27 Best Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta [Mexico] in 2024

George Alvarez
Written By:
George Alvarez
Last Updated:
January 1, 2024
Here is a rundown of the ultimate things do in this year in Puerto Vallarta. Discover why it's such a popular destination and what's on offer right now!
Best Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta

Situated along Mexico’s stunning Pacific Coast, Puerto Vallarta is one of those beach paradises that simply must be visited on a trip through Mexico.

With its array of tropical beaches, hidden jungle spots and an almost unlimited amount of entertainment options, you’ll be wishing you had more time here! 

Whether it’s great food ...

Day trips ...

Or Puerto Vallarta’s nightlife ...

I really did love this city!

And below I take you through, not only the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta, but also include some more top tips & tricks I picked up from my visit.

Including where to stay, the best time to visit and how to get the most out of your limited time here.

Let's get started ...

Note: Some posts may contain affiliate links. Read more in our Privacy Policy. Learn more about how we create and update content in our Publishing Guidelines.

Getting to Know Puerto Vallarta

Why Visit Puerto Vallarta 

get to know Puerto Vallarta

As already mentioned, this coastal city is full of great entertainment. 

Along the malecón you’ll find plenty of cosy restaurants, beach-side bars and even grand hotels which all culminate into a bustling, beachside strip. During the night this only gets bigger, and there’s all kinds of nightlife options here too (which we’ll explore later in this guide). 

However, unlike Cancún and Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta still retains its charm along with some more secluded spots too. 

You’ll find a range of picturesque beaches here which are great for getting away from all the noise, and even some islands that are among the most beautiful in all of Mexico.

Puerto Vallarta also has a diverse range of activities, so think again if you thought this city was just about beach lounging all day! From ziplining through the Jungle to exploring the deep sea, you’ll find it all here.

How to get to Puerto Vallarta 

Puerto Vallarta airport

Puerto Vallarta is found along the Pacific Coast of Mexico, within the fun and lively state of Jalisco.

The main ways of getting here are either by flight or bus.


Puerto Vallarta has an international airport which makes getting here by flight pretty easy. 

There are direct flights most days of the week from the USA, Canada and even the UK.

You’ll also find domestic flights from many different areas of Mexico, which is perfect if you’re further away. Some of the more ideal locations to fly from include Mexico City, Monterrey, Tijuana and San Luis Potosí. A one-way domestic flight will cost roughly $30-50 (minus baggage fees).

You can check flight schedules and prices here on SkyScanner


The other way of getting to Puerto Vallarta is by bus. This is the most economical option, and is best for budget travellers (although it’s worth comparing flight prices which can sometimes be similar).

Given Puerto Vallarta is located along the Pacific, most travellers will be heading here from either Mazatlán which is further along the coast (roughly an 11 hour ride including stops), or from Guadalajara which is located more in-land (around 6 hours away).

Travelling by bus is surprisingly comfortable too, with buses in Mexico being some of the best looked after in Latin America.

Just make sure to bring a blanket, as some operators may leave the AC on during the night (this will only be an issue if coming overnight from Mazatlán).

You can check out bus schedules here at BusBud which is one of the best travel apps you can have in my opinion!

Getting around Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta sign

The main hub of Puerto Vallarta is found along the Malecón, so the best way of getting around will be by walking. 

You can rent bikes too, although it’s best to avoid riding at midday (if you do then bring lots of water and sunscreen given how hot it can get).

The other main way of getting around is by using taxis. They’re pretty safe in Puerto Vallarta, and are the best option when getting from town to the hotel zone. 

It’s best to ask the reception in your accommodation what the prices are, given rates can fluctuate (it’s not unheard of for unsuspecting gringos to get ripped off!).

Those who are feeling more adventurous can also use the local buses to get between different parts of the city. You can find more information about using local buses in this comprehensive article.

Not only will the ride be cheaper, but there’s also nothing quite like an authentic Mexican bus ride either!

Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta?

where to stay in Puerto Vallarta

There are two main areas which are good for basing yourself when in Puerto Vallarta.

Los Muertos is the main beach in town, and this neighbourhood is full of bustling restaurants and nightlife. You’ll also find a better range of accommodation here that ranges from hostels to luxury hotels.

The other main area for a stay is within the Hotel Zone, which is located further north of Puerto Vallarta. It’s best for those who are looking for an all-inclusive experience, where you’ll also have the beach right at your feet.

  • Budget pick - The best budget accommodation has to be Hostel Vallarta, which is located just a few blocks from the main plaza. Here you’ll find cheap dorm beds, and will also be just a short walk from the malecón strip. 
  • Mid-range pick - Those who are looking for the best mid-range option will love Emperador Vallarta Beachfront Hotel and Suites. Fitted with stylish rooms and terraces overlooking the Pacific, you’ll be located right on Los Muertos Beach with everything you need within touching distance.
  • Luxury pick - When it comes to luxury and living it up, then Krystal Vallarta is going to be the perfect place for you. This four-star hotel is located right on the beach in the Hotel Zone, which has its own private pools as well as an on-site nightclub. 

For more tips on saving money on accommodation, check out our guide on how to get cheap hotel rooms.

Best Things to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Now we’ll explore the very best things you can see and do when in Puerto Vallarta.

1. Hike up to the Cerro de la Cruz Mirador

Cerro de la Cruz Mirador
Source: Another Believer, Wikipedia

When heading to a new destination, there’s nothing quite like hiking up to the highest mirador around for the best glimpse.

In Puerto Vallarta it’s called the Cerro de la Cruz, and offers some truly extraordinary views due to the fact that it is a 360° viewing platform. 

Firstly you’ll be able to see the contrasting blues of the Pacific Ocean, as well as the town of Puerto Vallarta which wraps along its coast. 

You’ll then see the city sandwiched between both the ocean as well as the Sierra Madre mountain range to the east. This thick swath of jungle completes what I’d say is one of the best miradores you can visit along Mexico’s Pacific coast. 

To get here you’ll need to walk from the Malecón which runs along the beach, with the hike up taking roughly 20-30 minutes (depending on your fitness level). 

It’s best to first find the Mandala Nightclub, and then to walk in a straight line towards the mountains. 

Given it can get really hot in Puerto, I would recommend coming up in the morning or after 4:00pm for the sunset. 

If you're looking for free things to do in Puerto Vallarta then don't miss out on this fantastic view point.

There’s also a cable car you can take up, which is ideal when visiting during the hotter parts of the day.

2. Taking in the vibes of Los Muertos Beach

Los Muertos Beach

Puerto Vallarta is home to many spectacular beaches. After all, it’s located along Mexico’s Pacific, which is known for its stunning waters along with an abundance of palm-fringed sands.

Those who are looking for a mix of beach heaven, as well as endless good vibes, will find no better option than that of Playa los Muertos

Located within the popular neighbourhood of the Zona Romántica, this thin strip of beach is complete with many tall hotels lining the malecón, as well as the dense green jungle looming behind which completes the backdrop. 

It’s full of great restaurants such as La Palapa which serves Mexican specialities, as well as Si Señor which plates up some of the best Seafood in town. 

You’ll also find many locals selling freshly caught seafood along Los Muertos beach which is a much cheaper and quicker snack, as well as there being fresh cocktails and beers in constant supply from the hotel bars and shops along the malecón. 

This beach is also the most LGBTQ+ friendly of all in Puerto Vallarta, where you’ll find numerous gay bars, hotels and hostels in this area of the city.

p.s. If you enjoy the beaches here (which you will) then make sure you also add Isla Mujeres and Puerto Escondido to your Mexican bucket list! 

3. Visit Yelapa Waterfalls

Yelapa Waterfalls

Most travellers that head to Puerto Vallarta often stick to the beaches and touristy parts of town. And given where all the bustle is located, it makes sense too! 

However there’s much more to explore in the surrounding region, and this waterfall is one of the top highlights. 

Located in the town of Yelapa, this 150 ft waterfall is one of the most beautiful you can visit in western Mexico, surrounded by rainforest and prehistoric-looking rocks.

The town itself is very rural, and you’ll feel like you’re on a different planet here with thick jungle all around. 

There’s no roads here, so you’ll need to join an organised tour to reach this remote area.

Yelapa is located roughly 90 km south of Puerto Vallarta, and if going independently you’ll need to catch a combination of a bus as well as a motorised canoe to get here. Schedules are hard to find, so if you’re determined to do it this way, then it’s best to ask a tour company on how to best go about it.

Here's some more information about visiting Yelapa Waterfalls...

4. Head to the incredible Marieta Islands

Marieta Islands
Source: Christian Frausto Bernal, Wikipedia

These incredible islands easily rank as some of the most stunning that you can visit in Mexico. 

Located just off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, the most famous island is a perfectly circular islet with seemingly no way in through its high rising cliffs. 

Once you’ve arrived by boat, you’ll need to head on kayaks through a small rocky passage, where you’ll arrive at arguably the most scenic beach in the country. 

Playa del Amor (also commonly known as “the Hidden Beach”) is a small beach that is surrounded by a perfect dome of cliffs, essentially closing you off from the rest of the world. 

You’ll find many spectacular and tropical fish here too, including King Angelfish, Butterfly Fish, Parrot Fish as well as the Giant Damselfish (snorkelling of course is a must).

The only way to reach the Marieta Islands is with a tour, and I recommend coming with this all-inclusive trip.

Not only will you have plenty of time to enjoy the landscapes and snorkel in these crystal-clear waters, you’ll also have a knowledgeable biologist guide with you. They will teach you everything you need to know about the Marieta Islands.

Visiting these islands is one of, if not the best thing to do in Puerto Vallarta! 

5. Get Cooking with an authentic Mexican Cooking Class

Mexican food

In Puerto Vallarta, you’ll find many incredible dishes, from national classics such as Tacos del Pastor, to the preferred seafood delicacies that are popular in this coastal city. 

Now whilst you can happily eat your way through the range of tasty dishes in local restaurants, you can also go next level by taking a cooking class. 

This awesome cooking class is one of the best you can join when in Puerto Vallarta, where you’ll first visit the local market to pick up several ingredients and get an insider’s tour from your local guide / chef. 

Not only will you then learn to cook some tasty Mexican dishes, but you’ll also be able to sample some of the chef’s best choices as well as a variety of tequilas and mezcals to wash it all down with! 

All classes are personalised, where the menu is selected by both the experience level of those on the tour as well as what’s available on the day, so you’ll be guaranteed both a personal and authentic experience.

6. Go Souvenir Shopping

Mexican souvenirs

Puerto Vallarta will be a memorable experience for any traveller that heads here. 

And there’s no better way of remembering all those good times than by buying an awesome souvenir either for yourself, or getting a special little something for family and friends back home. 

The very best place to go souvenir hunting in Puerto Vallarta will be along the Malecón, especially in the area of Los Muertos

Here you’ll find a tonne of souvenir shops that specialise in all kinds of things, including Bottles of Tequila as well as awesome fridge magnets in the shape of Blue Marlins and Palm Trees.

Other things worth buying as souvenirs can be “Puerto Vallarta” labelled hats or vests, silver jewellery as well as some decent knock-off sunglasses! 

Another worthy place to head to is the Cuale Island Flea Market, which is located on the small islet between El Centro and La Zona Romántica (where you have to walk the bridge over the river). 

It’s open from 9:00am until 9:00pm all days of the week, and sells more authentic, regional goods that range from Jaliscan Garments to Talavera Pottery.

7. Marvel at the imposing Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

Every Mexican city has its main church, which towers above the rest of the main plaza and surrounding neighbourhoods.

In Puerto Vallarta it’s the Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, which is a stunning cathedral that has both neoclassical and baroque styles found throughout its design. 

At the very top of the church you can spot the Virgin of Guadalupe, a patron saint of Mexico. There are four clocks just below on each column which point in all directions. 

The inside of the church is also very much worth the visit, where you’ll see imposing pillars and a white facade from all corners. So it's no wonder that this church is one of the most popular attractions in Puerto Vallarta.

Although there were several natural events that partially destroyed the church in places (including an earthquake), the cathedral has since been fully restored. 

The Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is located right in the heart of the Plaza de Armas, which is the main square of Puerto Vallarta. 

It’s open from 8:00am until 5:00pm all days of the week. 

8. Head out into the Pacific along the Los Muertos Pier

Los Muertos Pier in Puerto Vallarta

When in Puerto Vallarta, it’s simply mandatory to walk along the long malecón boardwalk that stretches around its coast. 

And once you get to Los Muertos beach you‘ll notice that there’s quite a fancy pier that juts out into the ocean.

Known as Los Muertos Pier, it took over three years to build and has a very stylish and modern look to it, especially when compared to most walkways found along Mexican shores.

During the day the pier is full of locals enjoying walks along the circular boardwalk, where you can also take water taxis out to different beaches and coves. 

Those who either want a private boat or fishing tour will also want to come here, where you can negotiate trips and rates with the captains. 

At night it’s a popular place to hang out, especially given it’s right next to the abundance of bars and restaurants along the Los Muertos beachfront and surrounding area. 

Whilst it’s open 24/7, I recommend coming at sunset for what will possibly be one of the most memorable and romantic pier walks you can have in Mexico!

9. Snorkelling at Las Gemelas Beaches

Translated from Spanish as “The Twin Beaches”, Playas Las Gemelas is exactly that - two stunning tropical beaches. 

And out of all of the coastline in Puerto Vallarta (and within the surrounding region), this collection of beaches is among the most beautiful that you can visit. 

Not only are they safe for swimming, however the visibility conditions underwater are very good, making them an ideal place to go snorkelling. 

Another popular activity to do here is to go kayaking, where you can explore these multicoloured green and blue waters. 

Whilst there are a few restaurants and shops around, this area is more exclusive with many beachfront condos, so don’t expect cheap prices like you’d find in Puerto Vallarta! 

It’s best to come as early as possible here (around 8:00am) where you can take advantage of the empty beach for your very own temporary, private slice of paradise. 

Playa Las Gemelas is located roughly 17 km south of Puerto Vallarta, with the drive taking around 30 minutes.

10. Browse the Mercado de las Olas Altas

Olas Altas Farmers Market

Every weekend, both residents and tourists flock in mass to the Olas Altas Farmers Market, which is one of the best markets in town. 

A true locals’ market, here you’ll find all sorts of organic vegetables, ingredients and local dishes. 

You’ll also be able to browse a variety of food stalls here, where you can try Mexican classics such as Tamales, Burritos and Huaraches. 

It’s a good place to find organic chocolate too, with the cacao growing conditions in this region especially good. 

Where the food stalls end, the artisan products begin - and here you can find many beautiful textiles, paintings and handmade pottery. 

If you’re still on the hunt for souvenirs and will be in Puerto Vallarta on Saturday, then this will be your best bet for some more novel goods. 

The Mercado de las Olas Altas is located within the Lázaro Cárdenas Park, which is just a 10 minute walk south of the Plaza de Armas. 

It’s usually open from 9:00am until 2:00pm on Saturdays only.

11. Chocolate-Tasting at the ChocoMuseo

chocolate pieces

Mexico is known for a lot of things, with most usually picturing idyllic beaches, mysterious ruins and tequila - to name a few.

Chocolate is not often one to be associated, however Mexico is in fact the birthplace of the very first piece of chocolate! 

Over 4,000 years ago, the Cacao plant was first discovered in this area of what was then called Mesoamerica, and is just as tasty today as it was then. 

The ChocoMuseo is the best place to come and try authentic chocolate, where you can also join a cooking class to make your own bars straight from the bean. 

You’ll also learn to make different types of hot chocolate drink, as well as learn more history about Cacao and its roots in ancient Mexico. 

Heading to this quirky museum is one of the top things to do in Puerto Vallarta so don't leave it off your itinerary! 

The ChocoMuseo is located along the Calle Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, which is just a 5 minute walk north of the Plaza de Armas. 

It’s open from 10:30am until 5:30pm, Monday through to Saturday.

12. Get in touch with Nature at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Vallarta Botanical Gardens

As we’ve already seen, Puerto Vallarta is full of incredible landscapes that range from thick jungle to isolated, tropical beaches.

Of course you’ll still very much want to visit these areas (and I recommend it too), however consider spending a half-day at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens as well.

Sprawling over 79 acres of tropical dry forest, here you’ll find many exotic plant species including collections of agave, cactus and bromeliads. 

There’s also the on-site Haciendo de Oro restaurant too, which is good for those who are peckish for some traditional-style Mexican food. 

The Vallarta Botanical Gardens is located close to the town of Las Pintadas (here it is on a map), which is roughly an hour drive south of Puerto Vallarta. 

Whilst open from 9:00am until 6:00pm all days of the week, I recommend coming in the early morning on weekdays (you’ll feel like you have the entire place to yourself!).

13. Spot Sculptures along the Malecón

Heading back to the bustle of Los Muertos, it’s now time to really explore the long boardwalk that we’ve been flirting on and off with since arriving! 

Stretching for around a mile, the Malecón connects the Zona Romántica and Zona Centro together with the bridge over the Cuale River.

Whilst already well-known for its abundance of hotels and restaurants, here you’ll also find dozens of stunning sculptures too. 

From The Boy on the Seahorse and The Vallarta Dancers to Nature as Mother, I highly recommend coming for a stroll to enjoy these authentic, local creations. 

You can even read this guide to learn more about the best statues to see when in this area of Puerto Vallarta..

Even better if you can come around the dates of the Dia de los Muertos festival (early November), where additional statues like the characters of Coco are also planted along the boardwalk! 

I recommend visiting around the evening, where you’ll also have a beautiful Pacific sunset to enjoy whilst sculpture-hunting.

14. Aquaventuras Water Park

Aquaventuras Water Park
© Aquaventuras Water Park

Although Puerto Vallarta has many scenic islands and landmarks that you’ll want to explore, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a day off too! 

And that’s where the Aquaventuras Water Park fits perfectly, with this fun water park ideal for those who want to enjoy a large variety of rides, or even for those who are just as keen as setting up camp on a deckchair in the hot Mexican sun.

Whilst home to some awesome rides such as Viuda Feliz as well as a 160m long lazy river, that’s not all you can do here. 

They also have areas where you can swim with dolphins, as well as being able to get in the pool with Sea Lions! 

Although the Aquaventuras Water Park is located in the bordering state of Nayarit, it’s just a 20 minute drive to reach. It’s open from 11:00am until 5:00pm all days of the week.

So if you're looking for fun things to do in Puerto Vallarta with the family then why not spend some time here?

15. Day Trip to Sayulita

Beach in Sayulita

And speaking of Nayarit, this next must-do will also take us over to the small state which lies just north of Jalisco. 

The town of Sayulita has become something of a backpacking haven in recent years, drawing in those who are looking for a more authentic town experience. 

Among the things to do here, surfing is definitely the most popular, with famous swells that bring in surfers from all over the world. 

As well as the surf, other great things to do include heading to a yoga retreat, and releasing baby turtles out into the Pacific (which is from October until December). 

Whilst Sayulita has great nightlife with many awesome hostel bars, it’s also a good place to dial things down a bit from Puerto Vallarta, which tends to be on the more bustling side than chill. 

I recommend heading on this full day tour to Sayulita, where you’ll be shown the very best highlights which include the picturesque streets as well as some time for surfing.

The distance from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita is roughly 40km, which can be driven in around an hour.

16. Jump on the City Highlights Tour

In an ideal world I would have plenty of time to explore Puerto Vallarta without trying to cram everything in. 

However if you’re strapped for time or want to spend your days on day trips, then this will be the perfect option for you. 

This all-action day tour will transport you to Puerto Vallarta’s top highlights and landmarks, including a walk along the Malecón (whilst getting to know the sculptures) as well as your professional guide teaching you about famous buildings such as the Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. 

You'll also make a stop-off at the Rancho Verano Tequila Distillery, where you'll learn how the strong stuff is made (also the perfect place to grab a few bottles). 

Whilst you’ll find other similar tours, this one is the most ideal since you’ll have hotel pick-up and drop-off, as well as a bilingual guide who will teach you everything you need to know.

17. Enjoy Puerto Vallarta’s Thriving Nightlife Scene

After spending the day on the beach or out on a day trip, it’s now time to enjoy the very best nightlife that Puerto Vallarta has to offer. 

Most of the action is concentrated along the Malecón in the areas of Los Muertos and El Centro. 

You’ll find the best bars along Avenida Lázaro Cárdenas in Los Muertos, which is a strip with dozens of different venues including La Cantina Margarita as well as Bar La Playa

The best nightclubs are focused in El Centro in one small area (all next to each other on the beach), with Mandala and La Vaquita some of the most popular amongst both locals and tourists.

The Hotel Zone further north also has many good bars, which are mostly found in hotels such as Krystal Vallarta (which is one of our top places for a stay here). 

Also nearby is La Santa - arguably the best place to throw down for a wild night. 

18. Swim with Dolphins

dolphins in Mexico

The Pacific Coast of Mexico is already well-known for its incredible marine diversity, with many heading here to see some of the very best of these exotic beauties. 

Dolphins are one of the most popular, and here there are several species that can be spotted including Bottlenose Dolphins, Spinner Dolphins as well as Rough-Toothed Dolphins. 

They are present in these waters all-year round, meaning you don’t need to plan around seasons like you would with other species. 

I highly recommend coming with this all-inclusive tour, where you’ll take a boat out to a deeper and more remote part of Puerto Vallarta’s Pacific Coast. 

Guided by an expert Biologist, you’ll learn everything about these incredible animals and have the chance to get in the water with them too. 

It’s also possible to spot Humpback Whales and Orcas whilst out sailing! 

The great thing about this tour is that you’ll get your money back if you don't see dolphins - that's how sure the company is that you'll spot them.

Swimming with wild dolphins is a must do in Puerto Vallarta so what are you waiting for?

19. Try Traditional Tequila 

tequila drink

Many who come to Puerto Vallarta often forget that this coastal city is also located within the region of Jalisco, which is the official birthplace of Tequila.

Given that this special state is where it all started, here you’ll find the original and most authentic agave farms and distilleries. 

Whilst you’ll find the most options in and around Guadalajara, there are also some worthy sites to visit in Puerto Vallarta. 

One of the best ways to get to know the local Tequila flavours here is to go with this Tequila Tasting Tour, where you’ll spend a couple of hours trying a wide variety of blends. 

During the tour you’ll learn about the production process, as well as how different varieties are made using local techniques. 

Your expert guide will also introduce you to some of the more stronger Tequilas (including those made from 100% agave), so it’s probably best to keep anything strenuous or important off for the rest of the day…

20. Go Scuba Diving

manta rays in Mexico

The waters off Puerto Vallarta are teeming with wildlife, with this area of the Pacific well-known for its range of incredible species and exotic fishes. 

Whilst snorkelling and boat tours are a great introduction, the real beauties lie deeper beneath, where you’ll need to head on open dives to get to know them. 

As well as getting up and close with Whale Sharks, in these waters you can also spot Hammerhead Sharks, Giant Manta Rays, Dolphins, Nurse Sharks, Pufferfish and a variety of different Turtle species. 

There’s a variety of dive sites that are great for beginners too, including Shipwrecks, Reefs and even Underwater Mountain Ranges. 

Those who want to learn how to dive can head with this PADI-certification Dive Class, where you’ll learn all safety protocols as well as how to manoeuvre beneath the waves. 

21. Head on a Night Cruise

Puerto Vallarta Sunset

The sunsets in Puerto Vallarta are something truly spectacular, with these crimson and red shadows being one of the most memorable parts of a visit to this area of the Mexican Pacific.  

Whilst you can enjoy them on Los Muertos Beach or from the Mirador, there’s an even better way which is by heading on a sunset cruise out into sea. 

With this Puerto Vallarta Cruise, you’ll spend the night sailing around Banderas Bay for one of the most memorable sunsets you’ll see in your travels through Mexico. 

You’ll also have a 3-course gourmet meal included, which is topped off with a series of Aztec style performances along with traditional Mexican music being played. 

You’ll also visit the secluded beach of Las Caletas, where you’ll have time to explore the sands before your candlelit dinner begins. 

Arguably the best thing about this cruise is that there’s an unlimited open bar included too, so after dinner you can really make the most of your evening!

There are plenty of awesome activities in Puerto Vallarta but this is the perfect option if you're looking to relax and spend some quality time together with your traveling companion.

22. Eat Authentic Mexican Food

fish ceviche, Mexican food

One of the best parts of a trip to Mexico hands-down has to be the food. 

This cuisine is by far one of the most popular on earth, and you’ll find all kinds of awesome dishes from succulent seafood to authentic street classics. 

Puerto Vallarta is located in Jalisco, which is known as one of the best food regions in the entire country

Those who want to explore the best foods will be in the perfect place, where you can try some of the very greatest seafood delights including Fresh Ceviche, Tuna and Lobster. 

I recommend heading to The Blue Shrimp Puerto Vallarta and Joe Jack's Fish Shack for the very best ocean foods. 

Those who aren’t as keen on seafood will still find many mouth-watering dishes nonetheless, so there’s no need to worry. 

Other authentic Mexican restaurants I recommend heading to include Miscelánea Vallarta as well as the more authentic Tacos La Mucca

Some of the other dishes you’ll want to try when in Puerto Vallarta include Taco al Pastor, Chilaquiles as well as the tasty regional drink of Micheladas.

23. Go Horseback Riding through the Sierra Madre Mountains

the Sierra Madre Mountains, Mexico

Having already spent time at the beach or sailing along the Pacific, you may be in need of a more grounded type of experience. 

And Puerto Vallarta really is a destination that has the best of both worlds, with the looming mountains and dense jungle perfect for some off-the-grid trekking. 

You’ll find many towns that are perfect for exploring around Puerto Vallarta, including those of Yelapa and Chimo along the coast. 

However this organised Horseback Riding Tour has to be one of the very best experiences, where you’ll spend the day in the peaceful Sierra Madre Mountains. 

As well as trekking through the jungle, you’ll also make a stop at a beautiful waterfall which is perfect for a midday cool-off. 

There are horses for all kinds of skill levels, so you don’t need horse riding experience to join this tour.

Also included is all transport, an authentic Mexican lunch as well as an open bar!

24. Go Deep Sea Fishing

wahoo fish

Those who love the sea life will no doubt have already snorkelled or even dived in these Pacific waters. 

However, for those who want the challenge of landing a prize catch, then this one is definitely for you! 

The coast off Puerto Vallarta is known for its variety of incredible marine wildlife, which makes it one of the most popular areas for fishing in Mexico. 

It’s important to note the following in terms of what you can catch. 

During the dry season (November until April), you’ll have the best chance of reeling in Blue Marlin, Dorado, Wahoo and even Black Marlin. 

The wet season (from May until October) is better for those who want to fish for Tuna, Sailfish and Grouper. 

You’ll find many fishing agencies and shops along the Malecón who you can speak to, with Vikingo Charters being one of the most renowned. 

For those who prefer a hassle-free experience where everything is already sorted for you, then this Deep Sea Fishing Tour will be the perfect option. 

Not only will you be taken to the very best spots by your captain, but you’ll also have food and drink included as well as all equipment. 

As it’s a private boat you’ll be in a small group too, making the experience much more personable.

25. Day Trip to San Pancho

San Pancho Beach

Not many travellers head to the adjacent state of Nayarit, which is a small region tucked just above Jalisco. 

However it’s more than worthy of a day trip, and especially to the small town of San Pancho that lies on the coast. 

It’s much quieter than Sayulita, and as such is the perfect place to come for a day (or long weekend) for total relaxation and unwinding. 

One of the best things to do here includes visiting the tianguis, which is an authentic town market where you can pick up some unique souvenirs. 

Of course the surf is also great, and whilst in San Pancho you should also visit a local chocolate factory too. 

I recommend heading on this all-inclusive day tour, where you’ll visit San Pancho and its top gems as well as the town of Sayulita. 

It’s also a great trip to take as you’ll have a Tequila tasting included, as well as a tour around a chocolate factory. 

San Pancho is located 50 km north of Puerto Vallarta, with the drive taking around 1 hour.

26. Whale Watching

whale breaching the water in Puerto Vallarta

Without a doubt one of the most popular things to do in Puerto Vallarta (and along the Mexican Pacific in general) is to go Whale Watching

Just off the coast, you can find Humpback Whales that pass by during their annual migration, and even Orcas in some parts too. 

It’s important to remember that the whale watching season begins in December and lasts until March, so if this is a must-see for you then you’ll need to come during this season. 

The best way to spot Humpback Whales is to go with an organised tour, given they’ll be quite far out from the coast. 

This highly rated day tour is a great option, where your tour guide (who is also a marine biologist) will take you across the Bay of Banderas in search of these beautiful sea creatures. You’ll have lunch and all drinks included too. 

Just make sure to bring lots of sunscreen since you’ll be out at sea for most of the day!

If you're wondering what to do in Puerto Vallarta then this should be at the top of your list! 

27. Head through the Jungle on an ATV Tour

ATVs in the jungle

Those who want a more active and exhilarating experience will love the variety of activities on offer in Puerto Vallarta. 

As well as going Deep-Sea Fishing and Surfing in nearby towns, you can also explore the wild jungle too. 

With this private ATV tour, you and a small group will be led by your adventure guide as you explore some of the most scenic spots in this area of Jalisco. 

From passing rivers and the wild jungle to exploring mountains and desolate beaches, you’ll have it all here! 

Whilst there are many different ATV tours you could choose from, I recommend this adventure tour as it’s a small group which is fully customisable (you could opt to crash out on a virgin beach for half the day if you so please). 

You’ll also have all safety equipment provided, as well as a small riding tour around Puerto Vallarta just before setting off. 

If you’re heading here around the wet season, then it’s best to contact the company beforehand, given that the rains could complicate certain routes (and also alter the kind of experience that you’ll have).

Puerto Vallarta Travel Tips & FAQ

When is a good time to visit Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta is situated along the Pacific coast of Mexico. 

It has a tropical, seasonal climate, with a contrasting dry and wet season that can really vary the type of experience you'll have.

The dry season begins in November and lasts up until May, and is the overall preferred time for a visit. 

Average temperatures range from 71-79°F, with highs of 86°F and lows of down to 62°F. Rainfall during these months is very low, ranging from just 0.1-0.5 inches each month. 

This makes it the best time to visit the beaches, given you’ll virtually be guaranteed clear skies most days of the week.

The wet season starts around mid-May, and continues through the summer until October

Daily temperatures rise to between 81-83°F, with highs reaching a toasty 90°F, whilst lows increase to 73°F+. During these months, rainfall increases quite dramatically. You can expect anywhere from 4-10 inches per month, which peaks in the months of August and September. 

Whilst the higher amount of rain can certainly change plans, it does on the flip side make the surrounding jungle really burst with colour. 

You’ll also find cheaper deals around this time, making it an ideal season for those looking for a bargain vacation (and trust me it’s still a good time to visit!).

You can read more about the weather in Puerto Vallarta here at WeatherSpark.

How long should you spend in Puerto Vallarta 

Most travellers stay around a week here, and I also think that 6 days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Puerto Vallarta. 

You’ll be able to enjoy the beaches and tropical climate, as well as really being able to slow down into the Puerto Vallarta swing of things. 

You’ll also be able to explore this area of the Pacific coast well with different day trips, where you can discover the very best of the Jalisco region.

What is a good budget for Puerto Vallarta?

Given how popular Puerto Vallarta has become as a holiday destination, you’ll find many all-inclusive hotels around town. 

However that’s not to say you’ll need to spend lots of money to stay here, as there are many options for budget travellers too!

Those who want to keep costs low and travel cheaply can expect to spend around $20-25 a day. 

You’ll be staying in an air-conditioned dorm room, where you’ll be eating out at local restaurants (although perhaps not those on the beach of Los Muertos, as most of them will be too expensive). 

You’ll also have enough left over for some beers at night, or for renting some snorkelling equipment during the day. In fact, Mexico is one of the cheapest countries to travel to, so your money will go far here.

If you're trying to make your cash stretch then also check out the free walking tour that's available in Puerto Vallarta!

When it comes to having a more all-inclusive experience, then you’ll find your budget needing to be anywhere from $35-60 a day

Here you’ll be able to stay in a nice hotel by the beach or malecón, where you can eat at many of the restaurants located along the strip. 

This budget can go even higher, especially if you want to stay within the Hotel Zone (you’ll be looking at more like $80 a day here).

It’s important to remember that these budgets are only for accommodation and food costs, with just a little left over for an attraction or taxi ride. 

It doesn’t account for flights, travel insurance, tours or buses between destinations.

Can you just book a tour for Puerto Vallarta?

In an ideal world, you’ll visit Puerto Vallarta with a lot of time on your hands to explore the region at a relaxed pace. 

However, for those who only have a limited time, then an organised tour will be the best way to get the most out of your time here. 

I recommend heading on this all-inclusive tour, where you’ll explore the very best of the region around Puerto Vallarta. 

You’ll visit an authentic Tequila distillery where you’ll try some of the best blends, as well as exploring an organic coffee farm which is typical of the Jalisco region. 

You’ll also have an entry included into the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens, which is full of incredible  plants and shrubs from all over Mexico. 

Where to go after Puerto Vallarta?

As you can see there are plenty of unique things to do in Puerto Vallarta! 

After you’ve explored this fantastic coastal city along with the Pacific Coast and all it has to offer, you may be wondering where is next on your trip through Mexico. 

Our best recommendation is to head inland to the city of Guadalajara, which is the capital of the Jalisco region. 

This striking city is home to some of the most impressive architecture in all of the country, as well as having many interesting towns located nearby. 

This awesome day tour is the very best way of getting to know Guadalajara, where you’ll visit some of the city’s best highlights including the Gothic Temple of Expiatorio as well as the Metropolitan Cathedral. 

You’ll also explore the neighbourhood of Tlaquepaque, which is home to some of the best food in this colourful region of Mexico.

For those traveling around Mexico, here are some other guides you may find helpful:

Disclaimer: Fully research your destination prior to travel, or any products prior to purchase. We can accept no responsibility for anything you experience as a result of the information found on this website. Some posts may contain affiliate links, which means we receive a small commission for some purchases, at no additional expense to you. Read more here
Some images courtesy of Deposit Photos.
Tinggly badge
Other posts
Country Guides
Destination Guides

Leave a comment

Let us know what you think!