Sailing in Vallarta

White sails dot the coastline during Festival Nautico

By: Josef Kandoll W

With three marinas and two more under construction, Vallarta is fast becoming a major international sailing destination. Yet Banderas Bay the third-largest bay in the Americas is still amazingly free of those triangular white sails that dot the horizons of so many waters around the world most of the year. However, during the entire month of March and early April, the Festival Nautico sails into town. During the month-long series of events, locals and visitors enter regattas, races and other competitions that keep the water roiling with activity.

Sailboats, sloops and yachts ply the waters of the bay, anchoring off private sandy coves where snorkeling and diving are favorite activities. Marine life is in its plenitude, especially in the mouths of the rivers where shrimp flourish. While bottlenose dolphins and giant manta rays inhabit the pleasant waters year-round, the bay is also the winter home of the humpback whale. Natural reefs and islands are not only favorite places for sailboats to anchor, but they also provide great diving.

The region has a long history of sailing as a pirate hideaway centuries ago, and the many hidden coves and caves are still rumored to conceal treasure. Darting out in their fast sloops to capture and divest the larger, slower ocean-going vessels, pirates fought for their ill-gotten treasure. In fact, legend has it that Puerto Vallarta’s Playa los Muertos (Beach of the Dead) received its name due to bodies littering the beach after such a battle.

Smooth Sailing

Sailing in Vallarta couldn’t be easier. The natural crescent form of the bay, ringed by the Sierra Madre Mountains inland, protects the area from most storms, even during the summer. Marinas provide necessary services, such as prompt and simple revamped immigration and customs procedures, and easy access to gas and water. Shopping, restaurants, cafes and Internet services are also available for clients who plan to sail into town.

For those new to sailing, J-World offers sailing charters and instruction to clients vacationing in the area. The San Francisco-based company is consistently named best in the business. Not only can they respond to every level of experience, but their modern top-quality fleet includes J780 Sportboats with coaches guaranteed as certified international-level instructors, U.S. Coast Guard licensed. What’s even better for agents is that they commission bookings for boats and classes at 10 percent.

Another option for sail-bound travelers is private instruction. With more years under her belt at sea than most salty dogs, Pat Henry offers up-close-and-personal classes on her boat, the Southern Cross. Classes include bare-boating captain classes after which you’ll be ready to go out and buy your own boat to basic sailing classes for small groups that are also commissionable to agents.

Whether clients arrive by boat or rent one while visiting, they’ll come home ready to return to Puerto Vallarta before you can say “Adios!”


Festival Nautico

Ask for the commission listing at time of booking. See or call 800-910-1101 (Mexico: 322-226-6767) for more information.

Pat Henry
See for more information and rates. And when making the reservation, mention your agency information for rapid commission payments.