How to Travel Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is the second most visited city in all of Mexico. With a total of 4.1 million travelers visiting a year. From the luxury apartments, tasty food to the largest resort in all of Mexico there is no doubt why it is visited so much. On my digital nomad journey through Mexico, I had an opportunity to experience this beautiful coastal city for a month.
This is my complete travel guide for Puerto Vallarta. Including top tours, best stays, and the most delicious restaurants.
While visiting Puerto Vallarta there are endless tour options from hidden beaches to dinner shows. Below are my top 3 tours I would recommend.
- Extreme Zipline Adventure– This tour is a must for those adrenaline junkies. The tour is about 7 hours long and includes ziplining, bungee jumping, ATVs, the fastest waterslide, and indoor skydiving. My favorite part of this tour was flying through the air at 80 miles per hour during the longest zipline in all of Mexico. Be sure to rest up for this one, it’s a long day.
Pro-Tip: For the best rates on this tour I would book directly with Vallarta Adventures. There are multiple different zipline tours however this one is the most extreme. Also, this company is the top-rated tour company in Puerto Vallarta. Many vendors sell their tours on the street, however by booking in advance online it’s the best price you’ll find.
- Day Trip to Yelapa– Yelapa is a small beach town found about 40 minutes away from Puerto Vallarta. While visiting the town you can lay by the beach, ride ATVs through the town, and see a waterfall. The local energy of this place makes it something you don’t want to miss. You won’t see any cars there only small boats and coastal countryside.
Pro-Tip: Show up at the Los Muertos Pier to purchase your ticket to Yelapa. It is a 380 peso round trip and there will be a small stand selling tickets. Once you arrive the boat guy will offer you ATVs and a waterfall tour. It is only an additional 300 pesos, this is the best price for the tour.
- Hike the Boca de Tomatlán Trail: This is a 4-mile hike down the turquoise coast. During the hike, you will see the vibrant coastline and enjoy private beaches. Though you can find this hike guided through Airbnb experiences you can also follow the path and do it yourself.
Pro-Tip: I would Uber to the starting point of the hike and then take the water taxi back. Also if possible I would book the ferry before you leave as they do sell out. If not you will be able to find small boats that can take you back just make sure you have pesos.
Where to Stay
Now excursions are just a section of Puerto Vallarta offers. There are also known for luxury cliff living. Below is a little about the main areas in Puerto Vallarta and how they differ.
The Romantic Zone: It is romantic for a reason this LGBQ community is full of restaurants, spas, and shopping. This area is ideal for a girl’s trip or even longer-term living. The main thing I like about this area everything is within walking distance. It also tends to be pretty safe, this where I spent most of my time.
I would recommend booking an Airbnb for this area as it will give you the most value for your money. The prices depend on the season, but many places range between 50-90 USD a night.
The Hotel Zone: This the area where you find most of the all-inclusive resorts. It is located very close to the airport the only real attraction close by is the marina. In this area, you will not find many places you can walk to. For these reasons I would not recommend staying here unless you are planning on spending your whole vacation at the resort.
For the fanciest resort in all of Mexico, I would recommend Vidanta. It north of the airport in Nuevo Vallarta. This is not only the largest resort in all of Mexico. Also, it is surrounded by a lazy river and has 25 restaurants inside of it alone. This place is like a Disneyland for adults. They are currently in the process of building a waterpark and a Cirque Du Soleil theme park too. This place starts around a thousand a night and can be hard to book without a membership. However, if you get the chance it is worth it I spent one day there and was in heaven.
Pro- Tip: The restaurants book out fast here even during COVID, so make sure you get a reservation. Also, there is no option for an all-inclusive resort here.
Downtown Puerto Vallarta: This is the final area in Puerto Vallarta I would recommend. This area does have a walking area with restaurants, bars, and clubs. Overall, this area is ideal if you are looking for more of a local experience. You can find more affordable Airbnbs here as well. Just be careful walking at night as there usually tend to be strange people in the streets after dark.
Lastly, Puerto Vallarta would not be the place it is without its delicious affordable food. From 100 peso breakfasts to 400-gram steak. These are my favorite restaurants in Puerto Vallarta
Salud Super Food– Healthy breakfast/lunch spot with unique smoothies and vegetarian options. Cash only
Cafe San Angel– Fresh options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Be sure to try their green juice it’s yummy.
Fajita Republic– A more intimate restaurant best known for its steak, shrimp, and chicken options. It is a filling dinner for as affordable as 200 pesos.
Merida Grill– A excellent date or fancy dinner. All dishes are made fresh and come with exquisite presentation. Be sure to try their flavored margaritas and homemade chips and salsa.
The Swedes Bar & Bistro– This rooftop patio is inspired by Swedish favorites with a twist. The pesto pasta and strawberry dessert are top-notch.
Casa Isabel Rooftop Restaurant– This restaurant easily has the best view in all of Puerto Vallarta. Tucked away high up in the mountains, this restaurant features high-end seafood and steak, plus a surreal view of the romantic zone. For a show order the Mexican coffee you will be amazed. The hours vary so make sure to call if you plan on checking this out.
La Piazzetta– Best Italian food in Puerto Vallarta. Open for only dinner.
Other Tips About Puerto Vallarta
There are UberEats and Uber- The deliveries for food start as low as 20 pesos. For early flights, I would recommend scheduling a Uber because cars can be limited at times. Also check with cabs sometimes they are cheaper.
Bring your debit card- Though Puerto Vallarta is a proper city majority of places are cash only. There are ATMs everywhere though.
Book a place with a pool- Most of the beaches have pebbles so it can make swimming rather uncomfortable, having a pool is a must.
Check out TOP Bar– It is a male gay bar they have a spectacular view of the sunset and have hookah. This place is fun for those nights your looking to laugh regardless of who you are.
People will be selling timeshares- Almost all of my friends were victims of sitting through an intense sales presentation. They will trick you into this by offering discounted trips and meals. Many of the excursions you can find cheaper by booking online directly and don’t be fooled the breakfast will run longer than they say.
They have huge crocodiles at the marina water aka probably all water nearby. I honestly was shocked to believe this since I thought crocodiles only could be in freshwater. However, I guess they can live in saltwater too. Just be careful the one I saw was about 7 feet long chilling along the rocks before I spent the day sailing.
In conclusion, Puerto Vallarta has a lot of things to do and is excellent for a vacation or longer term living. I hope my guide inspires you to take a trip there yourself. So book your next flight and get ready to enjoy sunny Mexico.
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