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The city of Puerto Vallarta is divided into different zones and visitors should know which zone would suit their needs best before booking a vacation to the area. Many tourists stay in the Hotel Zone located just a few minutes South of the Airport. This area is home to some of the larger resorts and larger stores including WalMart and Sams Club.
The Marina area, also a short distance south of the airport, has its own shopping and dining options, along with some well known resort hotels such as the Westin and the Marriott. This is an upscale environment compared with the Hotel Zone.
The Malecon is the heart of Puerto Vallarta, located north of the river in Colonia El Centro, what most call "Old Puerto Vallarta" along with the "South Side" or "Zona Romantica" is south of the Rio Cuale river and within this area there are hotels, B&Bs and condo rental options. Some of the hotels in this area are not deluxe and are for budget minded travelers. The B&B options range from budget to extremely luxurious. This part of the city offers the most dining and shopping. For nightlife, there are several clubs along the Malecon in downtown and several on the South Side of town. Los Muertos beach is located on the South Side. There are many restaurants and condominiums located on this beach, and vendors wander the beach selling everything from jewelry to hair braiding service to blankets.
Further south is Conchas Chinas, the residential area which includes a couple of hotels and many condominium and hacienda rentals. This is considered an expensive and exclusive area of Puerto Vallarta. There are not many restaurants or stores located in this area, but it is just a short distance from the South Side by taxi or bus.
Traveling further south, you will find some resorts and condominiums spread out along the coast, taking you to Mismaloya, the area where Night of the Iguana was filmed. Further south on the same bus you will reach Boca de Tomatlan with water taxis to south coast beaches like Las Animas And Yelapa.
The following is not a Puerto Vallarta Neighbourhood, but a man-made tourist area similar to Cancún on the Caribbean coast.
Traveling 15 minutes north of the airport will take visitors to Nuevo Vallarta in the state of Nayarit. This area is often viewed as an extension of Puerto Vallarta, but traveling to the Malecon and south side of Puerto Vallarta takes 45 minutes by bus, and 30/35 minutes by car. Visitors who are focused on experiencing relaxing beach vacations love the beautiful and expansive beach in Nuevo Vallarta. Flamingos Beach is not only wide, but it's 8-miles long with no obstructions such as rocks or boulders which makes it perfect for long romantic walks or refreshing morning runs. The ocean waves along Flamingos Beach are gentler along this stretch of Banderas Bay, and more condusive to boogie boarding, body surfing, and kayaking. The area of Nuevo Vallarta is all new construction. The neighborhood consists of sprawling all-inclusive resorts, incredibly large single-family homes with unique modern/tropical architecture, and many beautiful condo complexes. Dining options In Nuevo Vallarta are numerous as there are now more than 55 different restaurants as well as the lovely two-story Paradise Plaza Mall which has a grocery store, Sunset Market. Additional dining options are available in the nearby town of Bucerias which is either walk down the beach or a taxi ride away. Many Nuevo Vallarta restaurants offer delivery service to your condo or resort. And to stock up on groceries there is a nearby Mega, Chedraui, Walmart, and Sam's Club.