The Best Puerto Vallarta Guide – This is more than just a coastal resort getaway. Somehow Puerto Vallarta — also known as “Vallarta” or just “PV” — maintains a small-town atmosphere, while still boasting one of the most unique and sophisticated ocean fronts in Mexico.
Sunbathing and sipping margaritas is just one of many ways to spend a vacation in Puerto Vallarta. Mexico’s prettiest resort town is also one of its most diverse. Old Vallarta, El Centro and the Zona Romántica, is a haven of quirky boutiques and winding cobblestone streets. In Marina Vallarta, shopping centers and deluxe hotels spread around the city’s yacht marina. In Puerto Vallarta you will find miles of sandy beaches and tons of highly-rated restaurants and lively nightclubs. All surrounded by historic mountain towns, keep visitors returning again and again. To learn more about all the beautiful beaches of the Mexican Riviera, visit here, or visit us on Pinterest. Now view our Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide to help plan your next Mexican Riviera vacation!
Puerto Vallarta Weather – When to Visit
The best time to visit Puerto Vallarta is between April and June when the weather is pleasant and the room rates are affordable. During these months, rain is scarce and there are fewer tourists compared to the winter high season. If you’re interested in whale watching, however, visit from December to March. Just prepare yourself for the area’s most astronomical travel fares.
Best Puerto Vallarta Beaches
A great place to experience the joys of a resort town. If you have the time to spare, take a bus to this beach hideaway up the coastline for an afternoon of fishing, swimming, art gallery-gazing or beachside dining. If you’re looking for a place off the tourist track, Bucerias is your secluded oasis. Sometimes here, you can find yourself as the only ones on the beach.
Conchas Chinas is the most romantic beach in Puerto Vallarta. It’s laid back, quiet and fairly well hidden from tourists. The sand is made up of tiny sea shells so wear flip flops. The rocky seabed makes it less than ideal for taking a dip. But sunsets are sensational.
This beach is a locals favorite. It’s quiet, the water is beautifully blue and the sand is far softer than at other spots on the coastline. It’s also one of the best swimming beaches in Puerto Vallarta. There are a handful of small places serving seafood and beers at this beach.
Playa Gemelas is great for swimming, sunbathing with plenty of shady spots. It’s very local and laid back, but has become pretty popular among Mexican families.
Playa Mismaloya is one of Puerto Vallarta’s more iconic beaches. The Night of the Iguana was filmed here in the 60s. Mismaloya beach remains a reliable former fishing favorite that’s worth a visit if you want to take a dip, get a bite to eat on the beach.
Best Puerto Vallarta Restaurants
La Palapa $11 – 30
La Palapa takes beachfront dining to another level with efficient and personal service. This can all be enjoyed while feeling the sand between your toes. A family-owned and -run restaurant, La Palapa combines fresh, local ingredients with Asian and French elements. This makes for some tasty dishes, all at a reasonable price. The selling point here, however, is the combination of such good food with such an amazing view. Telephone: 52-322-222-5225 Web: La Palapa.
Playa Detox $11 – 30
Playa Detox is a recently opened and locally owned vegan restaurant and juice bar. It has a focus on cutting the acidity from our diets. The coconut ceviches are a stand-out menu item, offering a fruity twist on the classic beachfront favorite. They are served piled high on a crisp tostada. Combine with a fresh, cold-press juice for a refreshingly healthy lunch. It’s handily located opposite a beautiful yoga studio, and regularly offers healthy living sessions on the premises. Playa Detox is a must-visit for both vegans and those feeling the effects of holiday overindulgence alike. Telephone: 52-322-224-6714 Web: Playa Detox.
El Coleguita $11 – 30
A Puerto Vallarta institution, El Coleguita has three locations in the area, but the best views are offered down by the marina. Grab a table on the terraza to really take advantage of the stunning scenery, but don’t feel like you need to dress up for the occasion. El Coleguita has a relaxed, friendly vibe and excellent freshly caught and cooked seafood. There are also complementary tequila shots and banana desserts with every order. If the vegan ceviche from Playa Detox doesn’t float your boat, come and try the original down by the docks at El Coleguita. Telephone: 52-322-167-8095 Web: Mariscos El Coleguita.
El Arrayán $11 – 30
Dine in comfort at El Arrayán, with tables surrounding the picturesque courtyard, whose trees more often than not provided the fruits for your delicious cocktails. Arrayanes are a little-known Mexican fruit, more subtle in taste than tamarind. This offers a lovely parallel to the offerings of the restaurant itself – still overwhelmingly Mexican, yet with a refined touch and are the inspiration for the restaurant’s name. Serving traditional almost gourmet Oaxacan-inspired cuisine, this atmospheric restaurant is located a few streets back from the malecón. It is accommodating for those following gluten-free diets and alters the common misconception that Mexican food is always cheese- and grease-heavy. Telephone: 52-322-222-7195 Web: El Arrayan.
Florios $11 – 30
Florios has customers flocking in to try the delectable thin crust pizzas and pastas, generously topped with Mexican and Argentine-inspired salsas. The ever popular chimichurri comes highly recommended, accompanied by a refreshing agua fresca to combat the famous Vallarta heat. Located downtown, the brightly decorated, cozy Florios often has live music. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a break from exploring the malecón. Enjoy the excellent service, affordable food, and meet the friendly owner, Miguel. The 2-for-1 offers on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays only add to the appeal. Telephone: 52-322-222-1765 Web: Florios.
Best Puerto Vallarta Nightlife
Devil’s Bar is right on a prime corner of El Malecon so you can enjoy your cocktail and the fresh ocean air at the same time. It’s a great sports bar if you’re away from home during the big game, and the perfect place to relax and make new friends. The staff is extremely friendly and the bartender will mix you whatever you want. Because of its location, it’s also a great place to hang back from the crowds and watch festivities on El Malecon like parades for Mexican Independence Day or Dia de Muertos. Telephone: 52-322-223-8327 Web: Devil’s Bar.
Are you ready to get the party started? Because at Mandala you’ll be dancing all night long. The scene is relaxed and friendly, not what you’ll find at clubs in Hollywood. Everyone just wants to have a good time! It’s a great place to go with friends and they play a variety of music including Spanish language and popular American songs. Get a table and prepared to be treated like royalty. The staff is extremely attentive and will keep your drinks flowing and your cigarettes lit. Telephone: 52-322-224-7437 Web: Mandala.
Zoo Dance Bar
This place is crazy and memorable for sure. Climb the ladder to get on the back platform where they sometimes spray you with foam. They even have a wet t-shirt contest on Tuesdays! Don’t be afraid to check it out during the day time too. The food is great and you’re right on El Malecon for easy people watching. With the fun decor, your kids will love it too. Just be sure not to leave without taking a picture with the giant gorilla in the entrance. Telephone: 522-322-150-6574 Web: Zoo Dance Bar.
Bar La Playa
If you want great cocktails, visit Bar La Playa. With fresh ingredients and unusual combinations, you won’t be disappointed. Beer and wine is also served, but do yourself a favor and try a fancy mixed drink instead. The craft cocktails are made to order without a bottled mix in sight. Happy hour is 3-5 but stay until 6 if you like more of a crowd. It’s the perfect place to start the night before hitting the town! Telephone: 52-322-100-2272 Web: Bar La Playa.
At Andale, there’s never a dull moment. It’s popular for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has a great bar and entertainment. It’s also a perfect place to dance and meet new people. They even have a donkey at night. This place has it all! It’s loud and can get packed shoulder to shoulder, but the best part is that you can dance on the bar. Telephone: 52-322-222-1054 Web: Andale.