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In Puerto Vallarta, the Sun is Always the Star Attraction

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.

Finding a good spot to view the setting sun is one of the most important things you can do in Puerto Vallarta. It isn’t uncommon for people to check the newspapers or go online to learn the exact time the sun will set and then build their plans around it. At top, “The Boy on the Seahorse” sculpture. (Rod Charles photos for VacayNetwork.com)

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. 

The Puerto Vallarta Letters landmark on the Malecón featuring the famous “The Boy on the Seahorse” statue is a highlight for tourists and locals. Several vendors are in the area selling all sorts of delicious treats including tuba water, a traditional Mexican drink.  (Rod Charles photos for VacayNetwork.com)

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.

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The “In Search of Reason” sculpture sits at the corner of Corona and the Malecón. Created by Mexican artist Sergio Bustamante, this piece of art is popular because people like to climb up the ladder to take photographs. Not a problem – just be sure to watch your step. (Rod Charles photos for VacayNetwork.com)

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 welovevallarta@gmail.com 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.

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Our chef and guide at Chocomuseo Puerto Vallarta looks over ingredients that we had purchased at the local market before the start of our mole workshop. The sauce was made with these items. (Rod Charles photos for VacayNetwork.com)

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.

Owned by Chicago-born chef William Carballo, Barcelona Tapas offers Spicy Garlic Shrimp and Grilled Asparagus, among many other delicious treats. Get here early though, because Barcelona Tapas is one of the best spots in the city to view the sunset over a delicious meal. (Rod Charles photos for VacayNetwork.com)

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.

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Vallarta Adventures offers several tours on the bay that allow people to get on and in the water. The “SAVIA” Rythms of the Night VIP package is the best way to enjoy the water, see the sunset, enjoy a delicious buffet and see a great show. Another good trip is to Las Caletas Beach for paddling and snorkeling. (Rod Charles photos for VacayNetwork.com)

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/


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