Pursuing Romance

Visitors to Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding areas can find romance while enjoying a shimmering sun and the pulsating rhythms of the country. These 10 venues should whet the appetite of visitors in search of a little romance.

By: Richard Carroll

Visitors to Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding areas can find romance while enjoying a shimmering sun and the pulsating rhythms of the country. These 10 venues should whet the appetite of visitors in search of a little romance.

Artists’ Studio Walking Tour (Puerto Vallarta.) Romantics can delight in a private, two-hour tour to studios and residences of such locally based artists as sculptor Ramiz Barquet and watercolorist Richard Baker, who work in the heart of the city. The tour, led by Gary Thompson, owner of Galeria Pacifico, offers boundless insights into Puerto Vallarta and the people who live there.

Chico’s Paradise. The open-air, palapa-style restaurant sits high on a cliff overlooking the boulder-strewn Los Orcones River, about 12 miles south of Puerto Vallarta. It’s one of Puerto Vallarta’s most endearing hideaways, featuring authentic, country Mexican decor, mariachi music, parrots and thick black bean soup. Chico’s is perfect for an afternoon rendezvous and a chilled margarita.

El Tuito. Visitors can experience engaging encounters with old Mexico via an attractive one-hour drive on Highway 200 through pine-covered mountains to a small, earthy farming village with few signs and little commercialism. There, they can sip cold drinks in the tiny plaza, visit the country church and enjoy a timeless and romantic setting that most visitors miss.

Hotelito Desconocido (Cruz de Loreto, Costalegre). The “Little Unknown Hotel,” as the name translates, located 60 miles south of Puerto Vallarta, is the quintessential unique romantic booking. Hotelito offers 24 palafitos (traditional Mexican bungalows) adorned with handcrafted Mexican antiques and king-size beds draped with mosquito nets. But perhaps the most romantic aspect of Hotelito is that the solar-powered property is lit with candles and tiki torches each evening.

La Perla Restaurant (Puerto Vallarta). This elegant dining venue, located at the Camino Real Hotel, has long been noted as one of the city’s finest restaurants. Service at the dinner-only restaurant is formal, the cuisine is international with a Mexican flair, the music is live, and the views go on forever. Romance flares under the subdued lighting in a festive setting of city lights.

Las Alamandas (Quermaro, Costalegre). Ninety minutes north of the Manzanillo airport by car, Las Alamandas offers casita accommodations for 22 guests on 1,500 acres. Romantics can indulge themselves in this intimate and secluded hideaway graced with personal service, candlelight dining for two, and dreamy days of lounging in a casita that could pass for a Hollywood movie set. Puerto Vallarta Malecon. The best way for couples to explore the Malecon is at dusk, when lights begin to twinkle along the meandering coastline and the city is transformed into an exciting montage of evening diversions. Scattered along the Malecon, which spans the entire length of the downtown waterfront, are original sculptures and local artists creating colorful depictions of the cityscape.

The Rock (Four Seasons Punta Mita, Banderas Bay). A 30-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta’s airport, The Rock offers romantics a chance to dine at twilight on an elevated outcropping overlooking the beach, with spectacular vistas of the coastal peninsula. While twilight fades into a sky ablaze with stars, each table is served by its own waiter.

Sailboat cruises. (Puerto Vallarta). Couples can book sailboat cruises for the day. Several companies offer excursions that sail north to the sparkling waters off La Manzanilla Beach and the village of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. There, passengers enjoy breakfast, lunch and an open bar as they cruise the coastline, listening to soft Mexican music while lounging on deck at full sail.

Terra Noble Spa, Art & Healing Center (Puerto Vallarta). Terra Noble is a dreamy surprise high on a hill above Puerto Vallarta. The open-air, adobe day spa is situated amid a tropical landscape and chattering birds. It offers massages, body treatments, facials and spa packages. Taking in spectacular views, couples can relax in the adobe house while sipping tea, listening to gentle music and enjoying a fantasy ambience that feels somewhere between Mexico and India.

Call the Puerto Vallarta CVB at 888-384-6822. Web site: www.puertovallarta.net.

Call the Mexican Government Tourism Office at 800-446-3942. Web site: www.visitmexico.com.