Palo Maria River and Waterfall

Puerto Vallarta lies right in the middle of the beautiful Bay of Banderas. To the South of Puerto Vallarta, there are many rivers that create lush mountainsides full of tropical vegetation. The jungles of PV’s south shore are home to many hidden jewels that are perfect for exploring. Palo Maria is one of them! This small riverĀ boasts a series of waterfalls that attract adventurers from all over the region.

How to Get There

Drive south from Puerto Vallarta’s famous Romantic Zone area on the Highway 200. You will drive past Amapas and Conchas Chinas, and eventually past Playa Punta Negra. Start to slow down as you enter a shaded area with speed bumps. This is the Garza Blanca Hotel zone. Palo Maria’s entrance is located on the left hand side right below a small bridge. Parking is difficult to find, so I recommend arriving early.

What to Expect

This is an intermediate hike. It is a flat hike so it is not very aerobically demanding. However, you will be hiking along a river bed and crossing the river many times as you navigate along the river. Watch your step because there are many rocks and roots! The hike is shady all day which is a fantastic way to beat the heat. The water is crystal clear and there are many nice spots to stop at on your way to the waterfall.

The Waterfall(s)

After about a thirty minute hike, you will arrive to the 1st of a series of waterfalls! This pool is very deep and has a darker color due to its depth and the green moss that grows on the nearby rocks. Many folks are surprised to find black pipes hanging here. Truth is, these hoses provide fresh water to homes down the river. The vast majority of hikers stop at this waterfall. But for the very athletic and fearless, there is a rock wall on the left of the falls which will lead you further up river. There are a series of cables and roots that guide you up this rock face. The rock can be wet with moss making it very slippery. Be careful!

Palo Maria is a fantastic way to spend the day. I highly recommend it to those looking for a little adventure away from the resort pool!

Have you ever been to the river at Palo Maria? What is your favorite part of the experience? I would love to hear from you in the comments below! – John

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