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Isla Cuale, the Cuale River, and the Cuale Island in Puerto Vallarta Mexico

The Cuale River rushes down from the mountains and then gently glides through the southern end of Puerto Vallarta, dissecting downtown (‘el centro’) from Viejo Vallarta (‘old Vallarta’).

An island in the river, the Isla Cuale, is home to a lush park, a cultural center, several relaxing restaurants, and a tourist craft market.

The river was the ‘end of town’ until the very late 1950’s, when some restaurantuers had the crazy vision to build La Palapa a half mile further south on the beach. At that time there was no road bridge across the river, so driving there meant crossing the river at a wide and shallow point. When the summer rains turned the river into a rampage, you simply couldn’t drive there. The swinging pedestrian bridges occasionally lost their abutments as well, stranding the restaurant from town. Nonetheless, the La Palapa successfully survives to this day (noted as one of the finer restaurants in Puerto Vallarta).


The swinging pedestrian bridges are still there, as well as two road bridges, and a new pedestrian bridge at the west end of the island where the river meets the sea. You can access the island on foot from any of these bridges on your way to or from Viejo Vallarta, and it’s worth a stroll and a stop for a cocktail or meal, away from the crowds of downtown. The East end of the island is a well maintained and forested park, whose benches are often utilized by young courting couples and locals and tourists simply looking for a quiet place to relax.



1: Oscar's Bar and Grill is nearly at the tip of the island, and while right in the middle of the city, feels like an isolated oasis. Excellent service and the renowned for it's sunset views as well as its modern Mexican cuisine; open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


2: Pre-Hispanic Museum has a small but interesting collection of pre-hispanic art and artifacts; open from 10 amd to 3pm, Monday through Saturday.


3: Grace Nightclub



4: A variety of Artists display their work in the shade here under the bridge daily.


5: The River Cafe has been a Puerto Vallarta institution for years, featuring unique presentations of steaks and seafoods and the music of ''Beverly and Willow; open daily for lunch and dinner.


6: Le Bistro Jazz Cafe presents elegant dining and music 7 nights a week, with dining inside as well as outside by the river.


7: Bolero Bar and Grill is an oasis away from the crowds, with all seating outside under a modern palapa next to the Rio Cuale. Great variety, an excellent menu of wonderfull food, and an unbeatable location for relaxing meals. Highly recommened!


8: Las Brazzas Restaurant offers a varied menu of Mexican lunch and dinner, served by always-attentive staff in a pleasing and casual environment; open daily except Sundays.


9: Cultural Center is a small arts compound where artisans practice wordworking, painting, photography, and muiscal arts. There is a small indoor theater, and recitals are often held outside on a small plaza.


10: Malecon Extension This is the new extension to the downtown Malecòn, the sea-side 'boardwalk' (except that it's brick). Take the pedestrian bridge over the river and you'll end up on.....


11: Los Muertos Beach, which means 'Beach of the Dead', but that's an old story, something about a pirate battle centuries ago. The most popular beach in Vallarta, with lots of beach restaurants and bars.


12: La Escondida is your friendly neighborhood bar transplanted to Puerto Vallarta. Gringos and Mexicans alike gather here to watch sports on any of the 6 TVs, play dice, dominos, or darts, and drink cheap beer. Good place to meet some local gringos and find the good, 'non-tourist' places to go. Jacarandas Street just south of Madero; Open 10am till 1am (or so), 7 days a week.


Puerto Vallarta Mexico is  home to some of the finest dining in the WORLD. No kidding, Puerto Vallarta's restaurants have been featured repeatedly in the most prestigeous culinary publications, and for good reason...the fine dining in Puerto Vallarta is WORLD CLASS!

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