Often described as ‘the San Francisco of Mexico’, Puerto Vallarta has certainly earned its reputation as a top LGBT (Lesbian-gay-bi- transgender) international destination. An attractive mix of quaint and modern, Puerto Vallarta has certainly grown substantially in the last forty years, now offering modern services and facilities, yet retaining an old world charm where colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, sidewalk cafés, excellent restaurants, and elegant art galleries are concentrated in the old quarter (the ‘Zona Romántica’) . The surrounding mountains and beaches are spectacular. Banderas Bay is the largest natural bay in Latin America and a thirty-mile stretch of coastline is only accessible by sea, preserving the natural beauty of those secluded beaches.
With a tropical climate and guaranteed sunny skies in the winter months, it is easy to see why Puerto Vallarta attracts visitors of all orientations from all over the world. Puerto Vallarta caters for its gay visitors with a wide range of specifically gay-friendly accommodations, clubs, bars, beaches, tours, boat trips, and restaurants. The main gay beach is called the ‘Blue Chairs’ which is, in fact, a section of the main city beach, Playa Los Muertos. The name comes from The Blue Chairs Beach Club, a gay resort with a long pedigree. The current ‘Blue Chairs’ section of the beach is much more extensive than just the beach club. A little further along the beach you’ll find the gay-friendly Lido Beach Club, where they offer a surprisingly varied range of delicious international cuisine.
There are plenty of gay trips and tours in Vallarta; for specific information try the Blue Chairs concierge or the Boana Tour Desk. ‘Boana’ offers horseback riding excursions through beautiful countryside along the coast, ‘Go Gay!’ features horseback tours, jungle tours, and river tours in gorgeous natural surroundings, ‘Diana’s Tours’ offers gay cruises around the bay, while ‘The Wet &Wild Gay Cruise’ takes you out to an island nature reserve to snorkel and to the set of Night of the Iguana, and leaves every Saturday from Los Muertos pier. In the evening ‘The Gay Bar Hop’ guides you around the gay bars of the Zona Romántica, of which there are many.
There are also plenty of gay clubs, which don’t really get going until around midnight; they are mainly located in the Zona Romántica and you can choose from laid-back to non-stop dance to naughty strippers. Puerto Vallarta boasts a wide range of gay-friendly accommodations, including boutique hotels, B&Bs, budget lodgings, and luxury private villas and condos. The Abbey Hotel is the largest gay hotel in town and is ‘straight-friendly’; it has comfortable rooms and is located in the midst of all the nightlife. For a beach setting you could try the luxury Blue Chairs Resort by the Sea, which is exclusively gay/lesbian and is also close to all the action.
Puerto Vallarta is home to literally thousands of restaurants, but a couple of cool gay-friendly spots you might want to check out are ‘Barcelona Tapas’ for authentic Spanish cuisine and great views of the bay and ‘Casa Naranjo’ which offers gourmet Mexican and international dishes in elegant and relaxed surroundings.