Best things to do in Puerto Vallarta
21 Best things to do in Puerto Vallarta
There’s a lot to do in Puerto Vallarta so we have divided this page into 21 parts.
These include maps, tips, contact details, and our personal recommendations to help you navigate and enjoy your vacation here.
Dive right in!
1. Puerto Vallarta activities and adventures
Puerto Vallarta is just 20 degrees latitude north of the equator and just 3oo milometers from the Tropic of Cancer and therefore a subtropical region. Within the valleys and canyons of the Sierra Madre mountain range, there is a lush rainforest full of incredible plant and animal life.
This unique combination of natural characteristics products a wide variety of activities and adventures.
In our guide 60 Awesome Puerto Vallarta activities we detail all the different types of activities and fun you can do on vacation here in Puerto Vallarta.
The guide covers:
- Cultural activities, customs, and discoveries in Puerto Vallarta
- Cuisine, best restaurant recommendations, cooking classes in Mexican food and where to get the best tacos
- Where the hidden beaches are and how to get to them
- Water-based activities like whale watching, swimming with dolphins, fishing, sailing, and island hopping
- Onland activities like jungle hiking, zip lining, parasailing, nature walks, and skydiving
- Social activity suggestions for daytime and nighttime including nightclubs, concerts and breakfast cafes.
- Typical vacation experiences done the right way such as Tequila tasting tours and Margaritas on the beach!
- Not so typical experiences and secret suggestions
- Family-friendly activities and things for kids to do in Puerto Vallarta
- Ecological, environmental and educational activities
2. Explore Puerto Vallarta Zone by Zone
The best way to navigate the city is by looking at the different zones (neighborhoods or “barrios”). We have posted a map below for each zone and the locations of some quality recommendations. Don’t forget to save this info as your guide when visiting!
There’s plenty of great, fun activities and there’s definitely something for everyone. You will find an abundance of bars, restaurants, shopping, and cultural activities. We have listed below the ones that won’t disappoint, or at least the perfect jumping off place for you to start with.
3. Puerto Vallarta beaches
Puerto Vallarta is located in a large Bay (Bahía de Banderas) which opens into the Pacific Ocean. The water temperature is always good and you can swim from the beaches throughout the year. Weather conditions vary slightly seasonally. In general, summers have less wind and waves so the water is clearer. Water temperatures can vary between 77 in January to 79 in December with a high temperature of 86 in August. Close by islands such as the Marietas island are usually about 5 degrees F cooler.
For the Suite Marine extended guide with pictures, descriptions, and tips to the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta that won’t disappoint, please read – Top 15 Puerta Vallarta beaches
Puerto Vallarta Beaches Map
4. Puerto Vallarta snorkeling
For more about Puerto Vallarta snorkeling see our detailed article here
The waters off the coast are full of exotic fish of every type and color. It is an excellent activity for all the family and is a very enjoyable, easy sport to do. You just need some basic skills and equipment and training. With the help of our tour guide at Suite Marine, we can take you to the best spots along the coast. There are plenty of individual snorkeling tours available but the main advantage of renting a yacht with Suite Marine is that you can choose exactly where you want to jump in and explore.
If snorkeling is an activity that you would like to include as part of your yacht rental at Suite Marine, please let us know via email and we will take care of all your needs and reservations.
5. Puerto Vallarta Surfing
From beginner surfers to seasoned pros, Puerta Vallarta has a great mix of surfing locations. The map below takes a look at 12 quality surfing areas and the characteristics for each are found in the guide. Enjoy!
Our strong recommendation is to book a trip to Sayulita. Sayulita is just a little north of Banders Bay. If you rent a yacht with Suite Marine, be sure to ask for our help when going surfing near Sayulita. We have many close connections there.
The Suite Marine Puerto Vallarta Surfing Guide identifies 12 of the best surfing locations close to Puerto Vallarta. It has images for each location, maps, details about breaks, local surf shop links and information for those wanting to learn to surf or rent surf equipment.
6. Puerto Vallarta scuba diving
For Maps, images, locations, equipment information, and general tips and tricks, see the Suite Marine Puerto Vallarta scuba diving page
For most people who try it, there is nothing more exhilarating than scuba diving. Here in Puerto Vallarta, there are plenty of options for beginners and experts. Mexico’s Pacific coast has a diverse ecology making the Banderas Bay a perfect ecosystem with a shallow coastline and lukewarm waters. The diverse marine vegetation provides an abundant home for thousands of tropical fish. The most popular areas for scuba diving are around Los Arcos, Quimixto, Las Aminos, Punta de Mita and the Marietas and El Morro islands. Those locations can be booked with us at Suite Marine, an excellent activity to do with one of the Suite Marine yachts.
Scuba Diving Map of Banderas Bay
7. Puerto Vallarta Whale Watching
Check out our full article about whale watching for all the essential information
Specialized whale watching tours start in December and run to mid-February every year as humpback whales visit the Bahía de Banderas (The Bay of Flags). As this is a very popular time to visit, booking a whale watching tour in advance is advised. We all agree that this is one of those bucket list things to do. It makes for an unforgettable moment on vacation and not to mention that perfect holiday photograph. With ticket prices starting around 90$ for adults and 60$ for children it is definitely an essential activity.
8. Puerto Vallarta Fishing
There are 5 main great fishing areas around the Bahía de Banderas (Bay of Flags) and along the coast of Puerto Vallarta. Many dedicated fishing enthusiasts travel here to fish for Marlin, Tuna, Sailfish, and Dorado. To catch the really big fish you will need to go to close by locations such as the Marietas islands, El Morro and El Faro.
For a full detailed description of each of the 5 main fishing locations, images of the types of fish commonly found in Puerto Vallarta and what you need for your fishing trip read our Puerto Vallarta Fishing page or click on the image below.
Puerto Vallarta fishing charters
There are quite a few boats and yachts available for rent if you are interested in fishing in the waters near the city or deep sea fishing in the Banderas Bay. It has great fishing all year. Experts can find trophy-sized Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Tuna and Sailfish in addition Bullfish, Jack, Snapper, and Wahoo making it a fisherman’s paradise. We have sunshine 320 days of the year and average temperatures of 85°F (30°C). You can choose an experienced, English speaking crew, and they advise you about the best locations.
9. Puerto Vallarta Sailing
Just imagine the soft sound of the breeze and the relaxing sound of the waves rippling close your yacht. You move from island to island, stopping for a little snorkeling or cave exploration and along the way spotting dolphins, whales, manta rays and tropical fish. Imagine the romance of a sunset sail while sipping on your favorite drink. There are just some of the best reasons to rent a yacht with Suite Marine.
If you are visiting between late November an early April it is a good chance to spot whales, while the rest of the year dolphins, giant manta rays and sea turtles are common sightings. You can explore the Bahía de Banderas as you wish, going south towards Yelapa heading north to check out the surf in Sayulita. The options are plentiful.
Sailing with Suite Marine
At Suite Marine, we have a selection of yachts to choose from. Our captains and tour guides can design the perfect tour for you depending on your needs and desires. Just send us an email with your general ideas and we will provide you with a wide array of tempting options.
10. Puerto Vallarta Restaurants: The Quick Start Guide
There are 5 main zones with fantastic restaurants in Puerto Vallarta.
So, we have separated them into zones to help you travel throughout the city.
Take a look at the Quick Start Guide to Puerto Vallarta restaurants
11. Puerto Vallarta Nightlife
Read our extended page about Puerto Vallarta Nightlife – 50 Top Bars and nightclubs
The best place to start is Díaz street (Calle Díaz is in El Centro Downtown) and choose one or all three of the best Downtown nightlife spots with Mandala, the Zoo and La Vaquita all beside each other.
For live Cuban music, there’s La Bodeguita del Medio restaurant and bar.
If you like jazz, you can try The Jazz Foundation or La Dulce Vita Italian restaurant.
La Chat and El Andariego restaurants have mariachi music
Murphy’s Irish pub or Wingman provide live rock n’ roll and have a great view of the Malecon boardwalk.
Puerto Vallarta’s more upscale nightclubs are Strana and La Santa in the Hotel Zone. There can be a cover charge of between 100 to 400 pesos
Near The Romantic Zone
Ignacio Vallarta street in the Romantic Zone also offers a lot of fun. There’s live music at Club Roxy Rock House and El Torito, as well as a few other cantinas such as Bar La Playa and the Gringo Loco.
On the Los Muertos beach, you can find Nacho Daddy for dinner and drinks or at Andale on Olas Altas street which has been a local favorite for a long time.
Most bars and cantinas serve alcohol until 2 am although nightclubs stay open until 4 am. In general, the city is rather laid back and casual but there are a few places that will have a “no shorts, no t-shirts” dress code.
12. Puerto Vallarta Shopping
Click here for a complete guide to Puerto Vallarta shopping (Maps, Malls, Markets, and the Malécon)
There’s a happy mix of everything when shopping in here. For those of you who are shopaholics, pack light and buy an extra bag while you are here!
Malls in Puerto Vallarta
The best place to start is with the half a dozen malls on Boulevard Francisco Medina Ascencio. This is the road that connects Downtown with the Hotel Zone and Marina Vallarta. You can see this on the map below.
There you can find NNB Plaza Peninsula and Peninsula Plaza Vallarta. If that is not enough then just across the river (moving into the Hotel Zone is La Isla Shopping mall which is surrounded by all sorts of other niceties such as spas, cinemas, and restaurants.
Flea Markets and fresh food markets
There is a popular farmers market on Basilio Badillo Street on Saturdays. Mix with the locals and smell the freshly cooked bread and organic vegetables. Not only is it authentic, but it’s also inexpensive. This street in the Romantic Zone is fantastic for fine art, crafts, jewelry, and ceramics. If you don’t want to buy to cook your own food, try some of the local ready-made cuisines.
Local Producers from Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is a fantastic place for home-made, hand-made, artisan, home-grown, self-produced products of all types and it really is a pleasure to discover it all. Silver and silver jewelry has an excellent reputation in this region and it is available at local markets and upscale malls. We suggest starting on The Malecon which is the city’s main boardwalk. See our map for locations. This stretch of boardwalk has boutiques by local designers, general clothing stores for summer or beachwear, jewelry stores, and handicraft boutiques.
Leather goods are also of a high standard and inexpensive, as are the tequila shops which is kind of essential if you visit the region.
13. Puerto Vallarta Golf
Geographically, Puerto Vallarta extends just 29 miles from Punta Mita in the north to Yelapa in the south. You will find golf courses ranging from the oceanfront, jungle and urban area. In general, golfing is not too expensive with green fees ranging from 139$ to 240$. It is home to some stunning courses where some of the most famous golf architects have designed courses, including Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Tom Weiskopf, and Robert von Hagge.
The best and safest way to travel to each course is by taxi so it’s always best to agree on a price before you start.
For a comprehensive review of each course: Ten 10 Puerto Vallarta Golf Courses
14. Puerto Vallarta New Experiences
Take a look at our Puerto Vallarta New Experiences page for all the ideas and details
Are you looking for a few ideas a little less obvious?
Perhaps you are brave enough to try a Sala class?
Maybe you would like to escape into an art retreat?
Interested in learning Spanish and meeting other like-minded people?
15. Things to do in Puerto Vallarta with kids
So you love PV but need to keep the kids happy and entertained? No problem, we got you covered.
We put together a list of 18 ideas and activities that all kids will get excited about.
16. Discover Puerto Vallarta Culture
Puerto Vallarta Culture can be looked at in several ways. There is a well known “good life” culture with beaches, resorts, water sports, and fun holiday activities. Additionally, there’s the “sporting culture” with fishing, golfing, snorkeling, scuba, tennis and just about everything else. But there’s also another side of Puerto Vallarta culture which we will explore here. These include traditional art, street art, contemporary art, traditional festivals and religious festivals with a few extras sprinkled in.
17. Ecological Puerto Vallarta
With thick jungle and forest in the Sierra Mountains on one side and the Banderas Bay on the other side, Puerto Vallarta is the best location in the world for ecological fun. See our article by clicking on the image below
18. Health & Fitness Puerto Vallarta
Like two peas in a pod, health & fitness and Puerto Vallarta are the perfect match. There are tonnes of options for fitness enthusiasts including a variety of different types of gyms, crossfit options and yoga. For a guide to the best recommendations, click on the image below.
19. Sport in Puerto Vallarta
This section is for the more traditional land-based sports such as tennis, soccer, golf, and swimming (pool). Obviously, the holiday adventure aquatic activities like surfing, snorkeling, and fishing have their own dedicated sections. Please see above. For all the rest please see our linked page below
We think the best way to discover Puerto Vallarta is with the luxury, convenience, and exclusivity one of our yachts.
Suite Marine rents boats and yachts in Puerto Vallarta, offering you the overnight yachting experience…Your Suite in the Marina
There’s no better to explore everything Puerto Vallarta has to offer.