Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: 5 Things You Must Do

Puerto Vallarta, located along the Mexican Riviera on Mexico’s Pacific coast, is a destination that offers a perfect blend of stunning beaches, exciting adventures, and rich cultural experiences. It may not be as popular or as flashy as Cancun, the resort city on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, but it’s easily one of the country’s top vacation spots.

Whether you’re looking for relaxation, education, or thrills, Puerto Vallarta has something for everyone. In this mini guide, I’m taking you through the top attractions, activities, and hidden gems that make Puerto Vallarta a must-visit destination. Let’s go to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!

Explore Downtown Puerto Vallarta

An aerial view of the city of Puerto Vallarta at night | Davidsbeenhere
Puerto Vallarta is a busy, bustling city on Mexico’s western coast. Photo by Robby McCullough on Unsplash.

One of the best ways to get acquainted with the city is by walking around the downtown area. This allows you to explore the city’s vibrant streets, historical landmarks, and immerse yourself in the local culture. Joining a walking tour is also an excellent opportunity to meet fellow travelers and learn from knowledgeable guides.

Downtown Puerto Vallarta is compact and easily navigable on foot. As you stroll through the cobblestone streets, you’ll discover charming shops, art galleries, and stunning architecture. Make sure to visit the iconic Malecon, a bustling promenade lined with sculptures, restaurants, and shops. You can also explore the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a beautiful cathedral that is a symbol of the city.

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Explore the Hidden Beach Near Puerto Vallarta

No visit to Puerto Vallarta is complete without a trip to the hidden beach. Located within the Marietas Islands, this secluded paradise is accessible only by boat. As you sail through a cave-style opening, you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking crater-shaped hole in the cave ceiling. The hidden beach is a true natural wonder, with crystal-clear waters and pristine white sand.

To experience the hidden beach, you can join a speedboat tour from the city or Nuevo Vallarta. The tour usually includes snorkeling and exploring the surrounding marine life. Spend a day swimming, sunbathing, and marveling at the beauty of this hidden gem. I visited the beach in 2017 and had the time of my life there!

Discover the Majestic Los Arcos

A view of Los Arcos, with the Mexican mainland in the background | Davidsbeenhere
One of Puerto Vallarta’s natural wonders, Los Arcos, lies off the mainland coast. Photo by Aliux Saavedra Cantellano on Unsplash.

Los Arcos, meaning “The Arches” in Spanish, is a must-visit attraction in Puerto Vallarta. These iconic granite rock formations rise majestically from the sea, creating a picturesque backdrop for your visit. You can take a boat tour to sail through the arches and explore the abundant marine life that surrounds them.

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Snorkeling or scuba diving around Los Arcos is a popular activity for nature enthusiasts. The marine park is home to a diverse range of marine species, including octopuses, rays, eels, and turtles. Immerse yourself in the underwater world and be amazed by the beauty of this natural wonder.

Embark on a Scuba Diving Adventure

A stingray swims in the waters near Los Arcos off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico | Davidsbeenhere
Scuba diving is the perfect opportunity to see the marine life that lives offshore. Photo by Francisco Jesús Navarro Hernández on Unsplash.

If you’re a certified scuba diver or looking to get certified, Puerto Vallarta offers excellent diving opportunities. Banderas Bay, one of the deepest bays in the world, is renowned for its rich marine biodiversity. Dive into the crystal-clear waters and explore colorful coral reefs, fascinating underwater caves, and even shipwrecks.

For beginners, there are PADI courses available in Puerto Vallarta where you can obtain your scuba diving certification. Experienced divers can join guided tours to explore the best dive sites in the area. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced diver, the underwater world of Puerto Vallarta will leave you in awe.

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Indulge in Delicious Street Food

Chilaquiles, a delicious Mexican dish that you can find throughout Mexico | Davidsbeenhere
You can find a number of delicious Mexican street foods in Puerto Vallarta.

No visit to Puerto Vallarta is complete without indulging in the mouthwatering Mexican street food. Take a food tour and explore the local markets, food stalls, and hidden culinary gems. Sample traditional Mexican dishes like tacos, tamales, tlacoyos, and ceviche, and experience the explosion of flavors that Puerto Vallarta has to offer.

These food tours are not only a gastronomic delight but also an opportunity to learn about the city’s rich culinary traditions. Meet local vendors, hear their stories, and gain insight into the local food culture. From savory to sweet, the street food scene in Puerto Vallarta will tantalize your taste buds.

Additional Information

The Hidden Beach, located in a crater on an island off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico | Davidsbeenhere
The Hidden Beach is one of my favorite spots in Mexico.

How to Get to Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is easily accessible by air, with the Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport serving as the main gateway. Several airlines offer direct flights from major cities in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Once you arrive at the airport, you can take a taxi or shuttle to your hotel or explore other transportation options.

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Getting Around Puerto Vallarta

Getting around the city is relatively easy, thanks to its well-connected transportation system. Taxis, buses, and Uber are widely available and can take you to various attractions and neighborhoods. Exploring the city on foot is also a great way to soak up the local atmosphere and discover hidden gems.

Best Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta enjoys a tropical climate, with warm temperatures year-round. The high season is from November to April when the weather is dry and pleasant. The summer months from May to October are hotter and more humid, but they also offer great deals on accommodations and fewer crowds. Consider your preferences and activities of interest when planning your visit.

Book a Trip to Puerto Vallarta Today

Guests swimming in the pool at the Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa | Davidsbeenhere
Stay at the Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa.

This wondrous city is a destination that promises an unforgettable experience for every traveler. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or cultural immersion, this vibrant coastal city has it all. From its stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife to its rich history and natural wonders, this city is an exciting destination that’s great for couples, families, and friend groups. So pack your bags and book a trip to explore the wonders of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!

NOTE: Need information about which travel documents you need for your next international trip? Check out my essential travel documents guide!

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