Puerto Vallarta is a stunning resort town located on Mexico's Pacific coast in Jalisco state. Known for its spectacular beaches, marine life, water sports, and local resorts, Puerto Vallarta is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. In this travel guide, our team here at Vallarta Adventures will give you an introduction to Puerto Vallarta — its history, many accommodations and sights to see, and the best times of year to visit. Read on to learn more about this picturesque Mexican paradise and book your Puerto Vallarta activities and tours with our team today!

Puerto Vallarta Guide Travel Contents

  1. Where is Puerto Vallarta?
  2. How to Get to Puerto Vallarta
  3. Puerto Vallarta Weather - The Best Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta
  4. Zones of Puerto Vallarta
  5. Things to do in Puerto Vallarta
  6. Best Places to Visit in Puerto Vallarta
  7. Puerto Vallarta Events
  8. Best Beaches in Puerto Vallarta
  9. Puerto Vallarta Transportation
  10. History of Puerto Vallarta

Where is Puerto Vallarta?

Where is Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta (or simply "Vallarta," as it is often called by locals) is located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico in the State of Jalisco within a large bay called Bay of Banderas (Bay of Flags) or Bahía de Banderas. Sitting at just 2 meters above sea level and at the same latitude as Hawaii, Puerto Vallarta enjoys a warm, tropical climate year-round.

How to Get to Puerto Vallarta

Vallarta Adventures private aircraft flying in Puerto Vallarta

With direct flights from most North American and European cities offered by Aeromexico, America West, Alaska and Continental Airlines, Puerto Vallarta has been a fixture on the international tourism map for over 50 years. There are also many cruises leaving from the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean that anchor in Puerto Vallarta. By checking for cruises near you, you may find that travelling by sea may be the best way to get to Puerto Vallarta.

Puerto Vallarta Weather — The Best Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta

Young people in sitting on a sailboat during a Vallarta Adventures tour

The best times to go to Puerto Vallarta are determined in large part by two forces: prices and weather patterns. Since Puerto Vallarta sits relatively close to the Equator, the latter are fairly uniform year-round, with most monthly temperature averages sitting well above room temperature. Summer is the rainy season in Puerto Vallarta and thus most likely to have inclement weather. Winter is the season during which most people visit Puerto Vallarta, driving prices higher during November through February. Keeping both pricing and Puerto Vallarta weather in mind, the best time to visit the region is between April and June, when the weather is pleasant and the room rates are affordable.

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Zones of Puerto Vallarta

The main areas of Puerto Vallarta are broken into the following zones:

  • Downtown Puerto Vallarta - a tourist hotspot, downtown Puerto Vallarta is filled with resorts, historic landmarks, and the Malecon - Puerto Vallarta’s boardwalk.
  • Romantic Zone Puerto Vallarta (Zona Romántica) - also known as Old Town, the romantic zone features cobblestone streets, plenty of restaurants and bars, as well as the Los Muertos Beach pier.
  • Hotel Zone Puerto Vallarta - as the name suggests, this area is filled with hotels to stay at during your time in Puerto Vallarta. This zone also features five amazing beaches as well as a shopping mall.
  • Marina Vallarta - located in the northern end of Puerto Vallarta, the Marina Vallarta zone is a hub for yachts and boats and features a boardwalk that offers tons of shops and restaurants.  
  • North Zone - this is where you can explore the smaller traditional towns of Puerto Vallarta and see less developed areas.
  • South Zone - a great area for families or travelers who don’t want to be in the busier parts of Puerto Vallarta, the South Zone features some great beaches (including Majahuitas and Yelapa), a zoo, and the Vallarta botanical gardens.

Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta

Boat getting ready to go on a Vallarta Adventures Tour

The number one authority on international travel, Conde Nast Traveller, rates Puerto Vallarta as the world's friendliest international city. And with top restaurants, shopping destinations, and the modern conveniences you'd expect from an American resort, Puerto Vallarta is the ideal choice for your Mexican vacation. Charming neighborhoods and beautiful beaches are nestled beneath the stunning backdrop of the Sierra Madre mountains. And the friendliness and hospitality of the locals means you can be sure your vacation will be relaxing and fun.

Whether you want pampering, hard-core adventure or a bit of both - this region is a sun-kissed paradise that will entertain and inspire you throughout your entire vacation. As one of the Pacific Coast's most popular beach resorts, there's an abundance of great things to see and do both on the beaches and around town.

Puerto Vallarta is the perfect romantic getaway for weddings and honeymoons and also ideally suited for families, seniors and eco-adventurers. A vibrant nightlife, great shopping, outstanding cuisine, amazing adventures and thrilling eco-tours are set in one of the most stunning and naturally beautiful settings in the world. No matter what you're looking for, Puerto Vallarta will capture your imagination and Vallarta Adventures' wide variety of tours and activities will keep everyone inspired and entertained for the vacation of a lifetime.

Popular activities include:

  • Swimming with Dolphins & Sea Lions – Abundant encounters provide the chance to interact with friendly dolphins and sea lions.
  • Whale Watching – If you’re visiting Puerto Vallarta in the winter months, you won’t want to miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing whales in their natural habitat in Banderas Bay.
  • Snorkeling & Scuba Diving – Vibrant warm water and spectacular marine life makes Vallarta an ideal spot for snorkeling and scuba diving.
  • Sailing – Puerto Vallarta is the perfect place to go sailing due to its beautiful warm weather and clear blue sea. Chances of spotting some fascinating marine life while on sailing excursions is always highly likely! You can also sit back, relax, and enjoy the gorgeous Puerto Vallarta sunset on a sunset sailing cruise.
  • ATV Tours – There aren’t many places where beaches meet jungle terrain. This makes for thrilling ATV adventures.
  • Zip Lining – Imagine zipping through the air like a tropical bird above jungle canopies.
  • Parasailing – Enjoy panoramic views of Puerto Vallarta and catch a glimpse of marine life from above.

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Popular Attractions and Towns to Visit

Beautiful church you can see on Vallarta Adventures’ tours of Talpa & Mascota

  • San Sebastian Del Oeste – Dating back to 1605, this is one of Mexico’s most well-preserved towns. Experience traditional Mexican culture in this pueblo.
  • Talpa and Mascota – These colonial mining towns have a colorful history. Here you can explore a church that took over 100 years to build!
  • Quimixto - Named after its founder, Quimixto is a small village in Jaslisco where you can enjoy local cuisine, go horseback riding, or relax on beautiful El Volador beach.
  • El-Tuito - Home to the parish of St. Peter the apostle, El Tuito is a beautiful historic town that has lots of restaurants and stores to explore.
  • Los Arcos - No trip to Puerto Vallarta is complete without seeing Los Arcos, also known as “the Arches”, which are gray granite islands in the shape of arch formations.

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Puerto Vallarta Events

Puerto Vallarta Events

Throughout the year, Puerto Vallarta proudly plays host to a variety of important events - Culture and arts festivals cover everything from Mariachi, International Film to Gourmet Food and there are endless tennis, golf and fishing tournaments.

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Puerto Vallarta's Best Beaches

View of Majahuitas beach in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, we recommend visiting the following on your trip:

  • Las Caletas – Visit one of the top private beaches in the world where crystal-clear waters meet a jungle-clad mountain backdrop.
  • Yelapa and Majahuitas – These picturesque coves are home to sandy beaches and hidden waterfalls. This tropical paradise is only accessible by sea, further preserving its natural beauty.
  • Islas Marietas – This protected state park is particularly rich in exotic sea life and lush scenery. There are few areas more beautiful than the Islas Marietas.

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Puerto Vallarta Transportation — How to Get Around in Puerto Vallarta

Once you're in Puerto Vallarta, you'll want to be sure to know your transportation options so that you can get from destination to destination as easily as possible. Thankfully, many of Puerto Vallarta's most popular hotspots are within walking distance of each other, making getting around as easy as stepping out your front door. Puerto Vallarta also offers a number of rental car businesses to help accommodate longer excursions, as well as bus lines running into downtown, the "Hotel Zone," and the Marina.

If you're interested in taking road trips to out-of-the-way destinations like the small beach town of Bucerías or going even farther out (to places like Mexico City, Guadalajara and Mazatlán), take the gray buses. Vallarta Adventures also includes transportation from most hotels in the majority of tours offered, making going on an adventure even easier.

History of Puerto Vallarta

Historical building in San Sebastian

Puerto Vallarta was made famous with the film The Night of the Iguana entirely produced on location in 1963. For the first time, Puerto Vallarta received big Hollywood stars, national celebrities and American intellectuals. Deborah Kerr, Ava Gardner, Sue Lyon and Richard Burton led the cast. Tennessee Williams, author of The Night of the Iguana, visited the set frequently. Elizabeth Taylor's romance with Richard Burton was unveiled in Puerto Vallarta during this time. Charmed by Vallarta's magic, Richard and Elizabeth purchased a house, Casa Kimberley. John Huston built a house in the small cove of Caletas where he lived until his death.

The international media followed the stars and Puerto Vallarta was no longer a secret, waiting to be discovered. Recognizing this new opportunity, visionary leaders such as Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, then president of Mexico, along with Francisco Medina Ascencio, then governor of the state of Jalisco, shared the vision to make of Puerto Vallarta a model tourist destination and initiated projects that provided the town with appropriate infrastructure.

Puerto Vallarta has grown ever since to become one of the most favorite vacation destinations of North American travelers. Puerto Vallarta presently offers first rate infrastructure to accommodate the most discriminating travelers.

Have more questions about Puerto Vallarta or the activities here? Feel free to contact us and a Vallarta Adventures representative will be happy to help make your visit as spectacular as possible.

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