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Three Nature Adventures we Love in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is blessed with some of the most breathtaking nature, and memorable day excursions. Here are three of our favorites.

As always, our concierge service is able to assist in booking tours, and recommending additional activities to enjoy during your stay at Hacienda San Angel. 

Botanical Gardens (Jardin Botanico)

This is an all day (5-7) hour excursion during which you will be led by an expert in local flora and fauna. You will hike along Vallarta’s south shore, and up the Horcones Canyon to the world famous gardens. After the hike you will dine at the award winning Hacienda del Oro restaurant. Air conditioned transportation is available from several locations in Puerto Vallarta. Learn more.

Jet’s Private Boat Tours 

There is a wide selection of tours available including Yelapa Village, whale watching, Los Arcos Beach, snorkling, Quimixto Waterfall, and several more destinations. The tours are private and led by Jet’s all-star guides! Tours can range for couples up to large groups. Many of these adventures are only accessible by boat so you are guaranteed to have a unique and memorable experience. Learn more.

Marieta Islands Hidden Beach Tours

Spend your day inspired by one of the most beautiful and secret beaches. Vallarta Adventures will guide you through the Marietas National Park, and donate a portion of the proceeds towards protecting and maintaining this natural treasure. Your day can include snorkling, whale watching, and enjoying one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. Learn more.

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For The Love Of Waterfalls

So many visitors come to the Bay of Banderas to escape the cold north winters but many do not realize that we have a spectacular summer season that offers a magical experience offering some great weather.  You can always return to your air conditioned suite at Hacienda San Angel if you get overheated! But you won’t because rainwater is refreshing! 

From the end of June through October you will experience heat but then you are blessed with the rolling in of the clouds from the south, and when it rains it pours magic!  Worried about getting a suntan? Most days are sunny so you are sure to get a gorgeous glow at one of our pools or beaches that you explore. If you love sunsets, some of the best sunsets are enjoyed during the summer season. The clouds offer a spectacular colorful show once the sun sets and most sunsets are exquisite.  

If you truly believe that the best things in life are free, waterfalls in the Bay of Banderas are one of them. So many waterfalls to explore! Here are a few of the favorites some including swimming holes. If you don´t want to do the hikes solo, there are many tour operators who offer guided tours.  

South Shore Highway-Driving South on the highway to Barra de Navidad you will find waterfalls along the base of the road. Passing Boca de Tomatlan travelling south keep your eye open for waterfalls on your left hand side and you can park your car, cross the road (carefully) and cool off in some of the finest water leaving your skin and hair soft and silky.

Mismaloya-Just a 20 minute ride from downtown Puerto Vallarta Vallarta the Mismaloya river flows year round and you can enjoy small swimming areas as you hike upwards inland. A favorite play area for kids and those wanting to cool off is at the base where Mismaloya river meets the beach offering people and pelican watching unlike any spot in the Bay of Banderas. For those more adventurous, follow a foot path upward to find tiny waterfalls small dwellings and plenty of donkeys. 

Boca de Tomatlan-Just a 35 minute drive from downtown Vallarta, the Boca de Tomatlan River flows year round and the beach where the mouth of the river is located offers charming rustic restaurants to enjoy fresh fish and margaritas. For those daring to explore, take a path on the South Side of the Boca de Tomatlan River travelling inland passing small populations and finding swimming holes as you travel inland. Get ready to see many dogs, horses donkeys and happy barefoot children.  

Palo Maria River at Punta Negra – Just a 15 minute ride from Downtown Vallarta, the Palo Maria River flows year round and for those liking a good hike, this is paradise. Park your car or get off the bus at Punta Negra Beach and just a few meters south, you will encounter a bridge. You can hike down and trek upwards find a couple of very spectacular waterfalls and swimming holes. Note swimming holes diminish during the non-rainy season. 

Las Animas-Las Animas beach cannot be accessed by vehicle so one must take water taxi from Los Muertos, Mismaloya or Boca de Tomatlan for a small fee. Las Animas is located 20 minutes along the coast South from Boca de Tomatlan. Upon arrival at Las Animas,choose from a dozen beachfront restaurants and walk along the beach travelling south and at the far end you will encounter a horse path leading inland. The hike takes approximately 20 minutes and you will encounter a lovely jewel of a small waterfall and a refreshing swimming hole. 

Yelapa-Yelapa beach is located by boat or water taxi from Los Muertos, Boca de Tomatlan or Mismaloya Beach on the south coast. Once you arrive at Yelapa the adventure begins and there is so much to see! . Once you arrive tothe beach ask one of the restaurant owners where the path begins. The sites to be seen along the river are quite spectacular. You can find the waterfall hiking  1.5 hours inland along the El Tuito River.  

Nogalito-The Neighborhood of Nogalito is a forgotten jewel located just 12 minutes from downtown Vallarta. The bus will leave you on the highway and the waterfalls are quite a jaunt inland so it is best for those who have their own vehicle or rent a car. During the rainy season this river side destination is a site to be seen with endless bird and iguana watching. The waterfall is located approximately 3 kilometers (2 miles) inland from the town of El Nogalito.

Quimixto-Quimixto beach is located by taking a water taxi (or boat) from Los Muertos, Mismaloya or Boca de Tomatlan on the South Coast. Upon arrival to this sleepy beach that is most popular for the hikes inland to it ́s waterfalls you can hire a horse or hike to the beautiful waterfall and swimming hole that is located 20 to 30 minutes inland. *Note during the rainy season, be careful with the currents at the base of the waterfall. 

Rio Cuale-Paso Ancho El Rio Cuale flows into the Pacific on the South end of Puerto Vallarta´s bustling boardwalk. At the mouth of the river in the brackish water you can see kids playing, pelicans diving, men fishing, surfers catching small waves and vendors selling oysters. You can stroll up on the Isla Rio Cuale (Rio Cuale Island) and enjoy a cultural center, shopping and those who are in good condition can follow the river upward walking for hours. If you have a vehicle, you can skip a section of the Rio Cuale by travelling inland to the Paso Ancho neighborhood and following a dirt road up the side of the river finding numerous swimming holes. On a Sunday Paso Ancho-Rio Cuale inland is a hot spot for families on a picnic and be ready to see chesterfields and living room furniture set up riverside.

The Bay of Banderas has so many hidden surprises. Order a box lunch from our concierge and jump on the bus, rent a car and explore the South Shore. Be sure to bring your bathing suit, bird guide, insect repellent, binoculars, and plenty of water and a snack. 

*Note for all of the waterfalls mentioned above, water levels increase drastically during rainy season (June thru October)

Which beach will you choose?

Which beach will you choose?

If you love finding hidden beaches and discovering new sand? Then Puerto Vallarta´s  South Shore is mother nature´s gift to you.

When we say South Shore Beaches we mean any beach that starts from the far south end of Los  Muertos beach all the way to Cabo Corrientes at the south tip of the Bay.

Whether you have a vehicle or will be taking Vallarta´s ever so efficient and affordable public transportation, some of the best beaches have very easy access.

Here are some of our favorites and remember, Sundays is a day off in the Bay of Banderas so if you wish for peace and quiet, pick any other day of the week to beach hop.

Conchas Chinas 7 minutes South of Hacienda San Angel. Located by taking Easy Street off the highway Carretera de Barra de Navidad and following a short cobble stone road downwards, Conchas Chinas has various coves filled with white sand so take your pick and enjoy! Pack a cooler as this is a residential area and there are no food venues except for the odd person selling fish or mango on a stick. The sand is white beige and water conditions are fabulous. On a calm day you can share a cracker with the fish. Tidal pools are fun for the kids.

Playas Gemelas 12 minutes South of Hacienda San Angel this hidden beauty of a beach is accessed off highway by taking a set of very steep stairs. The sand is powdery white and the ocean is glorious for a swim. Take your picnic as there are no restaurant venues on the beach. Air mattresses can be greatly appreciated to use too!

Punta Negra 10 minutes South of Hacienda San Angel this gorgeous stretch of sand is home to a couple of condominium developments. It is notorious for its rocks that sometimes cover the beach and then out of the blue………..just sand. If you like to surf cast bring your fishing rod. The turquoise water is a sight to be seen. Bring your own lunch as there are no restaurant venues on the beach.

Mismaloya 15 minutes South of Hacienda is a bustling hub of beach activity. Play in the river that rushes into the pacific, rent a small boat to fish, enjoy some gorgeous water conditions, clean beige sand, Eat in one of numerous restaurants. Watch Pelicans plunge or walk to the old movie set of the night of the Iguana and jump off of the rocks if you get to hot.

Boca de Tomatlan 25 minutes South of Hacienda San Angel, this sleepy fishing village offers a unique beach experience to those seeking out of the ordinary. Eat fresh bbq fish and a cold beer while you watch the water taxis come and go to the so many non-road accessed beaches that lay South! Quimixto, Las Animas and Yelapa

And at the end of your beach experience, come home to Hacienda San Angel to chill out in one of our three refreshing pools. Don´t forget to order your customized to choice box lunch from your resident concierge who will make sure you will never need anything.

Whale Watching Season Makes a Splash in Puerto Vallarta

With the tail end of whale watching season approaching guests who want to witness these spectacular sea creatures in their natural habitat are encouraged to act swiftly. Considered one of the area’s best water excursions, visitors can catch humpback whales as they make their annual 16,000-mile reproductive migration starting in December. But, hurry, because they start heading north again in March.

Weighing up to 90,000 lbs., humpback whales are easily identified by their black dorsal fin and the hump on their backs for which they are named. It’s quite a thrill to these magnificent mammals playing, feeding and breaching just a few feet away. By January, the females begin to give birth, so keep an eye out for calves swimming alongside their mothers.

Puerto Vallarta has several professional whale watching tour operators. Ask a hotel representative for additional information.

No time for an excursion? During migration season, humpback whales are plentiful in the Banderas Bay and often visible through the bell tower at Hacienda San Angel, so be sure to take a peek!

Garden Victory

It’s just a 30-minute car or taxi trip from the Hacienda but the internationally renowned Vallarta Botanical Gardens is a world away—and a paradise we recommend adding to your must-see list in PV. Set on 20 acres of dry tropical forest high in the Sierra Madres, the reserve is home to 3,000 (thousand!) different plant species, many rare and all native, as well as a prize-winning conservatory of Mexican orchids—did you know that vanilla comes from an orchid indigenous to Mexico? Indeed.  And you can catch a demo starring the ancient aromatic beauty on April 24 at 1 pm in the conservatory, where it grows alongside cacao and coffee plants. Visitors are welcome six days a week (the Gardens are closed Mondays between April and December) and can join a tour or make their own way along the well-marked trails. Either way you’ll come across remarkable mini-habitats of palms, roses, tree ferns, agaves, magnolias—even a collection of carnivorous plants! Tranquilo, it’s insects, not humans they’re after. Winged escorts abound, from whirring hummingbirds to the elusive yellow-eyed trogon citrealus, not to mention butterflies and praying mantises (who can make full revolutions of their heads when searching for a snack, fyi).  Pack a bathing suit and cool off with a dip in the spring-fed Rio Los Horcones, a lazy, boulder-punctuated stretch that meanders through the property.

After absorbing all that natural beauty, you may want to recap and unwind over lunch on the upstairs patio of the reserve’s highly-rated restaurant, Hacienda del Oro.  Continue on with more botanical exploring, or head back to the Hacienda for a sunset swim and/or cocktail. That, nos amigos, is one fine way to spend a day.