Cardenas 257; +52-322/222-3364). Specializing in tequila cocktails, the soft music encourages conversation in dramatic lighting that does the same. Daily happy hour. Diva?s (Fco. Madero 388; +52/322-222-7774) is also a comfortable neighborhood gay bar located just across from the back door of the Cine Bahia in the Romantic Zone, off the beaten track and a great place for a quiet afternoon cocktail.

Coffee, anyone? Stop in at friendly Dee's Coffee (Rodolfo Gomez 120, E. Zapata; +52-322/222-1197) for the best pastries. Couches in the back allow conversation while tables streetside open your horizons. Olas Altas, lined with coffee shops and restaurants, offers other possibilities, another friendly one being The Coffee Cup (Rodolfo Gomez 146, just off Olas Altas; +52-322/222-8584) where they also offer breakfast wraps and bagels.

Be safe: The Condom House (Malecon 184, next to Blue Chairs) sells condoms as well as lubricants and massage oils.

SEE/DO
The established gay beach is known as "Blue Chairs" because of, well... the blue chairs on the beach. Locals and tourists come together on this section of Playa los Muertos in front of the gay-owned Blue Chairs Hotel. The adjacent "Green Chairs" beach is increasingly gay popular too. (The rocky area south of the gay beach is cruisy but police patrolled and AYOR.)

Most tours can be arranged in advance through Doin It Right (see resources) or booked direct. Boana Tours (www.boana.net/tours.htm, boana@pvnet.com.mx; +52-322/222-0999 or office +52-322/222-6695) and Amadeus Tours (Mario; +52-322/223-2815) offer a number of all-gay tours. Check with the concierge at Blue Chairs Resort (see above) for their scheduled outings. Typical offerings include horseback riding and Gay Bay Cruises. PV Journey (+52-322/223-0277) also offers a horseback riding trip, as does Diana's Tours (www.bluechairs.com/cruisepay.htm). Diana also runs mixed gay and lesbian cruises ($75 per person) and women's beach and town tours.

Mountain Bike Tours (Badillo 381; +52-322/222-0080) is a mainstream operator offering trips to outlying areas. For $5, you can tour the Taylor-Burton villas, Casa Kimberly (445 Calle Zaragoza; +52-322/222-1336). Enjoy whale watching with an expert oceanologist and whale photographer (who happens to be gay) providing small group excursions of under 10 people. Contact Oscar Frey (phone/fax +52-322/225-3774; www.oceanfriendly.com; from $80) for more information. Oscar also trains private individuals and rents out his equipment -- including underwater hydrophones -- to private groups. Ask for group rates on charters.

New and exciting are the sails on the horizon of Pat Henry in her venture called Coming About (Any Woman's Sailing School) (+52-322/222-4119; www.comingabout.com, pat@comingabout.com), offering classes and training primarily for women, even though she also promises to attend to the occasional men's group. Ms. Henry is the author of "By the Grace of the Sea" in which she tells about her adventures traveling around the world solo on her sailboat Southern Cross, now anchored in the Marina in Puerto Vallarta. For birding adventures, contact Alex Martinez (+52-322/222-7407; www.birdinginmexico.com), a bilingual eco-ornithologist who offers day trips as well as overnights, with binoculars, of course.

NEARBY SIDE TRIPS
Twenty minutes south you'll find Mismaloya, where The Night of the Iguana was filmed, offering sea kayaking, jet-ski rental, parasailing, and panga launches. Five minutes further is Boca de Tomatlan , a quaint fishing village with a less developed, genuine Mexico feel. Cafe Primitivo (open 10 am-10 pm) is a recommended restaurant here, and a great place to watch the sunset.

From Boca you can take a twenty-minute ($7.50) water taxi or panga (small boat) to Yelapa, a small primitive village with beautiful waterfalls that is accessible by foot or on horseback. Recent connection to electricity even offers Internet and telephone access in this outback town. Friendly host Luc presides over the restaurant and beach bar (with dance floor) at the Hotel Lagunita (+52-322/209-5056 or +52-322/209-5055; www.hotel-lagunita.com, info@hotel-lagunita.com; $60-125). Spend the night in one of their 32 bamboo palapa huts. The lovely Verana (www.mexicoboutiquehotels.com/verana, $275-500) is a private, seven-casita boutique hotel with spa and Watsu pool for private treatments. Located on a hill overlooking the bay, Verana protects you in another world removed from any you've ever known. Primitive with class. From Vallarta, a bus marked "Mismaloya & Boca Tomatlan" will take you to either town for $0.60; a panga from there to Yelapa, a 25-minute ride, is about $7.50 each way.

A more convenient water taxi directly to Yelapa from the Los Muertos Pier takes 40 minutes at $9 each way, although the water taxi runs less frequently (i.e., to Yelapa 11 a.m. & 4 p.m.; from Yelapa: 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.; check for exact schedule). Paco's Paradise (www.pacopaco.com, 044/322-227-2189) is ten miles south of town by boat and has delights such as a bar, 20 acres of nature trails, and best of all, privacy. The secluded beach is only accessible by boat; from Boca de Tomatlan daily, $15 roundtrip, on La Rosita including day pass and admission to park. Minimum consumption $10 per person. Departs at 10a, 11a, noon, returns at 4p, 5p, 6p. Overnight stays also available. Sunday afternoon is their weekly beach party if you?re so inclined. Also ask about Paco?s Landlubber Cruise. An additional bay cruise is offered by Boana (reservations at Boana Torre Malibu at Amapas 325, +52/322-222-0999) with day, sunset, charter and overnights a possibility. Boana also offers horseback riding adventures with transportation and snacks included.

The new Botanical Gardens (Km 24 Carr. Barra de Navidad, about 30 minutes south of PV; 044-322/105-7217; bobinpvmex@yahoo.com), located en route to El Tuito, is worth a stop, whether for coffee, breakfast or lunch. Every Saturday at 1pm there are meetings, classes or exhibitions, sometimes related to gardening and plants and sometimes not. Walk down to the river below and explore the territory. A must for orchid fanatics.

CULTURAL/ARTISTIC
Puerto Vallarta is a major world-class art destination, having grown from simple tourist art to a locale of original art with an international awareness. If you're fortunate, you may experience an exhibition at the lovely expanded Galleria Dante (Basilio Badillo 269, E. Zapata; +52-322/222-2477, fax +52-322/222-6284; www.galleriadante.com), when the renowned Colunga brothers, Alejandro, Gabriel and Bernardo, all sculptors, unveil new works. Some of the best artists and collectors hang out here. Galeria Corsica (Leona Vicario 230, Centro; +52-322/223-1821; and Guadalupe S?nchez 735, +52-322/223-1821, across from entrance to Caf? des Artistes; www.galeriacorsica.com) exhibits some of the best young artists of Mexico such as Jorge Mar?n, Luciano Spano, Rocio Caballero and Antonio Castro Lopez. Sensuality comes to life in their sexy work, incredible in color and human form. Ongoing is the ArtWalk, a free cocktail party involving 18 of the downtown galleries every Wednesday from late October through April. The best photographers gather at Galeria Omar Alonso (Leona Vicario 249, Centro; +52-322/222-5587; galeriaomaralonso@yahoo.com.mx) for shows of extraordinary vision.

SHOP
Puerto Vallarta has an excellent selection of indigenous crafts and other merchandise. The conveniently located Hikuri, (Olas Altas 391) right across from Playa Los Arcos, sells exquisite Huichol beaded crafts. The island of the Cuale River (Isla Rio Cuale) is a popular place for treasured finds such as beads, necklaces, ceramics and hammocks. The amazing pre-Hispanic designs of Mata Ortiz pottery are available at Galeria Mata Ortiz (Lazaro Cardenas 268-A; +52-322/222-7407; www.mataortiz-pottery.com, clalex@pvnet.com.mx). Serafina (Basilio Badillo 260; +52-322/223-4594) and Ponciana (B. Badillo 252-A, next door; +52-322/222-2988) sell popular handwoven table linens, white cotton "waiter" shirts and other fun items in addition to Talavera pottery.

The nearby VIVA (B. Badillo 274; +52-322-222-4078, fax +52-322/222-4850; vivacollection.com, marysue@vivacollection.com) represents over 560 designers from around the world in a variety of prices, for discriminating men and women. Patti Gallardo (B. Badillo 250; +52-322-222-5712; pattigallardo46@hotmail.com) sells her eclectic art in a shop that defies description. Liquid Men (I.L. Vallarta 245; +52-322/223-3165; liquidmenpv@hotmail.com) is a favorite for Diesel clothes, shoes and rainbow accessories as well as the designs of local Luis Alberto. For those in need of a mall fix, check out Plaza Caracol (Zona Hotelera) where a variety of stores and shops include fashion, beachwear, footwear and photo supplies as well as a second-floor cinema with coffee shops, fast food joints and more. The up-and-coming Peninsula will offer an even more upscale environment not only for shopping but for dining and clubbing as well. Future home of first local Starbucks.

Stop by for flowers at Flowers To Go (Rodolfo Gomez 126; +52-322/223-5686) with an excellent assortment of loose and arranged flowers. Drop everything, walk across the street, and check out the underwear and beachwear at Best (Rodolfo Gomez 111, L2; +52-322/222-5128) where hot manneguins display more than enough for anyone. Around the corner, shop for the latest eyewear at Sea Me (Amapas 114B at corner of Rodolfo Gomez; +52-322/223-8043): Ray Ban, Prada, Donna Karan, Dolce & Gabbana, Ferragamo and more.

EVENTS
When summer comes to a wane, go south young man. Fiestas Patrias ("patriotic festival") are big all over Mexico, and Arco Iris (see resources) jumps ahead with their annual September package for Independence Day in Puerto Vallarta. Party rainbow and party hardy. To start the high season off with a bang, Club Atlantis (see resources) offers a San Diego to Acapulco cruise (October 21-29, 2006) on RCCL?s Serenade of the Seas that visits Puerto Vallarta as well as Acapulco, Ixtapa and Cabo San Lucas. Cruising is a specialty of RSVP Vacations (www.rsvpvacations.com) with a Mexican Riviera Cruise (October 28-November 4, 2006) on the Diamond Princess that sails from Los Angeles and visits the ports of Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. That?s followed by an all-inclusive Club Atlantis Puerto Vallarta package with special early rates for November 4-11, 2006.

The last weekend in November (November 21-27, 2006) is traditionally Latin Fever, a long weekend of parties and music with all venues participating. Check www.willgorges.com or call 213/407-0542 for further information. Tickets available in Vallarta at Liquid Men (I.L. Vallarta 245). Will Gorges also sponsors a New Year?s Package this year (December 26, 2006-January 2, 2007) with participating hotels and events. Arco Iris Tours (see resources) continues with their annual New Year's Bash (December 27-January 3) including a number of local events, both water and land. Bear?s Week in Paradise (January 28-February 4, 2007) is another annual favorite that will make you feel frisky.

Puerto Vallarta is a natural for the site of a new international film festival. In addition to being the scene of over 80-some films, documentaries and telenovelas (soap operas), the coastal town reached world-wide renown during John Huston's filming of "The Night of the Iguana," starring Ava Gardner and Richard Burton, among others. The scandalous romance of Burton and Elizabeth Taylor drew paparazzi to this quiet pueblo. Huston's children teamed together in 2002 to begin plans for the Puerto Vallarta Film Festival of the Americas, a festival of experimental, independent filmmakers, in memory of their father, king of mavericks. Now called Vallarta Film Festival, awards for best actor, actress, director, cinematographer as well as the public's choice are presented at a gala dinner following the event. (Nov. 29-Dec. 3, 2006; www.vallartafilmfestival.com)

Another major event is the Gourmet Festival, an international event that in its 12 years has put Puerto Vallarta on the haute-cuisine world map. Chefs come from around the world to the over 30 participating gourmet restaurants (Nov. 9-19, 2006; www.festivalgourmet.com). Other citywide events this month include a sailfish contest (www.fishvallarta.com), cultural festival and golf tournaments (www.vallartagolf.com). In addition, a number of cultural festivals and events take place throughout the year. Check the local bilingual magazine Bay Vallarta for the latest on what's going on. If the event you want to create is your own, arrange it through partners Zac Campbell of Eventful Moments (+52-322/293-5725; www.em-vallarta.com). Whether it's a wedding, a commitment ceremony or any other memorable event, they handle all the details.

Up on the hill above the city is a hideaway called Terra Noble (Tulipanes 595; +52-322/223-3530; www.terranoble.com, info@terranoble.com) with a Shanti Healing Center as well as art classes, retreats and Temazcal, an incredible pre-Hispanic cleansing experience. Vallarta's AIDS prevention and education group is called Organizacion Vallarta Contra el SIDA (Hidalgo 533 downtown; +52-322 222-2414; oves@prodigy.com.mx), always in need of condoms and funds.

Gay Guide Vallarta (www.gayguidevallarta.com) extensively covers details about gay-friendly Vallarta. Check the guide for any number of other services, including real estate, legal aid, laundry service, beauty salons and spas, tours, shopping, dentistry and anything else that we might have forgotten. See www.pvglba.org, an online resource consisting of gay and gay-friendly businesses in the Puerto Vallarta area. Cyber cafes are common in Vallarta and you may well find one right next to your hotel. A decent hospital nearby is Medassist Hospital (Dieguez 236; +52-322/223-0444) with some English spoken. The CMQ drugstore (Basilio Badillo 365; +52-322/222-4973) is open 24 hours. In case of emergency, the number to call is 060.

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Origin Destination Price Nights Hotel name-rating Day & Dates
Hotel Only Puerto Vallarta, Mexico $206.00 3 Plaza Pelicanos Grand Beach Resort - 3 Mon - Sun - 5/25/14 - 7/2/14, 8/17/14 - 11/23/14
Hotel Only Puerto Vallarta, Mexico $224.00 3 Canto del Sol Plaza Vallarta - 3 Mon - Sun - 5/23/14 - 7/5/14, 8/18/14 - 10/29/14
Hotel Only Puerto Vallarta, Mexico $259.00 3 Buenaventura Hotel and Beach Club - 4 Mon - Sun - 5/25/14 - 8/30/14
Hotel Only Puerto Vallarta, Mexico $265.00 3 Crown Paradise Club Puerto Vallarta - 4 Mon - Sun - 7/13/14 - 8/14/14
Hotel Only Puerto Vallarta, Mexico $275.00 4 Plaza Pelicanos Grand Beach Resort - 3 Mon - Sun - 5/25/14 - 7/1/14, 8/17/14 - 11/23/14
Houston Puerto Vallarta, Mexico $293.00 3 Round Trip Airfare Deal Puerto Vallarta - 0 Thu - 6/5/14, 6/12/14
Houston Puerto Vallarta, Mexico $293.00 4 Round Trip Airfare Deal Puerto Vallarta - 0 Sun - 6/8/14, 6/15/14
Houston Puerto Vallarta, Mexico $293.00 7 Round Trip Airfare Deal Puerto Vallarta - 0 Thu,Sun - 6/5/14, 6/8/14, 6/12/14
Saint Louis Puerto Vallarta, Mexico $293.00 7 Round Trip Airfare Deal Puerto Vallarta - 0 Mon - 6/2/14, 6/9/14
Hotel Only Riviera Nayarit, Mexico $306.00 3 Iberostar Playa Mita - 4 Mon - Sun - 8/17/14 - 10/29/14

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