According to archeologists, this region has been inhabited since 580 A.D. Later, The Spaniards, who were fighting with the local Indians, called the valley “Banderas” because of the bright colored flags carried by the native people, and so we know it today as Banderas Bay. For many years Banderas Bay was a safe harbor where ships found refuge traveling to their destinations along the coast and it is still one of the largest bays in the world. In the 19th century Vallarta became a port town bringing in and taking on supplies and materials from the mining towns in the mountains.
More recently, On May 31, 1918, by Congressional decree Las Peñas ( as it was known then) was granted the title of municipality under a new name: Puerto Vallarta, in memory of the illustrious lawyer and Governor of Jalisco, Don Ignacio L. Vallarta who fought in the Reform War on the side of Benito Juarez, attending the convention that drafted the 1857 Constitution of Mexico and who was President of the Supreme Court 1877.
In the 1930´s, national as well as foreign visitors began to come and enjoy the beautiful beaches and relaxed lifestyle of this port town, coming back year after year. In 1954 , Mexicana Aviacion began it´s flights from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta to compete with Aeroméxico which had a monopoly on flights to Acapulco. The Los Angeles, -- Mazatlan -- Puerto Vallarta route was also added in that same year of 1962. Thanks to Mexicana´s affiliation with Pan Am, their promotion of PV was seen all over the world.
Many people came to Puerto Vallarta in those years including Guillermo Wulff ( an Mexico City engineer) and John Huston (the Hollywood movie director) who wrote:
“When I first came here, almost thirty years ago, Vallarta was a fishing village of some 2000 souls. There was one road to the outside world - and it was impassable during the rainy season. I arrived in a small plane, and we had to buzz the cattle off a field outside town before setting down.” (Huston, 1980. An Open Book)
John was introduced to Mismaloya by Guillermo who had a lease on the land and could build anything he wanted to . “Night of the Iguana” began filming in 1963 with Richard Burton, Eva Gardner, Deborah Kerr, and Sue Lyon. At the time Liz Taylor came to stay with Burton and they bought houses across the street from each other in Gringo Gulch and Wulff built the bridge connecting the two. International press arrived in droves and in this way gave Puerto Vallarta to the world.
Francisco Medina Ascencio , Jalisco governor from 1965 – 1971 brought about the much needed infrastructure and through his efforts, Puerto Vallarta was granted City status in 1968 and given federal funds to build the bridge over the Ameca river, the highway up to Las Varas and the PVR Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport which is named after the President at the time .
In the 1970´s the President took significant steps to open up the area to development and by 1980 the Sheraton Buganvilias was finished.
Since then growth has been steady and the infrastructure has been growing right along with it. Puerto Vallarta has earned its status as a world-class resort destination!