Many visitors to the Puerto Vallarta area are surprised to find just how diverse the local environment can be. The variety of flora and fauna commonly encountered by tourists goes far beyond the standard coastal ecosphere that comes to mind when the topic is sunny Puerto Vallarta. In fact, its position at the edge of the Banderas Bay ensconced by the Sierra Madre mountain range gives it a highly variable environment and makes it one of the premier destinations in the country for dedicated nature lovers.
The region that Puerto Vallarta calls home boasts some of the most fascinating biodiversity of any in North America. Along with its famous beaches, the area also lays claim to a nearby jungle environment that is noted for its density as well as its lush appearance. Dozens of distinct tree species giving animals in the area an array of habitat options, and Greater Puerto Vallarta is also home to over 300 varieties of rare orchid as well. Another delicious development in the local climate is the availability of fresh exotic fruits such as guava, mango and avocado, which frequently grow wild in the area.
Animals known for their presence in the area include the jaguar, black bear, and white-tailed deer. The area is also home to a number of reptile species virtually exclusive to the area such as the famous green iguana and several varieties of rattlesnake. Exquisite birds including the patriotic Golden Eagle, Amazon Parrot and Green Parakeet are also common sights in the area along with hundreds of butterfly species, giving the verdant zones on the outskirts of the city a rich and colorful canopy of life.
The marine life in and around Puerto Vallarta represents perhaps its most diverse ecosphere. The waters of the region are teeming with marlin, sailfish, and several species of snapper. It is also a dolphin breeding area and an annual stop on their migration paths as well of those of whales. These friendly sea creatures enjoy swimming alongside boats as delighted visitors look on, and there are several boat tours in the area dedicated specifically to interaction with these marine wonders.
The city’s most important role in the region’s overall ecosystem may be its status as a protected zone for marine life, with strict laws in place to protect endangered animals. The beaches on the Banderas Bay are a regular breeding ground for rare sea turtles, and lucky visitors may even get the opportunity to take part in a release, watching as a new generation of turtles make their initial approach to the waters they will call home.
An outstanding destination for those who want to experience the kaleidoscope of local plant life enjoyed by locals and visitors in a single convenient location is the Vallarta Botanical Gardens. Located just outside city limits, this carefully curated conserve contains a collection of rare plants as well as plant life commonly characteristic to the region, with the goal of sharing the enormous variation of species that have roots in the country.
Among the most celebrated attractions at this conservatory is the country’s most frequently visited collection of orchid species open to the public, and it is currently working towards building a complete collection of the country’s orchids thanks to the onsite growing lab. Vallarta Botanical Gardens maintains their peerless collection of plants in an environment safe for tourist viewing, incorporating defined trails that allow guests to experience the wonder of Mexican flora without disturbing the delicate balance of nature.