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Isla Rio Cuale
Isla Rio Cuale is a mystery to many first-time Puerto Vallarta travelers. It is situated almost in the heart of the city and is actually an island set upon an inlet of the Banderas Bay. To see the island, simply walk south from the old town until you run into the chain bridges that bring you to the island. The island’s small crafts and fruit markets are reminiscent of the city’s pre-resort past. Recent travelers praise the beautiful pottery and friendly locals willing to help out the clueless tourists. The island also contains a small museum for those interested in PV’s archaeological and cultural history known to have great sculptures.
Museo del Cuale (Museum)
The museum, Museo del Cuale is located on the Isla Rio Cuale, Museo del Cuale offers an excellent collection of pre-Hispanic ceramics that date back to between 5000 and 2000 A.C. The collections give a good archaeological introduction to the indigenous peoples who lived in western Mexico during this time, and other items of interest include hunting and gathering tools, various pieces of artwork, and a tomb that was excavated out of Sayula Zacoalco in Jalisco. The information panels on the exhibits are in both English and Spanish, and admission is free of charge. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Bahia de Banderas
Bahia de Banderas is located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, Bahía de Banderas is known as the largest bay in the country. There are plenty of things for visitors to do here, but the most popular activity is simply sailing around the bay on one of the many charter boats. One of these boats, known as the Marigalante, is a replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship the Santa Maria, and it features an on-board museum that displays various artifacts from the time of the conquistadors. Excellent snorkeling can be found here as well, particularly in the tunnels and coral reefs around the granite Arches Islands.
Islas Marietas National Park
Islas Marietas National Park is more than just a park; Islas Marietas National Park is a dedicated part of the UNESCO biosphere reserve and a RAMSAR site. Fishing and hunting are not permitted on the islands, so the area is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including whales, seabirds, manta rays, dolphins, and thousands of species of tropical fish. Only select tour companies are permitted to bring guests to the islands, but visitors looking for some fun in the sun can head to the sandy white La Nopalera beach, where they can hop in the water to kayak, surf, snorkel, or stand-up paddleboard.