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. Now view our Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide to help plan your next Mexican Riviera vacation!
Puerto Vallarta has a typical tropical climate, with nearly constant temperature and humidity year round. The rainy season runs from June through Mid-October, with virtually no precipitation the rest of the year. Even in rainy season, the rain normally falls in short bursts, most often at night, with most days being hot and dry. Tours and fishing trips are seldom affected by the weather in Puerto Vallarta, it’s very rare.
June is the hottest month in Puerto Vallarta with an average temperature of 81°F and the coldest is January at 72°F with the most daily sunshine hours at 12 in May.
Puerto Vallarta is virtually immune from hurricanes. The Bay of Banderas acts as a natural barrier, dragging the storms out to sea, or further up the coast. Only once in the past 35 years has Puerto Vallarta experienced damage from a hurricane.
Best Time to Go
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. If you’re interested in whale watching, however, visit from January to March. Just prepare yourself for the area’s most astronomical travel fares.
Getting To Puerto Vallarta
To fly to Puerto Vallarta from the United States or Canada, you will need a valid passport. All visitors must also get a tourist card. If you’re arriving by plane from the United States or Canada, the standard tourist card will be given to you on the plane. They’re also available through travel agents and Mexican consulates and at the border if you’re entering by land.
You can fly direct to Puerto Vallarta from the United States or from most of the Mexican cities. Flying is the most popular way to get to Puerto Vallarta. Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR) is located approximately 4 miles north of downtown and close to the major resorts. The airport is quite new because it was remodeled and also has many services like car rentals, bank, souvenir shops and restaurants.
When you arrive, you will find a sea of timeshare salesmen, often called the “shark pit”, who will be working diligently to get you to a “private room” where they can sell you timeshare, usually offering you discounts on tours and excursions or free taxi rides in exchange for visiting one of Puerto Vallarta’s timeshare resorts and listening to their sales pitch. Unless you are actually in the market for timeshare, you will want to give these guys a miss, and walk directly through to your airport transfer. It’s quite stressful for a new visitor, so just put your head down and keep on walking.
Getting Around in Puerto Vallarta
The best way to get around Puerto Vallarta is on a bus. There are plenty of stops and the fare is cheap. If you’re looking for a less bumpy ride (but not by much!) you can also take a taxi. The bus is also the best means of getting from the airport to the hotel zones. Renting a car is also an option, but you’ll pay hefty fees to do this.
By Rental Car
Rental cars offer easy access to all of the main attractions throughout Puerto Vallarta, but rates can be expensive and driving through the city’s steep bumpy streets can be terrifying. If you’re going to rent a car, book online before your arrival.
Taxis are an excellent, inexpensive way to get around the city. Fare is charged by zone, so ask the driver for a rate sheet to keep track. The minimum fare is usually around 40 pesos, but rides from the airport to most hotels will cost around $10 USD. Keep in mind that tipping isn’t necessary unless the driver helps with your bags.
If you’re not in the mood to argue over fare with a cabbie, this makes for a great alternative. Buses service the downtown area, as well as the Hotel Zone and Marina Vallarta. Hold on tight to your ticket, as an inspector might come by at any time to check. Take the green buses around town, and look for a gray bus if you’re interested in road trips to the small beach town of Bucerías or going even farther out (to places like Mexico City, Guadalajara and Mazatlán).
Must See Places
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.
Bahía de Banderas (Banderas Bay)
Whether you’re relaxing on the beach, testing the city’s nightlife, or checking out the stingrays in the bright blue waters, the pristine beauty of Bahía de Banderas will be the hallmark of your stay. A good recommendation is to rent a villa or hotel along the bay, though some of the accommodations can be pricier than those inland. If you’re interested in snorkeling, try the bay’s southern end.
Los Arcos and El Malecón
Los Arcos refers to the row of arches in the oceanfront square of Plaza Morelos on the city’s southern end. The dramatic seaside arches also serve as an amphitheater. Los Arcos is a great place to stroll during the evenings, especially along the Malecón, the oceanfront walkway that runs along a portion of the Bahía de Banderas. Here you’ll find an assortment of sand sculptures, statues, art pieces, street performers and merchants. Free cultural performances on the Malecón and at Los Arcos are standard during the weekends.
Isla Río Cuale
Isla Río Cuale is almost in the heart of the city and is actually an island set upon an inlet of the Banderas Bay. To see the island, simply walk south from the old town until you run into the chain bridges that bring you to the island. The island’s small crafts and fruit markets are reminiscent of the city’s pre-resort past. The island also contains a small museum for those interested in PV’s archaeological and cultural history known to have great sculptures.
This charming south side neighborhood is more for the laid-back and less resort-conscious tourists. Zona Romantica is a must-see. The area contains a number of the city’s best restaurants, excellent cultural opportunities and the most popular beach in the city: Playa Los Muertos. You’ll find a bunch of smaller grocery stores, restaurants and Internet cafes away from the beach, as well as fewer peddlers selling souvenirs.
Outdoor Adventure by Vallarta Adventures
An ecological rollercoaster ride fully loaded with excitement, challenges, and non-stop fun. With some of Mexico’s highest and longest zip-lines, at almost 1,000 ft long and 250 ft high and rappelling down waterfalls, it’s no wonder that many people have referred to the experience as one of the greatest adventures on earth. Book your activities online and get 3 tours for the price of 2 – with 15% off all tours. For more information call 52-888-526-2238, or visit them on the web at Vallarta Adventures.
Estigo Tours offers the best and most enjoyable ATV Tours in Puerto Vallarta, Sightseeing tours and other activities in Puerto Vallarta. They combine the thrill of riding your own ATV with some of the most exhilarating experiences you will ever have. For more information call 52-322-223-8143, or visit them on the web at Estigo Tours.
Banderas Scuba Republic
An experience with Banderas Scuba Republic is like no other, where you will have access to professional Scuba Diving equipment at the highest standards. Visit the pacific side of Mexico, go to Banderas Bay, go to Puerto Vallarta, it will be your best experience “going down”. For more information call 52-322-135-7884, or visit them on the web at Banderas Scuba Republic.
PV Ocean Tours
No job is too small or too big; whether you want to scuba dive in the shallows, dive deep within the Banderas Trench, simply enjoy a boat ride and snorkel surrounded by an abundance of tropical fish, or even take a hike to a secluded waterfall, they are the company for you. They exclusively use Cressi equipment to bring comfort, reliability and not a small amount of style to your day. For more information call 52-322-429-4073, or visit them on the web at PV Ocean Tours.
Ecotours de Mexico
At Ecotours de Mexico, they offer a different option for people who are interested in having a new and unique experience, who want to learn about the places they visit and are concerned about nature and conservation. Their tours are run based on the premise that you can’t love that which you don’t know, and they hope that after traveling with them, you’ll definitely share in their knowledge and our love for nature. For more information call 52-322-209-2195, or visit them on the web at Ecotours de Mexico.
Best Rated Restaurants
$-Inexpensive $$-Moderate $$$-Pricey $$$$-Ultra High End
$$ – $$$ La Palapa
La Palapa takes beachfront dining to another level with efficient and personal service. This can all be enjoyed while feeling the sand between your toes. A family-owned and -run restaurant, La Palapa combines fresh, local ingredients with Asian and French elements. This makes for some tasty dishes, all at a reasonable price. The selling point here, however, is the combination of such good food with such an amazing view. For more information call 52-322-222-5225, or visit them on the web at La Palapa.
$ Playa Detox
Playa Detox is a recently opened and locally owned vegan restaurant and juice bar. It has a focus on cutting the acidity from our diets. The coconut ceviches are a stand-out menu item, offering a fruity twist on the classic beachfront favorite. They are served piled high on a crisp tostada. Combine with a fresh, cold-press juice for a refreshingly healthy lunch. It’s handily located opposite a beautiful yoga studio, and regularly offers healthy living sessions on the premises. Playa Detox is a must-visit for both vegans and those feeling the effects of holiday overindulgence alike. For more information call 52-322-224-6714, or visit them on the web at Playa Detox.
$$ – $$$ El Coleguita – Nuevo Vallarta
A Puerto Vallarta institution, El Coleguita has three locations in the area, but the best views are offered down by the marina. Grab a table on the terraza to really take advantage of the stunning scenery, but don’t feel like you need to dress up for the occasion. El Coleguita has a relaxed, friendly vibe and excellent freshly caught and cooked seafood. There are also complementary tequila shots and banana desserts with every order. If the vegan ceviche from Playa Detox doesn’t float your boat, come and try the original down by the docks at El Coleguita. For more information call 52-322-167-8095, or visit them on the web at Mariscos El Coleguita.
$$ – $$$ El Arrayán
Dine in comfort at El Arrayán, with tables surrounding the picturesque courtyard, whose trees more often than not provided the fruits for your delicious cocktails. Arrayanes are a little-known Mexican fruit, more subtle in taste than tamarind. This offers a lovely parallel to the offerings of the restaurant itself – still overwhelmingly Mexican, yet with a refined touch and are the inspiration for the restaurant’s name. Serving traditional almost gourmet Oaxacan-inspired cuisine, this atmospheric restaurant is located a few streets back from the malecón. It is accommodating for those following gluten-free diets and alters the common misconception that Mexican food is always cheese- and grease-heavy. For more information call 52-322-222-7195, or visit them on the web at El Arrayan.
$$ – $$$ Florios
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. For more information call 52-322-222-1765, or visit them on the web at Florios.
Bars & 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. For more information call 52-322-223-8327, or visit them on the web at 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. For more information call 52-322-224-7437, or visit them on the web at 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. For more information call 522-322-150-6574, or visit them on the web at 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! For more information call 52-322-100-2272, or visit them on the web at 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. For more information call 52-322-222-1054, or visit them on the web at Andale.
Top Puerto Vallarta Hotels
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta – Family Friendly
Featuring free WiFi throughout the property, Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta offers accommodations in Puerto Vallarta, just 31 miles from Rincon de Guayabitos. The resort has a terrace and views of the sea, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant. Free private parking is available on site. A flat-screen TV with satellite channels and DVD player, as well as an iPod docking station and a CD player are featured. Each room is equipped with a private bathroom. For your comfort, you will find bathrobes, slippers and a hairdryer. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta.
Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa – Family Friendly
Located in Puerto Vallarta, 25 miles from Rincon de Guayabitos, Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa features a year-round outdoor pool and views of the sea. The resort has a playground and terrace, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant or a drink at the bar. Free WiFi is provided and free private parking is available on site. Every room is equipped with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Some accommodations feature a sitting area for your convenience. Certain rooms have views of the pool or garden. The rooms are fitted with a private bathroom. Extras include free toiletries and a hairdryer. You will find a hairdresser’s at the property. This resort has a private beach area and car rental is available. You can play ping-pong at the resort. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa.
Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa – Family Friendly
This resort has a fitness center and a private beach area, and Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa is located in the South Shore Hotel Area neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta, just 22 miles from Punta Mita. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar. Free private parking is available on site. A flat-screen TVwith cable channels, as well as an iPod docking station are available. Some rooms have a sitting area for your convenience. A terrace or balcony are featured in certain rooms. Superior rooms feature a spa tub or a hot tub. You will find a gift shop at the property. Car rental is available at this hotel and the area is popular for snorkeling and hiking. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa.
Hotel Mousai – Adults Only
Located in Puerto Vallarta in the region of Jalisco, 23 miles from Punta Mita, Hotel Mousai – Adults Only features a year-round outdoor pool and a private beach area. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. Free private parking is available on site. Each room at this resort is air conditioned and features a flat-screen TV with cable channels. Some accommodations include a sitting area where you can relax. Superior rooms have a spa tub or a hot tub. You will find a 24-hour front desk and gift shop at the property. There are lots of activities in the area, such as snorkeling and canoeing. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Hotel Mousai.
Casa Karma Boutique Resort – Luxury
This property is 1 minute walk from the beach. Featuring free WiFi, a restaurant and a year-round outdoor pool, Casa Karma Boutique Resort offers accommodations in Puerto Vallarta. The hotel has a terrace and views of the sea, and guests can enjoy a drink at the bar. Free private parking is available on site. Every room at this hotel is air conditioned and is fitted with a flat-screen TV. Some units feature a sitting area for your convenience. A terrace or balcony are featured in certain rooms. All rooms are fitted with a private bathroom. For your comfort, you will find bathrobes and free toiletries. You will find a 24-hour front desk at the property. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Casa Karma Boutique Resort.