Unlike many towns along Mexico’s coast, Puerto Vallarta was by no means built for tourism. This world famous resort has a rich and diverse history spanning centuries, from the era of the indigenous Aztec people to the modern day. Even the most regular visitors will be surprised to discover that life in Puerto Vallarta goes beyond tropical jungles, turquoise oceans, golden beaches and exhilarating water sports. In fact, this destination affirms that history doesn’t need to be boring!
If you’d like to find out how on earth Puerto Vallarta is connected to pirates, Hollywood movies and tequila, then you’re in the right place. Personal Villas has put together a list of our top 5 fun history facts about Puerto Vallarta. Check it out:
Playa de Los Muertos
Translating literally to “Beach of the Dead”, Playa de Los Muertos is one of Puerto Vallarta’s most popular and vibrant attractions. Legend has it that pirates stormed this beach to loot the region and kill all those who stood before them. The town’s residents fought back, however, and the sinister name was coined due to the amount of pirates’ bodies strewn across the shore by the time the battle ended. When Puerto Vallarta began to transform into a resort town, many claimed to have discovered skeletons during the construction of the first coastal hotels. Yikes!When Puerto Vallarta experienced a tourism boom after World War Two, town officials considered changing the beach’s name out of fear it sounded macabre and uninviting. More cheerful suggestions, such as Las Delicias (The Delights) and Playa del Sol (Beach of the Sun), were put forward but locals voted to uphold tradition by sticking with the original name.If you stay in one of our luxury villas in Puerto Vallarta with your family, it’s well worth booking a spot on the Marigalante Pirate Ship . Aside from paying homage to the town’s history, this unforgettable tour features pirate shows, dancing, treasure hunts, games and dinner. Not to be missed!
Hollywood MoviesWith its stunning stretches of sand, dazzling blue oceans and year-round tropical climate, it is no wonder that Puerto Vallarta is a popular location for Hollywood productions. John Hudson’s The Night of the Iguana (1964) was the first movie to be shot here, showing glimpses of the gorgeous downtown neighborhood as well as the famous Malecón boardwalk. The onscreen romance between actors Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor is largely responsible for putting Puerto Vallarta on the map as spectators around the world reveled in the town’s beauty. In 1987 the science-fiction movie, Predator, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger was filmed in the region’s lush jungles. Another Hollywood hit, Limitless (2011), starring Bradley Cooper and Robert de Niro had various scenes shot on the town’s promenade and a breathtaking cliff dive on the nearby Marietas Islands. If you consider yourself a movie buff, make sure you visit the locations of these big productions during your stay in our luxury villas in Puerto Vallarta !
Did you know that Mexico’s traditional Mariachi music and bands originated from the state of Jalisco? This music style is best surmised as a form of theatrical orchestra performed with violins, guitars and trumpets. The Mariachi is an extremely popular form of entertainment across Mexico and bands are regularly found at the center of weddings, baptisms, birthdays, festivals and special occasions. Although the roots of Mariachi music go back hundreds of years and evolved from region to region, historians believe that the ensemble that we are familiar with today emerged from Jalisco.Puerto Vallarta is one of Jalisco’s top tourist destinations, making it the perfect town to witness the very best of Mariachi music. It’s very common to see bands playing along the Malecón boardwalk and on Playa de Los Muertos, creating a cheerful and merry atmosphere for visitors. This music form is so popular that there is even a talented band composed of children only, so keep an eye out for them!
Banderas BayLocated five minutes from Puerto Vallarta’s Downtown zone, the beautiful Banderas Bay is one of the region’s most famous tourist attractions. This stretch of picturesque coast offers visitors endless exploration and is home to a rich variety of tropical marine life, making it the perfect hotspot for land and aquatic adventures alike. Banderas Bay is one of the deepest and largest bays in the whole world, so it has become a source of pride for locals and helps draw in thousands of visitors every year!
This important ecological reservoir hasn’t always been so idyllic. In fact, the bay was discovered by Spanish conquerors in the early 1500s and, upon arriving on its sandy shores, the soldiers were confronted by 20,000 Aztatlans (native indigenous people) bearing weapons and feathered flags as they prepared to defend their land. This moment is what gave the bay its name, as “banderas” means flags in Spanish. Luckily, there was no bloody battle on this occasion. According to legend, the Spaniards exposed a large picture of the Virgin Mary whose bright gleam was so bright that it apparently terrified the native population into submission.
TequilaDid you know that the world-famous party drink, tequila, comes from Jalisco? In the early 1600s, the Marquis of Altamira built the first official distillery in what is now the town of Tequila, Jalisco. Like many liquors across the globe, distillers must abide by a strict set of rules in order to produce authentic tequila. Due to tequila becoming intellectual property of Mexico in 1974, these regulations include producing every bottle in Jalisco, using specific selected ingredients and ensuring the spirit is aged for the perfect amount of time.
Unsurprisingly, the town of Tequila has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are many tours leaving Puerto Vallarta every day, which give visitors the chance to explore the town, partake in a distillery tour, learn how tequila is produced and, of course, enjoy a tasting session! If you don’t have time to embark on the journey, Puerto Vallarta is home to a diverse range of tequila activities. From cocktail mixology classes to connoisseur sampling sessions, you’ll find something tequila-based during your luxury villa vacation (as long as you’re over 18!).