Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
An Oasis of Adventure for Adrenaline-seeking Couples.

Early Morning Jet-Ski Safari lead by Eco Explorer.

A treetop Zip Line Adventure at Vallarta Adventures.

The azure waters are perfect for snorkeling.
Vallarta Adventure's speedboat landing at Boca de Tomatlan beach.
Vallarta Adventure’s Tonka Truck travels through an agave field.

Story by Theresa Catena
Photography by Aaron H. Bible

While Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, has all of the sun, sand and surf that beach-seeking couples crave, it also offers an unexpected abundance of adventure—particularly for those couples wanting more excitement from their precious holiday time. Puerto Vallarta, or PV as travelers love to call it, was made famous to the American public in the mid 1960s when famed film director John Huston shot The Night of the Iguana there. The paparazzi’s media frenzy surrounding the off-screen, extramarital affair between the movie’s star Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor further popularized the resort town’s place among travelers. Currently one of the safest vacation destinations in Mexico, PV has become a living mecca for Americans and Canadians who now represent 20% of the local population.

PV is situated on the west coast of Mexico and encompasses a slender strip of land at the base of the Sierra Madre Mountains. This makes the seaside, yet hilly and rustic landscape the perfect mix for sun-worshiping relaxation and adventurous expeditions. The early morning Jet Ski Safari from Eco Explorer is a perfect way to kick off an adventure-filled vacation, and promises an authentic view of PV’s coastline—from the water. According to Niño, our entertaining tour guide, “The sea life is more active during the morning; it gives you a better chance to spot and watch whales during the season, as well as to see dolphins nearly year round. ”With the air still fresh and crisp, the two-hour a.m. ride makes for a peaceful yet exhilarating jaunt at full throttle. The tour also makes a stop at the private beach of Colomitos, where time can be spent snorkeling.

For a full-day expedition, the Outdoor Adventure hosted by Vallarta Adventures provides non-stop sea and land exploration. The tour blasts off with a 30-minute speedboat ride that takes you to an idyllic beach cove known as Boca de Tomatlan. The jungle adventure begins next as life-size Tonka Trucks steer off-road, steeply climbing to the outfit’s base camp deep within the lush mountains. Once outfitted with zip-lining gear and a thorough tutorial, it’s off to the stable where a mule awaits for a rocky ride further into the tropics. At the peak, the true fun begins as you zip line across canyons, rappel down waterfalls and splash into river pools. The numerous tour guides, who make it safe and exciting, let you finish the circuit with a last, one-on-one zip-lining race. Sadly, I’ll admit I didn’t win that one, sigh.

Located just 20 minutes out of town, Hacienda Doña Engracia is a working ranch, adventure playground and tequila factory—all rolled into one. The ranch of many trades offers countless acres for a day’s adventure, including a jungle mountain bike tour, mud-slinging ATV experience, jeep safari and a rare opportunity to ride and swim with a horse. A Mexican lunch is served, followed by a tour of the tequila factory. All aspects of how Mexico’s nectar, tequila, is made are covered, from the fermenting, distilling and aging of the blue agave, to a proper tequila tasting.

Of course, PV offers plenty of resorts and secluded beaches for lounging and relaxing, which are all the more appreciated after a full day of exhilarating adventure.