Peter Greenberg is the
winning travel editor
for CBS News and host
of The Travel Detective
on public television
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AT THE INTERSECTION of the mountains and
the sea, surrounded by a calm bay, Puerto Vallarta
(PV) was once a small, sleepy fishing village. And
although it’s grown and is no longer sleeping, it still
feels small and manageable, with a great set of
Playa de los Muertos, the most popular beach,
runs about a mile south, and is lined with back-to-back restaurants. It’s home to a constant parade of
joggers, bikers and street vendors, plus lots of restaurants, bars and outdoor music. You can even find
barbecued fish on a stick.
One of the best things about the PV area is that
the food remains simple—and fun. Look for all the
home-based luncherias, food trucks or towed trailers that are open each evening, serving great, inexpensive, regional fare. Ask the locals where the
nearest luncherias might be; they move around.
Want a more hands-on food experience? Try
Miriam’s Mexican Kitchen (miriamsmexicankitchen.
com). Chef Miriam Flores grew up in a small town
near Puerto Vallarta, and learned to cook from her
grandmother. And you don’t just eat with Flores; she
can teach you to cook like a local with a variety of
classes offered, from authentic tacos and enchiladas,
to mole (mo-lay) chicken, to classic Mexican street
foods like remolacha, a beet-based treat.
Another treat is culinary touring with Eric
Wichner ( vallartaeats.com), who leads food tours of
the region. And, as long as you’re not driving, try his
Mexican beer tour.
For a special beach experience, hire a local,
explain that you want to head south to the smaller
beaches accessible only by boat, and you’ll have a
beach more or less to yourself.
North of PV, the Riviera Nayarit is a 192-mile
stretch of coastline, backed by jungle-clad moun-
tains and facing offshore islands.
The Riviera Nayarit is home to solitary beaches
and towns with an extraordinary natural heritage,
such as Flamingos, where you’ll find not one but
three beautiful lakes; Bucerias, with a long beach
and cobblestone streets; La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, a
small fishing town; Destiladeras, a destination for
more experienced surfers; and Islas Marieta, an ecological preserve.
Looking for serious biodiversity? Try the port of
San Blas (in the Riviera Nayarit’s northern section);
you can tour the Tovara mangrove swamps, then
head to Isla Isabel. On the boat, you might see whale
sharks (some as long as 49 feet), which swim very
close to the surface; they also swim quite slowly, so
bring your camera.
There are many culinary options along the Riviera
Nayarit: Luxury hotels and restaurants serve gourmet
dishes prepared with fresh seafood, often with a creative twist—say, shrimp meatballs or aguachile, seafood with a spicy lime kick—or a pre-Hispanic touch.
At the beach and the town, visitors can try delicacies
such as shrimp tamales and my favorite, marlin tacos.
If you like to volunteer, the Grupo Ecológico de
la Costa Verde ( project-tortuga.org) works to save
leatherback and olive ridley turtles. You can get
involved, especially when these prehistoric turtles
come up on the beach to lay their eggs. (Just be sure
to take a nap that day, as the turtle activity usually
happens around 1 or 2 in the morning.)
Surfing, eating, golfing, exploring—even napping—are all a true pleasure when you’re in Puerto
Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit. C
CHURCH PHOTO: PUERTO VALLAR TA TOURISM BOARD, MARKE T PHO TO: RIVIERA NAYARIT CONVEN TION & VISITORS BUREAU
Diversity by the sea
Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit
The Costco Connection
Costco Travel offers packages to many Mexico
destinations. To learn more, click “Travel” at
Costco.com or call 1-877-849-2730.
Historical settings, colorful
and plentiful markets and
great food await in Puerto
Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit.