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25 Absolute BEST Things to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

25 Absolute BEST Things to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

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So, you’re heading to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – excellent! We absolutely love this city! We spent over two weeks enjoying everything it has to offer and had a brilliant time.

But, the only problem with going to Puerto Vallarta is that there are almost too many things to do! How do you know what activities to do and what ones to skip with a limited amount of time?

Plus, you’ll probably want to spend a good chunk of your trip relaxing at a beach or sipping on a margarita (and we don’t blame you, we’re all for the margaritas and coronas!)

So, after exploring the wide variety of things to do in Puerto Vallarta for ourselves, we’ve narrowed it down to the 25 absolute best! These are the most popular, highly rated, and fun things to do in Puerto Vallarta that surely won’t disappoint!


25 BEST Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

1. Go on a food tour

The tour group!

One of the best tours I have ever done was actually in Puerto Vallarta – a taco food tour!

We came hungry and left stuffed! This taco tour weaved its way 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!

Food Tour Recommendations:

Seafood Tacos on the Puerto Vallarta food tour
Being so close to the ocean means you can’t leave without trying some seafood tacos!

We highly recommend the taco tour we did with Vallarta Eats Food Tours. It was so much fun and the food was incredible. Also, considering the amount of food we got, it was really great value! You must book this tour in advance and you can do so here.

The same company we did our tour with also offers an evening tour. This is a great alternative to walking around in the hot midday sun. You can book this evening tour in advance online also.


2. Eat at the restaurant “El Arrayan”

delicious tacos in Puerto Vallarta
The lamb tacos were delicious!

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.

El Arrayan is a fine dining experience with authentic Mexican cuisine at an affordable price while not sacrificing service or quality. The food at El Arrayan stays true to Mexican tradition and is prepared by some of the best Mexican chefs in the region.

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 is.

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 head over to El Arrayan, you’ll absolutely love it!

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.


3. Go skydiving

Skydive puerta Vallarta
Daniel, jumping with the best views over Puerto Vallarta.

Anyone who knows Daniel knows he skydives as a hobby. So naturally, when we arrived in Puerto Vallarta and Daniel discovered that there was a skydiving club, he was signed up to jump the very next day.

Though Daniel skydives by himself, this same company 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 hanging out at the drop zone over our two weeks in the city. Daniel jumped and I watched landings at sunset on the beach. It is definitely one 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 in Puerto Vallarta. It clearly is a very popular thing to do for tourists of all walks of life!

Every single person seemed to have a great time. Watching all the nervous jumpers reminded me of the first time I skydived and brought back memories of thrill and excitement. Skydiving sounds scary, but that’s the point! Skydiving in Puerto Vallarta is a must-do if you’re looking for a bit of a thrill.

Our Recommended Company:

Skydiving in Puerta Vallarta
Landing at sunset on the beaches is amazing!

Daniel did all of his Jumps with Skydive Vallarta. They follow the American standards for skydiving which means they have excellent safety standards.

These guys were also very professional and fun!


4. Ride an ATV in the jungle

Riding an ATV through the jungle in Puerto Vallarta
Woohoo!

Going on an ATV tour is always a fun way to spend a couple of hours! But, in Puerto Vallarta, it is even more special as you ride through the jungle and remote villages!

You can ride your own ATV (no experience required as the experts will give you a lesson) or, you can go in a pair. Regardless though, riding an ATV in the jungle near Puerto Vallarta is really one of the most exciting things to do!

Our Recommended ATV Tour in Puerto Vallarta:

This particular ATV tour is awesome! Everyone who does it loves it (all 5-star reviews for this company). You can choose between a 3 and 4-hour tour and photos are complimentary! Just be sure to wear something you’ll be alright with getting a little (or a lot) dirty.


5. Walk the Malecon at sunset

the malecon at sunset in Puerto Vallarta
What a place to enjoy a sunset!

The Malecon is the main boardwalk along the ocean in the center of Puerto Vallarta. There are various nice restaurants but also huge dance nightclubs and famous bars such as Senor Frogs.

Along the Malecon, vendors set up 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-do. It is a vibrant time of day and the sunsets are almost always spectacular!


6. Visit Sayulita

take a day trip to sayulita from puerto vallarta
The beautiful streets of Sayulita!

Just over an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta is the beachside town of Sayulita. Sayulita is famous for its cobblestone streets, range of trendy cafes and shops, as well as gorgeous beach perfect for swimming or catching a wave or two.

From Puerto Vallarta, you can easily visit Sayulita for a day trip. You can ride the local bus to get there which is the cheapest option but not the most comfortable or quickest. Or, you can rent a car and drive yourself, or take a tour!

If you rent a car and drive yourself you’ll be able to spend as much time as Sayulita as you want! Heck, if you want, you could even spend a night or two!

Our Recommended Day Trip to Sayulita:

If you don’t want to go to Sayulita on your own, you can book a tour!

This particular tour includes comfortable (air-conditioned transport) to Sayulita and back. It also stops at San Pancho (another gorgeous beach) and includes an hour surf or boogie board rental in Sayulita!

Related Read:   ULTIMATE Guide to Visiting Tulum, Mexico (on any Budget)

7. Go scuba diving

scuba diving is one of the best things to do in puerto vallarta
We love scuba diving!

Scuba diving is one of my personal favorite things to do! Exploring the ocean underneath the surface is nothing short of amazing!

Around Puerto Vallarta, there are some pristine bays, reefs, and marine reserves where you can see tons of marine life and colorful coral.

There are some really great scuba diving companies in Puerto Vallarta that are PADI certified. You can choose between going on a fun dive or you can even join a course to get certified!

Of course, snorkeling is always a blast too and a great alternative to scuba.

Recommended Scuba Experiences in Puerto Vallarta:

For those who are experienced divers, this company offers an amazing scuba tour! They come highly rated and visit some of the most beautiful and remote spots. The tour also includes lunch!

If you’ve never scuba-dived before but want to learn, you can sign up for this introductory dive with a highly rated company. You’ll get to go on your first ever scuba dive experience with a divemaster in one of the most beautiful bays in the area!


8. Day trip to Tequila

day trip from puerto vallarta to tequila
Me, visiting the birthplace of tequila – the town called “Tequila!”

Did you know that the spirit “tequila” was actually named after the town where it was first created? That’s right, there is a town in Mexico called “Tequila” (with a capital -T) that is the birthplace of tequila (the alcoholic drink!)

And what’s better, the town of Tequila is located only about a 3.5-hour drive from Puerto Vallarta!

To be completely honest, I loved the town Tequila. I actually spent two nights there so I could really experience what it had to offer visitors. I learned all about the making of tequila as I toured distilleries and Blue Agave farms.

If you do have the time, I highly recommend renting a car, driving to Tequila, and then staying at least one night (you’re not going to be in any shape to drive after a tequila sampling, that much is for sure!)

However, it is possible to go to Tequila on a day trip from Puerto Vallarta. Although a long day, it is definitely worth it! Touring the oldest tequila distilleries in the world is still one of the best things I did in Mexico!

Recommended Tour:

Visiting Tequila on a day trip isn’t the most popular thing to do in Puerto Vallarta. And for that reason, your only option is to go on a private tour. This particular private tour to Tequila includes a distillery tour, premium tequila sampling, as well as time to explore the town!

If the long drive to Tequila and back doesn’t sound like fun to you, you can still enjoy tequila right in PV! You can join a tequila tasting tour that’s guaranteed to leave you smiling (you can thank the tequila for that!)


9. Go deep-sea fishing

Fishing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Trying to catch something good!

You can go sport fishing in Puerto Vallarta and have the chance to catch fish such as wahoo, sailfish, skipjack tuna and dorado. Some of the fish people can catch in the area are just huge – it’s crazy!

Of course, if you catch any massive sport fish, it is catch and release. But if you want, you can also try and catch something tasty and can bring it back for dinner!

Recommended Fishing Tour in Puerto Vallarta:

This fishing tour takes you out on a specialized fishing boat with your own group (4 people max.) That’s right, this is a private fishing charter! All gear and bait is provided and your expert guide will teach you everything you need to know!

The boat is also licensed for whale watching so you might get lucky enough to spot a humpback whale while you’re out on the water too!


10. Go ziplining

zip lining through the jungle in Puerto Vallarta
Woohoo!!!!!

Ziplining is one of the most popular excursions in Puerto Vallarta. You’ll get a bit of an adrenaline rush as you soar high above the jungle canopy. It is exciting, but it’s also beautiful!

Some of the longest ziplines in all of Mexico are located not far from Puerto Vallarta, making it the perfect place to give it a try!

Recommended Ziplining Tour from Puerto Vallarta:

This adventure tour includes more than just ziplining, it also includes a speed boat ride and the chance to repel down a waterfall! It is the ultimate adventure experience in Puerto Vallarta and comes highly recommended by many travelers!


11. Go to Rhythms of the Night show

fire dancers are just one of the increidble acts at rhythm of the night dinner show in Puerto Vallarta
Fire dancers are just one of the incredible acts at the Rhythm of the Nights dinner show!

The Rhythms of the Night dinner show is the most highly rated show in all of Puerto Vallarta, and therefore, one of the absolute best things to do!

But it is so much more than just a show.

The Rhythms of the Night tour is a full-on evening experience. It starts with a sunset dinner cruise in the Bay of Banderas. You can have a drink on board this luxury boat while enjoying the famous PV sunset.

Then, when you arrived at Las Caletas (a private beach), the dinner and show will begin!

The show was actually conceived by the co-founder of Cirque de Soleil so it is an impressive combination of acrobatics, theatrics, and music and dance, but it also has a Mexican spin telling historic legends and stories.

This is truly an experience unique to Puerto Vallarta and one you shouldn’t miss out on! Tickets do often sell-out so be sure to book online in advance!


12. Beach-hop

Turtles are an amazing thing to do in Puerta Vallarta
Seeing baby turtles hatch at the beach was amazing!

Of course one of the main things to do in Puerto Vallarta is to check out the many surrounding 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’s a nice beach as there isn’t much for waves and it is walking distance from both the Malecon and central area. 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.

Another option is to head North towards 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 even more remote, catch an Uber or local bus to the beaches to the south of Puerto Vallarta. Some of these beaches include 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 is quite simple.


13. Party in the Romantic Zone

Things to do in Puerta Vallarta
The main beach strip in the romantic zone!

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 Romantic Zone is more inland from the Malecon and consists of fewer tourist (still touristy though) restaurants and bars. There is a huge welcoming for the LGBT communities in this area. Rainbows are painted on the outside of restaurants showing that they 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.

To save some money, you can buy VIP passes to popular nightclubs in Puerto Vallarta that allow you to skip the line and have an open bar! If you plan on drinking a lot, then this option is probably best!


14. Swim with wild dolphins

boat of tourists ready to swim with dolphins in Puerto Vallarta
Are you ready to jump in?! Photo Cred: giuseppemasci on Deposit Photos

Swimming with wild dolphins is a magical experience. This particular excursion from Puerto Vallarta gives you the chance to swim with dolphins in their own natural environment.

The company is committed to the research and conservation of the dolphins in this area so you can feel good about this ethical tour. Plus, you will be guided by an expert biologist to learn more about the animals!

The tour will provide snorkeling equipment and take you out on a boat to visit a resident bottlenose dolphin group. On the way out to see dolphins, you may also get to see whales, turtles, or even orcas.

Prices for the tour are around 1,600 MXN ($85 USD). This is one of the most popular things to do in Puerto Vallarta, so it is highly recommended that you book well in advance.


15. Go snorkeling at Los Arcos National Park

Los Arcos National Park in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Do you understand was it is called “Los Arcos” now?

There are a lot of great snorkeling areas in and around Puerto Vallarta, but Los Arcos National Park is one of my favorites! The best way to experience this gorgeous park is with a tour group where you can be guided by a marine biologist guide and learn about the diverse wildlife that you are going to see.  

Our recommended Los Arcos snorkel tour:

This half-day tour will take you out on a boat and provide snorkeling equipment. The tour also offers drinks and a light lunch after the snorkeling adventure! Prices for the tour are around 1,700 MXN ($90 USD) and the tour leaves from Puerto Vallarta marina.


16. Hike to Mirador de la Cruz

Taking a hike is a great way to get some activity and see something new. Mirador de la Cruz is the absolute best viewpoint in Puerto Vallarta. The hike starts at the foothills just outside of downtown and there are signs along the way.

There are a lot of steps up to the viewpoint, so bring some water and take a few rests along the way. Snap some pics from various viewpoints along the trail! The hike will take just about 15-20 minutes, but you’ll definitely want to bring a snack and take some time at the top to enjoy the panoramic views over Puerto Vallarta and the ocean.


17. Join a cooking or chocolate making class

making chocolate at the chocolate museum
If you want, you can join a chocolate making class like we did!

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You probably already enjoy eating Mexican food, so why not add a new skill and learn to make some?! A cooking class is a fun activity in Puerto Vallarta that’ll have you impressing your friends back home with tasty traditional recipes.

Our recommended cooking classes in Puerto Vallarta:

This cooking class includes a tour of the local market to pick up ingredients and then a hands-on lesson to make classic dishes like ceviche, tacos, or mole. The price is about 1,700 MXN ($90 USD) and includes all ingredients for a 3-course meal, copies of the recipes, and a tequila and mezcal tasting!

If you have more of a sweet tooth, try out a chocolate-making class instead! This class takes you through a bean-to-bar workshop! You’ll learn all about how chocolate is made and make your own unique creation. The price is about 980 MXN ($50 USD) and includes trying plenty of chocolate.


18. Visit Islas Marietas National Park

Islas Marietas, or The Marieta Islands, are simply stunning! This is an area of several untouched pristine tiny islands – the perfect place to relax and explore some of the best natural beauty Puerto Vallarta has to offer. Because they are islands, you’ll need a boat to get there and check them all out.

Our recommended Islas Marietas tour from Puerto Vallarta:

This full-day catamaran tour will take you out to the national park, where you will enjoy a fun and relaxing day of traveling on the catamaran, kayaking, paddle boarding, and snorkeling.  

Some of the highlights are exploring different caverns and archways by kayak or paddleboard and then seeing fish, turtles, and other sea life while snorkeling! You’ll also stop at Majahuitas Beach which is very secluded and tranquil. The tour includes breakfast, lunch, an open bar (!), and all equipment. The price is around 1,600 MXN ($85 USD) for the full day – a steal if you ask me!  


19. Drink craft beer

a beer at Los Muertoa Brewery in Puerto Vallarta
Yummmmm! Photo Credit: Los Muertos Brewing

Tequila may be the most famous Mexican drink, but you should not forget about Cerveza (beer!) Puerto Vallarta has a large craft beer scene, so the options are endless to try some unique brews!  

Some top locations to stop at are Monzon Brewing located in Zona Romantica, Los Muertos Brewing (just down the street), or El Terrible Brewing, located in downtown.

Wherever you end up, get a flight and try a few kinds! Make sure to ask about the brewing process, inspirations, and favorite brews to learn a bit more about what makes Mexican beer unique.


20. Explore Puerto Vallarta on a hop-on-hop-off tour

If you want to see more of Puerto Vallarta without walking all day in the heat, the hop-on-hop-off tour is a perfect choice! You’ll enjoy exploring the city and scenic views from the top of a double-decker bus.

The hop-on-hop-off tour stops at 20 official stops around Puerto Vallarta and you can choose where you want to get off and explore. It’s a convenient, flexible way to see the city! Prices are around 300 MXN ($15 USD) for the day, so it’s one of the more affordable things to do in Puerto Vallarta.


21. Visit Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe  

panorama-of-puerto-vallarta-and-the-church-of-gualupe
Can you spot the church?

Puerto Vallarta’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish (Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe) is a gorgeous cathedral that dominates the skyline of the city – truly postcard perfect. It was built back in 1903 and has been an important part of the cultural and spiritual life of the city.  

The church is located in the downtown historical area, and you’ll be able to see it from anywhere in the city. You are welcome to go inside and check it out if you’re interested, or just enjoy looking at the beautiful architecture and taking some pictures from the surrounding streets.  


22. Go horseback riding

people riding horseback through the jungle
Going riding through the jungle!

Horseback riding is such a fun and unique experience! You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy this horseback tour, which brings you through the beautiful foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountain range. This tour transports you from downtown Puerto Vallarta and provides an expert guide to lead you through the tropical jungle area and to panoramic view of the ocean!

The neighboring town of Sayulita is also a good place to join a horseback riding adventure. This tour leads you through beaches, jungles, and the village of Higuera Blanca. The cost for either tour is around $1,600 MXN ($85 USD) and includes the guide, equipment, and water.


23. Go on a free walking tour  

a city street in downtown puerto vallarta
A walking tour downtown is a great way to learn about Puerto Vallarta.

A free walking tour around Puerto Vallarta is the perfect activity to learn about and explore the city! This walking tour meets at the Municipal Tourism Office in downtown and runs twice a day at 9 am and 12 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and then again at 9 am on Saturdays.

It takes about two hours and you’ll be led by a certified guide through the historic downtown area. It’s the perfect way to learn more about the culture and history, including some great insider secrets into the city! It’s free to join and no registration is necessary.  


24. Spoil yourself at an all-inclusive resort  

a birds-eye view of the Grand Fiests Americana in Puerto Vallarta
Staying here is pure paradise! Photo Credit: Grand Fiesta Americana

There are a ton of all-inclusive resorts in Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding areas. While they may not be the best way to experience the culture of a new place, they offer pure relaxation! Pools, all-you-can eat and drink, towel service, spas… they have it all!

You can either book a few nights at an all-inclusive or even just book a day pass to use the amenities like pools, open bar, or buffet. While there are a ton of great options in the area, I recommend Grand Park Royal Luxury Resort if you are with a family, or Grand Fiesta Americana for an adults-only retreat.


25. Enjoy a sunset!  

view-from-a-rooftop-in=puerto-vallarta
Bring on that famous Puerto Vallarta sunset!

Puerto Vallarta is located on the west coast of Mexico and so the sunsets every night are simply stunning. There are a few ways to make the most of these magical nights. I definitely recommend taking a stroll along the Malecon (boardwalk) or relax at Playa Los Muertos, one of the best beaches in the city.  

You can also head to a rooftop bar, such as the Twisted Palms to enjoy the sunset with a drink in hand! They have some of the best cocktails and drinks at this rooftop lounge – the perfect addition to a romantic evening looking at the sunset.  


Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta

the outdoor pools at the Grand Fiesta Americana in Puerto Vallarta
This adults-only resort is pure relaxation! Photo Credit: Grand Fiesta Americana

The hotel options in Puerto Vallarta seem endless, there is so much to choose from for every budget! There are even some great boutique hotels in Puerto Vallarta!

Here are some of the best hotels you should consider in PV:

Low-Budget – Oasis Original Hostel

This hostel offers dorms beds as well as private air-conditioned rooms (for less than $30 USD!) It’s in a great central location, the staff are incredibly helpful, and breakfast is included!


Mid-range Budget – Amapas Apartments Puerto Vallarta

This adults-only hotel offers self-contained apartments. It is located in my favorite area (Zona Romantica) and is very close to the beach, restaurants, nightlife, and shops. They have a pool on site and all rooms are air-conditioned. A studio apartment goes for less than $100 USD a night, but book quick, this place almost always books out!


Luxury – Grand Fiesta Americana

This all-inclusive adults-only resort has it all! It is located right on the beach and also offers an outdoor pool and on-site restaurant. They also have a late night club with a DJ, tennis court, and gym. The reviews are impeccable and the location is still close enough to town to easily access!


Traveling more in Mexico?

We love Mexico and have traveled all over Mexico (on a couple of different occasions!) Here are some of our other Mexico blogs that you might be interested in:


I hope these amazing things to do in Puerto Vallarta keep you busy and help you have the best vacation possible! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or reach out!

-Bailey


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