Puerto Vallarta Highlights
You don't have to go far to celebrate life in one of Mexico's most amazing destinations. Puerto Vallarta brings together the best outdoor activities, beaches, and exquisite cuisine so that you and your squad will never want to leave the city.
It is enough to know the majesty of Las Caletas to be with your mouth open, a place to spend a whole day doing activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, zip-line, or simply swimming in the crystalline waters of this paradise accessed through a boat, which makes it even more exotic. Colomitos, Playa Caballo, Quimixto, or Las Ánimas are other options for lovers of the sea.
If you are looking for a day of complete relaxation, you will find the best international spas, as well as outdoor activities to put your body and mind in tune. Don't miss the Puerto Vallarta Free Soul Festival, an event that brings together the best of the world of yoga and meditation from November 29 to December 1.
Marina Vallarta is also a must-see, not only because boats of all sizes await and because of the boardwalk that accompanies it, but also because among its attractions are the lighthouse, cafes, bars, boutiques and exclusive discotheques to bring life to the night. It also hosts the Art and Market Marina Vallarta, with the best of local cuisine, crafts, and local art exhibits. As if that weren't enough, that's also where you and your friends could take a yacht that will take you around the majestic Banderas Bay while you sunbathe and admire the whales, dolphins, and turtles.
Want something to set your adventurous spirit free? Then you have to get to know the Canopy River. Surrounded by mountains, it has zip lines, rappel, a tour of horses and mules, tours in a quad, or hiking. Among its treasures is the waterfall El Salto, as well as the longest vehicular suspension bridge in the world.
When it's time to sate your appetite, there are so many options that you won't have time to fully taste the local dishes. An aguachile, ceviche, grilled octopus, or some shrimp toast will be the delight of the moment. Don't miss restaurants like Lamara, La Palapa, La Leche, or River Café.
Puerto Vallarta beaches
The coast of Puerto Vallarta includes about ten gorgeous beaches. The most popular are La Manzanilla and Destiladeras, located in the north. They are famous for a large number of people and a developed infrastructure. And even more popular is Los Muertos beach, which is the biggest public beach in the resort, it is located near the old town.
All beaches in Mexico belong to the state. There is a so-called 50-meter federal zone, measured from the edge of the sea, which cannot belong to a private person. The problem is that the shape of the sea coast is constantly changing. There is even a law that states that this zone should be measured from the highest point of the tide 180 days after a major storm. The sea lives its own life and changes the coastline from year to year, and yet traditionally the best beaches of Vallarta are located in the northern part of the bay.
Playa Los Muertos
Los Muertos Beach (also known as Playa Olas Altas or Playa del Sol) probably is the most famous, most visited and most sought after beach in Vallarta, Los Muertos is located at the southern end of the Malecón and the Río Cuale. Here you can find a wide variety of restaurants, bars, galleries, boutiques, and souvenir shops. It is the only beach in the city with its own pier, which acts as a point of arrival and departure for water taxis to the north or to the south, as well as a point where tours can pick up passengers on the way. This beach is ideal for fun and entertainment, day or night.
Playa Mismaloya is located in a beautiful bay about 10 km south of Puerto Vallarta along highway 200. The water is clear, the beach is famous for snorkeling. It was here that the film Iguana Night was shot, making Puerto Vallarta a world-famous city. You can reach the beach by bus departing from Basilio Badillo and Insurgentes in the city center (every 15 minutes from 5:30 am to 10 pm). The Mismaloya Beach is a strip of sand of 250 meters, with palm trees and surrounded by tropical vegetation and small hills. This small jungle is inhabited by wild animals, such as pumas and jaguars that are usually seen loitering around the place.
Playa de Oro
Located to the north of the city, Playa de Oro beach is wide, clean, and safe, with rocky configurations that give the small bay its specific and cozy touch. Surrounded by large hotels in Playa de Oro you can enjoy a series of recreational activities, such as parasailing, jet skis, and swimming. It is one of the most popular beaches in Puerto Vallarta among locals and visitors alike.
Playa Las Caletas
It was once the private home of film director John Huston and is now a private beach with access through a special tour. This lush hidden cove is secluded and completely intact, and consists of three small beaches and rock formations. Here you can get lost in the orchid gardens, enjoy the beach and water activities or explore the May pyramid where, every night, a contemporary dance show is held.
Playa Las Gemelas
Las Gemelas Beach is one of the most popular in Puerto Vallarta, it is 200 meters long and has important vegetation, responsible for the pleasant shade. The beach has clean sands and crystal clear water, the sea can sometimes look green and sometimes blue or turquoise. This beach is located south of the city, about 20 minutes from downtown. To get there, it is necessary to go down a long flight of stairs, it is recommended to bring food and drinks to spend the day since there are no restaurants or businesses that sell food nearby.
Playa Las Animas and Playa Quimixto
Las Ánimas and Quimixto are the most distant beaches from Puerto Vallarta. From these beaches, you can climb into the jungle, walk along the trails and see the waterfalls. You can only get to these beaches by boat. From the pier for cruise ships (muelle, also called the Terminal Marítima) excursion boats go to these beaches. Water taxis to Las Animas, and Quimixto depart from 10 am to 6 pm from the Playa Los Muertos pier.
Getting to Yelapa is, in itself, a two-hour adventure, taking a water taxi from Puerto Vallarta to the south to a traditional town that still maintains the essence of a small fishing village. It is the perfect place to get lost in the jungle, to ford rivers, take a long walk through the town until you reach a refreshing waterfall of 50 meters, or go for a swim, fish or dive in its calm waters. Overnight stay is available only in Yelapa. Water taxis to Yelapa depart from 10 am to 6 pm from the Playa Los Muertos pier.
Puerto Vallarta and its natural wealth
Enjoying nature is one of the great experiences that Puerto Vallarta offers its visitors with an endless number of activities surrounded by the great environmental wealth it possesses. From hiking through the paradisiacal beaches, a tour through its exuberant waterfalls, adventure activities and even swimming with dolphins in their natural habitat; are some of the attractions that the most Mexican port of the Pacific has for tourism.
Activities such as hiking next to the impressive beaches, adventure activities, swimming with dolphins, and even crossing an extensive suspension bridge are part of the offer.
Hiking on the beaches of the south
A walk on the beach is a great rewarding experience. Walking on the sand by the sea is inspiring. That's why it's a must that on your next trip you discover the beaches south of the port.
You can start in Boca de Tomatlán with a walk of just over a kilometer through the jungle to Colomitos beach, the smallest in the world according to México Desconocido, but of enormous natural beauty. The hike can continue through Caballo and Madagascar beaches, of exuberant beauty, until you reach Las Ánimas where there is a beach club.
Hiking or horseback riding to the Quimixto waterfall
Quimixto is a charming rustic beachfront town 20 kilometers from downtown Puerto Vallarta, which can be reached by boat from Boca de Tomatlán. The adventure begins on the beach, where you will start your journey through the jungle, cross a river and walk along a path full of vegetation until you reach a clearing in the mountain where the sound of the water will guide you to the waterfall.
The walk can be done on foot or on horseback but the destination is the same. On one side of the waterfall, there are some tourist services. It will be inevitable to dive and swim to the waterfall to take a refreshing natural shower.
Refresh yourself at the Mismaloya, Palo Maria, and Colomitos waterfalls
A refreshing experience in Puerto Vallarta is to discover the waterfalls that are found in the jungle and that during the rainy season are a wonderful natural spectacle. We propose to visit waterfalls located in three different areas of the port. The Mismaloya waterfalls can be reached by car or after a hike through a gap; the place also offers small natural pools and various tourist services.
To get to the Palo María River waterfalls area you must go deep into the jungle. As you advance, the degree of difficulty increases, so it is important to know the terrain and wear appropriate footwear. Finally, the hidden waterfall on Colomitos beach can be appreciated after climbing among the rocks towards the upper part of the jungle.
Go through the channels of the El Salado estuary
Defined as an authentic "lung" of the Bay of Banderas, El Salado is the largest urban estuary in Mexico where it is possible to see 3 of the 5 varieties of mangrove; its environmental services are essential to the bay, as it generates food for the species that inhabit it.
You can tour its channels in a panga, through a guided tour in which a biologist will guide you to distinguish the different varieties of flora and fauna. Here it is possible to see from iguanas to some crocodiles of different ages and sizes, as well as raccoons, tlacuaches, and some other endemic varieties.
Although it is located in front of the Marina area, in a few minutes you will feel in the middle of a unique habitat, surrounded by mangroves sailing through channels of wild beauty.
Discover the vegetation of the Vallarta Botanical Garden
South of Puerto Vallarta, in the community of Las Juntas y los Veranos, is the region's Botanical Garden. Considered one of the 10 most beautiful in North America, according to specialized publications, in this space you will feel at peace and in harmony with nature surrounded by the most beautiful plant species in the region.
Among magnolias, papelliles, orchids, and dozens of flowers your walk will give you multiple reasons to take a wide photo session. If you wish, you can lean out near the garden where the Los Horcones River runs, where you can take a refreshing dip.
Get into the Pacific Ocean in Los Arcos de Mismaloya National Park
These monumental rocks are an icon of Puerto Vallarta. They can be reached by a boat ride across the bay or by a panga from Los Muertos Pier. In the surrounding area, you can snorkel, stand up paddle (SUP), dive, or simply swim in these refreshing waters.
If you decide to take a look underwater, you will discover a fascinating world of marine species, fish of different colors will swim near you. You will also be able to observe where the continental platform ends and descends to one of the deepest trenches in the Pacific. By practicing SUP, you will have another view of the place, from your own height, standing on the Pacific contemplating its immensity.
Feel your heart beating at the viewpoint of Cerro de La Cruz
In the center of the city is this viewpoint that in a few years has become the ideal point to have the best panoramic view of the port. We recommend that you take tennis, sports clothes, and water to start a walk that includes cobbled streets and stairs to the top of La Cruz hill.
At the top of the viewpoint, you will feel the refreshing breeze and according to the time of day, you will have a unique perspective of Puerto Vallarta in the center of Banderas Bay. The red roofs of the downtown homes stand out in the foreground, as well as the iconic crown in the upper part of the Guadalupe parish.
Here you will be able to take dozens of images that will cause envy, in which the protagonists are the extension of the port, the wide sea, the sunlight, the horizon, and the curvature of the earth.
Swim with dolphins in their natural habitat
It swims with dolphins in their natural habitat when they are in the Pacific Ocean. A specialized company locates them by means of a GPS, and takes you to the vicinity of the dolphin families that live in the Bay of Banderas.
Those who have lived them describe it as a life experience that connects you immediately with these beings known for their intelligence. It is recommended that you relax and let the dolphins feel confident to approach you if they wish. You will surely return home with a series of unforgettable memories after the contact with these wonderful beings of the ocean.
Live the adventure by crossing an extensive suspension bridge
Puerto Vallarta's surroundings are full of ecotourism surprises. The proposal is that you visit the El Jorullo ejido, where its inhabitants, far from promoting urbanization, have chosen to develop low-impact outdoor activities, and also have a spectacular suspension bridge.
This 470-meter long suspension bridge, suspended at a height of 150 meters above the Cuale River, is an exceptional view of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The Canopy River company offers you several options to cross it on foot or onboard a razer type vehicle.
Relax in the hot springs of La Desembocada
North of the port, on the road to Las Palmas, once you pass the Mascota River you will find a detour to the community of La Desembocada, here you can visit the hot springs.
These are a series of pools where the waters are rich in minerals, a dip in these natural jacuzzis is a pleasant relaxing experience given the rustic, natural environment in which they are found.
In La Desembocada -and in general in this road- you will also find delicious traditional food: birria, roasted meat, shaken fish, and traditional products such as fruits, banana bread, empanadas and other delicacies without preservatives.
Visit San Sebastian del Oeste and climb the Cerro de la Bufa
65 kilometers from Puerto Vallarta is the Magic Town of San Sebastian del Oeste, a quiet place located in the mountains where you can relax, walk, breathe pure oxygen from the forest and disconnect from the stress of the city.
Here we highly recommend a visit to the viewpoint of the Cerro de La Bufa, a walk that will take you to the height of the clouds; from there you will have a spectacular panorama of the region and on clear days you can even see the Bay of Banderas.
You can come and go or spend the night in one of its rustic hotels or cabins, to enjoy the tranquility and silence of the sierra. Puerto Vallarta gives you confidence, enjoy a safe trip to Jalisco's main beach destination.