Exploring Puerto Vallarta’s Scenic Landscapes by Foot

Puerto Vallarta

Although Puerto Vallarta is famed for sun, sea and sand, hiking in the Sierra Madre Mountains and across an unspoiled jungle interior is an outdoor experience that cannot be overlooked. Easily accessible trails and a range of guided tours mean travelers can swap flip flops for active-wear and head to the hills.

Navagante Urbano PV offers several different options for exploring Puerto Vallarta’s southern coast. Outdoor adventurers can leave the city behind and join a local guide on a “Mountain Expedition” that starts on the trails connecting the Horcones Canyon to Vallarta Botanical Garden. Ranging from six to seven hours to complete, tracks wind through the town of Emiliano Zapata before ultimately arriving at the botanical garden for a menu prepared with locally sourced ingredients at the on-property restaurant Hacienda del Oro. After a Mexican feast, participants have free time to stroll through the tropical garden, exploring at leisure. Visitors interested in learning more about local flora and fauna during their hike can opt for the “Mexican History and Folklore” hike.

In Puerto Vallarta, Ecotours de Mexico offers visitors a five-hour snorkeling and hiking excursion on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays that follows a decades-old path to reach the villages on the south of Banderas Bay.

Guides will point out various types of vegetation and wildlife found along the trail, including fig trees, plumerias, hibiscus, leafy cecropias, papelillo trees, tropical birds and iguanas. Beautiful views of Banderas Bay are available throughout the hike until arrival at Colomitos, one of the smallest beaches in Mexico. Here, participants can trade their sneakers for fins to explore an underwater world home to pufferfish, angelfish, rays, and sea turtles. The secluded beach also features spectacular waterfalls for gorgeous photos.

Guided mountain bike tour company Ecoride offers a five-mile intermediate hike to the ridgeline of the Sierra Madres to El Salto, one of the largest waterfalls in the region. This guided experience includes transportation, water, snacks, and backpacks if needed.

Experienced hikers interested in heading out on their own should consider the Palo Maria hike that features a waterfall near the 1.5-mile mark, followed by 11 more waterfalls for hikers up for the challenge of rock climbing at higher elevations. Natural pools found along the way are perfect spots for cooling off. The trailhead is accessible by using the local orange buses that depart from Basillo Badillo, a street in the Romantic Zone, and disembarking at Palo Maria.