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Puerto Vallarta (in English, "Port Vallarta") is a city in the state of Jalisco, México. It is located at 20°40'N 105°16'W. Some English language speakers call the city P.V. for short, due to the difficulty some have in pronouncing the double "L" in "Vallarta." (Vallarta is pronounced "vah-YAR-tah.")

The city fronts the Bahía de Banderas on the Pacific Ocean. The city is important primarily as a tourist destination. Shipping traffic consists of cruise ships which arrive almost daily, and occasional visits by U.S. Navy frigates. The Mexican Navy maintains a base at the port, as well as a well-known naval hospital in the city center. In 2003 Puerto Vallarta reported an estimated population of 165,800 and about 5 million overnight stays by tourists. It is also a popular spring break hotspot.

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The residents of Puerto Vallarta are very friendly and generally willing to help with directions and other requests. Old Town Vallarta (or the Zona Romantica district) south of the River Cuale is more like a Mexican town and less like a tourist trap.

Puerto Vallarta was selected by CONDE NAST TRAVELER readers as the eighth best destination in the world in their annual Reader's Choice Awards, as well as number one international destination because of the "remarkable amiability of the local folk."

Located on the Western Pacific coast of Mexico in the state of Jalisco, Puerto Vallarta's charm remains largely undiscovered. Along with its cobblestone streets, stunning beaches, plentiful marine life, lush Sierra Madre Mountains, exceptional restaurants, fine Gourmet Festival, new golf courses and vibrant culture, Puerto Vallarta is a vacationer's paradise that has maintained its unique Old Mexico charm despite the addition of these modern conveniences.

Around the Bay, beautiful beaches, lush jungles and sparkling waterfalls offer many opportunities for the adventurous, while five star resorts, world-class shopping and gourmet restaurants satisfy even the most sophisticated traveler.

Accommodations around the Bay of Banderas range from well-known international hotel chains and luxury condominiums in the hotel zone, Marina Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, and Punta Mita to moderately priced hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, apartments and condominiums in Old Town Vallarta. The south end of Old Town has a number of gay-freindly hotels. A section of the beach called The Blue Chairs is the focal point of the gay village. Stretching from the south end of Old Town to central downtown, a newly extended and refurbished boardwalk along the ocean, called the Malecon, passes by any number of shops, restaurants, and hotels, and often plays host to mimes, breakdancers, clowns and artists.

The rich cultural diversity of Puerto Vallarta is reflected in the cuisine that its many restaurants have to offer. From the most casual taco stands, to tropical beachfront palapas, to upscale rooftop restaurants with panoramic views, there are literally hundreds of restaurants serving exactly what you are hungry for.

Puerto Vallarta has many activities and excursions to keep you entertained. The adventurous can hike or mountain bike in the hills, explore the jungle and hidden trails on horseback, take a jeep safari, soar above it all in a multicolored hot air balloon, snorkel, scuba dive, charter a yacht or sailboat, or take a cruise on one of the many party boats.

Beautiful Banderas Bay, one of the largest and deepest in the world, may be admired from many of the surrounding hills exuberant in lush vegetation. Located right at the mouth of the Bay, straddling both sides of the River Cuale lays a charming and picturesque little town with true Mexican spirit, Puerto Vallarta.

To the North, the hills give way a little. Here you will find mile long stretches of golden sand beaches, rich plantations of papaya and mango and, tucked back along tumbling rivers and streams, small villages where life seems to move at a different pace. There are many different ways to explore the Bay.

To the South, the hills cascade towards the sea creating a rich palette that mixes the vivid green foliage with the deep blues of the water. At their feet nestle secluded coves and small fishing villages, many of which are still accessible only by sea.

To the East, the jungle clad Sierra Madre Mountains, which quickly rise to over 8,000 feet, encircle and protect the town from the winds and regulate the semi-tropical and humid weather.

And, to the West, the Bay of Banderas is home to a wide variety of aquatic life. Humpback whales come here to mate every year from December to March, and sea turtles nest on the beaches from May to October. Schools of dolphins and giant manta rays also inhabit these waters. The Bay and the Marietas Islands offer an amazing kaleidoscope of tropical fish, attracting snorkelers, scuba divers and sport fishermen alike.

For those who just want to relax, Puerto Vallarta's many golden sand beaches offer one of the best ways to experience the beauty and magic of the Bay of Banderas. In short, whether you prefer fashionable luxury, strenuous adventure, or something in between, the Puerto Vallarta region is a sun-blessed paradise that will keep you entertained, until it is sadly time to depart.

But your exploring does not have to be limited just to the Bay, there are nearby archeological sites to visit as well. Close at hand, in the region of Ixtapa, studies have uncovered sites dating back to 400 B.C.