Along the highway leading south out of the city’s Old Town are a network of secluded beaches and small villages collectively referred to as Puerto Vallarta’s “South Zone.” This stretch of the coast is made up primarily of residential properties, offering incoming visitors interested in making their homes in the area ample opportunity to experience the seaside vistas and verdant palm-lined hills that define life on the Banderas Bay.
The South Zone lies along the shores of the Pacific in a north-south layout and comprises a number of small towns along the way including Mismaloya and Boca de Tomatlan.
Although portions of the South Zone’s waterfront may be marked for the use of resorts, all beaches in the Puerto Vallarta area are for public use and may be freely accessed by both locals and visitors.
Accessing the South Zone from Puerto Vallarta itself is simple, and can be done in one of three ways. The most common method of passage into the South Zone is via the white bus with orange trim that departs regularly from outside the Oxxo convenience store on the intersection of Calles Basilio Badillo and Constitucion in the city’s Old Town. Fares for this route are set at 8.5 pesos, or about 50 cents USD as of December 2016.
The South Zone can also be accessed by taxi. A taxi from the airport to the city’s South Zone can cost up to 600 pesos depending on whether travelers choose to hire a dedicated airport taxi located directly outside the arrival terminal versus a standard city cab and the specific destination. Another way to reach the city’s South Zone is using one of the water taxis that service area residents, with this scenic speedboat ride departing from Puerto Vallarta’s Marina district and costing less than 200 pesos for a single passenger.
For those looking to sample a vibrant assortment of signature Mexican experiences, the South Zone is a place to strongly consider making a home. Not only does the area feature easy access to the multitude of entertainment options and tourist amenities in Puerto Vallarta, its environment gives it an appeal all its own. Thrill seekers arriving to the South Zone will find an array of exciting options from zip lines to an extensive network of challenging hiking trails that reward the physically capable with unforgettable vantage points and adrenaline pumping experiences.
The beaches of the South Zone are celebrated for their beauty and relatively undiscovered nature, with sandy stretches such as Quimixto, Conchas Chinas and Las Animas offering a privileged escaped from the more heavily trafficked areas of the region for savvy travelers. As an added bonus, many properties located in the South Zone boast preferred views of the national protected water zone known as the Los Arcos Maritime Nature Reserve, home to an extraordinarily diverse range of undersea life as well as a fully developed coral reef system.
Nature lovers will quickly become enthralled with the showcase presented by Puerto Vallarta’s South Zone. Just outside of the tiny town of Mismaloya is the Vallarta Zoo, a wildlife preserve established directly in the lush jungle atmosphere surrounding the city. Here visitors can meet and interact with exotic creatures in their natural habitat, and the enclave also has a big cat breeding center on site where guests are invited to hold recently birthed lions, panthers and tigers for a nominal fee. Mismaloya is also the location of a historic tequila distillery where visitors can sample freshly made batches of the timeless Mexican libation as well as savory pieces of local history surrounding the spirit.
Nearby lies the Vallarta Botanical Garden installation, home to the country’s single largest permanent collection of native flowers as well as the colorful creatures that rely on them. Residents of the South Zone also look forward to water taxi excursions to Yelapa, an idyllic Banderas Bay outpost known for its quiet beaches, prime snorkeling, and range of delicious local specialties from fresh caught red snapper to a distinctive carrot bread that hypnotizes passerby with its intoxicating aroma.
For visitors who enjoy the dynamic nature of a big city like Puerto Vallarta but still want a tranquil place to call home, Puerto Vallarta’s South Zone is the clear choice. Even the furthest reaches of the South Zone put residents 20 minutes or less outside the city by car, keeping them well within reach of all the city has to offer. Couples enjoying an extended stay in the Banderas Bay area are also drawn to the South Zone for its panoramic ocean views, intimate accommodations and relaxed pace of life.
The South Zone of Puerto Vallarta is rapidly rising in popularity as more incoming visitors discover its tangible benefits. Presenting access to the best features of metropolitan living with the authentic feel of life in an isolated village on the Mexican coast, each of the villages that make up the South Zone is a worthwhile option for travelers considering a few months–or forever–in the Banderas Bay area.