The History of Puerto Vallarta: From Las Peñas to a Tourist Destination

Puerto Vallarta, formerly Las Peñas, is a city and main port of the state of Jalisco, central-western Mexico. It is located in the lowlands of the Pacific coast, 6 miles (10 km) south of the mouth of the Ameca River in Banderas Bay. In 1851, colonizers began building a city halfway along the coast. The city was originally called Puerto Las Peñas (the rocks), but it was renamed Puerto Vallarta in 1918 in honor of Ignacio Luis Vallarta, a former governor of the state.

Today, Puerto Vallarta is the third largest vacation destination in Mexico and receives more than 2.5 million visitors every year. It is assumed that the bay received its name during the time of the Spanish conquistadors, when Spanish forces were greeted upon arrival by 20,000 natives with feathered flags and armed with bows and arrows ready to defend their territory. The chronicler of the city, Don Carlos Munguía Fregoso, believes that these two steps are fundamental in the development of Puerto Vallarta, paving the way for new and important investments. Under Medina Ascencio, important works were carried out, such as the Puerto Vallarta International Airport and the Barra de Navidad - Vallarta coastal highway.

Show your support for charities and nonprofits in and around the Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit area. In fact, this film alone really put Puerto Vallarta Mexico on the map; it was where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor met and accounted for most of their passionate romance. These getaways are for those who frequent Puerto Vallarta or perhaps live here full time and are looking for something new. Puerto Vallarta's population continues to increase dramatically each year as tourists become residents and expatriates.

This publicity helped attract foreign investors in the 1970s, prompting Puerto Vallarta's massive expansion. Downtown Puerto Vallarta was not large enough to accommodate this expansion and no one wanted to see tall buildings that obstruct the view of the bay or destroy the typical Mexican town atmosphere of the city. After Puerto Vallarta's tourist boom skyrocketed in 1964 with the film “The Night of the Iguana”, directed by John Huston and starring Richard Burton and Ava Gardner, the urbanized area began to expand rapidly. In 1925, when Montgomery Fruit Company purchased about 70,000 acres in nearby Ixtapa, Vallarta began to grow due to the surplus of jobs available in the newly opened banana plantations.

The area between Marina Vallarta and downtown Vallarta is home to most of the hotels and three malls with more than 100 stores offering everything from traditional souvenirs to trendy boutiques and modern grocery stores, as well as restaurants and cafes. Puerto Vallarta's real estate market continues to expand, not only in terms of value but also in the size of the territory.

Léa Payamps
Léa Payamps

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