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Puerto Vallarta is a safe, sunny escape on Banderas Bay on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. The colonial town, bordered by the Sierra Madre, charms with its attractions. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is a desirable getaway with its average of 340 days of sunshine a year and breathtaking views of the surrounding Sierra Madre and Banderas Bay, Mexico’s largest deep-water bay, which is set on the Pacific Coast.
- Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta
- Puerto Vallarta City Tour
- Puerto Vallarta Private Home Tours
- Stroll on the Malecón
- Chico’s Dive Shop, Scuba & Snorkel Tours
- Chino’s Paradise
- Pirate Tours in Puerto Vallarta’s Banderas Bay
- Whale & Dolphin Watching Tours in Puerto Vallarta
- Tequila Tour
- Las Caletas
- Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Puerto Vallarta’s Banderas Bay
Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta
Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Madre, the Spanish colonial town is a picturesque retreat with its historic white stucco and red tile-roofed buildings and cobblestone streets. The town’s predominant landmark is Our Lady of Guadalupe Church topped with a red brick bell tower and signature crown. So here are 10 things to do and see in Puerto Vallarta.
Puerto Vallarta City Tour
Even if you resist taking bus tours because you think they’re too ‘touristy’, it’s always a great thing to do to start a vacation in an unfamiliar city. It’s a good way to get an overview of the things to do in Puerto Vallarta so you can make the most out of the rest of your trip. While you’re checking into your hotel ask about the Puerto Vallarta City Tour and the desk person can make arrangements for you. The bus picks you up at 10 a.m. and drops you back at your hotel around 3 p.m. Family-friendly and priced below $20US.
Puerto Vallarta Private Home Tours
A fantastic way to get a peek into the private world of the Puerto Vallarta elite is the Private Home Tour. You’ll see some of the most outstanding villas in Puerto Vallarta, and neighbourhoods that a tourist would never get an opportunity to see otherwise. Conducted during the high season only (November through April), all proceeds go to local Puerto Vallarta charities so the tour is a good thing to do on many levels.
Stroll on the Malecón
The Malecón is not only a fun thing to do in Puerto Vallarta, it’s also free! It’s a waterfront walkway that meanders along the ocean north of the Rio Cuale, and it’s a great place to watch the sunset over the ocean’s horizon. Locals and tourists alike take advantage of the scenic viewpoint, and some of Puerto Vallarta’s most beautiful statues are situated along the Malecón to enhance your experience. After the sun sets, keep walking south to the end of the promenade and you’ll find a lively outdoor market selling top-quality arts & crafts in the cool night air, run by local artisans.
Chico’s Dive Shop, Scuba & Snorkel Tours
Chico’s Dive Shop has a top reputation with scuba divers and has been providing equipment and tours for serious water enthusiasts for over three decades. Even if you’re not a scuba diver, you can still experience an underwater paradise on one of Chico’s snorkel tours. They provide the equipment, show you how to use it, and take you by boat to some of the best snorkelling spots in Banderas Bay. Depending on the tour destination, prices range from $35-$65US for a half-day or full-day tour.
‘Paradise’ is a word that it’s easy to overuse in Puerto Vallarta, but in the case of Chino’s Paradise, it’s the only word that will do. Located about ½ hour south of downtown Puerto Vallarta, Chino’s is an outdoor patio-style restaurant situated right where two rivers meet in a lush jungle setting. You’ll have visions of ‘Fantasy Island’ while enjoying the exotic tropical views of natural rock pools during your meal, and if you remembered your bathing suit and a towel you’re welcome to jump into one of the pools afterwards. And as if all that weren’t enough, the food is good and reasonably priced too.
Pirate Tours in Puerto Vallarta’s Banderas Bay
One of the most fun things to do in Puerto Vallarta is to set sail on La Marigalante, a very authentic-looking Spanish galleon that holds its passengers hostage for 6 fun-filled hours on the high seas. The crew is dressed in outrageous pirate costumes straight out of Hollywood, and their enthusiasm and high jinx are calculated to ensure that each and every passenger has a day they’ll never forget.
After you set sail at 9 a.m. you’ll be served a hearty breakfast in the galley, and then you’ll head for Majahuitas beach for snorkelling, boogie-boarding, beach volleyball or just relaxing on the beach. On the way back you’ll be treated to a mock pirate battle that gets the passengers involved, along with games and contests. The price is $65US for adults and $30 for children, it includes meals & drinks and you definitely get your money’s worth for the entertainment alone. There’s also an adults-only evening sailing that leaves right before sunset. Both sailings leave from the Maritime Terminal.
Whale & Dolphin Watching Tours in Puerto Vallarta
There are several companies that conduct whale watching and dolphin watching tours out of Puerto Vallarta. Ask at your hotel’s front desk for a recommendation. Plan on being gone for 3-4 hours, and be sure to take sunscreen with you. Because smaller boats are used for these tours (to bring you closer to the action) you’re also more likely to become seasick if you’re prone to it.
Sometimes tour guides will have seasick medication such as Dramamine on board, but don’t count on it. But even if you do experience some queasiness, it’ll be worth it if you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a whale or a dolphin swimming alongside your boat. The best time for going whale watching and dolphin watching in February or March, and expect to pay between $35-$45US.
The famous drink is named after the town where it’s distilled, about 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta by twin-engine plane. Even though these tours aren’t technically in Puerto Vallarta, they’re still at the top of the list of things to do for visitors to PV. The region of Tequila is mostly just thousands of acres of agave plants, and it’s the only place in the world where the world-famous spirits are grown and distilled.
Once your plane lands, you’ll visit the agave fields and cellars of some of the better-known Tequila distilleries. And yes – you’ll be welcome to taste the wares at each stop, so teetotalers beware. Conducted by Miller Travel Service, the price for the tour ranges from $200-$300 for a full day.
Las Caletas is an exclusive tropical beach in Puerto Vallarta’s Banderas Bay, only accessible by an hour’s boat ride. Once you step off the boat and onto the white sandy beach of this Garden of Eden, you won’t want to get back on board at the end of the day. For those who just want to spend the day relaxing there are hammocks hiding in shady spots all along the beach, and a pristine beach to frolic on.
At the hilltop day spa, you can get a therapeutic massage while taking in the breathtaking views, or you can go for a gentle nature walk in the nature preserve. The flora and fauna include parrots and orchids that you won’t find anywhere else.
For the more adventurous there are guided kayak tours, snorkelling or scuba diving lessons, as well as yoga and cooking lessons. Depending on what time of year you go, there are many other things to do as well. Conducted by Vallarta Adventures, the price for the day is $75US for adults and includes a delicious lunch. The scenic cruise just to get to Las Caletas is worth the price by itself.
Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Puerto Vallarta’s Banderas Bay
The most exciting thing to do to fully experience Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding area is a hot air balloon ride. The balloon will first rise to a height of 2000-3000 ft. and then settle at 150-500 ft., just brushing the tops of the jungle along the Ameca River. You’re actually close enough to the ground to get a bird’s eye view of deer, flamingos, parrots, alligators and countless tropical birds.
There’s only one launch per day that leaves around 7 a.m. from Plaza Neptuno, outside the entrance to Marina Vallarta. The price is just under $200US per person and it only lasts for about an hour, but it’s an hour you’ll be talking about for years to come.