- Locations: 15
- Villas: 42
- Private Islands: 0
Puerto Vallarta, situated on the Pacific Ocean's Bay of Banderas, is one of Mexico's most sophisticated destinations. Bordered by golden beaches and lush palm-covered mountains, it's the perfect spot to relax and recharge. Enjoy the simple pleasures of sun and sand, or indulge in more decadent treats: world-class spas, high-end restaurants, or boutique shopping. There's no shortage of active pursuits, either: options include swimming with dolphins, diving with manta rays, horseback riding, or gliding from treetop to treetop on an exhilarating rainforest canopy tour.
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Los Arcos National Marine Park is an incredible marine park located between Las Gemelas Beach and Mismaloya Beach where you will find amazing adventure and awe inspiring views. View the landscape by boat, or snorkel and scuba dive through colorful reefs, mysterious caves and the natural architecture of the arches that make up these islands.
Take a 30-minute boat ride from the marina to the protected ecological park of The Marieta Islands. Here, you’ll trade in the tourist dappled city for a vast and varied array of marine life and sea birds. You can even snorkel or scuba through the sea critters for an up close and personal look into Puerto Vallarta’s stunning marine community of manta rays, dolphins, turtles, massive humpback whales, and schools-upon-schools of colorful fish.
Vallarta Botanical Gardens is easily accessible by taxi or the “El Tuito” bus, spend some time in the Sierra Madre Mountains, just 30 minutes south of Vallarta. The gorgeous and equally as famed botanical gardens make it easy to relax among the abundance of wild flowers, tropical plants and indigenous insect life for a break from the bustling downtown Vallarta atmosphere and a look inside the region’s natural beauty.
If you plan a trip to Puerto Vallarta between December and March, you’ll catch whale watching season at its peak. Look on in awe of gigantic humpback whales, energetic dolphins, porpoises and other marine animals that call Banderas Bay their home. Be sure to bring your camera along for snapshots of vacation memories that will last long after you return home.
As with any beach city, travelers will find an abundance of sports both in and out of water. For those that prefer to take to the waves, there are ample resources for swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, kayaking and more. With miles of coastline to explore, there is room for any, and all, water sports desired.
For those that aim to stay on land, there are also plenty of adventures to be had out of the water. Try hiking, golfing, or zip lining through dense forests for an exhilarating adrenaline rush.
You´ll find late-night restaurants, live music venues, bars and nightclubs along the stretch of the Malecon.
Puerto Vallarta has three beautiful golf courses available to every type of golfer. Puerto Vallarta’s ideal, year-round location is the perfect spot to perfect your game or take to the course with friends for a fun afternoon on the links.
Marina Vallarta –was designed by Joe Finger, who is a famous American Architect and is perfectly located just steps from the beach. Every December the course hosts the International Pro AM, which is one of the largest golf tournaments in the world.
Vista Vallarta – this Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskof signature design is comprised of two, 18-hole championship courses that sit at the highest elevation of all three courses in Puerto Vallarta. The 2 courses are known for their breathtaking ocean views, grassy hillsides, dense forests of palm trees and natural creeks, as well as their world-class golf course reputation. If you choose to play at these courses, you will also enjoy full-service club-houses, on-course F&B service, practice ranges, practice greens, caddies, carts, corporate outings and golf tournaments.
Playa Los Muertos is Puerto Vallarta’s most visited beach and is located at the south end of the Malecón and the Río Cuale. This beach proves to be a hotspot for both honeymooners and families with its soft white sands, gentle ocean waves, and plethora of restaurants and shops close by.
Playa de Oro - a local and visitor favorite, Playa de Oro is located north of the city and is as safe and clean as it is beautiful and relaxing. It is bordered by gorgeous rocky configurations that help give the location a charming and interesting touch. You will be able to enjoy a number of water activities on this beach such as parasailing, waterskiing and swimming, among others.
Playa Conchas Chinas - just a few minutes south of the city - is a charming beach nestled between lush green mountains and azure waters. Relax on the white-sand beach and take a dip in the pristine, crystal-clear ocean where you can see into the depths and spy on a wide variety of marine life. You can also enjoy the natural pools formed by encircling rocks on the beach.
Playa Mismaloya has some of the best views in all of Puerto Vallarta and lies at the base of the mountains in its own turquoise bay. The location is also famous for being the beach chosen for the 1964 film, “The Night of the Iguana."
Puerto Vallarta is home to 4 cinemas, which show the best new releases – perfect for a rainy or overcast night, or relaxing after an adventure filled day at the beach.
Prefer dancing the night away? You’ll enjoy staying up until the early morning with friends in one of the many nightclubs along the Malecon.
You’ll also find more fantastic venues in Vallarta where entertainment is abundant and fun is guaranteed.
Shopping in Puerto Vallarta is more than an activity, it’s an experience. You can find silver jewelry, blown glass objects, local pottery, serapes, clothing, masks and other artisan products for reasonable prices all around the region. Puerto Vallarta has a reputation as an art center, so you can find unique artifacts and folk art in the many art galleries speckling the area.
Whether you prefer to barter with street vendors in local flea markets and roadside stalls, or window shop in stores along the beach, Puerto Vallarta has something for you.
The main downtown shopping area is located on Libertad and Malecon streets and along Juárez and Morelos streets. One block behind the Malecon you will find antique stores and art gallery district along Morelos Street, where you may even find a pre-Columbian artifact to commemorate your trip. If you are looking for upscale shops and shopping malls, head to Plaza Marina, Plaza Neptuno, Plaza Caracol and Paradise Village – all of which are packed with specialty stores selling clothing, jewelry, original art and home decor.
For those who prefer bartering in flea markets, head to the Mercado Municipal Río Cuale, which has been in existence since the start of the 20th Century.
When to Go
The most popular time for travelers to vacation in the region is during the winter and spring months when the weather is perfect, sunny, and more tolerable than the harsh cold months in other regions of the world. High season is from mid-November to April, but if you prefer to go when it is less crowded, plan on a vacation from May to mid-July or September to mid-November.
- Make sure to book your transportation from the airport to the villa prior to departure so that everything is all set when you land and you can begin enjoying your vacation as soon as you step off the plane.
- Gratuities in Mexico go a long way – be sure to tip your staff well, both in your villa and while out-and-about.
- The peso is the national currency, although US dollars are widely accepted in businesses throughout town. Major credit cards are also accepted in most establishments.
- Wear sunscreen and bring your bug spray, just in case! Sunscreen can be very expensive in tourist destinations if you need it desperately. The sun is very strong here and you can get burnt despite a cloudy sky, so be prepared. Also, as with any tropical destination, there tend to be bugs and mosquitoes – although most of our villa owners treat their properties regularly to fumigate, these critters can still be a nuisance. So bring your spray and keep those bugs at bay.
- Depending on your group, decide if you’ll want to rent a car or if you will book excursions including transportation and rely on taxis to get you elsewhere. Both methods work just as well, but it is helpful to think about it beforehand.
- The easiest and most cost-efficient way to travel around Puerto Vallarta is by way of local bus.