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Banderas Bay, Visit Puerto Vallarta Ocean Front

Banderas Bay, Puerto Vallarta, © Can Stock / zigzagmtart

Visit Puerto Vallarta – Old Town

A popular thing to do is to visit Puerto Vallarta Old Town.  Stroll the El Malecón watefront promenade.  The Malecon has become an open-air art gallery in the Old Town.  Stop at Huichol Collection to find art from the indigenous Huichol people.  See contemporary art at Galeria Pacifico.  Unfortunately much of the Puerto Vallarta Old Town Malecon is touristy.  Expect to see escorted groups of cruise ship passengers with numbered stickers on their chests.  The cruise ship passengers wander past iconic Mexican architecture such as Senior Frogs and Bubba Gump 🙂

Malecón Promenade, Visit Puerto Vallarta

Malecón Promenade

At the southern end of the Malecon, enjoy the most popular beach in Puerto Vallarta – the Playa de los Muertos.  Look for live open air entertainment at the Los Arcos Amphitheater (not to be confused with Los Arcos Marine Park).  See the Old Town City Hall, the Lady of Guadalupe Church and the El Centro Mercado Municipal Market.  At the Market, cross the swinging bridge to Isla Rio Cuale.  Visit the Le Bistro restaurant, Plaza John Huston, Centrol Cultural Isla Cuale and the lush vegetation of Cuale River Island.

Los Arcos Amphitheater, Malecón, Visit Puerto Vallarta

Los Arcos Amphitheater, Malecón, © Can Stock / Elenathewise

Visit Puerto Vallarta – Snorkel

  • Marietas Islands Day Trip: Hidden Beach & Snorkel.
  • Las Caletas – take a Las Caletas Day Tour to one of the best beaches on the Pacific coast, plus snorkeling, kayaking and scuba diving.  Film director John Huston once lived here.  The Las Caletas beach is private and can only be accessed by a tour boat.  Rhythms of the Night contemporary dance show performs here.
  • Pirate Ship Vallarta – board the Marigalante or the Jolly Roger for pirate boat tours of Banderas Bay, including snorkel or swim at Majahuitas beach.
  • Arrange your own snorkel or scuba diving at Twin Dolphins Dive Center or Chico’s Dive Shop.
  • Full day snorkel or scuba diving Los Arcos National Marine Park, south of Puerto Vallarta and accessible only by boat.  This is not the same as El Arco at Cabo San Lucas.
Marietas Islands Arches

Marietas Islands Arches

Visit Puerto Vallarta – More Sights

  • El Pitillal Plaza – Shopping and San Miguel Church.
  • Yelapa & Majahuitas – isolated fishing villages. Yelapa is only accessible by boat and there are no cars or hotel complexes.
  • San Sebastian del Oeste – travel 2 hours to this former silver mining town.
  • On a half hour trip south of Puerto Vallarta, stop at the beach at Boca de Tomatlan and continue on to Vallarta Botanical Gardens.
Palapas on the Waterfront, Puerto Vallarta Shore Excursion

Palapas on the Waterfront

Visit Puerto Vallarta – Hotels

  • Now Amber Resort & Spa
  • Sheraton Buganvilias Resort & Convention Center
  • Villa Armonia Luxury Boutique Hotel – in Boca de Tomatlan
El Malecon Waterfront Walk, Visit Puerto Vallarta

El Malecon Waterfront Walk, © Can Stock / Elenathewise

Puerto Vallarta Tours

  • Whale Watching –  humpback whales winter in the area and give birth to their young at that time.
  • Parasail over Banderas Bay.
  • Sierra Madre Norte Off-Road Adventure
  • ATV & Zip Line Tour
  • Take a tequila tour to see agave being distilled into tequila.
Punta Mita Tour Boarding, Marietas Island Day Trip

Punta Mita Tour Boarding

Dolphin Encouters

Dolphin Encounters are a popular and common attraction in Puerto Vallarta.  Vallarta Adventures has its own facility called Dolphin Adventures.   Other tours book in to Dolphin Discovery at Aquaventuras, which also includes a water park.  Aquaventuras used to be called Sea Life Park and also was Splash Water Park.

Savor the Tastes of Puerto Vallarta

  • Mole – chocolate covered chicken.
  • Tequila – the unofficial national drink.
  • Raicilla – Mexican moonshine.
  • Ceviche – raw seafood dish with citrus juice flavors.
  • Tacos – Mexican style.
  • Gordita – corn cake filled with meat or cheese.
  • Tapas – appetizers that can be your entire meal.
  • Smoke a Cuban cigar, not available in the United States.
  • Fine dining at La Palapa Restaurant.
Puerto Vallarta Weather Graph

Puerto Vallarta Weather Graph

Puerto Vallarta Weather

The Puerto Vallarta weather in winter is the key to its success as a tourist destination.  Winters are dry and pleasant.  Puerto Vallarta weather in the winter has highs around 30 C (86 F), while average lows are a comfortable room temperature.  February to April are the driest months, with almost no rainfall and pleasantly warm temperatures.  That means February through April are likely the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta.  The summer months of June to October can be hot and rainy, so summer is the off season for tourists.

Puerto Vallarta Beach, Puerto Vallarta Shore Excursion

Puerto Vallarta Beach

Get to Puerto Vallarta

Gustavo Diaz Ordaz Airport (PVR) is the way visitors get to Puerto Vallarta.  The airport is about 15 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta by cab.  Riviera Nayarit is located about 15 minutes north of the airport by cab.  You can catch a cab from the airport taxi kiosk, but many vacation packages include shuttles to your hotel.  Make sure you don’t get on a free timeshare shuttle though, because you’ll be shown places to buy.

Puerto Vallarta doesn’t have a subway or rail system, so organized tours, local bus or taxi are the ways to get around.  Sayulita is about 30 minutes north of the airport and Punta Mita is about 45 minutes away.  The buses in Puerto Vallarta are easy to use and very inexpensive.

Visit Puerto Vallarta – Background

The city of Puerto Vallarta is on the Pacific Ocean south of Mazatlán.  Puerto Vallarta is called PV or “Porto” Vallarta by tourists.  Locals often call it Vallarta.  The city got its name from Governor Ignacio Vallarta in 1918.  In the 1960s the small village became popular due to the presence of director John Huston, who filmed Night of the Iguana in the area.  Puerto Vallarta then developed into a major tourist destination with a series of waterfront hotels for winter visitors. The area north of Puerto Vallarta is known as Riviera Nayarit.  Riviera Nayarit includes Nuevo Vallarta, Buscerias and small towns all the way to Punta Mita.  The expansion of resorts continues past that to the next bay and the town of Sayulita.

Visit Mexico – Plan Your Trip