PortsMexican Riviera35 Top-Rated Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta

35 Top-Rated Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta [Ultimate Guide]

Discover the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta on a cruise or vacation as we discuss one of the most popular resort towns along the Mexican Riviera.

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From swimming with dolphins to strolling through charming cobblestone streets, Puerto Vallarta is one place that offers a wide range of adventures. Let’s dive in and see the best places to enjoy your vacation.

main pier in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta pier along the beach. Photo credit: Hello Cinthia/Shuterstock.com

In this article we will uncover the top activities and experiences in Puerto Vallarta, guaranteed to make your trip one to remember.

The beaches, culture, food, and natural beauty of this Mexican Riviera resort town offer plenty of variety for everyone.

Related: Things to do in Mazatlan, Mexico

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which may provide us with a small commission if you make a purchase.  Thank you for your support!

 

About Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is a resort city located on the Pacific Ocean in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. It is situated at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains, along Mexico’s beautiful coastline.

The city itself is known for its charming cobblestone streets and colorful colonial architecture. It also has an incredible selection of restaurants, galleries, boutiques and entertainment venues to explore. Many visitors come to Puerto Vallarta for its stunning beaches, which stretch for miles along the coast.

Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway or simply want to soak up some sun and sand, Puerto Vallarta offers something for everyone. There are plenty of outdoor activities such as whale watching and zip-lining available as well as plenty of cultural attractions like museums, art galleries and theaters.

With its temperate climate year round and endless possibilities for adventure, Puerto Vallarta is a wonderful port to visit when on a cruise.

 

Puerto Vallarta Cruise Port

cruise ships docked in Puerto Vallarta Mexico
Cruise port at Puerto Vallarta. Photo credit: Paco Espinoza/Shuterstock.com

The cruise port of Puerto Vallarta can accommodate up to 3 cruise ships at one time. However, some larger ships may have to anchor and use tenders to transport passengers to shore.

You will find this cruise port on Mexican Riviera cruise itineraries. The Mexican Riviera refers to the western coastline of Mexico that spans over 4,000 miles

Cruise visitors will dock at the Marina Vallarta Maritime Terminal, which is about 3 miles north of the center of the city. Taxis will line up to take passengers downtown. You can negotiate taxi fare but it’s usually about $6-$8.

Keep in mind that you can typically use U.S. dollars but will get Mexican Pesos back in change.

view from the cruise ship looking at the Puerto Vallarta cruise terminal
Puerto Vallarta cruise port. Photo credit: Cruise Fever

 

Best Things to do in Puerto Vallarta

See the best selling excursions in Puerto Vallarta through our partner here.

Visit the Malecon Boardwalk

sculptures alone the Malecon boardwalk in Puerto Vallarta
El Malecon boardwalk in Puerto Vallarta Photo credit: eskystudio/Shuterstock.com

The Malecon Boardwalk in Puerto Vallarta is popular thing to do when visiting the city. It’s a wide and long boardwalk that lines the shore of Banderas Bay, offering breathtaking views of the ocean and mountains.

Along the way, you’ll find art galleries, restaurants, souvenir shops, ice cream parlors, street performers and more. You can also spot dolphins swimming in the bay or admire the colorful boats docked at the marinas. Whether you’re looking for some fun in the sun or just want to take a leisurely stroll by the sea, make sure to include this unique destination on your Puerto Vallarta itinerary.

This is one activity in Puerto Vallarta that is a must-see for any first-time visitors.

 

Take a tour of the city

downtown puerto vallarta, mexico
Main square in downtown Puerto Vallarta Photo credit: Diego Grandi/Shuterstock.com

Puerto Vallarta is a unique blend of ancient culture and modernity.  On a tour of this vibrant city your guide will take you to the marina, where luxurious yachts are anchored. A highlight of the tour will be a visit to the iconic Church of the Virgin of Guadalupe in downtown Puerto Vallarta, located in the heart of cobblestone streets and traditional adobe houses.

You will also explore the main plaza, Mercado, and Malecon, where you can see sculptures, street art, and a stunning ocean view. Discover the craftsmanship of local artisans, including glass sculptures and Talavera. You will also visit a silver store with a workshop, where you can learn about silver artworks and opals found only in Africa and Mexico. Shopping time is included.

Book your tour of Puerto Vallarta through our partner here.

 

Take a boat tour to see the Marietas Islands

You can take a boat tour to see the Marietas Islands from various locations in Mexico such as Puerto Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta. These tours usually include snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming with the sea life around the islands.

The Marietas Islands are a group of small uninhabited islands located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Nayarit, Mexico. The islands are part of the Revillagigedo Archipelago and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016.

One of the best things to see near Puerto Vallarta, the islands are known for their stunning natural beauty, with white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and vibrant coral reefs. They are also home to a variety of wildlife including whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and numerous species of birds. Visitors can enjoy snorkeling and diving in the pristine waters or take in breathtaking views from the tops of the islands’ rocky cliffs.

Check out a Marietas Island snorkel excursion through our partners here.

 

Explore Historic San Sebastian

San Sebastian town with old cobblestone street and white houses
Historic San Sebastian near Puerto Vallarta. Photo credit: Reimar/Shuterstock.com

Historic San Sebastian is a small community located in the mountains near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It is known for its picturesque colonial architecture and traditional cobblestone streets. The town was founded by Spanish settlers in 1580, and many of the old buildings remain intact today.

The town is home to several notable monuments, including an 18th-century parish church, a museum dedicated to local history, and a former hacienda (estate) which now serves as a hotel. Visitors can also visit nearby waterfalls and explore the surrounding jungle terrain on horseback or by foot. There are several restaurants serving traditional Mexican fare as well as international cuisine.

In addition to its historic sites, San Sebastian is known for its vibrant nightlife scene and lively festivals throughout the year. Every summer, the town hosts an annual rodeo that attracts locals from all over Mexico – complete with fireworks, food stalls, and live music performances.

Book a tour of San Sebastian here through our partner.

 

Experience a Sea Turtle Camp

Puerto Vallarta has been supporting sea turtle protection programs for nearly 40 years. Visitors can attend a lecture on the turtles, participate in shore patrol to look for mother turtles laying eggs, and help release baby hatchlings into the ocean with a team of Mexican biologists working to increase the survival rate of the endangered Olive Ridley turtles.

This tour is a great way to learn about conservation efforts in Puerto Vallarta and to witness the miracle of sea turtle nesting. Book now for your chance to participate.

Book a nature encounter at Sea Turtle Camp through our partner here.

 

Explore the Old Town and its historic churches

old church in puerto vallarta downtown area
Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Puerto Vallarta. Photo credit: eskystudio/Shuterstock.com

Puerto Vallarta has a rich history that dates back to its founding in the mid-1800s. The Old Town is full of beautiful colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and quaint plazas. There are many historic churches in the Old Town, including Our Lady of Guadalupe Church (Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), San Francisco Church (Iglesia de San Francisco), and Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption (Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción).

These churches offer a glimpse into Puerto Vallarta’s past and provide visitors with an opportunity to experience the city’s religious heritage. Visitors can also explore El Malecon, a scenic boardwalk along the waterfront that offers stunning views of Banderas Bay and plenty of opportunities for people watching.

 

Check out the amazing beaches around Puerto Vallarta

one of the sandy beaches not far from puerto vallarta
Yelapa Beach near Puerto Vallarta.  It’s a very secluded area and the best way to get there is by water taxi or tour. Photo credit: Chris Howey/Shuterstock.com

Puerto Vallarta is home to some of the most stunning beaches in Mexico. From secluded, peaceful coves to bustling tourist hotspots, Puerto Vallarta has beaches of all kinds for those willing to look. Here are some of the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta:

1. Los Muertos Beach – This beach is the most popular beach in Puerto Vallarta and a great spot for people watching. It’s located right in downtown, so you can enjoy great food and drinks right along the beach.

2. Colomitos Beach – Colomitos Beach is a secluded beach located about a 50 minute taxi ride from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The beach is known for its crystal clear waters and breathtaking views of Banderas Bay. Visitors to Colomitos Beach can enjoy swimming and snorkeling in the warm, calm waters or simply relaxing on the white sand beach. There are no services at the beach, so visitors should bring their own supplies such as food, water, sunscreen, and umbrellas. The beach is accessible by an unpaved road from Puerto Vallarta or a boat ride from Yelapa village.

3. Playa de Mismaloya – This beach is a bit south of Puerto Vallarta and is a great spot for swimming and snorkeling due to its calm waters and beautiful coral reef just offshore. Some say this is the beach that started major tourism for the area. After all, this was the set for the 1963 film ‘The Night of the Iguana’, staring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. More on this later.

4. Yelapa Beach – Located on the southern tip of Banderas Bay, Yelapa Beach is accessible only by boat or water taxi from Puerto Vallarta.  Yelapa is truly a beach town and a hidden gem.  It’s an excellent spot for swimming, fishing, kayaking, sunbathing, and enjoying the stunning scenery of this secluded paradise. It’s about as far as you can get from the center city while still being part of Puerto Vallarta.

5. Playa Las Animas – Located on the north side of Banderas Bay near Punta de Mita, this beach offers some of the best surfing in all of Mexico due to its consistent waves and strong offshore winds.

6. Majahuitas Cove – This small cove off Marietas Islands offers some amazing snorkeling with beautiful fish and coral reefs just inches away from shore.

7. Playa Conchas Chinas – The beach is known for its beautiful views, calm waters and white sand. There are plenty of activities to do around Playa Conchas Chinas, including swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, jet skiing and parasailing. Visitors can also enjoy nearby restaurants and shops as well as the many resorts located along this stretch of beach.

8. Playa Palmares – Although it’s about an hour north of downtown Puerto Vallarta, this powder-soft sandy beach has the extra perk of being less crowded. There is a long stretch of coastline along the beach, offering even more space for travelers willing to get away from the bustle of the city to find pristine waters .

9. Playa las Gemelas – Playa Las Gemelas is a stunning beach located just a few miles south of Puerto Vallarta in Nayarit, Mexico. It is one of the most beautiful beaches on Mexico’s Pacific coast, with its white sand and crystal clear turquoise waters. There are no amenities on Playa Las Gemelas, making it the perfect spot for an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. The beach is also well-known for its excellent surfing conditions.

 

Explore the Hidden Beach of Puerto Vallarta

beach with dome of rock around it. Hidden beach
The Hidden Beach on Marieta Island Mexico. Photo credit: miguelnaranjo/Shuterstock.com

Puerto Vallarta’s Hidden Beach is a secluded paradise located on the south end of Banderas Bay. It is tucked away in a cove and is accessible only by boat or by a long hike. The beach itself features powdery white sand, crystal clear waters, and lush tropical vegetation. Visitors often come to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and take pictures of the stunning views. How do you get to Hidden Beach?

The beach is located within the Marieta Islands National Park. The best way to get there is by boat, since it’s about 20 miles offshore from Puerto Vallarta. It is also possible to kayak to the beach if you have experience and knowledge of the area.

 

Enjoy a sea lion encounter

Head to Aquaventuras Water Park and check in for your Sea Lion Encounter and water park adventure. Meet the entertaining sea lions and discover their unique behaviors that will bring a smile to your face.

During this fun family program, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with these adorable marine mammals. The program begins with a briefing on sea lions and an overview of the activities you’ll participate in. Then, you’ll enter the water on a submerged platform where you can interact with the sea lions, including the popular kiss and hug. Learn about their diet and even get to feed and pet them.

Each session lasts one hour, with 30 minutes dedicated to swimming. To ensure a personalized experience, group sizes are limited to 10 people.

Book your sea lion encounter through our partner here.

 

Explore the waterfalls of El Salto

The waterfalls and pools of El Sato Mexico
The water pools of the El Sato waterfalls. Photo credit: Nailotl/Shuterstock.com

Travelers looking to explore the incredible beauty of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico should make sure to check out the stunning El Salto waterfalls. Located in a small, secluded area near Mascota, El Salto is known as one of the most picturesque and tranquil nature spots in Puerto Vallarta. Visitors can enjoy a refreshing swim or dip their feet in the cool waters of this cascade waterfall or simply admire its beauty from afar.

El Salto consists of two main falls with the first being an impressive 30 meters high and the second around 15 meters high. Those brave enough can take a plunge off these majestic falls into a pool below for an unforgettable experience! The surrounding area is filled with lush vegetation, providing plenty of shade so visitors can relax and take in all that nature has to offer.

Book your waterfall excursion through our partner here.

 

Explore the surf town of Sayulita

Discover the hidden paradise of Sayulita, a surf town known for its beautiful beaches, on this guided tour. Your expert guide will take you around the town before giving you free time to explore on your own. Visit secluded beaches like Patzcuarito and Patzcuaro, indulge in authentic Mexican cuisine, and even snorkel. This tour is perfect for culture enthusiasts and beach-goers alike.

Start your day with a scenic drive from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita, where your expert guide will give you a tour of the town. Afterwards, you have free time to explore Sayulita’s restaurants, shops, and art galleries. Head south to soak up the sun on the iconic beaches like La Playa de Los Muertos, which features a graveyard honoring local ancestors and a pathway to walk through.

Sayulita is known for its waves, so make sure to visit Carricitos Beach, where you can snorkel and kayak in calm waters. Explore the black sands of Patzcuarito Beach and the golden sands of secluded Patzcuaro, where you’ll find scenic views of cliffs and caves. Before the tour ends, dine on authentic Mexican cuisine at a recommended restaurant chosen by your guide. Sign up for this enthralling excursion and experience an unforgettable day trip near Puerto Vallarta.

Book your excursion to Sayulita here.

 

Visit the Los Arcos National Marine Park

Los Arcos National Marine Park is a protected area of the Mexican Pacific located in the state of Jalisco, about 10 km from Puerto Vallarta. The park covers an area of 4,870 hectares and is one of the most important natural areas in Mexico due to its diverse marine life. It has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005.

The park features numerous coral reefs and sea-grass beds, making it an ideal destination for snorkeling, scuba diving and sport fishing. Visitors can also enjoy whale watching during certain times of the year when humpback whales migrate through the region. There are several tours that depart from Puerto Vallarta to visit Los Arcos National Marine Park, which usually include round trip boat transportation, snorkeling equipment, lunch and drinks.

 

Visit the Vallarta Botanical Gardens

The Vallarta Botanical Gardens are a must-see for nature lovers. Located in the heart of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the gardens offer visitors a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. There are more than 3,000 species of plants and trees on display, including many native to Mexico.

The gardens also feature a waterfall, aviary and butterfly garden with hundreds of species of butterflies. Visitors can also explore an orchid house and cactus garden. There are plenty of trails to explore, as well as picnic spots and benches where you can take in the beauty of the gardens.

 

Take a day trip San Pancho

Sayulita and San Pancho are two charming towns located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico near Puerto Vallarta. Both are great day trips from the city and can be reached in an hour or less by car.

San Pancho is a smaller, more laid-back beach town that offers plenty of opportunities for relaxation and exploration. The main draw here is its beautiful jungle setting and tranquil beaches. Visitors can explore the local culture by visiting the weekly farmer’s market or taking a surf lesson with one of the area’s many instructors.

No matter which town you choose to visit, this is a great day trip from Puerto Vallarta if you want to get away from the city.

 

Visit the Puerto Vallarta Art Walk

The Puerto Vallarta Art Walk is a popular event that takes place every Wednesday evening from 6-10 PM (from the end of October to the End of June) in the El Centro area of the city. It features local and international artists displaying their artwork, as well as live music, food, and drinks.

The event gives visitors a chance to experience the vibrant art scene of Puerto Vallarta while mingling with locals and other visitors. Whether you are looking for something unique to take home or just want to soak up the atmosphere, the Puerto Vallarta Art Walk is an unforgettable experience.

 

Visit the Canopy River Eco Adventure Park

Canopy River Eco Adventure Park is a unique outdoor adventure park located in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The park offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy, including zip-lining, rappelling, kayaking and tubing.

Visitors can also take part in an eco tour that takes them through the jungle and into the heart of the wild where they will learn about the local flora and fauna while enjoying spectacular views of the surrounding area. Canopy River Eco Adventure Park also offers a variety of dining options, ranging from traditional Mexican cuisine to international options such as sushi and Italian dishes.

 

Visit the Casa Kimberley, former home of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

Casa Kimberley is a private residence in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, that was once the home of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. It is not open to the public, but visitors can take a guided walking tour that includes stops along the beachfront walkway where they can view the house from afar. The tour also includes stops at other local attractions and points of interest.

 

Visit the Gringo Gulch neighborhood

The Gringo Gulch neighborhood is located in Old Town Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It is a historic neighborhood that was the first to be developed outside of downtown. The area is known for its beautiful architecture and vibrant atmosphere, with many shops and restaurants lining the streets. Visitors can explore the area on foot and take in the sights, sounds, and smells of this unique neighborhood. There are also several art galleries and museums located in Gringo Gulch that are worth checking out.

 

Visit the Mirador Cerro de la Cruz

The Mirador Cerro de la Cruz is a popular lookout point in the heart of Puerto Vallarta. From this scenic spot, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the city and its picturesque harbor.

The site is home to an iconic cross that was erected by locals in 1925 and is a symbol of faith and hope for Puerto Vallarta. The park surrounding the lookout point is filled with lush vegetation, making it a great spot to relax and take in the views.

 

Visit the Museum of Naval History

The Museum of Naval History in Puerto Vallarta is an interactive museum that provides visitors with an educational experience about the rich history of Mexico’s Navy. Exhibits include artifacts from the Mexican War of Independence, the Mexican Revolution, and the Spanish-American War.

Visitors can also explore interactive displays on maritime navigation, shipbuilding technology, and life at sea. In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum also holds special events such as lectures and seminars related to naval history.

 

Experience the nightlife in the Romantic Zone

Puerto Vallarta’s Zona Romantica has long been known as the city’s special destination for couples and romantics alike. Located in the heart of Puerto Vallarta, this vibrant neighborhood is filled with art galleries, romantic restaurants, and bustling nightlife. Whether you are looking for a peaceful place to relax or an energetic atmosphere full of activity, Zona Romantica has something to offer everyone.

The streets of Zona Romantica are always alive with energy. From colorful street performers to shops filled with unique souvenirs, there is no shortage of things to do and see during your visit. Some popular activities include strolling along the Malecon boardwalk at sunset while admiring the breathtaking views of Banderas Bay or taking in a show at one of the local theaters.

 

Take a stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking excursion

Puerto Vallarta is a great destination for stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking excursions. Some of the most popular spots to explore include Los Arcos and Las Islas Marietas, where you can take in stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding mountains. For more adventurous visitors, there are also guided tours that take you further out into the Bay of Banderas for an even more unique experience.

 

Visit the El Salado Estuary Nature Reserve

The El Salado Estuary Nature Reserve is a protected area located in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The reserve is home to many species of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish as well as various types of vegetation.

This area was declared a protected reserve in 2003 and consists of 612 hectares of mangrove forest, wetlands and beaches. Visitors can enjoy bird watching, nature trails, kayaking and snorkeling amongst the mangrove forests.

 

Go on a whale watching tour

If you want to go whale watching in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, there are many tour companies and operators offering trips. Most of these trips depart from the marina in Puerto Vallarta and last 3-4 hours. During the tour, you can expect to see humpback whales, dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays and other marine life. Whale watching tours are a great way to explore the beauty of Puerto Vallarta’s coastal waters while observing some of its majestic wildlife.

 

Swim with Dolphins

The dolphin program in Puerto Vallarta offers a series of safe and exciting activities for guests to interact with dolphins and build trust. Group size is limited to 10 for a personal experience. Guests will learn about dolphins, their behavior, and training techniques from a professional instructor and have the opportunity to participate in various activities such as being pulled on a boogie board, kissed, and ridden on by the dolphins.

A professional photographer will be present and the total experience, including orientation, lasts about 45 minutes. After the program, guests can enjoy a complimentary lunch and access to the Aquaventuras Water Park, which includes shows and water activities. The cost of the program includes admission to the water park. Observers can also enter the park for the cost of admission.

Book your excursion to swim with dolphins through our partner here.

 

Go on a deep sea fishing excursion

There are a few different places to go deep sea fishing in Puerto Vallarta. You can book a private charter with one of the many local companies, such as Vallarta Sportfishing or Cabo Mar Charter Fishing. Most charters offer either half-day trips (4–5 hours) or full-day trips (8–10 hours). Depending on the size of your group and the type of fish you’re targeting, prices for these excursions typically range from $400–$1000 USD per boat. Before you set off for your adventure, be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and drinking water.

 

Go on a jungle safari tour

Puerto Vallarta is a great destination for a jungle safari tour. There are many companies offering tours that take you out into the jungle to explore and experience the region’s unique flora, fauna, and wildlife. The most popular tour companies include Adventure PV, Vallarta Adventures, and Wildmex.

These tours usually include visits to local rivers, waterfalls, caves, and other natural areas. You may also get to see exotic birds, monkeys, crocodiles, and other animals living in their natural environment. Depending on the tour you choose, you may also be able to go zip-lining or do some rappelling down canyon walls.

 

Go on a zip-line adventure

With gorgeous mountains that hug the coastline, zip-lining in Puerto Vallarta is pretty spectacular. The area offers a variety of options, from short and easy rides to longer excursions with multiple lines. Some popular zip-line companies in the area include Canopy River, Selvatica, and Wild Canyon.

The tours typically include all necessary gear, safety instructions, and a guide who will take you through the course. You’ll fly through the air with spectacular views of the jungle below and have plenty of time to take photos or just admire the scenery. So if you’re looking for a thrilling adventure in Puerto Vallarta, zip-lining is definitely worth considering.

Book a zip-line tour through our partner here.

 

Take a glass-bottom boat tour to see marine life

These glass-bottom boat tours in Puerto Vallarta are typically offered on the Marietas Islands and take visitors around the stunning islands while allowing them to catch glimpses of the diverse marine life below the surface. During these trips, guests may be able to spot sea turtles, manta rays, dolphins, and a variety of other fish species.

 

Go on a snorkeling or scuba diving excursion

Puerto Vallarta is a great place for snorkeling and scuba diving. There are many companies that offer excursions, both on-shore and off-shore. Most of the dive sites will offer you a chance to see colorful marine life and explore fascinating coral reefs.

You can also stay close to Puerto Vallarta’s shore and explore shallow reefs, bays and lagoons. For more advanced dives, head out further into the Pacific Ocean where you can explore deeper waters with larger marine life.

 

Take a birdwatching tour in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is an ideal spot for birdwatching, as the area is home to over 350 species of birds. Birding tours are available from a variety of tour operators in Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding area. These tours generally follow routes that take visitors through various habitats, including mangroves, tropical deciduous forest, wetlands, and more.

On these tours, guests can observe exotic birds such as kingfishers, toucans, parakeets, and woodpeckers. Depending on the tour operator chosen, birding tours may also include visits to local conservation areas or other attractions in the region.

 

Take a sunset horseback ride on the beach

These tours typically take place on a nearby beach or in the nearby mountains, and offer a unique way to experience the beautiful scenery of the area as the sun sets. Some tour operators may also include a traditional Mexican dinner or drinks as part of the experience. It is always recommended to check with the tour operator in advance and check reviews before booking.

 

Try the local food of Puerto Vallarta

Some tacos and ingredients for outdoor vendor in Mexico
Some local food from street vendors in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Photo credit: Koko Kuswoyo/Shuterstock.com

Puerto Vallarta is a foodie’s dream. The city is located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, so seafood is a staple in many local dishes. You can find a wide variety of seafood options, such as ceviche, fish tacos, and grilled octopus. In addition to seafood, traditional Mexican dishes like tamales, mole, and chiles rellenos are also popular. Many restaurants in Puerto Vallarta also serve international cuisine, including Italian, French, and Asian food.

Street food is also a popular option in Puerto Vallarta, with vendors selling a variety of tasty treats like tacos al pastor, elote (grilled corn), and churros. The local markets also offer a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and spices that can be used to make traditional Mexican dishes.

 

Take a private cooking class

The food in Puerto Vallarta is so delicious why not learn how to make it yourself when you get back home.

With this excursion you can experience authentic Jaliscan cuisine by mastering cooking techniques with a local expert, Helene. Learn to chop ingredients for delicious salsa, marinate meats, and fry whole fish. Enjoy a 1.5 hour cooking session followed by a meal prepared with local seafood, meats, and salsas, served on an outdoor patio or in a beautiful house.

The tour includes local alcohol and water, and accommodation for groups of up to 6. Please note that menu may vary based on seasonal ingredients and tour ends with a return to the port area.

Book your private cooking class in Puerto Vallarta here.

 

Play a round of golf at Marina Vallarta Golf Club in puerto vallarta

The course offers 18 holes of championship golf, and also has a driving range and putting green. Tee times can be booked online or by phone, and the staff are friendly and helpful. A round of golf at the Marina Vallarta Golf Club will cost around $100 USD depending on the time of day and season.

 

See the best selling excursions in Puerto Vallarta through our partner here.

 

apartment buildings along the coastline of Puerto Vallarta
Photo credit: Cruise Fever

FAQ on Puerto Vallarta

Where is Puerto Vallarta located exactly?

Puerto Vallarta is located on the Pacific Ocean coast of Mexico in the state of Jalisco. It is situated between the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains and the Bay of Banderas, about 160 miles north of Manzanillo and 220 miles northwest of Mexico City.

 

What currency do I need in Puerto Vallarta?

The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN).

 

Do you need a car to get around Puerto Vallarta?

No, you do not need a car to get around Puerto Vallarta. The city has an extensive public transportation system, as well as taxis and ride-sharing services available for visitors.

 

Is the water warmer in Cancun or Puerto Vallarta?

It depends on the time of year. Generally, Cancun tends to have warmer water temperatures than Puerto Vallarta.

 

What is the nicest part of Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta is full of beautiful sights, but many visitors consider the Malecon to be the nicest part of the city. The Malecon is a long, oceanfront walkway that stretches from the old town all the way to the hotel zone. Along the path, you can admire stunning sculptures and murals, sample delicious local cuisine, and take in breathtaking views of Banderas Bay.

 

What food is Puerto Vallarta known for?

Puerto Vallarta is known for its seafood, including tacos de pescado (fish tacos), ceviche, aguachiles (shrimp in a spicy lime sauce), camarones al mojo de ajo (shrimp with garlic sauce), and mariscos (seafood dishes). Other popular dishes include birria (goat stew) and pozole (a traditional soup with hominy and pork).

Things to do in Puerto Vallarta right near the cruise port?

 

Things to do in Puerto Vallarta downtown?

1. Explore Old Town: Stroll through the cobblestone streets of Puerto Vallarta’s downtown, full of charming colonial architecture and vibrant Mexican culture.

2. Visit Los Muertos Beach: Take a dip in the crystalline waters of Los Muertos beach or take in the stunning sunsets from one of its many beachside restaurants.

3. Check Out the Markets: Browse through the colorful markets for unique handcrafted souvenirs such as jewelry, pottery, and more!

4. Go on a Boat Tour: Witness some of Puerto Vallarta’s most breathtaking sights from the sea on a boat tour around Banderas Bay and Marietas Islands.

5. Try Traditional Mexican Food: Sample some of Mexico’s most delicious dishes at one of downtown’s local eateries while soaking up the city atmosphere.

6. Visit El Malecon Boardwalk: Get to know Puerto Vallarta better by exploring this popular boardwalk lined with street performers, sculptures, art galleries and more.

 

What are the different Puerto Vallarta neighborhoods?

1. El Centro: The oldest and most traditional neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta, El Centro is the downtown district near the Malecón boardwalk.

2. Marina Vallarta: Located northwest of El Centro, Marina Vallarta is a large residential development that features a golf course, luxury homes, condominiums, and a marina.

3. Zona Romántica: Also known as “Old Town” or “Southside,” this neighborhood is full of art galleries, restaurants, and bars in the city’s historic center.

4. Conchas Chinas/Los Muertos Beach: A popular tourist destination located south of downtown Puerto Vallarta, Conchas Chinas is home to some of the best beaches and villas in the area.

5. Mismaloya: This beach town located south of Puerto Vallarta on Banderas Bay offers stunning views of jungle-covered mountains and plenty of outdoor activities like snorkeling and fishing.

6. Amapas: This upscale neighborhood is known for its stunning views of Los Arcos (The Arches) rock formation at the entrance to Banderas Bay and its proximity to downtown Puerto Vallarta and some of the city’s best restaurants, boutiques, and nightlife spots.

7. Nuevo Vallarta: A planned development just north of Puerto Vallarta featuring luxurious resorts with multiple amenities including golf courses and spas as well as residential areas with single-family homes and condos overlooking Banderas Bay

 

What are some free things to do in Puerto Vallarta?

1. Visit the Malecon Boardwalk – Stroll along the waterfront and take in the incredible sights, sounds and smells of Puerto Vallarta’s vibrant culture.

2. Enjoy the Beach – Grab a towel and soak up some sunshine on one of Puerto Vallarta’s beautiful beaches.

3. Explore Old Town – Wander around the cobblestone streets of Old Town and explore its charming shops, galleries, restaurants and bars.

4. Take a Self-Guided Tour – Hit the streets and take your own self-guided tour of Puerto Vallarta’s historical sites, monuments, parks and plazas.

5. Attend a Cultural Festival – Check out one of Puerto Vallarta’s many cultural festivals throughout the year like the Grito de Independencia or Carnaval celebration to get an authentic taste of Mexican culture.

 

What are the best hotels in Puerto Vallarta?

There are many great hotels in the area. Some highly-rated options for your stay in Puerto Vallarta include:

  • Hotel Belmar: This adults-only boutique hotel is located in the Romantic Zone and offers stunning ocean views, an infinity pool, and a spa.
  • Casa Velas Hotel Boutique: This all-inclusive hotel is located in Marina Vallarta and offers suites with private pools, a golf course, and a spa.
  • Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway: This hotel is located in the Romantic Zone and offers oceanfront suites, a pool, and a spa.
  • The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort: This luxury resort is located in Punta Mita and offers a private beach, multiple pools, and a spa.
  • Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit: This all-inclusive luxury hotel is located in Riviera Nayarit and offers suites with private plunge pools, multiple restaurants, and a spa.

See the best selling excursions in Puerto Vallarta through our partner here.

To wrap it up

Puerto Vallarta is just about the perfect destination for cruise travelers and those staying longer. From the beaches to the culture, the stunning architecture and delicious food, it is truly a vacation spot like no other.

Its combination of beauty, luxury, and excitement make it one of the top vacation spots in Mexico. Whether you’re looking for relaxation or adventure, Puerto Vallarta attractions can provide it all.

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J. Souza
J. Souza
Jon is the co-founder of Cruise Fever and has been on 50+ cruises since his first in 2009. As an editor, 15-year writer on the cruise industry, and avid cruise enthusiast he has sailed with at least 10 cruise lines and is always looking for a great cruise deal. Jon lives in North Carolina and can be reached at [email protected].
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