Things to do in Puerto Vallarta

Things to do in Puerto Vallarta
Things to do in Puerto Vallarta

Things to do in Puerto Vallarta are many and varied, with most concentrated along the beautiful Pacific coast and in the ocean itself. With the city set in the graceful horseshoe-shaped Banderas Bay, the largest natural bay in Mexico, there are more than 200 miles of coastline available for water sports of all types. The mountains and jungles along the coast provide more opportunities for visitors to enjoy. The cosmopolitan city provides activities virtually 24 hours a day, and small fishing villages up and down the coast beckon with history and charm.

Beaches

Best Beach Puerto Vallarta
Best Beach Puerto Vallarta

The main attractions in Puerto Vallarta are its beautiful, pristine beaches. The city sits in the center of Banderas Bay, which boasts 100 miles of coast. To the immediate north of the city, the Riviera Nayarit begins and stretches for many more miles from the little village of Sayulita nearly all the way to the tip of the Baja Peninsula. It has the longest and widest beaches in the region, as well as many large luxury hotels and beach resorts. Highway 200 runs the length of this scenic coast, and some of the best Puerto Vallarta sightseeing can be had on leisurely drives north in your car rentals. To the south, the jungle-covered Sierra Madre Mountains tumble right into the ocean, creating secluded coves and romantic beaches that stretch all the way south to the village of Yelapa. Here are remote boutique hotels, such as the Verana and Majahuitas Beach Resort. These are both so remote and eco-friendly that they can only be reached by boat, have no telephones or televisions and produce electricity only by generator during certain hours.

Cruises

Puerto Vallarta Sailing
Puerto Vallarta Sailing

As at any resort area anywhere on an ocean, many of the things to do in Puerto Vallarta involve cruises of some sort. Some of these are Puerto Vallarta sightseeing cruises that go out just for a few hours along the coast, often to enjoy sunset cocktails followed by dining under the stars. Others are longer trips, sometimes for several days. Many visitors arrive in their own yachts, and there are two major marinas. One is Marina Vallarta, south of the airport, and the other is Nuevo Vallarta, north of the airport. Both of these places boast some of the finest luxury hotels and beach resorts in the city.

Diving

Marietas Islands
Marietas Islands

Other important attractions in Puerto Vallarta are found under the water. Some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving on the Pacific coast can be found in this region. The best place for this is at Islas Marietas, just off the coast of Punta Mita in the northern part of Banderas Bay. These three uninhabited volcanic islands are very similar to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, and they boast some of the same exotic birdlife and marine life, including the blue footed booby, frigate birds, a variety of gulls and terns, dolphins, giant manta rays, and sea turtles. But you don’t have to go to these islands for your diving and snorkeling. Snorkeling is rewarding off just about all the beaches, and there are some other extremely good dive sites up and down the coast.

Fishing

One of the other things to do in Puerto Vallarta that involves the water is fishing. As the locals do, you can get in some peaceful surf fishing off most of the beaches. But the most exciting fishing is deep sea fishing, looking for the big sport fish—tuna, marlin, sailfish, snapper, wahoo, mahi mahi, and much more. All of Banderas Bay, which reaches depths of two miles, is excellent. Fishing isn’t allowed around Islas Marietas, but the waters outside the no fishing zone are some of the best fishing zones. Almost all the Puerto Vallarta hotels can assist you to book fishing charters, and even the remote eco resorts like Majahuitas can outfit you with a guide and a small boat for a fishing trip.

Spring Break

The things to do in Puerto Vallarta that draw thousands of young people from the United States during the college spring break time don’t involve a lot of sightseeing, mostly they involve drinking and dancing. It’s the celebrated nightlife at dozens of famous nightclubs and discos they come to enjoy. If you plan to visit during that time frame and plan to stay in the metropolitan area, you should make your plans and reservations as early as possible. The space issue doesn’t generally extend to the five-star hotels and the more exclusive resorts north and south of the city, but you will find the central beaches, the Malecon, and other popular areas very crowded with young people recovering from the previous evening’s parties.

Tours

Zip Line Tours in Puerto Vallarta
Zip Line Tours in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta sightseeing tours include more than just the water. You can book tours to visit authentic and remote jungle Indian villages as well as guided hikes in the lush jungle that reveal sparkling waterfalls, exquisite orchids, wild parrots, and other colorful tropical birds. Other popular tours will take you into the Sierra Madre Mountains to historic Spanish colonial towns such as Mascota and Talpa with their beautiful churches, and to traditional estancias (ranches) to see the legendary charros (cowboys) display their skilled horsemanship. You can even book guided shopping tours in Old Town that will take you to as many as twenty fine art galleries, boutiques, and shops where you can purchase beautiful silver jewelry and museum quality art.

Weddings and Honeymoons

The stunning beauty of the Banderas Bay coast and the many attractions in Puerto Vallarta make this a very popular place for weddings and honeymoons. Most weddings are held somewhere on the beaches or on the grounds of hotels. Every one of the luxury hotels and better beach resorts can help you with all the details, and many of them have professional wedding planners on staff. Even small and remote eco resorts can host the ceremony. If you want something unusual, the Four Seasons Resort and Spa on Punta Mita even has a luxurious yacht suitable for a wedding party. And the more remote paradises, including the Verana in Yelapa and Majahuitas south of the city, are perfect for honeymoons.

Whale Watching

Probably the most awe-inspiring attractions in Puerto Vallarta are the earth’s largest mammals—whales. They spend the summers feeding in the northern waters around Alaska, and make their way south to breed and calve in the winter. The waters of Banderas Bay are filled will humpback whales from about Thanksgiving until about Easter. You can see them swimming and breaching from many points on the shore, sometimes from your sun bed on the beaches. The protected marine sanctuary of Islas Marietas is a nursery for cows and their calves, and you can see pods of as many as 50 or more during the peak season. From town, you can walk down to the piers and book a trip from one of the many operators, and almost all the hotels can assist you with booking one.

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