Las Caletas Puerto Vallarta is one of the secluded coves along the southern shores of Banderas Bay. Getting to Las Caletas is possible only by boat, and is operated as an exclusive private retreat for day excursions. Although this little paradise is private and exclusive, it is actually leased for ten years at a time to a tour operator who, along with other adventure tours, offers day cruises to the spot to visit the Las Caletas Spa and enjoy the tranquil beauty. The actual owners are the people of the Chacala (or Huichol) Indian community. The Mexican government granted these indigenous people a large stretch of the mountains and jungle along the coast here and that tract of Indian land reaches far into the interior.
While the history of the Indian community probably pre-dates the arrival of Spanish missionaries and conquistadors, the history of the region and Las Caletas Puerto Vallarta as a tourist destination dates only to the 1960s. In 1963, the famed director John Huston brought Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, and Deborah Kerr here to make the Oscar winning film Night of the Iguana. In turn, Burton brought his mistress, Elizabeth Taylor, along to keep him company. Both were married to other people at the time, and the resulting scandalous affair made headlines (accompanied by stunning photographs of the region) in the United States. Huston so loved the place that he leased a piece of land by the sea here, and photographs of his famous visitors (including the scandalous couple) enjoying the paradise Huston called Eden also made headlines. As a result, the tourists came in droves, and getting to Las Caletas became the quest of many of them.
In John Huston’s time, there was no boat service from Puerto Vallarta. He and his visitors had to drive a rough road to the little fishing village of Boca de Tomatlan. They would then hire a panga (a small fiberglass boat with a small outboard motor) from one of the fisherman for the remaining 30-minute trip by water. Today, getting to Las Caletas is much more comfortable and convenient, aboard a first-class catamaran from the Vallarta Marina. Enjoy a cocktail and do some whale watching along the way.
There are many things to do at Las Caletas to occupy your time once here, including doing almost nothing. You can relax under a tree on one of the beaches in a comfortable hammock, and not stir except to eat and refill your drink. Perhaps you might get up for a massage at the Las Caletas Spa to break up the time. Or, you can choose from a variety of more active activities. Three are multilingual guides who will take you on guided walks in the jungle to see sparkling waterfalls, colorful parrots, and exquisite orchids (the jungle walk is included in the price of day tours). You can also go snorkeling or scuba diving with sea lions (must be age six or over to swim with the sea lions). There are kayaks available, and other beach activities like volleyball. Gourmet lunches are prepared, and you can learn how to prepare some of the specialties if you feel like a cooking lesson.
There is also a Las Caletas Puerto Vallarta evening program called Rhythms of the Night that you can book only as an evening excursion or as part of a full day. Enjoy romantic dining under the stars an then be entertained by a contemporary dance troupe with a music and dance program that tells the stories of Mexico’s ancient civilizations. Have a nightcap, and then cruise back to your Puerto Vallarta hotels. This is also a popular place for weddings, and the tour company will work with you to plan the entire day, including a visit to the Las Caletas Spa for the bride before the ceremony.