Puerto Vallarta is known for being a top resort destination in Mexico. Though I’m not usually the resort type when I travel it has its time and place plus I understand the convenience for families. I wouldn’t say Puerto Vallarta is a cultural Mexico experience by any means, but it’s a great place to go if you want to simply lounge and relax in tropical scenery. Read a quick history of Puerto Vallarta‘s accidental tourist boom on my blog post Here.
What to do in Puerto Vallarta: My Recommendations
Stay at an all-inclusive resort
The number of resorts to choose from in Puerto Vallarta are endless, in my opinion some of the best ones are located just to the north in Nuevo Vallarta or south in Mislamoya. The newer resorts are located in those areas, if you don’t plan to leave the resort often then you don’t need to be in the center of Puerto Vallarta.
Walk the Malecon
The malecon is the boardwalk in Puerto Vallarta, it’s lined with restaurants, sculptures and of course a beautiful view of the bay of Banderas. The highlight of the malecon is the pier at playa los muertos. The best time to go to the pier is in the evening because that’s when you’ll see it change colors, I think the best view is from iK Mixology, the perfect place to have a sunset dinner.
The malecon features many sculptures along the boardwalk, learn more about all of the sculptures HERE.
Go to the Beach
You can’t visit Puerto Vallarta with out a beach day! My personal favorite beach in Puerto Vallarta is Playa Mislamoya. You can get there via uber or by catching the bus that says “Mislamoya” at the corner of Basilio Badillo St and Constitución Street in the romantic zone.
There are a ton of other beaches to choose from HERE is a great list of the top 10 beaches in the area.
Go Whale Watching
Whale watching season in the Bay of Banderas is from late November-March. I have had the best whale watching experiences of my life in Riviera Nayarit. It’s so incredible to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. If you’re visiting during the right season don’t miss the opportunity!
Take a boat to Los Arcos
Los Arcos is a group of granite islets located in the deepest part of the Bay of Banderas just south of Vallarta. Los Arcos was declared a national marine park in the 1980s making it a protected area for marine and bird life. For this reason you’ll find an abundance of wildlife both above and below water at Los Arcos. This is an awesome area to go snorkeling, stand up paddle board, or diving.
Visit the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens
Spread out over 64 acres this tropical oasis is a must-do for any nature lovers visiting the area. Here you’ll find multiple jungle trails with hundreds of tropical plants and flowers. There are also over 200 types of bird species that call the botanical garden home. Find more information here.
Hike to Mirador la Cruz Viewpoint
Experience a gorgeous view of the whole city (and get a workout in) from this lookout point. After an adventure through one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city and up many many stairs you’ll find the perfect view from above. Find directions how to get there here.
Day trip to Boca de Tomatlan and Yelapa
Visit my favorite area on the Bay of Banderas! Hike the beachside trail from Boca to playa las animas, spend the day in Yelapa, or relax at one of the many secluded beaches. Read more on my blog about Boca de Tomatlan and Yelapa here.
Enjoy a Cirque de Soleil show at Las Caletas
This top rated dinner show is located at John Huston’s old estate. Vallarta Adventures offers both day trips here and a dinner show in the evening. I have yet to do either of these excursions but I would love to see the show, it looks incredible. However I personally think that the day trip to Las Caletas is over priced; there’s much more you can do in the area at a smaller cost. More information about Rhythms of the Night dinner show here.
Spend the day at El Eden
This is the location where the movie Predator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger was filmed. When I visited El Eden I did it as an ATV tour from Vallarta to Mislamoya, it was a blast! I highly recommend this activity for families. Once we arrived to El Eden it was a tranquil location with multiple trails leading to small waterfalls and natural pools. There’s also a restaurant, bar, and plenty of places to lounge for the day. Find more information here.
Go to a drag show
Puerto Vallarta is known as the most gay friendly city in Mexico. In Vallarta’s romantic zone you will find a colorful and inviting gay culture. There are many clubs and bars in the area catering to gay vacationers because of the wonderful openness and safety the city offers.
Where to Eat in Puerto Vallarta
Here is a list of my favorite restaurants in the city:
Panchos Takos, locations in the romantic zone and Nuevo Vallarta.
Drinks: El Colibri
Thanks for reading about what to do in Puerto Vallarta!
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