La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, known to locals as “La Cruz,” is a coastal Mexican fishing village in the northern neighboring state of Nayarit. Stationed along the Banderas Bay that Puerto Vallarta calls home, it is approximately 25 km (~16miles) north of town, putting it well within reach of Vallarta visitors during a day trip and making it a convenient destination for residents of PV to enjoy a laid-back escape from the relatively bustling pace of city life.
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (translating as “The Cross of Huanacaxtle,” or the type of wood used to construct the religious landmark that designates the entrance to this tiny town), has been a popularly visited village in the world’s 7th largest bay for generations, but has benefitted from major urbanization initiatives in recent years. One of these large-scale development projects is the Mariniz Riviera Nayarit, which makes the town much more accessible to sea traffic including transportation, sport fishing, and leisure cruises on the picturesque Pacific.
La Cruz is located just over half an hour north of the airport along Highway 200, with a clearly marked exit sign leading from the main thoroughfare to a direct route into town. For this reason, convenient bus service is available with direct transport to La Cruz, with a cost of less than 50 pesos (about $2.50 USD as of November 2019).
A taxi from the airport will cost passengers approximately 250 pesos (about $12 USD as of November 2019) while ridesharing services such as Uber are available at comparable rates, although access to rideshare drivers may be limited when visitors are planning to return to Vallarta.
With its’ seaside setting, waterfront activities reign in La Cruz. The town is a frequent site of beach parties and regional music festivals, offering a relaxed everyday pace and a focus on traditional culture. The area is densely populated with seafood restaurants specializing in the bounty of the Banderas Bay, providing loungers with a comfortable destination for beach days.
The new Marina represents the most visible nexus of activity for the La Cruz of today. The recently upgraded harbor is outfitted with modern features including accessible bathrooms and showers, 24 hour surveillance, electric charging stations, and an assortment of bars and restaurants. Perhaps the most noteworthy of these is the Marina’s Sky Bar, designed to treat visitors to panoramic ocean views as well as the region’s famous sunsets.
La Cruz’ standing as a neighborhood outside the city proper has proved no impediment to its’ status as a favored retreat for those who arrive in Puerto Vallarta. Its’ wealth of activities that take advantage of the area’s natural splendor–including snorkeling, fishing, diving, and even surfing during the winter when the swell permits makes it a natural choice for adventurous travelers.
The town also places a focus on local life, with its boardwalk providing a guided tour of La Cruz’ thriving central district and an active local nightlife scene with live music, performances, and special events. La Cruz is also exceptionally walkable for travelers who enjoy a bit of exercise, with many of the main points of interest in town accessible within 30 minutes on foot.
Since its’ humble origins as a municipality in the 1930s, La Cruz hs exploded onto the global scene as part of what makes the greater Puerto Vallarta area so irresistible to visitors. With a colorful seafaring culture and an emphasis on authenticity, La Cruz represents an essential experience for locals as well as a worthwhile excursion for Banderas Bay visitors.