Top 15 Things to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta Beach, Mexico


Discover the Ultimate Guide to the Top 15 Must-Do Activities in Puerto Vallarta

Introduction to Puerto Vallarta

Nestled along Mexico’s stunning Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta is a vibrant destination that captivates travelers with its blend of rich culture, natural beauty, and endless adventures. As you explore this enchanting city, you’ll be swept away by the warm hospitality, the tantalizing aromas of authentic Mexican cuisine, and the breathtaking vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see.

In this ultimate guide, I’ll unveil the top 15 must-do activities that will make your visit to Puerto Vallarta truly unforgettable. From basking on pristine beaches to embarking on thrilling outdoor excursions, this coastal paradise offers something for every traveler. So, get ready to immerse yourself in the essence of Puerto Vallarta and create lasting memories that will stay with you forever.

The Best Beaches in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is renowned for its stunning beaches, each offering a unique charm and allure. Here are some of the most captivating stretches of sand that you won’t want to miss:

  1. Playa Los Muertos: Nestled in the heart of Puerto Vallarta’s lively downtown area, this iconic beach is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. With its soft golden sand, clear turquoise waters, and a lively beachfront promenade lined with restaurants and bars, Playa Los Muertos is the perfect spot for soaking up the sun, people-watching, and indulging in delicious local cuisine.

  2. Playa Las Gemelas: Translated as “The Twin Beaches,” this hidden gem offers two pristine coves separated by a rocky outcrop. Surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and crystal-clear waters, Playa Las Gemelas is a true oasis of tranquility, ideal for those seeking a more secluded and peaceful beach experience.

  3. Playa Conchas Chinas: Renowned for its unique seashell-shaped formations, Playa Conchas Chinas is a natural wonder that captivates visitors with its distinctive beauty. Explore the tide pools, admire the vibrant marine life, and bask in the serene ambiance of this extraordinary beach.

Exploring the Historic Center of Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta’s historic center, known as El Centro, is a charming labyrinth of cobblestone streets, colorful colonial buildings, and vibrant plazas that exude an authentic Mexican ambiance. As you wander through this enchanting neighborhood, you’ll discover a treasure trove of cultural gems:

  1. Our Lady of Guadalupe Church: This iconic church, with its distinctive crown and yellow-hued façade, is a beloved landmark and a must-visit destination. Marvel at the intricate architecture, attend a traditional mass, or simply soak in the serene atmosphere of this sacred space.

  2. Malecón Boardwalk: Stretching along the coastline, the Malecón Boardwalk is a lively promenade lined with sculptures, street performers, and a myriad of restaurants and bars. Take a leisurely stroll, admire the public art installations, and enjoy the vibrant energy of this bustling waterfront.

  3. Isla Río Cuale: This picturesque island, accessible via a charming pedestrian bridge, is a tranquil oasis in the heart of Puerto Vallarta. Explore the winding paths, admire the lush vegetation, and discover quaint shops and galleries showcasing the work of local artisans.

Enjoying Water Sports and Outdoor Activities

With its prime location on the Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta offers an array of exhilarating water sports and outdoor adventures that cater to thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts alike. Here are some must-try activities:

  1. Snorkeling and Scuba Diving: Immerse yourself in the vibrant underwater world of Puerto Vallarta by exploring the region’s stunning coral reefs and marine life. From beginner snorkeling excursions to advanced scuba diving adventures, there are options for all skill levels.

  2. Kayaking and Stand-Up Paddleboarding: Glide through the crystal-clear waters and discover hidden coves and secluded beaches while kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. These serene activities offer a unique perspective on Puerto Vallarta’s natural beauty.

  3. Surfing: With its consistent waves and beautiful beaches, Puerto Vallarta is a surfer’s paradise. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, you’ll find the perfect spot to catch some epic waves and experience the thrill of surfing in this coastal paradise.

Trying Traditional Mexican Cuisine in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is a culinary haven, where the flavors and aromas of traditional Mexican cuisine come alive. Prepare your taste buds for a gastronomic adventure as you savor the region’s mouthwatering dishes:

  1. Street Food: Explore the vibrant street food scene and indulge in authentic local delicacies like tacos al pastor (marinated pork tacos), elotes (grilled corn on the cob), and churros (fried dough pastries). These flavorful treats are a true taste of Puerto Vallarta’s culinary heritage.

  2. Seafood Specialties: With its prime coastal location, Puerto Vallarta is renowned for its fresh and delectable seafood dishes. Savor the flavors of ceviche (marinated raw fish), pescado a la talla (grilled fish), and camarones al ajillo (shrimp in garlic sauce).

  3. Tequila and Mezcal: No visit to Puerto Vallarta would be complete without sampling the region’s iconic agave-based spirits. Embark on a tequila or mezcal tasting experience and learn about the fascinating history and production processes behind these quintessential Mexican drinks.

Shopping in Puerto Vallarta’s Markets and Boutiques

Puerto Vallarta is a shopper’s paradise, offering a diverse array of markets, boutiques, and artisan shops where you can find unique souvenirs, handcrafted treasures, and locally made products. Here are some must-visit shopping destinations:

  1. Río Cuale Market: This vibrant market, located on the picturesque Isla Río Cuale, is a haven for artisans and craftspeople. Explore the stalls and discover an array of handmade jewelry, pottery, textiles, and more, all crafted with meticulous attention to detail.

  2. Romantic Zone Boutiques: Stroll through the charming Romantic Zone, a neighborhood brimming with trendy boutiques and galleries. From designer clothing and accessories to unique artwork and home decor, you’ll find a treasure trove of locally crafted and curated items.

  3. Mercado Municipal: Immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere of Puerto Vallarta’s main municipal market, where you can find everything from fresh produce and spices to traditional handicrafts and souvenirs. Haggle with the friendly vendors and experience the vibrant market culture.

Discovering the Vibrant Nightlife in Puerto Vallarta

As the sun sets over Puerto Vallarta, the city comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene that caters to every taste and preference. From lively bars and clubs to intimate lounges and live music venues, there’s something for everyone:

  1. Beach Clubs: Soak up the laid-back beach vibe at one of Puerto Vallarta’s trendy beach clubs. Sip on refreshing cocktails, dance to the rhythmic beats of live music, and enjoy the stunning ocean views.

  2. Rooftop Bars: Experience the city’s nightlife from a new perspective at one of the chic rooftop bars. Indulge in creative craft cocktails, savor delectable tapas, and take in the breathtaking views of Puerto Vallarta’s twinkling skyline.

  3. Live Music Venues: Immerse yourself in the local music scene by visiting one of the city’s lively live music venues. From traditional mariachi bands to contemporary rock and jazz performances, you’ll find an eclectic mix of musical genres to suit every taste.

Exploring the Natural Beauty of Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta’s stunning natural landscapes are a true feast for the senses. From lush jungles to pristine waterfalls, this coastal paradise offers a wealth of opportunities to connect with nature and marvel at its wonders:

  1. Jungle Hiking: Embark on a guided hike through the lush Sierra Madre Mountains and discover the region’s rich biodiversity. Keep an eye out for exotic flora and fauna, including vibrant tropical birds and playful monkeys.

  2. Waterfalls and Hot Springs: Escape the city’s hustle and bustle and venture into the nearby mountains to explore breathtaking waterfalls and rejuvenating hot springs. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and let the soothing waters wash away your stress.

  3. Whale Watching: Between December and March, Puerto Vallarta’s waters become a prime viewing spot for majestic humpback whales. Join a guided whale-watching tour and witness these gentle giants breaching, spouting, and frolicking in their natural habitat.

Taking a Boat Tour to the Marietas Islands

Just a short boat ride from Puerto Vallarta lies the stunning Marietas Islands, a protected nature reserve that boasts some of the region’s most incredible natural wonders. Here’s what you can expect on this unforgettable excursion:

  1. Hidden Beach: Accessible only through a narrow tunnel carved into the volcanic rock, the Hidden Beach (Playa del Amor) is a true natural marvel. Bask in the sun on this secluded stretch of sand, surrounded by towering cliffs and crystal-clear waters.

  2. Snorkeling and Diving: The waters surrounding the Marietas Islands are teeming with vibrant marine life, making them a prime destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. Explore colorful coral reefs, encounter friendly sea creatures, and immerse yourself in the underwater paradise.

  3. Bird Watching: The Marietas Islands are also a haven for diverse bird species, including the iconic blue-footed booby. Keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready to capture these feathered residents in their natural habitat.

Visiting the Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Nestled in the lush Sierra Madre Mountains, the Vallarta Botanical Gardens offer a serene escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. This verdant oasis is a true paradise for nature lovers and horticulture enthusiasts alike:

  1. Hiking Trails: Explore the winding hiking trails that meander through the gardens, taking you on a journey through diverse ecosystems and showcasing the region’s rich biodiversity. Keep an eye out for exotic flora and fauna along the way.

  2. Conservatory and Nursery: Visit the conservatory and nursery to learn about the gardens’ conservation efforts and discover a wide variety of plant species, including rare and endangered varieties.

  3. Outdoor Activities: The Vallarta Botanical Gardens offer a range of outdoor activities, from bird-watching and yoga classes to guided nature walks and educational workshops. Immerse yourself in the tranquil surroundings and connect with the natural world.

Exploring the El Malecón Boardwalk

Puerto Vallarta’s iconic El Malecón boardwalk is a vibrant promenade that stretches along the coastline, offering a unique blend of entertainment, culture, and stunning ocean views. Here’s what you can expect on this must-visit attraction:

  1. Public Art and Sculptures: Stroll along the boardwalk and admire the impressive collection of public art installations and sculptures created by renowned Mexican and international artists. Each piece tells a unique story and adds to the vibrant atmosphere of the Malecón.

  2. Street Performers and Live Music: As you wander along the boardwalk, you’ll encounter a lively array of street performers, from musicians and dancers to mimes and acrobats. Stop and enjoy the captivating shows, or join in the festive atmosphere.

  3. Beachfront Restaurants and Bars: The Malecón is lined with an array of beachfront restaurants and bars, offering the perfect spot to savor delicious local cuisine and refreshing cocktails while taking in the stunning ocean views.

Going on a Day Trip to Sayulita

Just a short drive from Puerto Vallarta lies the charming surf town of Sayulita, a bohemian paradise that exudes a laid-back vibe and a unique cultural charm. Here’s what you can expect on a day trip to this enchanting destination:

  1. Surfing and Beach Life: Sayulita is renowned for its excellent surfing conditions, attracting wave riders from around the world. Even if you’re not a surfer, you can enjoy the relaxed beach atmosphere, soak up the sun, and watch the skilled surfers in action.

  2. Artisan Markets and Boutiques: Wander through the vibrant artisan markets and boutiques that line Sayulita’s streets, where you’ll find an array of handcrafted treasures, from colorful textiles and jewelry to unique artwork and home decor.

  3. Culinary Delights: Indulge in the town’s thriving culinary scene, which features a diverse array of restaurants and street food vendors serving up fresh seafood, traditional Mexican fare, and international cuisine with a local twist.

Discovering the Hidden Gems of Puerto Vallarta

While Puerto Vallarta’s iconic attractions are not to be missed, the city also harbors a wealth of hidden gems that offer a more authentic and off-the-beaten-path experience. Here are some lesser-known spots that are worth exploring:

  1. Boca de Tomatlán: This small fishing village, located just south of Puerto Vallarta, offers a glimpse into the region’s traditional way of life. Stroll along the quiet streets, watch local fishermen bring in their daily catch, and savor fresh seafood at one of the beachside restaurants.

  2. Hacienda Doña Engracia: Step back in time at this beautifully preserved 19th-century hacienda, where you can learn about the region’s rich history and cultural traditions. Explore the hacienda’s grounds, admire the architecture, and witness traditional activities like tequila-making and tortilla-making demonstrations.

  3. Isla Cuale Artisan Market: Tucked away on the charming Isla Cuale, this vibrant artisan market is a hidden gem that showcases the work of talented local craftspeople. Browse the stalls, admire the handmade creations, and engage with the friendly vendors to learn about their craft.

Excursions and Tours in Puerto Vallarta

To truly experience the best of Puerto Vallarta and its surrounding areas, consider embarking on one of the many exciting excursions and tours offered by local operators. Here are some must-try adventures:

  1. ATV and Zipline Tours: Explore the rugged terrain and stunning landscapes of the Sierra Madre Mountains on an exhilarating ATV or zipline tour. Traverse winding trails, soar through the treetops, and discover hidden waterfalls and natural wonders.

  2. Taco Trail Tour: Embark on a culinary journey through Puerto Vallarta’s vibrant street food scene on a guided taco trail tour. Sample a variety of authentic tacos, from classic al pastor to unique regional specialties, and learn about the rich history and traditions behind this beloved Mexican dish.

  3. Dolphin and Whale Watching Cruises: Experience the thrill of encountering these majestic marine mammals in their natural habitat by joining a dolphin or whale-watching cruise. Marvel at their graceful movements and learn about their behaviors from knowledgeable guides.

Planning Your Trip to Puerto Vallarta

To make the most of your Puerto Vallarta adventure, it’s essential to plan your trip carefully. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Best Time to Visit: Puerto Vallarta enjoys a tropical climate year-round, with the dry season from November to May being the most popular time to visit. However, the rainy season from June to October can offer lower prices and fewer crowds.

  2. Getting Around: While Puerto Vallarta is a walkable city, you may want to consider renting a car or using taxis or ride-sharing services to explore the surrounding areas. Public transportation, such as buses and the local “Uber-style” service called Bici Taxis, are also affordable options.

  3. Accommodation Options: Puerto Vallarta offers a wide range of accommodation choices, from luxury resorts and boutique hotels to budget-friendly hostels and vacation rentals. Consider your travel style and budget, and book your accommodation in advance to secure the best rates.


Puerto Vallarta is a vibrant and captivating destination that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and endless adventures. From basking on pristine beaches and exploring historic neighborhoods to indulging in mouthwatering cuisine and embarking on thrilling outdoor excursions, this coastal paradise has something to delight every traveler.

As you plan your unforgettable Puerto Vallarta adventure, remember to embrace the local culture, immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, and create lasting memories that will stay with you forever The


Top 10 Beach Hotels in Puerto Vallarta

Almar Resort Luxury LGBT Beach Front Experience****

Buenaventura Grand Hotel & Great Moments – All Inclusive****

Costa Sur Resort & Spa: A Tropical Paradise in Puerto Vallarta***

Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta All Inclusive & Spa****

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta****

Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa ****

Occidental Nuevo Vallarta*****

Sunset Plaza Beach Resort Puerto Vallarta****

The Westin Resort & Spa, Puerto Vallarta****

Villa del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta***