What better of a place to end our journey in Latin America than the quaint, ocean-side, tourist town of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Puerto Vallarta often acts as the airport destination for many luxury travelers staying at nearby resorts, but what many people do not realize is that it is actually a great place for budget travelers and backpackers as well. We booked two weeks there and during our stay found many interesting and fun things to do in Puerto Vallarta – things that are for any budget or any age! Between the ocean, never-ending sunshine, bustling street vendors, and vibrant culture, I believe that Puerto Vallarta has something to offer everyone. This is my list of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta.
Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta
Experience the Food Culture – Go on a Food Tour
One of the best tours I have ever done was actually in Puerto Vallarta. Daniel and I signed up for a four hour long taco tour of the city. We came hungry and left stuffed! This taco tour weaved us through the less touristic streets of the city visiting individual families’ street stalls as well as to local hot-spot restaurants (check out the restaurant Cisneros for the best seafood Tacos!) We learned that families pass down recipes through multiple generations and that being the one who held the recipe secrets was an honor. We tried beef, pork, and seafood tacos. All different, but all amazing! We were even treated with a visit to a tortilla factory, bakery, and ice cream shop to end the day. I never expected a food tour to be so great, but it was, and my mouth is still watering talking about it!
Tour Details: The tour was by a company called “Vallarta Eats Food Tours” and I couldn’t recommend them more. They are professional and knowledgeable while being reasonably priced at $50 USD including the guide, all food, and even some takeaway items.Tours can be booked online here.
Other Contact Details: Phone: 312.473.1085 (USA/CAN) , 322.178.8288 (MEX), Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit the Restaurant “El Arrayan”
While we are on the topic of food…I often think that an amazing dining experience should not be forgotten on a list of things to do in any city. That is why a visit to the restaurant called “El Arrayan” is on my list of things to do in Puerto Vallarta! This is a fine dining experience with authentic Mexican cuisine at an affordable price while not sacrificing service or quality. We visited this restaurant on a Wednesday night and while most other places in Puerto Vallarta were empty, El Arrayan was full – a testament to how special this restaurant was. We had duck and lamb with their signature cocktails and ended the evening with a couple pieces of cake! For an authentic Mexican dining experience and a great thing to do in Puerto Vallarta visit El Arrayan!
Restaurant Details: As far as popular places to eat go “El Arrayan” is one of the most famous. Booking is not essential however it is highly recommended to ensure you get a table at this amazing place. The food at El Arrayan stays true to Mexican tradition and is prepared by some of the best Mexican chefs in the region. You can check out their menu and reserve on their website here!
Other Contact Details: Phone: 322.222.7195, Email: email@example.com
Jump out of an Airplane at Skydive Vallarta
Anyone who know’s Daniel, knows he skydives as a hobby. So naturally, when we arrived in Puerto Vallarta and Daniel discovered that there was a skydive club, he was signed up to jump the very next day. Though Daniel skydives by himself, Skydive Vallarta specializes in tandem jumps for people who want a thrill of a lifetime attached to an experienced professional.
We spent quite a bit of time at Skydive Vallarta over our two weeks in the city. Daniel jumped and I watched landings at sunset on the beach. Skydiving in Puerto Vallarta also gives you the best views of the beach and surrounding area and is one of the most beautiful places to skydive in the world. I was surprised at the wide variety of nationalities and ages of the people who decided to jump out of an airplane for the first time. Every single person seemed to have a great time. It reminded me of the first time I skydived and brought back memories of thrill and excitement and pride. Skydiving sounds scary, but that is the point! It is truly a crazy experience that any thrill-seeker would love.
Head out in the Evenings
Puerto Vallarta has quite the vibrant nightlife. Every day there are clubs and bars open for business and bustling with locals and tourists alike. There are two main areas of Puerto Vallarta which are great for nightlife: the Romantic Zone, and the Malecon.
The Malecon is the main boardwalk along the ocean. There is various nice restaurants but also huge dance nightclubs and famous bars such as Senor Frogs. Along the Malecon vendors setup stalls selling everything from street food to souvenirs. There are gorgeous statues and a central square which always seems to boast some sort of a celebration. A walk along the Malecon during sunset is an absolute must.
The Romantic zone is more inland from the Malecon and consists of less tourist (still touristy though) restaurants and bars. There is a huge welcoming for the lesbian and gay communities as gay bars line the streets and rainbows painted on the outside of restaurants welcome all visitors. The nightclubbing scene in this area is happening. Every night of the week there are various clubs open, there is everything from Cabaret to karaoke to sports bars. The people are friendly and the drinks are cheap so it easily makes for a fun night out on the town.
Check Out a Couple of Beaches
Of course one of the main things to do in Puerto Vallarta is to check out the beaches. There are a few different options around for beaches depending on what you are looking for.
The main beach in Puerto Vallarta is near the Romantic Zone. It is a nice beach as there isn’t much for waves and it is walking distance from the Malecon, central area, and or course the Romantic Zone. For an easy beach to hang out at this is the one. One downside to this beach is how busy it is. Some people would enjoy the many restaurants lining the beach as they provide services and lounge chairs/umbrellas for rent. But for those looking for some peace and quiet, I would recommend heading to a different nearby beach.
One option is to head North towards to the Hotel Zone. Behind hotels like the Plaza Peninsula there is a large stretch of beach that is never very busy. There are limited restaurants and vendors making this beach area much more relaxing than the beach near the Romantic Zone.
For something more remote catch an Uber or local bus to the beaches to the South of Puerto Vallarta. Some of these beaches include Playa Estaca, Playa Palmares, and Playa Esmerelda. These beaches will be empty most of the time and allow for some real “RnR”. Make sure to bring your own shade and snacks as buying these things will be nearly impossible here. Getting to any of these beaches is as easy as catching a local bus heading out of the Romantic Zone. Just ask any of the drivers the name of the beach and they will either take you there, or point at the correct bus. Most people in Puerto Vallarta speak some English so getting around it quite simple.
There are many more things to do in Puerto Vallarta, though this list is perfect to get you started! Please comment or contact us with questions or more information – and enjoy your time in Puerto Vallarta!