About Puerto Vallarta
Learn about Puerto Vallarta and the wide variety of attractions and entertainment options it has to offer.
Puerto Vallarta has something special for everyone, regardless of your personal preferences. Puerto Vallarta is yours to discover and is, without a doubt, one of the friendliest and cleanest beach destinations in all of Mexico. There are many cultural events and exhibits, exciting day trips to the jungle, relaxing days at the beach and countless romantic hideaways.
Both water and land activities will keep the whole family entertained. Night life abounds with many popular night clubs and an array of quality restaurants to please even the most discriminating palette. This beautiful city by the bay has a population of over 300,000 friendly residents and covers more than 1,200 square kilometers.
This is a city with modern infrastructure and conveniences that has somehow managed to maintain its unique Old Mexico charm, unlike so many of the other more glitzy resorts. In many areas of Puerto Vallarta you will feel like you are taking a step back in time; donkeys are still used for delivery in many parts of this unique city. Many of the crafts available here are made by local Indians who have been producing their wares using the same methods for hundreds of years.
A modern marina and cruise ship port attract visitors on ships and yachts from all over the world. The city’s clean, friendly atmosphere, unique Old Mexico ambiance and incredibly diverse shopping possibilities attract international and Mexican tourists in droves. These unique attractions lure many of these visitors to return over and over again. Many of these tourists end up becoming full time residents or retiring in Puerto Vallarta.
Puerto Vallarta enjoys over 300 sunny days a year with temperatures averaging right around 83 degrees. Many visitors do not realize that Puerto Vallarta is situated on the same latitude as Hawaii and enjoys a similar sunny and tropical climate. English is widely spoken, especially in the downtown shopping and dining areas.
Because Puerto Vallarta lies on Bahia Banderas, the second largest natural bay in North America and has over 100 miles of coast line, it is a haven for anyone who enjoys any type of beach activity, from whale watching to parasailing. Bungee jumping over the Pacific, windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing or fishing are yours for the asking. The surf at most beaches is very calm and safe for swimming year around. Distinctly different beach zones with more than forty individual beaches mark Puerto Vallarta as one of the favorite destinations for the true beach lover. The first zone is north of Puerto Vallarta. Playa de Oro and the Marina district are here. The Playa de Oro is a wide, sandy beach with a few rocky areas interspersed. It is also very popular with guests and locals alike, because of its water sports. Even further north, the beaches of Banderas Bay are pristine and quiet as they reach up toward Punta de Mita. If you’re into surfing, these northern beaches, which are subject to strong surf, perfect for catching a wave, the best windsurfing also takes place in this area.
Puerto Vallarta’s most popular beach, Playa de los Muertos, is located just south of the malecon and the River Cuale. This beach is surrounded by the neighborhood of Olas Altas (Old Town or Zona Romantica), with it’s indescribable variety of restaurants and shops. It is lined with beachfront hotels and restaurants and is usually bustling with activity, sun worshipers by day, the dining and nightlife crowd after dark. The beachfront bars and restaurants in this area are a great place to catch one of the incredible Vallarta sunsets. South of town, you’ll find numerous small coves and beaches. Playa de Mismaloya is a fairly remote and beautiful beach and is a great place to relax for the day.
Boca de Tomatlan, the last beach that is accessible by road, is more primitive, with several small seafood restaurants and taco stands. It is a great swimming beach, very quite and peaceful. You can hire local pangas here to take you to Yepala, Las Animas or Quimixto. Destiladeras and Los Venaderos are two of the more enjoyable beaches in the northern area. Snorkeling and also wind surfing (under the right conditions) are also great at the Las Marietas Islands , which have been preserved by the Mexican government as a bird sanctuary. These islands are accessible by boats which can be rented on most of the northern beaches.
Water sports abound in and around Puerto Vallarta. Because the waters of Banderas Bay are protected and calm, swimming, parasailing and jet skiing are fantastic from almost any beach. You’ll find that diving and snorkeling are the best at either the south end of town toward Los Arcos, which is a natural preserve, or in the northern area near Bucieras and Punta de Mita, which is located near the northern point of the bay. If you are the daring type you can Bungee Jump from a platform built on a cliff out over the Pacific. A beautiful setting but not for the faint of heart.
Puerto Vallarta offers not only some good deep sea sportfishing, fresh water fishing in the local mountains is also available for the true sportsman. All types of fish inhabit the waters around Puerto Vallarta at different times of year. Marlin, sailfish, dorado, snapper, all of which can be chased (and caught) on a wide variety of fishing boats, from established fishing fleets or from pangas that can be hired at almost any of the more popular beaches.
Banderas Bay is home to it own colony of Humpback Whales. Many tours are available to view these magnificent mammals. For a listing of companies that offer whale watching tours, visit our activities page.
Out of the Water Activities
Puerto Vallarta is certainly a place where you can find endless activities, to keep everyone in the family amused for your entire vacation, maybe even two or three vacations. From racing Go Karts to bird watching, Harley Davidson rentals to a calming hike to a serene waterfall, you are sure to find an activity here to amuse or amaze. Mountain biking in an incredible array of environments, champagne flights in a Hot Air Balloon, free concerts in the main square on the Malecon. The list goes on forever and is as diverse as any resort in the world.
Puerto Vallarta is home to two 18 hole golf courses. One, Marina Vallarta Club de Golf, is located at Marina Vallarta and the other, Flamingos Golf Club, is located near Nuevo Vallarta, a few miles north of the airport. Also sitting all alone on the point of Punta de Mita is a brand new Jack Nicklaus creation, that is ready for play but remains unopened at this time. It will most likely be a private course.
Tennis enthusiasts have not been forgotten. Puerto Vallarta Tennis & Beach Resort at the Continental Plaza Hotel offers both clay and (covered) hard courts, a pro shop, showers, steam room. They also offer expert instruction. Many of the hotels have lighted tennis courts, some that are available to non guests.
A shoppers “dream come true”? Quite possibly. Puerto Vallarta seemingly has it all. Beach vendors sell trinkets, a new Sam’s Club sells it in volume, classy galleries cater to the upper class. And in between – is something you certainly “can not live without”. Do not plan a trip to Puerto Vallarta without setting aside some shopping time. It really is difficult to imagine the variety of items available in PV. Probably the only place in all of Latin America where you could be offered the Wall Street Journal from a beach vendor. We also have a list of galleries you may want to visit.
Puerto Vallarta is a food lovers paradise!!! This wonderful city has more quality restaurants than any other destination in Mexico. There is everything from tacos to beef Wellington, escargot to hamburgers, and everything in between. Great restaurants are everywhere, you may have to watch your eating habits, while on vacation. You could easily have a a true gourmet meal every time you eat in Puerto Vallarta. Enjoy!
Puerto Vallarta’s great night life scene starts late and goes until the roosters are getting ready for their first siesta. But there is also plenty of entertainment for those of you who like to be in bed at a decent hour. Many of Puerto Vallarta’s restaurants feature live music and there are often unscheduled, impromptu performances along the malecon on any given night. There are public concerts at the main square on Thursdays and Sundays, just before sunset. Since these performances end early, you will probably want to stroll along the malecon and partake in some great people watching. This is a regular part of Vallarta culture and one that should not be missed.