I couldn’t take my eyes off this searing, supersized blood-orange red, yellow, purple, beige and silver kaleidoscope that hung in the sky. The spectacle reminded me of simmering campfire coals.
It was a stunning moment and I was floored by the beauty of it. Even as the sun dipped below the horizon I was surprised how warm it felt on my skin. Most sunsets I have witnessed have come with a cool breeze or drop in temperature but that wasn’t the case here. Puerto Vallarta during the day is vivid and radiant but sunset is spiritual.
Milling around the colorful landmark Puerto Vallarta Letters with Zamarripa Castañeda’s iconic “The Boy on the Seahorse” statue were hundreds of locals and tourists. Nothing special, for the most part the people were doing what people usually do on vacation.
But around 6:16 pm it was as if a silent signal had gone off. People began glancing west. The street became noticeably quieter and everything slowed. Voices seemed to lower, couples drew nearer. A few parents that I could see picked up their giggling youngsters, with one playfully pointing to the sky.
Then it happened. Like magic, at 6:27 on the dot the sun dipped below the horizon. By 6:30 that silent signal went off again and life on the street returned to normal. The evening show was over.
It may seem silly to focus this much attention on the setting sun in a city that has so much to offer but it isn’t. I’m not saying sunsets here are more beautiful than sunsets anywhere else in the world but in Puerto Vallarta the sun is truly the star, pardon the pun, and its closing act is the show everyone wants to see. People check the newspapers for sunset times the way you or I would check box scores. As one local put it, you have to be crazy to allow yourself to be caught facing east during the sunset.
A Day in the Sun in Jalisco
But we’ll get to the sunset in a minute. There are many ways to enjoy Puerto Vallarta before nightfall.
Obviously one thing everyone will want to do at some point during their visit is enjoy the water. Los Muertos and Olas Altas are the two closest beaches to the central square. Los Muertos backs onto a magnificent 200-foot (60 meter) pier that juts out into the Pacific Ocean.
Puerto Vallarta offers several opportunities to experience new and exciting experiences so visitors should consider signing up for a walking tour or cooking class. I took part in a tour of the Malecón’s sculptures, murals and Mosaicos. The tour highlighted several city landmarks including Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Contact Mathis Lidice at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about his free tour.
Another good organization is Vallarta Food Tours. I loved getting off the beaten path to street vendors and hole-in-the wall operations that I would never have even thought of visiting as a tourist. Prices range from $50 – $75 USD for local tours.
The Mole Poblano Workshop by Chocomuseo Puerto Vallarta was a fun and interesting class. Mole is a traditional sauce that is used in Mexican cuisine. This isn’t something that you just pour out of a bottle – a lot of time, care and effort goes into creating this delightful sauce. In this three hour workshop, available in both English and French, you can learn everything that you ever wanted to know about Mole. Making the Mole was fun but I would have to say the best part for me was going to the market and picking out the ingredients with our guide. Of course eating our creation at the end of the class was also quite enjoyable. The price is $1,030.00 MXN ($19 USD).
Dine Under a Red Sky in Puerto Vallarta
Everyone should enjoy a meal during sunset in Puerto Vallarta and there are no shortages of fine restaurants that offer delicious culinary treats with a view. One of my favourite restaurants that had a solid mix of excellent food and colorful sky was Barcelona Tapas.
Located four blocks from the Malecón (a road or pathway that follows along the edge of the sea) in the downtown area, Barcelona Tapas’ rooftop has one of the best views of the Banderas Bay in all of Puerto Vallarta and if that isn’t enough, a musician played live music with his clarinet. Owned by Chicago-born chef William Carballo, Barcelona Tapas is a wonderful way to sample several different meals including Spicy Garlic Shrimp ($220), Eggplant with Three Cheeses ($240) and Grilled Asparagus ($160).
Standing candles line the beach were diners sit outside on the sand or on patios enjoying their meals, an outstanding spot for any couples hoping to enjoy a romantic moment. One of the restaurants at this location is La Palapa at Playa Los Muertos right next to its landmark pier. The restaurant features several dishes with Mexican, French and Asian elements. Enjoy a Red Snapper Fillet ($390) or Eggplant Parmesan ($210). Another fine restaurant in the area to check out according to the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board is El Dorado.
I stayed at Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway. Besides being a short taxi ride to the Malecón I loved the location because on one side was the city and on the other was Playa Camarones, one of the Blue Flag-certified beaches that you can find in Puerto Vallarta and a beautiful sunset. Villa Premiere features Buenaventura Grand Sky bar, a wonderful place to have a drink and enjoy stunning views of the sunset before a night on the town.
For the best views of the sun be sure to get out on the water. Vallarta Adventures offers a stunning Luxury Yacht & Snorkel day trip ($139 USD) at The Bay of Banderas where you can take a dip, snorkel, or paddleboard at Las Caletas Beach hideaway. Along the way, enjoy delicious drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
For a wonderful sunset, dinner and show adventure, Vallarta Adventures offers the “SAVIA” Rythms of the Night VIP” package ($169 USD). Conceived of, written and directed by Gilles Ste-Croix, co-creator of Cirque du Soleil, SAVIA is a celebration of spectacular acrobatic skill, pulsating rhythms, vibrant dance, amazing costumes and Ste-Croix’s breathtaking interpretation of the Aztec creation story. See the sun go down, enjoy outstanding entertainment and dinner before moving into the outdoor amphitheatre for a show. The VIP package gives you priority boarding on the evening’s cruise towards Las Caletas, priority entrance for the show, dinner and unlimited cocktails.
More About Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board Website: visitpuertovallarta.com
Vallarta Adventures: www.vallarta-adventures.com/en/
“SAVIA” Rythms of the Night VIP: https://www.vallarta-adventures.com/en/tour/rhythms-of-the-night-vip
Chocomuseo Puerto Vallarta: https://www.chocomuseo.com/mexico/puerto-vallarta/mole-poblano-workshop/