Just south of Puerto Vallarta itself rests the small town of Mismaloya, Mexico, one of the most important locales in the modern history of the Banderas Bay. This is the one unknown beach where the entire area’s rise to international prominence began after storied director John Huston filmed his cinematic classic “Night of the Iguana” on the site.
Eventually, Huston enjoyed working in Mismaloya so much that he moved himself and much of his cast to the area. Since that time, Mismaloya, Puerto Vallarta and surrounding towns up and down the Pacific coast of Mexico have experienced an explosion in popularity among travelers, making this once anonymous fishing town into one of the most coveted neighborhoods in the area.
Before Night of the Iguana and the transformative visit of Hollywood glamour to the tiny town of Mismaloya, it was simply another beach town lost in the shuffle along the 7th largest bay area in the world. The modern day finds Mismaloya as a well-known extension of the Puerto Vallarta metropolitan area, drawing scores of savvy visitors each year to its relatively secluded shore. The coastline gives way to a thick and untamed jungle environment, where many species of flora and fauna exclusive to the area can be mindfully admired.
Reaching Mismaloya can be done in one of three ways: by taxi, by bus, and by water taxi, a special mode of transportation commonly used for commutes between coastal towns in the Puerto Vallarta area. Taking a taxi on land from Puerto Vallarta to Mismaloya can cost from 140 to 450 pesos depending on whether passengers choose to hire a standard city cab or a dedicated airport taxi, and the ride from the airport takes just under 45 minutes.
Mismaloya can also be accessed by a bus route departing from the corner of Basilio Badillo and Constitucion in the downtown Puerto Vallarta area. A ride on this white bus with orange trim costs under 50 cents USD as of December 2016, and transports passengers to Mismaloya in about half an hour. Water taxis are effectively floating public transportation vehicles that offer a panoramic view of the city as well as an enjoyable ride on the Banderas Bay, and can be taken from the terminal in the Marina Vallarta district to Mismaloya for under 200 pesos.
Although it is certainly not as far removed from the conveniences and constructs of the big city as other towns further south, incoming visitors to Mismaloya will appreciate what it does have rather than what it does not. There are many small local restaurants in the area offering some of the freshest catches on the coast as well as buckets of ice cold beer to deliver welcome refreshment during an afternoon in the sun.
The legacy of the Mismaloya area is inseparably intertwined with the town’s history on the silver screen, and so it’s more visitor focused attractions highlight major movie productions to take place locally. The blockbuster action film “Predator” starring former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was shot nearby, and visitors can tour the set for a nominal fee. The “Night of the Iguana” set still stands in its original location as well, although it is currently closed for renovations as of December 2016.
Another point of interest for those considering a move to Mismaloya is the local tequila distillery, where visitors interested in Mexican culture can get a surprisingly informative taste of local flavor. Puerto Vallarta’s home state of Jalisco was where the festive spirit was born, and so the guides take a focus on providing a nice chaser of local history with every sample. Mismaloya is also home to the Vallarta Zoo, a wildlife preserve where visitors can interact with a variety of animals in their natural habitat.
Those with a profound appreciation for natural splendor are sure to be drawn to Mismaloya. The area’s combination of sunny beach and dense jungle give residents access to a range of activities from some of the most scenic hiking trails in the region to snorkeling and scuba diving adventures that expose privileged travelers to the extraordinarily diverse undersea ecosystem that is the signature characteristic of the Banderas Bay. The town’s location also puts it well within reach of the big city buzz, and locals can easily take a trip into Puerto Vallarta for the fiesta of the day before returning to their tranquil homes.
Mismaloya has enjoyed an exponential increase in its profile over the last few decades, and the area has evolved from just another Mexican beach town to one of the most desirable long term destinations among travelers from around the world. In many ways, Mismaloya retains the alluring character that inspired high profile visitors to put this small coastal village on the global stage.