Last updated March 25th, 2023
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One of the biggest questions I got when I told friends and family that I was traveling to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, was this “Is Puerto Vallarta safe to travel to?”. I can understand the apprehension some of those in my life may have, especially with my being a woman. When you just listen to the news, it can seem as if all of Mexico is being run by the cartel, guns blazing. But I’m here to tell you the truth- just because the news says somewhere is unsafe, doesn’t give us the right to generalize the entire country. Also, Mexico is huge, you simply cannot lump the whole country in together.
Puerto Vallarta is very different than Mexico as a whole. For starts, it is a tourist city, meaning it isn’t what you can call authentic Mexico. This is the Mexico that caters to tourists having a relaxing vacation. With that being said, let’s talking about wither or not Puerto Vallarta is safe to travel to, but especially as a woman.
Table of Contents
Is Puerto Vallarta Safe To Travel To As A Woman?
Why travel to Puerto Vallarta?
People visit Puerto Vallarta looking to escape to paradise. The hot weather and all inclusive hotels are the reason many Canadians and Americans flock here come winter, but even plenty of Mexican residents choose to vacation here.
Over 5 million people visited Puerto Vallarta in 2019, myself being one of them, and in 2022 over 6 million visited. That many people can’t be wrong, this is a magical place.
Known for the incredible marine life, Malecon, Bay of Banderas, all inclusive hotels, wild nightlife, and for being one of the most gay friendly cities in the world, you would be remiss to skip out on a visit to Puerto Vallarta.
Other reasons to visit? The snorkeling is stunning. Not only will you see lots of marine wildlife, you may even see rays or turtles.
The adventure activities you can choose from are endless.
Life moves at the pace you want here. If you want a day jam packed with activities you’ll find that. But if complete relaxation is what you’re after, you’ll find that too.
Where is Puerto Vallarta?
Located in the state of Jalisco on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, you will find Puerto Vallarta. This west coast city is one of the most well known in Mexico, as it is a very popular tourist destination for North Americans. Situated on the Bay of Banderas, which is known as one of the most beautiful bays in the world while also being one of the largest, in Puerto Vallarta you’ll find beaches, jungle, and a lively city to explore.
Best things to do in Puerto Vallarta
There is so much to do in Puerto Vallarta that writing a list of the best things to do is tough. I got to do some incredible activities, and can’t wait to go back again someday to do more!
Scuba diving/snorkeling. There are plenty of tour companies to choose from, and plenty of scuba diving choices for where to go.
Ride an ATV. We journeyed up into the jungle, and down to a fishing village on our ATV tour. We got to check out one of the filming locations for Predator which was the biggest draw for me!
Visit a crocodile sanctuary. Crocodiles are my favorite animal in the world; not only do I find them beautiful, I respect them. They’ve been around since before the dinosaurs were on Earth and have survived and thrived in every mass extinction.
Walk along the Malecon, check out the shops and statues that are along the Malecon. There are so many things to do in Puerto Vallarta, but walking the Malecon is a must for any visitor!
Take a cooking class. We took a complimentary cooking class with our hotel, The Marriott, and this was so much fun. I would love to take a local cooking class next time.
Discover the foodie scene with a food tour. I think food tours in any destination is a great way to know the place on a deeper level, so of course a food tour in Mexico is a must!
Go on a mezcal or tequila tasting.
See the local fauna at the botanical gardens.
Spend a day relaxing on a yacht, with a book or with some drinks.
See a mariachi band perform.
Whale watching. Depending on the time of year you can spot whales swimming in the waters. The best time to see the whales in Puerto Vallarta is between December and March, when the whales then leave to head back North. There are tours you can do to watch the whales in their natural habitat. Enjoy a buffet lunch while out on the water!
Is Puerto Vallarta safe to travel?
Generally speaking yes, Puerto Vallarta is safe to travel to.
Do keep in mind that it is important to use common sense in all situations. I believe that as a woman we should always take extra care when we’re traveling alone. Some ways to do this are to know which neighborhoods to avoid, how safe is public transportation, check reviews on accommodation, don’t get exceedingly drunk, and don’t try to draw attention to the fact you are a woman traveling alone, if you are.
Mexico is known to be rough in certain areas and there are absolutely travel warnings in different locations through out the country, however Puerto Vallarta is not one of them. There are no travel bans on Puerto Vallarta.
The state of Jalisco doesn’t have a travel ban, but travelers in the capital city of Guadalajara, are warned to exercise caution at night due to some gang activity, but the criminal activity is low.
Puerto Vallarta is known as one of the safest places to visit in Mexico, due to the high police presence. They work hard to keep the streets safe for everyone, locals and travelers alike. So yes, I truly believe that Puerto Vallarta is safe to travel to as a woman.
Puerto Vallarta Travel and Safety Tips
I found the locals to be very friendly, and they would go out of their way to help out. I did not feel unsafe in Puerto Vallarta at all, though I was traveling with my boyfriend.
Something I did notice was that often times men would speak directly to my male partner instead of me, or when paying the bill, even if I had cash in my hand, they would speak to Scott and hand him the bill.
Some tips you should follow no matter where you are in the world apply here also.
Leave the expensive jewelry at home.
Don’t flaunt your cash.
Stay in touristy areas. The general consensus is, the further away from the beach, the less safe.
But overall Puerto Vallarta is very safe, just take extra precautions as you would when visiting any new destination. I have a blog post with some travel tips here.
How to get around
It is very easy to get around Puerto Vallarta. We never had to wait on a taxi, there are so many around! We would mostly take a taxi to get around. A tip is to negotiate the price before you get in. You’ll quickly learn the prices you should be paying. For example, I knew the price from the city center to our hotel. If a taxi driver quoted me higher, I would say no, I could find cheaper. They’ll often then accept your price.
When looking for taxi’s, the white ones are generally the cheapest. A woman gave us this tip on our first day, and we quickly learned this is true.
Uber is big in Puerto Vallarta, so if you have the app and Wi-Fi, you can get around cheaper than it would be in a taxi!
The local busses here are great! When getting on, the man gets on last and pays for his whole group. There is air conditioning, the seats are comfortable. I much preferred the busses here than in Vancouver.
Best time to visit
There isn’t a bad time to visit Puerto Vallarta, but remember that a lot of shops close during low season, so if you’re looking to have the run of the town, go during high season.
The best weather you’ll find is between April to June. The weather is warm, but not as hot as in winter, and there are less tourists.
July to September is when the weather is hottest, and during this time there is often rain. Being protected by the bay though means there is no reason to worry about hurricanes.
October is when I went and I thought it was the perfect time. This is when the weather is still nice and hot, and everything begins to open up again for high season. The town wasn’t really busy yet, as most tourists begin to come in Mid-November. I will definitely go back for this time again.
High season begins in November but really picks up from December to March, when you can participate in whale watching.
Best Tour Companies
One of the toughest choices for me before visiting was narrowing down tour companies and just which tours to pick.
Vallarta Adventures is one of the best companies for water related activities. They have plenty of choices for sailing, relaxing on a yacht, touring different islands, animal adventures. They even have cultural activities such as visiting different towns, historic sites, food tours.
There are so many different activities to do with Vallarta Adventures you’ll surely be spoiled for choice!
Estigo Tours is the tour company we went with to go ATV-ing. We spent about 4 hours or so driving the ATV’s into the jungle, to a small fishing village, and through the town. It was the perfect day. I will definitely be using this company when I go back.
Puerto Vallarta Tours is another company that has so much to choose from. Tours with them can include ecotours, fishing trips, scuba diving, boat tours, beach breaks, and so much more.
Cooking Vallarta is a tour I wanted to do but just didn’t have time. This cooking class will have you go to a market with the chef, choose ingredients together and then bring them back to the chef’s home where he teaches you to cook a meal, and teaches you about the different ingredients. I love cooking so this is something I would love to do when I go back.
And lastly I often use Get Your Guide when browsing tours!
To conclude, is Puerto Vallarta safe to travel? Yes, and it is a lot safer than many places in the world. The locals here are lovely, and I never felt unsafe once. This was my boyfriend’s first time leaving the country and I think it was the perfect introduction to travel for him.
Have you been to Puerto Vallarta before?
Do you think Puerto Vallarta is safe to travel to as a woman?
Do you want to visit?