A little gem of a spot, the Vallarta Botanical Gardens (Los Jardines Botánicos de Vallarta) sits on a hill overlooking a river south of Puerto Vallarta.
Although much beloved by local American and Canadian long-term residents, who often dine there, most visitors overlook this Mexican garden and that is a shame.
In this post, you will find directions to the Vallarta Botanical Gardens, as well as information about its seasons, collections, and dining options, but most of all I hope that you will enjoy the photos of this beautiful place, which hopefully will encourage you to visit.
Puerto Vallarta enjoys a tropical climate, whose summers and autumns are very warm and humid, with frequent heavy rains that usually last just a short time. Winter brings much cooler temperatures with nearly no rain or noticeable humidity, a season most visitors find extraordinarily pleasant.
Summer or winter, Mother Nature thrives in the Puerto Vallarta climate making the garden worthwhile to visit all year.
Surprisingly, this botanical garden may seem even more lush and its flowers even more abundant during the long dry winter season. That's when the main building gets covered in flowers.
On the other hand, summer rains fill the river rapids below the dining room, which envelopes the garden in a wonderful sound. With fewer visitors during summer, you may have the garden almost to yourself.
Especially during summer, you may want insect repellent. The garden usually sells a natural repellent at the entrance, but bring some if you want to be sure.
This garden heavily depends on donations and volunteer labor. You'll notice delightful influences provided by the year-round and winter Puerto Vallarta expatriate community and others.
Vallarta Botanical Gardens provides an extensive natural area in a ravine, with a swinging bridge, as well as cultivated gardens featuring local and other flora, which look out at the surrounding mountains. However, there are no formal gardens in the French or Italian style per se.
Even though the garden sits on a small hill, most but not all of the paths are rather gentle, with the key exception of one leading down to the Rio Horcones, where some visitors swim. Washrooms are wheelchair accessible.
Although it features the tropical forest typical around Puerto Vallarta, the garden location is also high enough in the mountains to offer the oaks and pines of Mexico's coastal range.
Opened in 2005, the garden remains very much a work in progress. Do not expect the seemingly endless variety of Royal Botanic Gardens near London or the shock and awe displays of Butchart near Victoria.
Nevertheless, there is a lot to enjoy. Some highlights include
• Carnivorous plants display,
• Chocolate, coffee, and vanilla garden,
• Endangered plant nursery,
• Native tree collection,
• Tree fern grotto,
• Cycad and palm walk,
• Tropical butterfly garden,
• Medicinal and sacred plant collection,
• Cactus and arid plants collection,
• Rhododendron garden,
• Rose garden, and more.
In many parts of the garden, you will notice orchids growing on trees.
I love the greenhouse. It displays several orchids and other plants that I have never seen before.
The garden also features a gift shop, as well as a nursery.
Remember though that you may not easily be able to bring back plant materials legally to Canada or the United States, especially ones intended for growing.
Overlooking the garden, the Hacienda de Oro Restaurant, draws in the local "lets do lunch" crowd and lucky tourists. I really like this place.
Hacienda de Oro, open for lunch only, serves local Mexican specialties, as well as items like wood-baked pizzas, with enough variety to satisfy most diners. In my experience, the service has been warm and friendly.
Prices range from inexpensive to moderate, as judged by Puerto Vallarta costs.
Unfortunately, the dining room does not provide wheelchair access, although meals could be brought to a lower level.
Hours and Fees:
10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Closed Mondays April through December)
Sixty Mexican Pesos (under 10 free)
|On one of my visits, this charming sight greeted diners from the restaurant|
Take the "El Tuito" bus from the northeast corner of Venustiano Carranza and Aguacate streets in the Puerto Vallarta Romantic Zone, not far from the cathedral, for an interesting and fun way to reach the gardens.
Although Mexico likely enjoys the most deluxe inter-city bus services in the world (some companies offering meal service and first-class airline legroom), the El Tuito bus does not belong to that genre to put it mildly. Instead, expect a bumpy ride, with great people watching.
Have 20 Mexican Pesos for the fare each way, including exact change for the return trip. You are riding to "El Har-din bot-tan-e-cal." Buses are usually scheduled every 30 minutes.
The bus drops you off in front of the garden, but on the way back as you exit the garden, cross the highway, turn right, and walk up a slight hill to where coaches can more easily and safely pull over.
From Puerto Vallarta, take Mexican federal highway 200 south along the coast.
After the village of Boca de Tomatlán, the highway climbs into the mountains.
After passing Chico's Paradise Bar and Grill, watch for the garden entrance on the right, which I believe comes about 2 and 1/2 miles (4 kilometers) further.
A taxi from Old Town costs about 225 Mexican pesos each way. Confirm a rate before getting in.
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