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About Banderas Bay

Banderas Bay is the largest bay in Mexico and one of the largest bays in the world. Many have said that it was formed from a volcano, however it is part of a canyon the runs from the Meca to Cabo Corrientes and part of the Sierra Madre mountain chain.

Banderas Bay is protected from mountains at all sides and from sea level you can go several miles east and find yourself at a elevation of over 2000 feet above sea level in the Sierra Madre mountains looking down at Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay. The same is true for the Pacific Ocean just outside the bay, just a few miles and you will have 3000-5000-foot depths in the water and out by the Marieta Islands some depths as much as 10,000 feet and more. This is the primary reason for great fishing and the many whales that visit the bay each season as well as the many species of sport-fish. 

Banderas Bay is shaped like a horseshoe and has over 60 miles of beautiful shoreline. The shores range in style from rock formations to beautiful sandy beaches and within the city of Puerto Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta, the beaches run for miles and miles so there is never a shortage of spots to find a beautiful beach. Even after over 10 years we still have not been able to visit every beach within the bay, it is a goal and we plan to achieve that in the coming years.

No matter what beach you prefer or where the beach is located, you will always  have a fantastic view of the entire area including Puerto Vallarta, Punta Mita, La Cruz, Bucerias, as far south as Mismaloya and the beautiful Sierra Madres as a backdrop. There is beach access along the entire 60 miles of shoreline. You can travel along the highway running along the bay shoreline from Punta Mita at the northernmost point, through Nuevo Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta and as far south to Boca de Tomatlan, which is a just south of Mismaloya.

South of Boca de Tomatlan, the highway heads inland and into the mountains but there are many secluded beaches to the south only accessible by boat. This is a perfect reason to charter a yacht with family and friends from Vallata Yacht Company. The areas south include many beautiful coves which are truly incredible such as Colomitos, Las Animas, Quimixto, Las Caletas (former home of John Huston), Majahuitas and Yelapa. All of these spots have beautiful beaches and some are inhabited with only boat access to get to and from Puerto Vallarta. Many locals have small pangas or they use the water taxi system. The locals that live there are extremely friendly and always happy to see you. Many spots have restaurants on the beach along with shopping for their local arts and crafts. They also have parasailing, wave runners, horses and some even have waterfalls. Truly an experience like no other.

The difference between Banderas Bay and other bays around the world is the depth of the waters within the bay which makes the bay an entire playground for whales, dolphins, giant sea turtle and manta rays. The average depth throughout the bay is 1000 feet and the water temperature is ideal for whales from November to April and all year a playground for the bottle-nose dolphins.

Of course, for us humans, Banderas bay is our playground as well with water temperatures between 76 and 89 depending on the time of year and a minimum of 300 days of sunshine each year. There really is no better way to explore than on a private boat or yacht so you can really get a feel for the culture of Mexico when visiting some of these small fishing villages which are all Indian villages that date back 5000 years.

The name, Banderas Bay (bandera) is Spanish for flag. It was considered the bay of flags because when the Spanish arrived into the Banderas Bay (Bandera) area in the early 1500’s, it consisted of different small settlements or villages of warlike Indians that carried spears and shields flying cotton flags of different colors, while defending their territories.

It was at that time, the Spaniards started referring to the area as the bay of flags or Banderas Bay. By the mid 1500’s, the conquest was complete and for nearly 500 years, there have been no serious conflicts between the Spaniards and Indians. It was quite opposite, they have intermarried now for over 20 generations. It is estimated that approximately 80% to 90% of all native Mexicans are Mestizos, a combination of Spanish and Indian. Today there is nothing but love.

In the modern day, the natives are very kind, gentle, and hospitable group of people and any type of confrontation is avoided at all costs. They are extremely religious and peaceful society living with love. Foreigners, regardless of whether they are tourists or immigrating retirees, are always welcome by the natives of this very special Banderas Bay region.

Today in Puerto Vallarta is quite a different scene, it is now grown to population of about 500,000 residents, plus the countless number of tourists that come down to get their little slice of paradise. Crime is extremely low in the bay area and has about a 30% American and Canadian population. Puerto Vallarta and the entire Banderas Bay originally saw the first boom in the 50’s when John Huston came here to make the movie “Night of the Iguana” with Ava Gardner and Richard Burton and always near by was Elizabeth Taylor. If you would like to know the full story check out www.astolenparadise.com.  That was the beginning of the boom and it continues to grow. Over the past few years there has been an even bigger boom especially to the north of Puerto Vallarta in Communities like Bucerias, La Cruz and Nuevo Vallarta as people are trying to get away from the hustle and bustle of Puerto Vallarta. No matter where you go in the Banderas Bay area you will find a slice of paradise so please enjoy all that the bay has to offer and take a charter on one of our beautiful yachts and let us pamper you and your guests with luxury, adventure and fun.