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15 Top-Rated Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta 

Puerto Vallarta is a coastal city located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Known for its stunning beaches, beautiful scenery, and warm weather all year round. It is a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year. If you’re planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta, there are plenty of things to do and see in the city. Here are the top 15 rated things to do in Puerto Vallarta.

Whale Watching

One of the most popular things to do in Puerto Vallarta is to go whale watching. Humpback whales migrate to the area every year from December to March. There are many tours available that take visitors out to see these magnificent creatures up close.

One of the best ways to go whale watching in Puerto Vallarta is to take a boat tour. Water taxis and larger boats leave regularly from Marina Vallarta and the downtown area. Many of these tours offer an open bar and snacks. Visitors can opt for a more intimate whale-watching experience by taking a small boat or even a kayak.

It’s important that during whale watching tours, to respect the animals and maintain a safe distance.  Tour operators ensure safe and respectful whale watching.

Boat Tours

Taking a boat tour is a  great way to see the coastline of Puerto Vallarta. One of the most popular boat tours is the Las Caletas tour. That takes visitors to a secluded beach for a day of relaxation and fun activities. The tour includes a delicious lunch, an open bar, and activities. Such as snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Visitors can also explore the nearby jungle. Take part in cultural activities such as cooking classes and craft-making.

For those interested in seeing the marine life of Puerto Vallarta, a snorkeling or scuba diving tour is a must. The Los Arcos National Marine Park is a popular destination for these types of tours.

For a romantic experience, a sunset or dinner cruise is a great option. These tours offer stunning views of the sunset over the Bay of Banderas. Accompanied by a delicious dinner and live music.

Visitors can also take a water taxi to explore the local beaches and coves. Such as Playa Las Gemelas and Boca de Tomatlan.

Vallarta Botanical Gardens

A visit to  Vallarta Botanical Gardens is a must for nature lovers. The gardens are home to a vast collection of plants, including many species of orchids. It has stunning views of the Sierra Madre Mountains.

One of the best ways to explore the gardens is by taking a guided tour with a knowledgeable local guide. Besides the guided tour, visitors can also enjoy a self-guided tour. The gardens are designed with several different sections. Each features a unique collection of plants and flowers. Such as the Agave Garden and the Jungle Garden.

For in-depth learning,  the gardens also offer educational programs and workshops. These programs include birdwatching tours and nature walks. Even cooking classes that use ingredients grown in the gardens.

The gardens are also a popular venue for weddings and other special events. The lush and stunning mountain backdrop is the perfect setting for a romantic and unforgettable event.

Local Markets

The local markets in Puerto Vallarta are a great place to experience culture and souvenirs. The Mercado Municipal is one of the most popular markets. It has everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts.

Local vendors sell everything from handmade pottery to woven textiles.  The wood carvings have intricate designs and are unique souvenirs and gifts to buy.

The market also features many food stalls. That offers traditional Mexican dishes, such as tamales, tacos, and fresh seafood. There are many other local markets throughout Puerto Vallarta. Such as the weekly farmer’s markets and the flea markets in the Zona Romantica.

Visitors should bargain when shopping at the markets. But should also be respectful and polite as it is part of the local culture.

Beautiful Beaches

Puerto Vallarta is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. The golden sand and clear waters make them a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.

Playa Las Gemelas is a quiet and secluded beach located south of Puerto Vallarta. Playa de Los Muertos is one of the most popular beaches in Puerto Vallarta. It is located in the heart of the Romantic Zone.

These beaches are bustling with activities. There are beach vendors offering everything from food and drinks to souvenirs and water sports equipment. These beaches are also known for its vibrant nightlife. Many beachfront bars and restaurants staying open late into the night.

Los Muertos Beach, located just south of Playa de Los Muertos. It is another popular beach destination. The beach is lined with palm trees and colorful umbrellas. The calm waters are ideal for swimming. Beach vendors offer a variety of water sports activities, such as parasailing and jet skiing.

Another beautiful beach is Playa Las Animas. It is a secluded beach accessible only by boat, and Boca de Tomatlan. A small fishing village with a picturesque beach and plenty of seafood restaurants.

Live Music

Downtown Puerto Vallarta is a great place to experience live music. There are many bars and restaurants offering nightly entertainment. You can enjoy everything from traditional Mexican music to jazz and rock.

There are also several venues dedicated to live music, such as Incanto and The Red Room Cabaret. These venues have talented musicians performing a variety of genres. Including classical music, opera, and Broadway show tunes.

Another popular spot for live music is the Malecon. It is Puerto Vallarta’s famous oceanfront promenade. Musicians and street performers can often be found entertaining crowds. Visitors can stroll along the Malecon, enjoying the music while taking in the stunning views of Banderas Bay.

Old Town

The old town of Puerto Vallarta is a charming area. It features cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and a lively atmosphere. It’s a great place to explore, with many art galleries, shops, and restaurants to discover.

One of the most iconic landmarks in the old town is the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Towering over the main square, Plaza de Armas. The church’s distinctive crown-shaped tower is a symbol of Puerto Vallarta.

Malecon is another popular spot. It runs along the oceanfront and is lined with sculptures and street performers. Visitors can stroll along the Malecon. Taking in the stunning views of Banderas Bay and the surrounding mountains.

Besides the art galleries and shops, the old town is also home to several local markets. The Wednesday evening market in the Plaza Lazaro Cardenas is particularly popular.  The old town is also known for its street food. Many vendors are offering traditional Mexican dishes like tacos and churros.

Food Tours

A food tour is a great way to experience the local cuisine of Puerto Vallarta. You can sample everything from street food to fine dining. Learning about the history and culture behind each dish.

Food tours in Puerto Vallarta take visitors to the best local restaurants and food stands. Some tours also offer a visit to the Mercado Municipal. Exploring the local ingredients and spices used in traditional Mexican cuisine.

Along the way, guides share insights about the history of Puerto Vallarta’s culinary scene. And the unique flavors and ingredients that make it so special. Whether you’re a foodie or just looking for a unique way to experience the local culture, a food tour is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening in Puerto Vallarta.

Scuba Diving

Puerto Vallarta is home to some of the best scuba diving sites in Mexico. It has abundant marine life including sea turtles and manta rays. There are many diving tours available for both beginners and experienced divers. It is an exciting way to explore the underwater world and get up close with the rich marine life.

The Bay of Banderas and the surrounding areas offer a diverse range of dive sites. From shallow reefs to deeper underwater caves and walls.

Some popular dive sites include Los Arcos National Marine Park, Marietas Islands, and the Chimo and El Morro walls. Many diving tours also offer PADI certification courses. So you can become a certified diver and explore even more dive sites in the area.

Free Walking Tours

Free walking tours are a popular way to explore Puerto Vallarta on foot and learn about its history and culture. Local guides lead groups through the city’s streets. Pointing out landmarks and sharing interesting anecdotes along the way. These tours are a great option for budget-conscious travelers. Wanting to get a more in-depth understanding of the city without spending a lot of money.

Some popular free walking tours in Puerto Vallarta include the Old Town tour and the Malecon tour. Taking visitors along the iconic seaside promenade.

Local Culture

To experience the local culture of Puerto Vallarta, there are various of activities and attractions. For example, you can visit the Museo del Cuale. It is a small museum located on the Cuale River that showcases local history and culture. You can also attend traditional Mexican dance performances at the Los Arcos Amphitheater. Or visit the Old Town Art Walk to see works by local artists.

If you’re interested in learning more about the local cuisine, there are cooking classes and food tours available. You can sample traditional dishes and learn about the ingredients. As well as cooking techniques used in Mexican cuisine.  Local markets offer a glimpse of daily life in Puerto Vallarta. Visitors can find various items, including fresh produce and handmade crafts.

Another way to immerse yourself in the local culture is by attending festivals and events throughout the year. Such as the Puerto Vallarta Carnival in February or the Gourmet Festival in November.

Golf Courses

Puerto Vallarta is a haven for golfers, with many world-class golf courses to choose from. One of the most popular courses is the Jack Nicklaus-designed Vista Vallarta Golf Club. It has stunning views of the Bay of Banderas and the surrounding mountains. The course features two 18-hole championship courses, each with its own unique challenges.

Other notable courses include the Marina Vallarta Club de Golf and the Flamingos Golf Club. Both of which offer challenging layouts and beautiful surroundings. Many of the golf courses in Puerto Vallarta also offer luxury amenities. Such as spas and fine dining, making them a great place to relax and enjoy a day on the links.

Small Fishing Village

Boca de Tomatlan is a hidden gem that offers a glimpse into the traditional way of life in Mexico. It’s a picturesque village with colorful houses, small shops, and a small beach. You can take a stroll around the village, admiring the murals and street art that decorate the walls.

One of the main draws of Boca de Tomatlan is its location at the mouth of the Horcones River, which flows into the ocean here. You can take a boat ride up the river, enjoying the lush tropical scenery and wildlife along the way. The river is also a popular spot for swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can go hiking in the hills surrounding Boca de Tomatlan. There are several trails that offer stunning views of the coast and mountains, including the hike to Colomitos Beach, a secluded cove accessible only by foot or boat.

ATV Tours

ATV tours are a thrilling way to explore the rugged terrain around Puerto Vallarta. You can ride through the jungle, cross rivers, and climb steep hills while taking in the beautiful views. Many tours also include stops at hidden waterfalls and swimming holes where you can cool off and relax. ATV tours are available for both beginners and experienced riders, and most tours provide all necessary equipment and safety gear.

Best Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences. The high season is from December to April when the weather is sunny and dry. This is also the peak tourist season, so prices are higher and crowds are larger.

If you prefer to avoid crowds and enjoy lower prices, consider visiting during the shoulder season from May to November. The weather is hotter and more humid during these months, but there are still plenty of activities to enjoy.

The rainy season is from June to October, but the rain usually comes in short bursts and doesn’t last all day. If you don’t mind a little rain and want to experience the lush greenery of Puerto Vallarta, this could be the perfect time to visit.

Day Trips from Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is a great base for exploring the surrounding areas. Here are some popular day trip destinations:

  1. Sayulita: This charming surf town is just a 45-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta. You can spend the day relaxing on the beach, exploring the town’s colorful streets, and trying some of the local cuisines.
  2. San Sebastian del Oeste: This historic mining town is a two-hour drive from Puerto Vallarta, but the journey is well worth it. You can explore the town’s colonial architecture, visit a tequila distillery, and hike in the surrounding hills.
  3. Yelapa: This secluded beach town is only accessible by boat and is a great place to escape the crowds. You can hike to a waterfall, relax on the beach, and try some of the local seafood.
  4. Marietas Islands: This group of small islands is a popular spot for snorkeling and diving. You can take a boat tour from Puerto Vallarta to explore the islands’ caves and rock formations.
  5. Guadalajara: This vibrant city is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Puerto Vallarta. You can explore the historic city center, visit museums and art galleries, and try some of the region’s famous cuisine.

Conclusion: Why Puerto Vallarta is a Must-Visit Destination

Puerto Vallarta is a vibrant destination that caters to all kinds of travelers. Its stunning beaches, rich cultural heritage, and diverse culinary scene make it a must-visit place. From the bustling markets to the charming old town, there’s plenty to explore. The area also boasts natural wonders, including the Sierra Madre Mountains and Los Arcos National Marine Park, which offer opportunities for outdoor adventures. And with a fusion of Mexican, Spanish, and indigenous flavors, Puerto Vallarta is a foodie’s paradise. With its warm climate, stunning scenery, and friendly locals, Puerto Vallarta is a destination that will leave you with unforgettable memories.

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