Puerto Vallarta blew my mind. I didn’t expect to fall so in love with this beautiful town, but fall in love I did. When I think back to my time there, certain words and phrases come to mind. Mountains in the distance. Night swimming. Jungle. Fajitas. Margaritas. Crocodiles. Victor’s Place. Utter relaxation. Tequila.
This is such a special place for so many people, including myself. While I wait eagerly until I can go back again, I thought it would be fun to share some Puerto Vallarta fun facts!
6 Puerto Vallarta Fun Facts
Fun Fact #1- The Name
The town wasn’t originally named Puerto Vallarta. In fact, the original name was Las Penas from 1851 until 1918, when the name was changed to Puerto Vallarta, in honor of the former Governor Don Ignacio L. Vallarta.
Fun Fact #2- Banderas Bay
Located on the Pacific coast, Banderas Bay is the biggest bay in Mexico, and one of the deepest and largest bays in the world, being 3,000 feet deep and 25 miles across. Extending from the state of Jalisco (where Puerto Vallarta is) to Nayarit. From November to March each year, humpback whales swim in this bay, offering tourists and locals alike some extraordinary whale watching opportunities.
Fun Fact #3- Mariachi
You can’t mention Puerto Vallarta without mentioning mariachi bands. The state of Jalisco is the capital of Mariachi music, and you will find it everywhere here. There is even a children’s mariachi band!
Fun Fact #4 -Playa Los Meurtos Beach
Playa Los Meurtos beach (Dead man’s beach or Beach of The Dead), one of the most well known beaches in Puerto Vallarta, has some legend behind how it got it’s name. There are 3 different stories that you’ll hear.
The first is that the beach was located near a ranch where silver and gold from the Cuale (coal) mines would be shipped off. One day local Indigenous people ambushed the crew of a ship, leaving their dead bodies all over the beach.
The second is a very similar story, however the Indigenous peoples were instead pirates, and the ship crew were instead the miners, bringing up the silver and gold to the ranch.
The third, and the most likely story, is that the beach was originally a sacred burial ground for the Indigenous People. When the beach started getting built upon, bodies in ceramic pots were being dug up, which is how the local Indigenous people had buried their dead.
Fun Fact #5- Love Affair
Puerto Vallarta was not originally a tourist destination. It was a small fishing village and shipping port. So how did it come to be such a big tourist destination?
Well. In 1964 the movie Night of The Iguana (based off of the Tennessee Williams play, who helped adapt the play into the script) came out. It starred Richard Burton, who at the time was having a love affair with Elizabeth Taylor. Both actors were married to other people at the time. The director of the movie, John Huston, adored Mexico, and traveled there often.
Due to all of the celebrities in this film (Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr, Sue Lyon, Grayson Hall) this film was always talked about in the news, the world instantly wanted to go to Puerto Vallarta also.
Richard Burton purchased Elizabeth Taylor a house called Casa Kimberly, and purchased the house across the street, building a bridge between the two houses to escape the prying eyes of their fans. Casa Kimberly is now a boutique hotel.
Director John Huston ended up living in Puerto Vallarta for 20 years, in the small fishing village of Boca de Tomatlan (read about my time there here). And the rest is history.
Fun Fact #6- LGBTQ
The very first thing I learned when doing research before our trip was how LGBTQ friendly Puerto Vallarta is. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1871, before many other places in the world. If you are gay, you can expect to feel safe and embraced here.
There are plenty of gay hotels, gay bars, gay events. Being yourself is celebrated here! Every May there is the huge pride festival. Nomadicboys has an incredible guide for all things gay Puerto Vallarta that I highly recommend you check out!
What Puerto Vallarta fun facts do you know?!
Have you ever been to Mexico?