Vallarta Botanical Gardens opened their gates in 2005 and since that time have won numerous international recognitions as a not-to.be missed highlight of any trip to Puerto Vallarta. It is definitely a total must during your visit and one of the most beautiful places that you have ever been to. Vallarta Botanical Gardens are spread over 20 acres of highland mountain in the tropical dry forest of the Sierra Madre, 30 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta. When you enter the place it is difficult to believe that it started from scratch. The owners, Betty and Bob Price, a mother and son, were restaurant owners in Florida before moving to Mexico. In Puerto Vallarta they got fascinated with the quantity of native orchid species present in the area and decided that Vallarta was in need of a place that would conserve its fauna and flora. At that moment the area had already lost almost 30% of its forests due to the growing popularity of Vallarta for home owners. The family decided to start botanical gardens.
Nowadays, the grounds of the botanical gardens are home to over 3,000 different plant species and are divided into a number of areas according to the kind of flora you can find there. You can enjoy the Blue Agave Hills with over 6,000 blue agaves, Tree Fern Grotto, Palm Gardens, Orchid House, Mexican Wildflowers, Rose Garden and Aquatic Plant Pool. Don’t miss the River walk that will lead you to the crystalline waters of Rio Los Horcones with giant boulders where you can stop for a while and swim with your family or friends. If you are a birdwatcher, bring your binoculars to observe countless tropical birds at their natural habitat.
You also have to visit the Hacienda de Oro Visitor Center beautifully constructed after an 18th-century plantation house and covered with colorful bugambilias. The building contains a learning center, natural history library, a gift shop and a restaurant. The upstairs restaurant with stunning views over the premises offers good food and refreshments at reasonable prices. You have to try the brick oven pizzas and have a look at the real Mexican country kitchen where handmade tortillas are prepared in the traditional way.
Although Vallarta Botanical Gardens are outside the city it is not so complicated to get there. If you have your own car, just travel south along Highway 2000 for about 30 minutes. You bill be guided by the road signs. If you don’t count with your own vehicle you have two options. You can take the local “El Tuito” bus from Aguacate and V. Carranza streets on the South Side which leaves about every 30 minutes – the bus should say “El Tuito/Botanical Gardens” on the front windshield but just in case tell the bus driver “jardin botanico” to be sure you are going in right direction. You can also take a cab from Old Town that should cost you around $20 USD each way.
If you are looking to stay near Vallarta Botanical Gardens, Villa Azalea Inn Boutique Hotel & Organic Farm represents the best of the modern world and the countryside.