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The most compelling feature of the area is the huge bay, the Bahia de Banderas or Bay of Flags, cut like a semicircle out of the Pacific Coast of Mexico. The coastline of the bay is relatively featureless, except for a few small inlets at the mouths of rivers, such as a Yelapa, Boca de Tomatlan, and Mismaloya. In the mouth of the bay is a small cluster of rocky islands, the Marietas or Islas Marietas where some sea birds nest in season.

High mountains come down to the waters edge generally extending from San Blas, Nayarit to the north, and southward to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The Bahia de Banderas, is carved out of these mountains and the cut extends inward in a northeasterly direction as a valley, the Valle de Banderas, or Valley of Flags. The high mountains surround the edge of the valley forming an area isolated from other sea level valleys to the north and south.


The valley is not large by world standards with an area of 100 to 150 square miles. It is relatively flat, especially in the delta area. Towards the sides of the valley there are low foothills, but then the mountains rise quite sharply, sometimes precipitously. On the north side, the valley is bound by the Sierra Vallejo, and on the south, by the even higher Sierra Cuale.

This list covers the floor of the valley primarily, up to 100 meters in altitude, including the foothills and some of the river gorges for a short distance, but excluding the mountains themselves. It also includes the edges of the bay from Punta de Mita on the outer northwestern point on around the bay to Yelapa on the south, as well as the bay itself.

Alejandro Martínez

Alejandro Martínez

Certified & specialized guide by sectur & cipamex

Although he is a general guide he has been specialized on ecotourism since 1997 and published the guide and checklist for the birds of Puerto Vallarta area in 1999, "The Birds from Paradise". While developing this birding guide along with mentor, Professor Dennis W. Boddy, he became an accomplished birder and a dedicated conservationist. Therefore, in 2004 an improved and updated second edition was also published.

Greg R. Homel

Ornithologist, international nature photojournalist, documentary film producer, and lecturer

Greg R. Homel is an ornithologist, award-winning international nature photojournalist, documentary film producer, and lecturer. He lives and works from his home within the magnificent Los Padres National Forest, California, USA (home of the California Condor) and from his second home at Río Lagartos, surrounded by the magnificent Ría Lagartos National Park and Biosphere Reserve at the north tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Greg R. Homel
Dennis W. Boddy

Dennis W. Boddy

Inaugurated a systematic study of the local avifauna.

Your motivation will remain in our hearts. A passion for travel he acquired in the navy during World War II was put on hold while he got his degree and started two teaching jobs, the last one being at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. When he started to travel again, much of it was to Mexico. In the early '70s he discovered Puerto Vallarta and knew at once it was his favorite spot. In 1980 he decided to learn about the birds of the area, his old boyhood love returning, and he inaugurated a systematic study of the local avifauna. Mr. Boddy's booklet, "The Birds of Paradise - The Guide & Checklist of the Birds of Puerto Vallarta" is a compilation of this knowledge.