Even Well-Known Towns Can Throw Up Surprises

Even a town you know well can serve up surprises…

I’ve been coming to Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific Coast since 2005.

It’s stunningly beautiful. The verdant, jungle-clad mountains that drop dramatically—and steeply—down to the shore remind me a lot of Costa Rica.

The glittering Bahia de Banderas, an expansive bay that fills the horizon, is great for whale watching, fishing, and water sports. Or to simply get some elevation from the shore and take in the view.

And there are miles of golden-sand beaches, with lively options in town and plenty of low-key stretches too.

Along with natural beauty, this bustling city of 300,000 has plenty more to offer too. The international airport has direct flights from cities across the U.S. and Canada, so it’s easy to get to. It’s thoroughly modern, with reliable highspeed internet (which has made it a popular port of call for remote workers), sleek shopping malls with high-end brands, and several hospitals and medical clinics. There’s no shortage of fun things to do: an innovative and varied restaurant scene, live entertainment of every stripe, golf, boating…

Puerto Vallarta is the second-most popular beach destination in Mexico, after Cancún. It drew 5 million visitors in 2019 and is a perennial favorite of full-time expats and snowbirds.

Like I say, I’ve been coming to Puerto Vallarta since 2005. I’ve always enjoyed it. And I thought I knew the place inside and out. But even an established destination with a mature real estate market can offer up some welcome surprises.

As you know, earlier in August, I sent my scout Jason Holland to explore the area, and see what’s new since I was there in March. And what he found was an area of the popular beach town that has been overlooked and unloved…until now.

Read about what he found below…


Overlooked, Unloved…But Very Cool

By Jason Holland

If you’ve been to Puerto Vallarta, unless you stayed ensconced in one of the many hotels and resorts to the north of downtown, you probably visited the Zona Romantica. It’s the hot place to be, has been for years.

It’s a pleasant walkable district, cobblestone streets with little boutiques, restaurants, and cafes on both sides. The beach, called Los Muertos, is lined with restaurants and bars offering sea and sunset views. It’s easily accessed from the malecon, a seaside pedestrian-only promenade that runs for miles through the heart of Puerto Vallarta. At the pier, you can hire a boat to take you fishing or whale watching.

The malecon is perfect for strolling, and you can pick up grilled shrimp, ice cream, cut fruit, or ice-cold coconut water from vendors.

The Zona Romantica is buzzing day and night, especially in high season from December to April. I should mention that this is the nightlife district too. Bars sometimes blare live music and karaoke. Dance clubs can go until the wee hours. Not for everybody but perfect for some.

The Zona Romantica has a very active nightlife.

As the place to be in town, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that real estate here commands a premium, with two-bedroom condos (even without ocean views) hovering around a half-million dollars. There are plenty of resales and pre-construction projects at that price point.

I like the Zona Romantica. Whenever I’m in Puerto Vallarta, I spend a lot of time there. I had a killer red snapper dinner and passionfruit margarita, at the famed La Palapa restaurant when I was there earlier this month—great sunset too.

But on Ronan’s urging, I also checked out the adjacent neighborhood, Centro, which is just to the north of the Rio Cuale.

The malecon stretches for miles along Puerto Vallarta’s waterfront. It starts in Centro and passes through the Zona Romantica to the south.

I’d been here before. But only along the malecon, which is where most tourists stay. As I walked along, I recognized a rustic little seafood place right on the sand where I’d enjoyed excellent ceviche a few years ago. It was good to see it was still open.

Heading inland I found a different world. Low-key courtyard restaurants, sidewalk cafes in little plazas, cool art galleries, boutiques with clothes much cooler than I could ever wear…one coffee shop I retreated into to enjoy the air conditioning for a while had an excellent chai latte, iced, of course. A contact of Ronan’s invited me to a tapas restaurant a bit up the hill for dinner—the best I’ve had since I was in Spain.

In Centro, the water is never more than a few blocks away, and you never know what you might find around the next corner.

A few blocks away was an Indian restaurant. A few blocks the other way a place serving up innovative takes on traditional Mexican cuisine.

The contact Ronan put me in touch with is a long-time resident of Puerto Vallarta, and they explained how Centro is changing. Restaurants and shops are facing high rents in the Zona Romantica. Many of them are getting new, more affordable digs in Centro, mixing in with the department stores, pharmacies, and corner shops that serve the everyday needs of the residents who live here.

You’ll find cool murals and street art all over Centro.

In-the-know locals and tourists are heading to Centro too, seeking out the places to shop and dine they’re reading about on social media and in travel blogs.

This gentrification process is well under way. And it’s not just restaurateurs and shopkeepers who are coming into the neighborhood. New residential development, including Zona Romantica-style, super-modern, luxury condos, is planned for the area. And the cool thing is that these communities, because they’re in more of an up-and-coming area and don’t have the cachet of Zona Romantica address, are going to be a fraction of the price.


Ronan says: Centro is a place where things are happening, developing, and changing—even in such an established, well-trodden destination as Puerto Vallarta.

When my team and I put boots on the ground we often discover overlooked locations that have real potential.

I share all the findings my team and I make on our scouting trips around the world (like what Jason uncovered in Puerto Vallarta above) with members of my Real Estate Trend Alert group—insights into the best locations for real estate investing around the world…from Portugal to Mexico and beyond…real-time, on-the-ground dispatches from my team when they are scouting around the globe…and of course, discounted insider members-only deals that ensure we get in at the right time, at the right price.

This week, I’m giving you the chance to join RETA with the best-value membership offer we have. If you’ve been thinking about joining my group, now is the time to sign up. This offer is only on the table for a limited time…now is the time to avail of it.

This is the best way to ensure that you never miss any of the insights, deals, dream homes, and opportunities my team and I uncover. And we have lots of travel and scouting trips coming up over the next couple of months (more on that tomorrow) that you’ll want to make use you hear all about.

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