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8 BEST Catamaran Tours in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

8 BEST Catamaran Tours in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

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Puerto Vallarta is easily one of our favorite places in Mexico. There is plenty to do within the city, but it’s also centrally located, so you can explore the surrounding areas. The best day trips typically head out into the ocean – and Puerto Vallarta has some of the most memorable catamaran cruises we’ve ever been on! 

These catamaran cruises combine incredible outdoor beauty with the lively atmosphere of Puerto Vallarta. Whether you’re there to whale watch or have a relaxing boat ride, you have plenty of cruise options! You’ll also get the chance to explore secluded beaches and snorkel in clear waters. Plus, these boats are impressively luxurious, and many have an open bar and all-inclusive service! 

We’ve had the pleasure of taking catamaran cruises all over Mexico, and it’s hard to beat Puerto Vallarta! To help you find a catamaran cruise that fits your travel style, we’ve rounded up the 8 best tours from the city. Keep reading to discover your ideal catamaran tour and enjoy this amazing experience like we did!

Our Top Choice for a Catamaran Cruise in Puerto Vallarta

If you’re looking to set sail right this minute, we’ve got you covered! Our top pick for the best catamaran cruise in Puerto Vallarta is this all-inclusive yacht tour. You’ll sail across the stunning Banderas Bay to the secluded beach town of Yelapa, hike to a waterfall, and snorkel! This tour truly is all-inclusive, with an open bar on board, as well as a complimentary massage. For $135 USD, you’ll feel like absolute royalty on this luxury boat cruise, so check out the details and book this tour here!

When is the best time to go on a Catamaran Cruise in Puerto Vallarta?

Daniel poses for a photo on a catamaran cruise from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
It’s a fun day out!

We recommend taking a catamaran cruise during Puerto Vallarta’s dry season (December to May). This period also coincides with the ideal time to go whale watching – and Puerto Vallarta is a hotspot for this activity. Every year, thousands of humpback whales travel to Bahia de Banderas for the mating season from December to March. Not only will you catch the best weather, but you also can see whales! 

While the catamaran cruises aren’t whale-watching tours specifically, it’s likely you will see them during their high migration times. It’s an added perk to an already epic tour! Keep in mind that this is when most people travel to Puerto Vallarta. As such, it’ll be more crowded, and things will be more expensive. 

You can definitely still visit Puerto Vallarta during the rainy season (June through September). However, you should expect rain, which doesn’t make for a great boat trip. Your best bet to catch the best weather and animals is to visit during the winter months!

Are Catamaran Cruises in Puerto Vallarta suitable for children?

A catamaran in the beautiful waters off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Waving to our fellow sailors!

Most of the catamaran cruises in Puerto Vallarta are not marketed toward children. They typically feature an open bar, loud music, and large groups that definitely have a party vibe. Most of the tours are the same price for children and adults, even though children won’t be drinking. Plus, some tours require kids to be a certain age to snorkel due to the strong currents. 

However, not every single tour is like this! In fact, this half-day sailing tour is a great option for families. It has a relaxed vibe while you sail across Bahia de Banderas to an epic snorkeling spot. Kids have so much fun swimming and snorkeling and love the included lunch! This 6-hour tour starts at 9:30 am and is the perfect way to spend the day with family.

Bear in mind kids must be at least 10 years old to join. It costs $129 USD each and is only available on weekdays. Since it’s popular, it does sell out, so we recommend you secure this sailing tour in advance!

Related Read: Can’t get enough of catamaran cruises in Mexico? Read everything you need to know about taking a catamaran from Cancun to Isla Mujeres.

Best Catamaran Tours in Puerto Vallarta

1. Chica Locca Chica Limousine of the Sea to Yelapa

The tropical coastal town of Yelapa near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Yelapa!

Puerto Vallarta sits right on Bahía de Banderas, which is full of amazing beaches, coves, and simply stunning scenery. One of the best ways to explore this bay is by taking this catamaran tour. This tour is also unique because you’ll visit Yelapa, a picturesque fishing village that is only reachable by boat! 

I’m already excited about this tour just by the name of the catamaran: the Chica Locca Chica Limousine of the Sea. That sounds like a pretty epic vessel!

This full-day cruise takes off in the morning and provides two meals throughout your journey, plus an open bar. It’s okay to start drinking early on vacation … it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? You’ll sail through Banderas Bay, stopping to snorkel, kayak, and paddleboard, and simply enjoy this beautiful area!

Once you reach Yelapa, you have the option of chilling out on Yelapa Beach or taking a hike to Yelapa Falls.

It is a short hike to reach Yelapa Falls, but it sure is pretty. You will hike for 10-15 minutes, making your way through the quaint town and up to the falls. You can jump in and swim in its clear pools and marvel at the 45-meter (150-foot) waterfall that cascades down the mountain – it’s definitely worth the hike!

If you choose to stay at Yelapa Beach, you can simply relax and enjoy the white sand beach. Or you can continue to hang out on the catamaran and take advantage of the bar and water activities! You can really do what you want on this part of the tour. We love how flexible it is.

The 6-hour tour will bring you back to Puerto Vallarta by the afternoon, and I’m guessing you’ll need a nap after a day in the sun! This tour doesn’t include hotel pickup but has a convenient meeting point. You’ll depart from the Paradise Village Public Pier at 8:30 am and be dropped off at the same spot. They also offer roundtrip transportation from their Sayulita office starting at 7:20 am if you’re spending some time exploring Sayulita.

Luckily, this tour does include breakfast, lunch, snacks, an open bar, kayaks, paddleboards, and snorkel equipment! You get all this for $135 USD, but there are often discounts as low as $95 USD. Keep in mind that the tour only runs on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, so check your schedule before you book. Also, don’t forget to bring $40 MXN (~$2.50 USD) in cash to pay the dock fee.

This is definitely a fun way to explore the Puerto Vallarta area. Plus, you’re on a catamaran, so what more could you want? Reserve this catamaran tour of the bay and Yelapa right here

2. Mega Yacht All-Inclusive Yelapa Waterfall and Snorkeling Adventure

Water sports on the Chica LoccaTours Catamaran in Puerto Vallarta
Photo credit: Chica Locca Tours

This Mega Yacht All-Inclusive Tour claims to be the most luxurious way to experience Puerto Vallarta! I suppose you’ll have to take the tour for yourself to decide whether that is true or not. Regardless, this full-day excursion is pretty awesome!

This tour is very similar to the previous one but with some extra perks. Basically, you get all the standard water toys, food, and drinks, but with the addition of a massage! Overall, the service, sites, and comfy boat make this catamaran tour our top choice in Puerto Vallarta.

You’ll sail on a 30-meter (100-foot) yacht across Banderas Bay, ensuring you have plenty of space to relax and enjoy the yacht life. This tour is truly all-inclusive. The crew will serve you drinks from the open bar as you lounge on the deck. There is even a complimentary masseuse on board, so you can get a massage while sailing! 

The boat will make stops at the secluded Playa la Piramide for snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing, or lounging on a water floaty. Here, you’ll have a traditional Mexican lunch on the beach! It will also stop at Yelapa, where you can hike to the Yelapa Waterfall or hang out on the beach.

You will then sail back across Bahia de Banderas, taking in the striking coastline and sprawling Pacific Ocean. If you visit from December to March, you might even catch a glimpse of a humpback whale, as this is one of the best places to see them!

This 6-hour tour departs from the Paradise Village Public Pier at 8:30 am, returning to the same spot. They also offer roundtrip transportation from their Sayulita office starting at 7:20 am if you’re visiting Sayulita from Puerto Vallarta already. The tour includes breakfast, lunch, all of your water activity equipment, an open bar, and a massage. All of this is just $135 USD per person, with discounts as low as $95 USD.

Being treated to a massage, drinks, and gorgeous views sounds like the perfect vacation if you ask me! However, this tour only operates Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and it does sell out. Make sure to book this experience before it fills up!

3. Mega Yacht Magical Sunset Cruise

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo on a cruise in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Daniel points to something while holding Bailey on a sunset cruise in Puerto Vallarta
Just enjoying the views!

Just when I thought catamaran cruises couldn’t get any better, we experienced this sunset cruise. There are few places in the world quite as beautiful as Banderas Bay during sunset. And trust us, getting a front-row seat to this view over the water is even more stunning! 

This sunset cruise takes off around the golden hour, so you can see the sky starting to change right from the beginning. You’ll spend about three hours sailing around on the luxury boat, enjoying the live music and dance performance while sipping on a freshly made margarita. They will serve fresh snacks like ceviche, chips, and guacamole in addition to the open bar – yum!

We love that this is a relaxed tour, so you can sit and enjoy the views, performances, and the salty breeze! You’ll likely spot dolphins or maybe even a whale as you cruise around. It definitely has a calmer vibe than some of the day tours that are jam-packed with activities.

This tour really lets you settle in and enjoy the stunning views Mexico has to offer! It makes an excellent choice if you’re planning a romantic getaway in Puerto Vallarta.

This 3-hour tour costs $90 USD and includes food, drinks, and entertainment on the boat – the sunset is complimentary! It does not include hotel pickup or dropoff, but like most cruises on our list, you’ll depart from the Paradise Village Public Pier at 4:30 pm, returning to the same spot.

This tour will surely be a memorable experience long after you leave Puerto Vallarta! However, it’s only offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so secure your spot on this sunset cruise in advance.

Note: This is our top choice for a sunset cruise in Puerto Vallarta. However, if you aren’t available these days, there is another sunset tour offered on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. We discuss it in detail later on, but if you just can’t wait, check it out right here!

4. Half-Day Snorkeling Tour In Puerto Vallarta

Bailey above the water with a snorkel on during a tour in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Hey!

This half-day tour is perfect if you’re looking for a snorkeling experience! While many other tours on this list include snorkeling, it isn’t the main activity and can feel a bit rushed. We love that this tour focuses on snorkeling, so you have enough time to explore and see the beautiful underwater sights of Bahia de Banderas.

You’ll still get to lounge on a big, beautiful catamaran as you set sail across the bay towards Los Arcos de Mismaloya. This is probably the best snorkel spot in Puerto Vallarta with its clear blue-green water, coral reef, and vibrant tropical fish.

Los Arcos de Mismaloya is actually a protected marine preserve and has several naturally made tunnels and arches. Overall, we found it quite impressive to swim through. We even saw some unique animals like octopuses, manta rays, and dolphins!

The crew is amazing on this tour, as they make sure you’re well-prepared to snorkel. They’ll even get in the water to point out the best spots and animals! They also provide kayaks and paddleboards for your use. While I absolutely love snorkeling, it’s also fun to experience the water from above on a kayak.

Once you’re done in the water, you can hop back on the boat and enjoy freshly made snacks and an open bar. It’s not the best idea to drink before you snorkel, but you can have as much as you’d like afterward! 

This 4-hour tour includes snorkel equipment, food, drinks, and your amazing crew! It costs $99 USD per adult and $50 USD per child (ages 4-11). On the day of your tour, make sure to bring 40 MXN (~$2.50 USD) in cash for the dock fee.

It does not include transportation from your hotel but meets at the designated point in Puerto Vallarta. Tours leave at 9 am from the Paradise Village Public Pier and at 10 am from Puerto Vallarta’s API Terminal. This tour is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Although there’s limited availability, it’s one of the best snorkeling tours in Puerto Vallarta! If snorkeling is what you’re after – don’t miss out and reserve this tour ahead of time!

Related Read: For even more amazing snorkeling, read about the best snorkeling tours in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

5. Luxury Yacht and Snorkel in Puerto Vallarta

Bailey on a sunset cruise in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (2)
Oh, the views!
Bailey on a sunset cruise while in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Cheers!

Sailing, sightseeing, swimming, snorkeling, and sipping on cocktails, what a s’marvelous day! This Luxury Yacht and Snorkeling tour will spend five hours sailing across the bay, taking in the sights and hitting iconic snorkel spots. This one is a little different, though, as you’ll visit Majahuitas Beach, a secret cove that is only accessible by sea!

This tour meets at 8 am, which is nice because you aren’t out in the heat of the day! You’ll cruise through the Bay of Banderas and spot the iconic Puerto Vallarta Malecon. Then, you’ll stop at Los Arcos de Mismaloya for snorkeling. However, my favorite part of this tour is definitely lounging on the luxury catamaran with the open bar flowing!

You’ll then reach Majahuitas Beach, which is unique to this tour, as many don’t stop here. It definitely has more of a secluded and relaxed beach vibe than Yelapa. After lunch and a few hours hanging out, you’ll board the boat and get back to Puerto Vallarta. You’ll return in the early afternoon, so you’ll have time for even more activities!

Tours leave and return from either the Vallarta Adventures or Puerto Magico meeting points. Just make sure to communicate all the details with your tour guides when you book on Viator.

This 5-hour experience includes an open bar, lunch, snorkel equipment, paddleboards, plus the luxury yacht! It does not include hotel pick-up but meets at a designated point in Puerto Vallarta. It costs $119 USD per person. Also, bring $40 MXN (about $2.50 USD) in cash to pay the dock fee.

If you love a novelty snorkeling experience, reserve this tour online here!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, read our complete Viator review to learn more about what we think about Viator.

6. Day Sailing in Banderas Bay

Epic views of the crystal clear waters from our Puerto Vallarta, Mexico catamaran cruise
So stunning!

Banderas Bay is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. It’s full of hidden coves, caves, and incredible swimming spots. It’s called paradise for a reason, and this half-day sailing tour lets you enjoy it all from the comfort of a luxurious catamaran!

This day cruise has a super relaxed vibe, so be prepared to lounge back and sail across the bay. You’ll make your way to a secluded cove and spend time relaxing on the beach and snorkeling. In this cove, you can see manta rays, turtles, and dolphins in the crystal-clear water. And the white sand on the beach just makes you want to lie down and relax!

We love the pace of this tour, as you can really be as active or lazy as you like! We aim to strike the perfect balance between the two.

All drinks and food are included, and the crew does a great job of making sure you’re never empty-handed! They are super attentive and personable and honestly make this experience even more special. 

This 6-hour tour takes off from a designated meeting point in Puerto Vallarta at 9:30 am. The $129 USD price includes food, drinks, snorkel equipment, and your luxury boat! It doesn’t include transportation from your hotel, and you will need to pay a dock fee of about $40 MXN (~$2.50 USD) in cash on the day of the tour. Children 10 and older are allowed on this tour, but no young kids.

This chill snorkeling tour is in hot demand – so reserve this fun catamaran experience before it sells out

7. Sunset Cruise in Puerto Vallarta

A catamaran in Puerto Vallarta Mexico at sunset
A catamaran in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico at sunset
Bailey and Daniel cheers with wine at sunset on a catamaran cruise in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Cheers!

For a memorable boat excursion, this sunset cruise is sure to deliver! Spend three hours sailing along Bahia de Banderas, taking in the colorful sunset and stunning natural scenery.

This tour departs from the marina in Puerto Vallarta at 5 pm, just in time to enjoy the late afternoon before the sun sets. You’ll sail past the Puerto Vallarta Malecon, which gives you stunning sights of the city. When we went, we could see the iconic Guadalupe Cathedral from our boat. This is a great photo spot, and the lighting will be perfect at this time of the day!

My favorite part of this 3-hour tour, though, is sailing through Los Arcos de Mismaloya. The collection of granite islands are impressive natural structures, and seeing them up close at sunset is unforgettable.

You will begin to head back to shore as the sun starts to set, and the crew will lead the whole group in a toast to the sunset! What a perfect ending to a beautiful day on the water.

This tour includes snacks, drinks, and your beautiful boat, but it does not include hotel pick-up. It is only available on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays and can be booked for $119 USD per person. Click here to reserve this incredible sunset tour!

Note: if you prefer a sunset tour on Wednesday or Saturday, check out this Mega Yacht Sunset Cruise we went on!

8. Marietas Islands Full-Day Boat Tour with Lunch

A beautiful beach visited on a Marietas Islands boat tour from Puerto Vallarta
The beaches you visit are the most beautiful in Mexico!

This full-day tour is a lively and unique way to experience the waters of Puerto Vallarta, including the epic Marietas Islands. The Marietas Islands are a small set of uninhabited islands, often referred to as the “Galapagos of Mexico.” They are about 35 km (22 mi) from Puerto Vallarta, so you can enjoy a long, leisurely boat ride before exploring these secluded islands! 

The Marietas Islands are actually a national wildlife and marine reserve, so you’re sure to see some unique animals there! This is one of the few spots in the world where you can see a Blue Footed Booby out in the wild – which definitely is a rare experience! As you explore Playa La Nopalera and snorkel in the waters, you’ll get a taste of the unique untouched land these islands hold. 

I love how special this tour feels … you get to explore an area that not many tourists go to! As you sail on the boat, you can enjoy breakfast and a premium open bar. You’ll also make stops for snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking. The boat even has a waterslide on it, so this is definitely a lively tour!

There are sunny and shaded decks, so you can always take a rest from the sun if needed. They will also serve lunch on the way back – so you really get your money’s worth in food.

Also, there’s an option to visit the Hidden Beach. This super-exclusive beach only allows a maximum of 116 visitors per day and requires an extra fee. If you’re interested, speak to your tour guide at the time of booking.

This 6-hour experience does not include hotel pick-up. Instead, you’ll meet at a convenient point in either Puerto Vallarta at 8:45 am or Sayulita at 7:45 am (returning to the same spot). All food, drinks, and water activities are included in the price, though! Kids (ages 4-12) are just $80 USD, and adults are $130 USD (although we’ve seen prices as low as $91 USD for adults in the non-busy season).

Overall, this is a super fun day exploring a new part of Puerto Vallarta and the Bay of Banderas. Breakfast and lunch are covered, and you’ll be back with plenty of time to plan a nice dinner in Puerto Vallarta.

To visit the Marietas Islands, you can reserve this experience right here!

Related Read: Are you looking for another unique experience? Check out our guide to visiting Tequila! This is the birthplace of the famous drink and you can visit on a tequila tour from Puerto Vallarta.

Will you get seasick on a Catamaran Cruise in Puerto Vallarta?

View out the front of the catamaran on our tour from Cancun to Isla Mujeres
You should be prepared, but it’s mostly calm!

It’s possible to get seasick on a catamaran cruise. However, catamaran boats are usually more stable because of how they are shaped. Hopefully, it won’t cause too much seasickness.

It is important to note that the bay out of Puerto Vallarta is more prone to swells and rough water than other areas in Mexico. This can cause the boats to be a little rocky. But if you visit in the dry season (December to May), the water will be much calmer!

Even with all of these factors in place, Bailey was still glad she brought some meds! If you’re prone to seasickness, I highly suggest picking up some motion sickness medication.

You can bring motion sickness medication from home or get it at any pharmacy in Puerto Vallarta. The most popular brand is Dramamine, and the medication usually lasts all day. I also recommend sitting in the direction the boat is moving and keeping your eyes on the horizon to calm seasickness.

Nothing is worse than being stuck on a boat while you’re seasick, but if you take some meds beforehand, it should be manageable! Bailey always says going on boat trips is worth it, even if she gets a little seasick. 

Is the snorkeling in Puerto Vallarta good?

Bailey snorkeling in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
It’s ok!

Honestly, Puerto Vallarta isn’t the best place to go snorkeling in Mexico. There are far better areas, like the snorkeling spots in Cancun or in the cenotes in Tulum.

The cruises out of Puerto Vallarta are more for the incredible scenery, wildlife, and other attractions along the way. I wouldn’t take one of these cruises with the main goal of snorkeling – it’s more of an added bonus! 

Not to say snorkeling in Puerto Vallarta is a lost cause completely. The Marietas Islands actually have some epic snorkel spots – it’s called the Galapagos of Mexico for a reason! This full-day tour includes a fun boat ride out to the islands and gives you hours to explore by land and water. 

You can swim through the coral reefs, seeing sea urchins, colorful fish, sea turtles, and dolphins. On land, you can explore the protected area and experience unique wildlife, too! This tour is my top pick for snorkeling in Puerto Vallarta, and it comes with an entire day of fun activities. This tour is $130 USD and can be booked online here

What should you wear/bring on a Puerto Vallarta Catamaran Cruise?

Most of these tours take place during the day, so it will be warm and sunny! You’ll want to wear a swimsuit so you can take advantage of snorkeling, swimming, and lounging on the deck. Be sure to bring a towel, sunscreen, a hat, and any other sun protection if you’re prone to sunburns.

Shoes are not allowed on the boat, but you will want some decent footwear while you’re on shore (especially for visiting Yelapa Waterfall). You can simply stash them in your bag until you get off the boat. 

It will typically be warm out on the boats, but it has the potential to get cold if you’re visiting in January or February. Sunset cruises can also get a bit chilly once the sun goes down. I suggest bringing extra clothes to layer on top of your swimsuit so it’s easy to change! 

What facilities will you find on a catamaran in Puerto Vallarta?

The catamaran boats are quite large and spacious, with plenty of places to sit and enjoy the views. Even with a lot of people on board, it won’t feel too crowded. Plus, there are plenty of shady spots if you need to get out of the sun.

The boats have a basic toilet on board, but there isn’t much room to change. This is why we suggest wearing your swimsuit and bringing clothes to layer. 

There is a full bar on all of these boats, and most include lunch or a snack. Many of these tours also provide snorkel equipment, kayaks, and paddleboards for you to use throughout the tour. It’s impressive how well they stock these boats!

Are Puerto Vallarta Catamaran tours safe?

People snorkel on a sunset catamaran cruise in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
People snorkel on a sunset catamaran cruise in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Cocktails onboard a catamran cruise in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Drinks!

Yes, catamaran tours are very safe! It’s normal to worry about safety when traveling to Puerto Vallarta. Luckily, these tours are heavily regulated by the Mexican government. They make sure that each boat is equipped with safety equipment and a well-trained staff.

You’ll find life jackets and emergency equipment on board each vessel. Catamarans are also very stable by the way they are built. Even if the water feels a little choppy, you can rest assured it won’t be an issue. 

The waters around Puerto Vallarta are very busy, and the Coast Guard is always patrolling the area. You’re never too far from help should you need it. Puerto Vallarta thrives on tourism. They keep safety a high priority so tourists have a great time and will book a tour again!

Related Read: Looking to get that adrenaline pumping? Read everything you need to know before skydiving in Puerto Vallarta!

Is a Puerto Vallarta Catamaran Cruise worth it?

Bailey under the water while snorkeling in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Yep!

Totally! You can spend a few days exploring the city of Puerto Vallarta, but I don’t think you really get the full experience until you spend time on the water.

Bahia de Banderas is simply gorgeous, and the best way to explore it is by boat. These tours take you to some really unique locations, like the Yelapa Waterfall or the Marietas Islands. You wouldn’t be able to see these spots without a tour!

These tours take place on incredible boats – some of the most luxurious I’ve ever seen! I truly think Puerto Vallarta is one of the best places to take a luxury catamaran cruise. You’ll feel like a VIP as you lounge on the deck in the hot Mexican sun. 

Almost all of these tours also include an open bar, water activities, and the chance to make new friends, All in all, it’s the perfect recipe for a good time! If you’re looking for a memorable day trip in Puerto Vallarta, don’t wait to book a catamaran cruise.

Other Activities to do While You’re in Puerto Vallarta

Daniel and Bailey on an ATV on the El Eden ATV Adventure in Puerto Vallarta
ATV tours are so much fun!
Whale tail out of water in the Bay of Banderas, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Seeing whales up close in Puerto Vallarta!

There’s a good reason why Dan and I keep coming back to Puerto Vallarta – there are a ton of fun activities to try!

From cruising around on an ATV tour to strolling down the Malecon (boardwalk), you’ve got plenty to sink your teeth into outside of that catamaran cruise. Here are a few of our personal favorite things to do in Puerto Vallarta:

  • Enjoy a swashbuckling show on a pirate ship – Ahoy landlubbers! Ever wanted to live out your dream of being a pirate, sailing across the seven seas? Or maybe you’ve got a little one who is swinging around their imaginary cutlass like a pro? This pirate ship cruise includes a dinner fit for a pirate king with cannons, fireworks, and all kinds of jolly entertainment to boot!
  • Explore the jungle on an ATV tour – One of my all-time favorite activities in Puerto Vallarta was going on an ATV tour. Dan and I went on this half-day Jorullo Bridge ATV experience that takes you to some of the most scenic natural spots in the area, as well as over the longest suspension bridge in Latin America!
  • Visit the Rhythms of the Night Show – When it comes to the best dinner shows in Puerto Vallarta, the Rhythms of the Night Show is a tough one to beat! It takes place on a secluded island with incredible dancing, acrobatics, and music, and, of course, the food is amazing too. You also get to enjoy another beautiful catamaran cruise to and from the island! You can book your ticket online here.
  • Go whale watching – Going whale watching in Puerto Vallarta is one of my favorite activities. This 4-hour whale-watching tour is ideal for those on a budget but is also capped at just 12 passengers! You might catch some whales on your catamaran cruise, but these tours are specifically geared towards whale watching and take you to the best spots. You’re likely to see humpback whales – and maybe even grey or blue whales too. 

Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta

woman relaxing at a rooftop pool in Puerto Vallarta
I loved staying in Puerto Vallarta!

There are TONS of great hotels in Puerto Vallarta – no matter your budget or preferences. From luxurious budget resorts to cozy boutique hotels, deciding where to stay in Puerto Vallarta is super exciting, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite spots with you!

Hilton Vallarta Riviera – $$$

The Hilton Vallarta Riviera is one of the best resorts in town – it’s all-inclusive, so you’re free to have plenty of peaceful downtime. They also have 7 restaurants, a private beach, a pool, a spa, and a gym. Rooms have super comfy beds and can include a terrace, balcony, and a private jetted tub overlooking the ocean! There’s evening entertainment and a kid’s club to keep the little ones happy

Rooms here at the Hilton Vallarta Riviera average around $350-$650 USD per night, but you can often get a good deal (on the lower end of that range) if you book in advance.

Amapas Apartments Puerto Vallarta – $$

The Amapas Apartments in Puerto Vallarta are a series of adults-only, self-contained apartments located in my favorite area of town – the Romantic Zone. It’s really close to the beach, restaurants, and tons of shopping and nightlife options. They even have a pool, with all rooms being well air-conditioned too!

With one and two-bedroom apartments available, a stay here typically starts around $96 USD per night, which I think is a great deal considering the size of the apartment and its location! This is another really popular spot, though, so don’t forget to book your stay online in advance.

Oasis Hostel – $

Who said you couldn’t live the dream on a budget? The Oasis Hostel offers both dorms and private rooms, which all have air conditioning with traditional Mexican decor. It’s around 5 km (3 mi) to get downtown, but that’s really easy with a taxi, or you can also rent a bike straight from the hostel. Rooms here are super affordable and include breakfast. Dorm beds start at $16 USD, and a private twin ensuite starts at $40 USD.

Oasis Hostel is a great choice if you’re backpacking through Puerto Vallarta or prefer to spend your money on experiences over accommodation. You can book your space on either Hostelworld or Booking.com.

Posada de Roger – $

Another superb budget choice is the Hotel Posada de Roger, right in the heart of the Romantic Zone. All rooms here have AC, and they even have an outdoor pool that gets tons of sun. You can also chill on their rooftop terrace overlooking the mountains. Plus, if you fancy making up some packed lunches, they have a shared kitchen for guests. No wonder it’s our go-to place to stay in Puerto Vallarta!

A one-night stay here at Posada de Roger starts at $64 USD per night, but it is pretty popular, so I’d recommend making your reservation in advance on Booking.com. You can always cancel the stay for free if you change your mind, so it’s a win-win!

Renting a Car in Mexico

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie while driving around Mexico
A rental car means freedom to go to the beach whenever you want!

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car. 

I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2023, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically. 

I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend. 

The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too. 

Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit. 

Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper! 

Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!

We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!

SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.

They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.  

We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!

Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie on a catamaran cruise Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Thanks for reading!

Half the fun in Puerto Vallarta is exploring the bay that surrounds it – and the best way to do that is on a catamaran tour! We’ve taken several catamaran tours in Puerto Vallarta and never get tired of the stunning views, wildlife, and watersports available. The open bars and luxurious atmosphere don’t hurt either! So, if you’re considering a tour, we hope this list has helped you find the right one.

If you’re traveling through other parts of the country, read our other blogs about Mexico. There’s so much to see and do here, and we love sharing what we’ve learned. To help you out, I’ve linked to some of our articles below.

20 Things to KNOW Before Renting a Car in Puerto Vallarta

16 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Cruise in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

10 BEST Tours in Mexico City + 5 Things to Know!

15 BEST Beaches in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico