Cobblestoned and whitewashed Puerto Vallarta is one of the central Pacific coast's best-known beach resorts. Nestled between palm-covered mountains next to a river and an azure bay, the city boasts a setting as ridiculously picturesque as its white-sand beaches and red-tiled houses of white adobe.
The city has mutated from a sleepy seaside village into an international resort so quickly that it is fashionable to deride its spoilt charms, but it's almost impossible to dislike its lively bars, romantic restaurants, mushrooming gallery scene and bustling marine life.
There are dolphins in the bay year-round, and humpback whales between November and March. Locals insist that if you stand on the seafront in April, you can see giant manta rays leaping into the air during their mating rituals.
Facts for the traveller
Off the beaten track