Vallarta South—The Town Richard Burton Put On The Map
The city of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and its famous Centro and Romantic Zones are great options for some expats and entrepreneurs… but city living is not for everyone.
For some, PV is too noisy, bustling, and touristy.
In that case, look outside the town proper, where you’ll find a thick, tropical forest setting, cooler temperatures, and a more peaceful, tranquil setting.
The areas south of the Romantic Zone are collectively known as Vallarta South, which includes the prestigious areas of Amapas, Conchas Chinas, and Mismaloya. This area is known for its treed, quiet setting, more temperate climate, and luxury properties… not to mention some of the best views I’ve seen anywhere, at any price.
Amapas lies just south of Puerto Vallarta proper, between Alta Vista to the north and Conchas Chinas to the south. It’s in a lush, green, almost jungle setting. The sharp hillside makes for dramatic views.
This area is still easily walkable to the Romantic Zone, with its restaurants, cafés, and amenities. In mid-January I found this a pleasant walk… but that won’t be the case in July’s heat and humidity. You’ll want to take a taxi, at least for the uphill walk back from town.
Amapas is growing quickly, and one real estate broker I spoke with claimed that it’s easily the most active area for foreign property buyers at this time. People come for the peace, quiet, the lush setting, and the views… within walking distance of the bustling downtown.
For a real taste of luxury, I have to show you this beautiful, seventh-floor condo in an upscale development. It has two large bedrooms, with a possible third (now being used as a TV room). The huge terrace and marble floors are awesome, and the finishings in this unit are first-rate in every way.
If you want to know that you’re working with a cut-no-corners developer, check out the gym… it’s the first thing they skimp on. The gym in this place is better equipped and better kept than the one I pay to belong to.
Just five minutes from Centro, the asking price is US$625,000.
Also in Amapas, I saw a two-bedroom unit with (again) amazing views at a lower price. Each bedroom has its own private bath (there’s a guest bathroom, as well) and the condo has a laundry room and an immense kitchen.
Fully furnished and still an easy walk to town, the asking price on this one is US$289,500.
Conchas Chinas is one of the most upscale sectors of PV. Properties here are relatively expensive, with condos starting at around US$300k, and single homes going into the multi-million dollar range. Many of the properties are vacation homes that are unoccupied most of the year, and the homeowners are mostly Canadian and American, with a few wealthy Mexicans, as well.
Conchas Chinas is divided by the highway that runs southbound out of PV. The uphill side is almost a rain forest setting, while the lower side has some nice luxury properties at or near the beach.
In the lower section of Conchas Chinas, there’s an old-style, two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath condo on the market, with a generous 173 square meters (1,866 square feet) of living area on two levels. This is a great location with ocean and pool views, and a two-minute walk to one of the best beaches in town. It’s a small building of only six units, and the asking price is US$300,000… completely furnished.
This is an inexpensive offering in a prestigious area. I saw a number of listings here for upwards of US$700k, so the sky’s the limit if you’d like a more luxurious property.
Mismaloya was my favorite setting in Vallarta South. It took almost 20 minutes to drive down from PV, but it feels much more remote than that. It’s cooler here than in PV, I’m told, by almost 10°F (about 5°C).
Mismaloya is where they filmed the 1964 movie “Night of the Iguana,” with Richard Burton and Ava Gardner (Elizabeth Taylor was scandalously on the set with Richard Burton but not in the movie). It was the film that put Puerto Vallarta on the map.
Mismaloya feels like it’s at the end of the line. There’s a small, attractive village here that seems to be home to a few expats. But what really got my attention were the magnificent properties hidden away in the lush, hillside forest.
Properties are fairly expensive here, as well, and the local population is mostly Canadians and Americans.
On the beach of Mismaloya, I did come across a reasonably priced property, part of the Jolla de Mismaloya complex. It’s a large, three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo with wide coastal views, beach access, and noticeable breezes. The complex offers a heated pool, off-street parking, concierge reception desk, elevator, gym, and gardens. Maid and laundry services are available. This furnished, 170-square-meter (1,828-square-foot) condo has an asking price of US$265,000.
Is Vallarta South For You?
The city of Puerto Vallarta has a lot going for it, although many of the city’s amenities are things you can find at other places in coastal Mexico… and I could argue in favor of a number of them.
But one thing you won’t find elsewhere is the large inventory of elegant, hillside condos and homes, tucked away in a thick forest—with amazing Pacific and sunset views—within such an easy distance of town… maybe within walking distance of town.
If you’d like a quiet, wooded setting with PV’s amenities close at hand, then Vallarta South may be right for you.