Discover all of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta with this comprehensive guide to the city’s greatest attractions, activities, and destinations.
If you want to know the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta, then you're probably looking for one of two things. The first would be an ultimate experience you remember for the rest of your life, and the second would be something free, so your vacation budget stretches further than you think. Here, we've got options for either criterion.
The resort town of Puerto Vallarta is a magnificent destination in Mexico for your next vacation. This beautiful city provides travelers with a great variety of relaxing indulgences, thrilling adventures, and abundant opportunities to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and history of this Mexican town.
In this comprehensive traveler’s guide, you’ll discover all of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta, with over a dozen different options that range from relaxing on the greatest beaches to getting your heart pumping with exciting attractions, activities, and destinations. As you read through this guide, make sure to jot down your favorite ideas and book a pre-planned tour with Vallarta Adventures to save loads of time on planning, scheduling, and mapping out your days in paradise.
1. Enjoy ALMA, by Rhythms of the Night
ALMA, by Rhythms of the Night is a magical display of acrobatic artistry and musical mastery, and a celebration of Mexican culture. It is a captivating performance and a stunning interpretation by a world-class team of talented artists.
To behold this magnificent explosion of sound and color, you’ll first travel to an amphitheater tucked away in the tropical rainforest at Las Caletas, located at the base of a crumbling historical pyramid. When you book your night with Vallarta Adventures, you can expect a sunset cruise and gourmet candle-lit dinner to complement the amazing experience.
2. Take a Walk Along the Malecon (Boardwalk)
The Malecon is Puerto Vallarta’s boardwalk that stretches along the coast for about 760 meters (or 2500 ft). It also happens to be one of the best ways to see and experience all that Puerto Vallarta has to offer and is considered to be the heart of downtown Puerto Vallarta. Along your walk you’ll not only have spectacular views of the sea, you’ll also find great restaurants, souvenirs, art installations, bars, and much more.
3. Swim With Dolphins
Swimming with the dolphins is an iconic paradisiacal adventure that the whole family is sure to enjoy. There are plenty of different opportunities to splash around with these friendly, awe-inspiring creatures, so you’ll want to compare options to find the deal that works best for your party and your budget.
Vallarta Adventures provides a myriad of ways to swim with dolphins in Puerto Vallarta. Take your pick from a classic swim with Pacific bottlenose dolphins or opt for a different tour that allows you to connect with these incredible creatures on a much deeper level, including making one-on-one connections, becoming a dolphin trainer for a day, and taking an extended dive with them in their own habitat.
No matter how you choose to swim with the dolphins, you’re bound to create lasting memories with these playful and energetic animals.
4. Play With Sea Lions
Countless sea lions flock to the warm, golden sand beaches of Puerto Vallarta to lounge and play. Take advantage of local wildlife during your vacation and join these charming creatures for up-close encounters and unforgettable experiences. Book a sea lion session with us for your chance to play and interact with several quirky sea lions.
If you’re looking for kid-friendly things to do in Puerto Vallarta, this is a fantastic choice for family members over the age of five. These animals are sure to delight the whole family and inspire wonder for all ages.
5. Go Scuba Diving
Just beyond the sandy shores and rocky cliff sides of Puerto Vallarta, you can discover an abundance of striking underwater beauty and marine wildlife. During your vacation, you can suit up in scuba diving gear and explore first-hand the vibrant underwater ecosystems, geological wonders, and delicate habitats that thrive below the sparkling surface of the Pacific waters.
In Puerto Vallarta, we highly recommend you go scuba diving in these premier spots for an indescribable adventure:
6. Embark on a Sea Safari
For the perfect combination of thrilling adventure and captivating scenery, you’ll definitely want to embark on a sea safari during your vacation. Sea safaris provide travelers with a one-of-a-kind experience that simply can’t be matched by any other water-oriented activity. What makes sea safaris such a popular vacation pick is the wide range of diverse activities that are typically included, which allows participants to experience the best of what the area has to offer in a variety of ways.
For example, this sea safari in Puerto Vallarta includes an exciting speedboat tour through Banderas Bay to a charming fishing village called Yelapa, where travelers are free to shop, explore, and get a taste for truly authentic Mexican food and drinks. From there, you’ll take a mellow horseback ride through lush forestry to a breathtaking waterfall where you can cool off before you snorkel or kayak along the shore.
7. Go Whale Watching
The waters of Puerto Vallarta are teeming with intriguing wildlife, from mischievous little sea lions to massive and majestic whales. If you’re traveling to Mexico in the winter time (between December and February) bring your cameras and capture the beauty of the humpback whales in Banderas Bay on a whale watching photography excursion.
Grab a light jacket or sweater and board an inflatable boat that will take you to all of the best whale watching destinations in Puerto Vallarta for a one-of-a-kind adventure. This is a great opportunity for families, couples, small groups, and solo travelers.
8. Explore the Best Beaches in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is a bustling resort town that is most well known for its great weather and beautiful beaches. If you’re a beach bum who loves to lay back on the warm sand or explore secluded hideaways, then you’ll definitely want to take a little extra time and plan to visit the best beaches in town. We’ve made a list of our top picks, so you don’t have to do any of the homework yourself. For a splendid day at the beach, make sure you take your umbrella and picnic baskets to these locations:
Las Caletas: One of the top four private beaches in the whole world, accessible only by boat and surrounded by lush tropical forestry to explore.
Yelapa: A beautiful fishing town located in the south part of the bay. By strolling its narrow pathways you'll find colorful souvenirs and creative street art. There is also a calmed river that runs from the mountains to the ocean, and a hidden waterfall that will require a 20 min hike from the beach.
Majahuitas: A secluded beach club tastefully decorated in a laid back hippie chic style, with surrounding tropical landscape that’s perfect for nature walks and hikes. Ample opportunities for snorkeling amid colorful reefs, and encountering local wildlife.
And for a little heads up on the weather, find out about what the Puerto Vallarta weather will be like when you take your trip.
9. Take a Tour of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a must-see in Puerto Vallarta. Tour the church for a historical afternoon in and around an intricate display of architectural wonder. Built between 1930 and 1940, this church features stunning, baroque-style architecture as well as an intricate crown at the very top.
10. Visit the Marieta Islands
The Marieta Islands are a protected and preserved form of natural beauty, delivering spectacular sights and views of a lush and diverse Mexico landscape. As part of Marieta State Park, the wildlife on these islands is abundant, providing travelers with up-close encounters with humpback whales, dolphins, sea turtles, schools of colorful fish, and more. To book a snorkeling tour at Marietas Islands click here.
For couples who are looking for romantic things to do in Puerto Vallarta, taking a journey to the hidden “lover’s beach” is a breathtaking experience! For more information about visiting the Hidden Beach at Marietas Islands, please read this article.
11. Take a Luxury Cruise
There’s nothing quite like being pampered on a spacious boat in tropical weather. The warm, mellow waters and near-perfect weather of the coast of Mexico provide the perfect conditions for a luxury cruise.
Enjoy a luxurious boat ride at the hands of an experienced crew while you sip a chilled beverage, relax on the deck, and snap pictures of the surrounding scenery and wildlife. Check out sea tours in Puerto Vallarta for your option of sailboats, yachts, and other day trips on the water.
If you are looking to charter a private yacht, catamaran or sailing boat just for your family or group of friends, take a look at our selection.
12. Discover the Hidden Beauty of Isla Río Cuale
Isla Río Cuale is a beautiful island that is somehow mysteriously and secretly located near the heart of Puerto Vallarta without drawing a lot of attention. Here, you will be able to walk the La Iguana Bridge, explore local shops, and visit art galleries.
13. Go Ziplining or Off Roading in an ATV
If it’s an adrenaline-pumping adventure that you’re after, there is no shortage of exciting things to do in Puerto Vallarta. For an unforgettable experience that is sure to get your heart racing, embark on a daring adventure in the forests of Mexico, beneath the trees—or above them.
There are ample opportunities to go ziplining in the forests of Puerto Vallarta and if you’ve ever done it before, you know just how exciting ziplining can really be. Let certified professionals secure you to a cable suspended above the lush Mexico forestry and slide from platform to platform, beholding the natural beauty below. For a little more insight on the adrenaline rush you will get on this adventure, read up on everything you can expect on a Puerto Vallarta zipline experience. And if you need some assurance about the safety of zip line, put your fears to rest and find out everything there is to know about zip line safety for beginners.
For a rougher ride, you can also choose to ride ATVs through the narrow forest trails. Get your tires dirty with an off-roading adventure through a unique landscape teeming with all sorts of wildlife and opportunities for excitement.
14. Party With EDM DJs at the Majahuitas Music Festival
One of the most fun things to do in Puerto Vallarta is the Majahuitas Music Festival. Head across the bay each Saturday for live EDM performances by a rotating lineup of the world's best genre artists. Drinks are included with your ticket, and you and your friends can dance for up to 10 hours. When the sun is up, you'll see lush tropical vegetation around you on three sides and turquoise waters on the other. When the sun goes down, hundreds of candles are lit, and the rainforest is illuminated with a laser light show words can’t do justice.
15. Enjoy a Sunset Gourmet Experience
Your list of potential Puerto Vallarta things to do has to include this experience. Imagine cruising the bay on a luxurious yacht that carries you to the seclusion of a tropical paradise. Once there, you'll get to savor an unrivaled dining experience outdoors, perfect for anyone who loves great food, nature, and the people around them. The yachts themselves are European in their sleek design and crewed by bilingual professionals offering you personalized service. Sip on wine, beer, or a tropical cocktail while taking in the enchanting coastline and the Sierra Madre mountains. On land, take in a five-course meal created by Chef Mario Castro.
16. Free Activities in Puerto Vallarta
Some of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, cost you nothing but can make a priceless memory that enriches your life. These aren't tour offerings we provide, but we want you to know about them anyway, so your trip here is a blast.
Go Window Shopping in the Romantic Zone
If you're not sure what to do in Puerto Vallarta, then head to what the locals call Zona Romántica. This trendy area is full of bars for the LGBT and ex-pat communities, and there are also many restaurants serving clients global fare. Walk up and down cobblestone streets while you check out modern art galleries and the ambiance of courtyard cafes. Los Muertos Beach is popular with visitors and locals alike, and the wide, curved pier is alive with light at night.
Head to the Farmers’ Market
Among the many things to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, that you should consider is a trip to the Farmer's Market. Here, you can find a good meal or just fresh ingredients if you're doing your own cooking. You can also just shop for handicraft souvenirs. There are farmer's markets available on Saturdays and Thursday evenings. Vendors set their booths up and fire up grills, and you can shop for sizzling paella, freshly cut flowers, traditional Mexican art, and delicate jewelry. Bring plenty of cash in the form of pesos and a bag to carry all your stuff. The markets usually run from November until May.
Walk Along the Malecon
Puerto Vallarta has a long oceanfront promenade that runs for around a mile. Take a stroll free of the heavy traffic on the narrow streets. You'll enjoy the magnificent Pacific to one side and a cornucopia of bars, restaurants, and shops to the other. Along the way, you'll get to enjoy street performers and art installations. When the weather cools down in the later afternoon and heading into the evening, this is where you want to be!
Watch the Sunset
Pacific Coast sunsets are unlike anything else. Anywhere up and down the Malecon can be a great vantage point, but El Barracuda is another popular spot if you're looking for a beach bar. For a great show off the beach, head up the hill that stands behind the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Book Your Tour Today and Experience More
All of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta can be booked with exclusive opportunities through Vallarta Adventures. Schedule your tour today to save time and skip stress when it comes to planning, booking, and confirming a whole trip’s worth of appointments and activities.
For even more things to do in Puerto Vallarta, add a few of these attractions and destinations to your travel itinerary!
Visit Bucerias, a small fishing village with friendly locals and an authentic Mexican atmosphere. Take a stroll through art galleries, boutiques, and charming local eateries.
Engage in extreme watersports at Playa Los Muertos, which translates to Dead Man’s Beach. Go windsurfing, catch some waves on a jet ski, and more at this active and exciting beach.
Make sure you don't miss the amazing restaurants in Puerto Vallarta. Check out some of our favorite Puerto Vallarta restaurants and be sure to include them in your trip itenerary.
And if you need a couple more reasons to get on that flight to Puerto Vallarta, read up on these 6 Unique Things in Puerto Vallarta that will help you make up your mind.