Located on Mexico’s Pacific Coast and surrounded by clear waters, mountains, and jungle, this city really does have it all. There are endless things to do in Puerto Vallarta, meaning that no matter how short your stay (because a visit here never is long enough), you’re sure to have a great time.
Suitable for every type of traveler, the things to do in Puerto Vallarta truly are endless; whether you’re looking to chill out at a resort, atv through the jungle, do some hiking, or even see some crocodiles, you can look forward to an excellent vacation here.
This list includes things that I haven’t even done, but have been wanting to get back to Puerto Vallarta to do!
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Snorkeling. Puerto Vallarta may not be the first snorkel destination you think of, but the Bay of Banderas is home to some beautiful marine life, such as tropical fish, dolphins, manta rays, and sea turtles! Here are the best snorkel destinations.
Snorkel Islas Marietas (“The Galapagos Islands of Mexico”), a group of islands teeming with wildlife that are incredibly well protected by the government, making this one of the BEST snorkel spots in Puerto Vallarta.
Los Arcos Marine National Park. Due to being a protected National Park, the marine wildlife is abundant here, making Los Arcos a great place to spend the day snorkeling. The biodiversity is also sublime, with the Blue Footed Booby being especially popular due to the fact that they are rarely found elsewhere in the world.
Las Caletas, a place for both adventure and relaxation, is really easy to get to from Puerto Vallarta. Here you can snorkel and dive various locations, rent a kayak, explore the jungle, relax in a hammock, go to a mezcal tasting, take a cooking class, there really are endless things to do!
Playa Conchas Chinas. This stunning beach is situated between the Sierra Madre Mountains and the waters of the Pacific Coast, which means the views here are gorgeous! Minutes from downtown Puerto Vallarta, there are lots of fish, crustaceans, and other marine animals to see.
Majahuitas, this charming cove is perfect for a day to spend snorkeling the pristine waters, eating fresh seafood from the beach huts, and watching the local fisherman.
Playa Colomitos. One of the last hidden gems of the area, Colomitos beach is just a 5 minute water taxi from Boca de Tomatlan, or a 40 minute hike. There is plenty of wildlife surrounding the jungle area, but they are used to humans, so of no concern. The waters are crystal clear, a true snorkelers paradise.
TIP! For the best underwater visibility, visit during the winter and spring months (November to June).
Visit the botanical gardens.
Zip line over the Sierra Madre Mountains. Book your ATV – Zipline combo adventure tour here!
Take a tour with Estigo Tours and see where the movie Predator was filmed.
Visit El Cora Crocodile Sanctuary (which is actually in the next state over in Nayarit) but so worth the drive.
Walk the Malecon.
Head to Playa Los Muertos. Probably the busiest and most popular beach in Puerto Vallarta, this beach is one of Mexico’s top LGBTQ+ beaches, which isn’t surprising considering how gay friendly Puerto Vallarta is!
Join A Chocolate making class.
Explore Zona Romantica, or the romantic zone. This neighbourhood is a gay mecca. With smaller streets and more shops and cafes, this area is busy and vibrant!
Whale watching during the winter months. During the winter months (November to March) you can see humpback whales coming to the waters from Canada and the USA to mate and give birth. This is a great time to be on a boat, but sometimes you can even see the whales from shore!
Puerto Vallarta is surrounded by incredible places. You have beach towns, lush green jungle, the Sierra Madre mountains
Sayulita. About 40 km North of Puerto Vallarta you’ll find this eclectic surf town (known as the crown jewel of the Riviera Nayarit) a very popular day trip where people love to learn to surf, eat the street food, wander the boutiques, and even participate in turtle releases!
San Pancho. Smaller than Sayulita, this town gives even more of a laid back beach town vibe.
Boca de Tomatlan to explore the fishing village and hike some epic trails that lead to secluded beaches.
La Cruz. Only 6 km from Bucharias (see below), La Cruz de Huanacaxtle is a quiet, traditional fishing village. This is the place to come if you’re looking for a relaxed, laid back vibe. You can hang out on the beaches, check out the boats in the harbour, check out the daily fish market, or go sailing.
Yelepa. You can only get here by boat, making this day trip feel ultra exclusive. Relax here by the white sandy beaches, which are surrounded by a gorgeous lagoon on one side, and mountains on the other.
Bucharias. Located north of the Bay of Banderas, this Bucharias is a quaint beach town, known for the friendly locals, many flea markets, art galleries, and strolling the cobblestone lined streets.
San Sebastian del Oeste. This old, mountain mining town is a Pueblo Magico (a magic town) meaning it has been recognized by the government for it’s magical qualities (typically related to history, architecture, legends, or even customs of traditional Mexico). It is located 1480 metres above sea level, giving you a vastly different experience from touristy, coastal Puerto Vallarta!
Free Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta
Walk the Malecon
Check out the street art that is all over the city. Puerto Vallarta Street Art has an interactive map that walks you through the whole city and the art! It’s free, but you can send in donations.
Take a free walking tour that takes place daily. It departs from downtown’s Municipal Tourism Office
For those physically fit looking for some exercise, hike to the top of Cerro de la Cruz lookout. This hike may be steep, but the views afforded make it very worth it. In fact, this is the best place to catch a sunset over the entire city.
Watch a show. Every day on the Maelcon at 6pm, between Leonora Vicario & Pipila street, you’ll find the Papantla Flying Men. Also sometimes known as Pole Flyers, this dance is actually a centuries old ritual to offer gratitude to The Sun God, The God of Springs and Fertility, and The Rain God. I highly recommend you do more research to learn about the ritual. It’s fascinating!
Hopefully this list of things to do in Puerto Vallarta helps you when planning your trip! Or even just to help fuel your wanderlust. Puerto Vallarta truly is a gem of a spot, and I cannot wait to return!
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