Puerto Vallarta Walk: Isla Rio Cuale

Rio Cuale Restaurant

The Rio Cuale, located in downtown Puerto Vallarta, can be an enchanting walk and it’s well worth the effort if you find yourself in the area. Writer Justin Henderson takes us down this section of Puerto Vallarta, and captures the feel of this small, but quaint island.

Isla Rio Cuale – Photos by Donna Day

Another charming Vallarta walk takes you from one end of the Isla Rio Cuale to the other. This long, narrow island divides the Rio Cuale into two sections as it flows right through the heart of Puerto Vallarta. You can get onto the lush, peacefully car-free island from either side—the Rio Cuale divides “old” Vallarta from downtown– via either of the roads that cross above, but its more fun to use one of the shaky (but safe) pedestrian suspension bridges that hook link up the island with Old Town Vallarta, to the south, or downtown, to the north.

After you do Old Town and its myriad artsy-craftsy shops (the more serious Vallarta galleries are north of the cathedral), slip onto the island at the inland end, and you’ll find the Cuale cultural center and a cluster of art and music workshops. There are several restaurants towards the east end of the island, including the elegant, posh Le Bistro, Jazz Café.

Le Bistro, Isla Rio Cuale

From there, as you meander west down the pedestrian walkway you’ll find what seems to be several hundred shops selling the same eclectic piles of tourist junk, with the occasional cool item or precious object thrown in. Amble further west, and just before the other roadway bridge you’ll find another restaurant, the River Café, that is not quite as posh as the Bistro (or as pricey) where you can get a great lunch, hear some fine live music, and watch the river flow.

THe River Café

The River Café, Rio Cuale

Justin Henderson is the author of nine books on architecture and interior design, travel guides to Costa Rica, Los Angeles, and the Caribbean, and seven murder mysteries featuring amateur sleuth Lucy Ripken. His surfing style is much like his writing, playful, smooth and easy on the eyes.

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