PUERTO VALLARTA is a popular port-of-call for both Americans and Mexicans. And it has been for over 150 years. The climate is mild and constant year round, the coastal area is lush green, and the beaches are inviting. No wonder 50% of the economy is tourist related.

The City sits in the middle of the Bay of Banderas. Cortez’ troops called the whole area Banderas – which means “flags” – because the natives in the area carried brightly colored banners. The coast of the Bay extends for 130 miles, and creates a place of great beauty and sweeping vistas. Cortez conquered the area in 1524. Later in the century, the Bay became important to trade ships from the Orient, especially Manila. Naturally, because of the trade, it also became an area of pirate activity. Puerto Vallarta is roughly half the size of Mazatlan, but seems far more developed and sophisticated. The place is a favorite for cruise ships. The small harbor is well equipped to handle the traffic which is frequent from November through March.

The slideshow contains 14 photos of our visit to Puerto Vallarta. Press the buttons to circulate through the pictures.

We were greeted at the harbor by an inviting "pirate ship".  Our friends, Barry and Myra (from Amarillo), joined us on a driving tour of the City. We saw some of the beautiful hotels and residences on the hotel zone to the north.

We also explored the central city with its narrow streets and colorful shops along the coast. We then headed south to the Mismaloya area, made famous by the film, Night of the Iguana, and the likes of John Huston, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton.

We had lunch in a village restaurant and toured a Tequila factory! Here we also found and fed some iguanas. Returning to town, we toured the Cathedral, festooned for the Nativity and Epiphany celebrations. The Cathedral has a great crown on its central spire which was toppled by an earthquake in 1995.